The Environment Minister

The second week of the A to Z Challenge is beginning with the letter E. This entry is quite dialogue heavy.  Sorry, but no sketch this time.  Nothing I could think of to draw, and I’m not good at people.

The Environment Minister


New Athens

Twentieth day, third month, first year after colonisation, Ariadne Era (3/20/01 AE)

The young engineer smiled. He seems very eager, thought Gunnar Johanssen. Too eager.

“Sir, I have a proposal that I think you’ll like,” said the engineer.

“Go ahead, Luc,” said Gunnar. He nodded to Malika Said. “You have an audience.”

“Great. Well, you know that big tree they found east of here?”

“Yes, I believe Ms. Said has studied it a bit,” said Gunnar.

“I think we should use it.”

“Absolutely not.” Gunnar’s smile disappeared.

“Luc, we don’t even know how many of these trees there are,” said Malika.

“But if we take just this one, it shouldn’t affect anything, should it?” said Luc.

Gunnar shook his head. “There’s no way of knowing. We know very little about it. That’s why we have scientists like Ms. Said studying it. We’re not in the business of exploiting resources on this planet.”

“The wood is amazing, though. There are so many potential uses. We should use it to help us,” said Luc.

“As the Minister of Environment and Resources, I have very good knowledge about our colony charter, and one of the rules we set up is to not excessively exploit any kind of natural resource. We do not want to have a repeat of what happened with Earth,” said Gunnar. “Malika, explain to him why his idea is bad, please.”

“Gladly. I’ve had a team scour the satellite images of the entire planet, and we could only find that one giant tree. We may have missed something, but as far as we can tell, this may be the only example of its species living anywhere in the world. Cut it down, and the species is extinct. In fact, there may be entire species of animals, plants, fungi, and microbes living on that tree that would disappear if we cut it down. Are you suggesting we wipe out entire species so we can use a material that’s difficult to do anything with? We have many other building materials that would do exactly what we need. We’re going to be studying that tree for a very long time, and it is off limits to anyone who wants to use it.”

Gunnar watched Luc’s expression turn from a weak hope to a scolded child. “Luc, you’re going to have to use conventional materials. You don’t need this tree. This world may need this tree. We don’t know yet.”

“I understand,” said Luc.

“I’m very glad you do,” said Gunnar.

6 thoughts on “The Environment Minister”

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