The Greenhouse Effect

The End of Civilisation as We Know It, or a Brave New World?

Hokusai's wave engulfs Hobart

A piece from 1986, when the Greenhouse Effect was still a novelty. Full of references to Tasmania, where I grew up; as the saying goes, think globally, joke locally.

What is the Greenhouse Effect, you may ask? A plague of Peter Cundalls? A new method of crop production? No and no. As we were informed in a recent shock-horror-Oz-media-coup, teams of scientists are warning that all the gunk in the atmosphere—put there by us—is acting as a noxious pink batt, raising the mean temperature on the Earth by at least, ohh, enough to melt the polar icecaps and raise the sea level and flood every coastal city in the world by the middle of next century. (Some scoop, media guys—this theory has only been floating around for the last twenty years.)

With all those expert opinions, I suppose it's enough to make anyone worried. But before you all start making out wills, learning to swim, investing in boat manufacturers, etc., take some time to think of the positive benefits the Greenhouse Effect will have for Tasmania.

Admittedly, Hobart will be a teensy bit underwater (so much for the International Hotel), but its tourism potential will increase enormously—look at Venice. The value of real estate on Mount Nelson will skyrocket. Every home will have a swimming pool in its own backyard. Better still: down in Huonville, it's always been a bit of an annoyance being so far from the beach. Once the rising waters engulf the lowlands, the seashore will be right on our doorstep! Literally.

But the best is yet to come. The increase in average temperature will mean a near-tropical climate for Tasmania—we'll become the Queensland of the next century. (That seems appropriate. Maybe we could ask Joh to be our premier—he'll probably still be alive.) Just think: no more bloody cold winters such as the one we have just experienced. No more icy roads on the way to work—no more roads, period. Oh no, what will happen to cars? Sorry, guys, no more lashing out for BMWs with your TEAS.

Wow, it'll be great. Imagine a leisurely row down Elizabeth Street—renamed, by now, Elizabeth Creek. Or canoeing down the rapids of Proctor's Road. Chatting up the birds in your hot new sports-lilo, then rolling around to Wrest Point—the revolving restaurant will be the only thing above water—and getting stuck into a great meal of seafood and kelp. Then on with the wetsuit, and a quick dive down to Mariney's, the underwater bar, to rage all night to the sounds of the Beach Boys, the Waterboys, and old videotapes of Flipper.

Better still: all political conflict eradicated! No more dam disputes—there'll be no land left to flood. No more forest disputes—all our temperate gums will die in the new tropical weather. And let's all hope that parliament is in session when downtown Hobart is deluged.

Yes, I see it all now—Tasmania: the new Pacific Paradise, with thousands of tourists flocking to our tropical isle from Mongolia, Upper Volta, Switzerland and Tchad—the only places not underwater. Our economy will prosper—no more hardship—a better life for all!

But wait—what's this in the paper: "Scientists Predict New Ice Age." That means all the flood waters will be frozen by the Ice Age, and the world will be a gigantic ice skating rink. Or worse still: the cold temperatures will cancel out the Greenhouse Effect, and nothing will change!

No! We can't let that happen! What about the Pacific Paradise? What about all those tourist dollars? Quick, heat up the atmosphere! Take up smoking! Boycott Unleaded Petrol! Don't throw that bald tyre on the tip, throw it on the bonfire! Come on everybody—Tasmania's future is up to you!


First published in Togatus, July 1986.
This page: 27 February 2000; last modified 8 May 2018.

©1986, 2000 Rory Ewins