Weather: A planet fit for our children to play in

The Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has just finished in Kyoto with a historic agreement to clean up the earth for future generations. Here is a transcript of the debate.

"Gosh, chaps, have you noticed how hot and stuffy it's getting in here," said John. "If we don't do something about it, we'll all fry, or suffocate, or something."

Pierre agreed with him. "It's because we've been playing with our cars too much. I'm going to line up all my cars and throw away every seventh one, 'cos if I don't then all our trees will burn down and we'll die of disease and starvation."

"If we don't drown first," added Helmut. "'Cos if it gets hotter then the North Pole will melt and all the extra water in the sea will make us drown."

"Are you sure?" asked some of the boys from the smaller countries, who didn't know so much about cars. "How do you know?"

"My mummy said so, and she's a scientist," Helmut explained. So I'm going to keep my cars, but I won't play with them so much."

They all turned and looked at Al, who had more cars than all of them put together. Al pondered awhile, then said: "My daddy told me that if I don't play with my cars, then the people who make them will go out of business and everybody will earn less and millions of people will starve, and I'll get less pocket money."

Then some of the car-deprived boys burst into tears and howled: "You're having fun playing with the cars and you never think of us, and it's us that's going to drown first when the North Pole melts. It's not fair."

Al was touched by this, and said "OK, I'll agree to throw away one in 12 of my cars, as long as you throw away yours first."

"But we're throwing away one in seven of ours," said John and Pierre.

"Ah," said Al, "but I'm not going to throw mine away until 2012, and by that time I would have been using so many more than you, 'cos I'm so much richer than you, that if you include those I'm not using 'cos I didn't buy them, then I'll be throwing away more of them than you. By the way, if I give you some of my money, will you let me keep some of my cars and throw away more of your own instead?"

Bruce, and some of the other boys from the south, liked this idea, because they thought they could maybe buy some extra cars and play with them, just so the Americans could give them money to throw them away.

The Japanese boy in whose garden they were all playing, however, wanted a clearer agreement. "Let's all just throw away one in 20 of our cars," he said. "At least it's a start."

"Agreed," said Al. "I'll have it done by the end of 2012. But let's not forget that this is more than a start. We made the start in Rio five years ago."

"When you said you'd throw away your cars by 2000, and you didn't do it," shouted several of the boys.

"Rio was non-binding, Rio was non-binding. Ner, ner, na, ner, ner," said Al.

"But you'll stick to this one, won't you," said everyone, glaring at Al.

"Dunno," Al replied with a sly smile. "I'll have to ask my dad. He's a senator, you know."

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