Climate Of Change

Entry by: Caroline Bletso

3rd December 2015
The Tell of the Amazing Treeman

COP21, Paris

The World Leaders, their aids and bodyguards went up and down the central boulevard of the Innovations Arena. The rain drummed on the skylights overhead, but the ceiling was very high and the glass was fairly thick and the rain could not be heard by the World Leaders, not above the clopping of heels and the slapping of backs, the jokes and the laughter, the Hey Theres and How Are Yous.

What the World Leaders saw in the Innovations Arena was much of the same. There were plans to provoke volcanic eruptions with nukes, releasing enough sulphur into the atmosphere to blot out the sun and cool the Earth. There were plans to bail on the planet altogether and either live in an orbiting satellite or colonise Mars. There was even a supermodel spread over a carbon capture and storage obelisk trying to catch the eye of the president of Bangladesh, her nipple tassels twirling like wind turbines.

Much passed the World Leaders by, but one display was causing a clot in the steady flow of them. An independent inventor was drawing a crowd, a man beneath a banner that read ‘The Amazing Treeman’. The inventor wore a red latex lab coat and stood beside a thing concealed under a greying white sheet. Slowly the inventor lifted the shroud, unveiling the thing by degrees, and soon a pair of light brown brogues could be seen. Apparently the thing wore shoes. The inventor’s reserved showmanship was extremely magnetic - the World Leaders couldn't help but stop and watch - and when a good sized audience had formed he whipped off the sheet and cried:

‘Behold! The Amazing Treeman!’

And the World Leaders gasped. Because what had been revealed was a human skeleton sat on a chair. In shoes it leered with gloomy eye-holes and limp lower jawbone. Quickly the World Leaders moved on, some shepherded away by bodyguards speaking into collars.


COP22, Marrakech
Early Autumn

The World Leaders and their aids and bodyguards went up and down the central boulevard of the Innovations Arena. It was hot out, but inside the tent the air-conditioning was working like a dog. What the World Leaders saw in the Innovations Arena this year was much of the same. But there was more of the same to choose from now – and some of the same was a little bigger than before.

But one display was causing a clot in the steady flow of World Leaders. Yes – our old friend in his red latex lab coat, his thing under the sheet and his banner (‘The Amazing Treeman’). The inventor was as magnetic as he was at COP21, slowly raising the veil, the exact same set up as before – and you may be thinking: Now, why the Hell would World Leaders fall for the same trick twice? But if you are, you forget that World Leaders must employ a certain amount of willful amnesia to be able to sleep at night, especially in relation to events such as these bothersome climate change conferences. (Plus some lose elections, are overthrown, assassinated, et cetera.) Soon a pair of light brown brogues could be seen and something clicked in David Cameron’s brain. Like a cockroach. He said:

‘Ah. I remember this now. It’s a prank. Nothing but a skeleton.’

But the inventor whipped off the sheet and cried:

‘Behold! The Amazing Treeman!’

And the World Leaders gasped. Because it wasn’t a skeleton sat on the chair this year, but a man. He had yellow-brown skin and sat uncomfortably in a starchy shirt. Strapped to his face was a nasal mask, its translucent tubes leading to a silver canister labelled CO2.

‘This,’ said the inventor. ‘Is my son. Once an ordinary boy – he loved to climb trees, ‘til one fateful day he met a wasp’s nest and fell from a high branch to a mossy stone. Broke his neck. Alone in a great forest, slowly dying, nighttime falling, wolves circling – all seemed lost. But then the oak who dropped the boy took pity on him (an oak who took also root in radioactive waste, I later discovered) and began to cry sap. As my son’s heart gave out to the cold the sap dripped into his mouth and by morning he was reborn...’

He took a breath.

‘Half man, half tree. The Amazing Treeman!’

‘Bollocks!’ heckled Putin from the back.

‘No, it’s true,’ said the inventor calmly. ‘And I’ve managed to synthesise the sap in a lab – give me a few years and I’ll have enough for every self-identifying man, woman and child in Europe.’

‘Why would anybody want to be half tree?’ said Trump, but he seemed intrigued.

‘Well,’ said the inventor. ‘The amazing thing about my son is that he absorbs carbon dioxide from the air and breathes out oxygen, like a tree. Also he eats the sun for breakfast, lunch and tea and will live to be hundreds if not thousands of years old. Climate change, hunger and ageing – all done away with. And the only thing YOU have to do is convince folk to swallow a glob of bitter sap.’

The World Leaders looked at each other. They were all thinking the same thing.

This changes everything.


COP23, London

During Summer the people of the UK were treated with the radioactive sap and before Fall everybody was reborn a Treeperson. At first they felt wonderful, but then Autumn came and they experienced terrible skin problems, yellowing and flakiness. The Winter then was cruel, cold and windy, and by Guy Fawkes night nothing was left of the Treepeople but bare boughs, leafless skeletons in hospital beds or skulls resting on hand-bones in silent classrooms or fleshless bodies on settees huddled together before dead TVs.

The deserted roads were littered with heaps of fallen skin.

The Father of the Treepeople and his band of loyalists, who hid in a bunker when the sap fell in glittering chemtrails, collected up the bones of government and used them for firewood. They redistributed the other bones so every Treeperson had somewhere nice to be. While the Queen was a skeleton the Father of the Treepeople carried her gently to a council estate and tucked her up in bed.

Then Spring came and the Treepeople were renewed. Skin returned in fullgrown thickness, the trick recorded only in rings in bone.

The Father of the Treepeople hung up his red latex lab coat and took the throne.