As regular readers know, I'm a former nightclub performer headlined Clairvoyant Harry. Telepathy is not an acceptable trait, so when I used to read audience members' minds I had to walk a tightrope between appearing both telepathic (which I am) and a clever fake (which I may also be). I won't bore readers with a re-hash of the forces that drove me to leave show biz, reject human society at large and maroon myself in the Mojave Desert (near Pearblossom). Let's just say I got tired of understanding everything.
I expected my isolation in the desert to bring both biblical clarity and near lethal loneliness, but I met a creature the likes of whom I had not known shared the earth with us: Robert, a telepathic gila monster. As I found within 30 seconds after encountering him on his favorite rock (about a quarter mile from my shack), Robert is not only telepathic and in complete mastery of the English language, but, like me, he's starved for company. We hit it off fast. In these pages you'll find accounts of our many strange and often illuminating adventures.
Anyway, I hadn't seen him for a while so this morning I set out for Robert's favorite rock, where he sat waiting for me.
Robert: Harry, how's tricks?
Me: Can't complain, Robert. Well, I could, but what good would it do?
Robert: Harry, if you came out here to cheer me up, don't bother. My mood has already been set by this morning's L.A. Times.
As you gather, Robert is conversant with our culture and in fact can "read" the online world through his lizard mind.
Me: I don't recall anything that wasn't the same as yesterday's news.
Robert: Check again, Harry. The headline reads, "COP28 has become a sham, but can the world afford to walk out?"
Me: I saw that, but how is it news? Did you actually expect the world powers to quit fossil fuel?
Robert: The outcome is not news. Everyone knows at this point that you're not quitting fossil fuel. The new element is the strategy.
Me: What strategy? The message seems fairly up-front. They are saying they won't change for a bunch of agnostics who don't believe there's a god who wants Armageddon.
Robert: But Harry, who are "they"? Who is this power that insists you continue using fossil fuel?
Me: The spokesperson at Cop28 was some oil sultan...Oh wait, there's a conflict of interest, if that's what you mean.
Robert: Sultan Al Jaber, head of Abu Dhabi's national oil company, and host of COP28.
Me: Ok, clearly a conflict of interest, but the information is not new- it was reported three days ago.
Robert: The new news is in my head. I realized that the whole thing is a trick. This sultan, he's a plant, and the U.S., Europe, Russia, China- everyone is in on it. His purpose is to supply you with an exterior force to blame. When you go to your politicians now and ask, "Why haven't you pushed harder for our country to quit fossil fuel?", they can answer, "We wanted to but Sultan Al Jaber stopped us."
I stared for a few moments at Robert, trying to process his idea, which he took as denial.
Robert: Come on Harry, the "civilized world," as you call yourselves, is not going to quit fossil fuel. You are not able to.
My continued silence encouraged Robert to go on.
Robert: You can't do it because the people you call "powerful" have little power, they're just reflections of popular opinion and wishful thinking. Imagine if your president and Congress together decreed an end to use of fossil fuel, and the immediate retooling of all auto plants to electric rail and solar panels.
Me: What do you think would happen?
Robert: If the effort to quit fossil fuels could not be stopped politically, your government would likely be overthrown and replaced by a fascist technocracy.
Me: And what about the general population? Under the technocracy, how would people function without cars?
Robert: There would be fuel left for a few years. Have you seen the Mad Max movies? They have the right idea. The technocracy hoards the remaining gas, distributing any excess to wild motorcyle gangs who rule the ruins of your cities, including Pearblossom.
I was quiet for a while, pondering the scorn I would endure if I rejoined society with stories of how much I had learned from a telepathic gila monster. Finally I sought closure.
Me: Ok, so what is your conclusion from this?
Robert: I already told you: When you ask your politicians why you can't avoid a Mad Max world, now they can say, "Because Sultan Al Jaber won't let us."
I searched my brain for something of interest to counter Robert's domination of the conversation. Finding a near blank, I made a polite goodbye and headed back to my shack, freed for now from the social bond I have with a reptile who forces me to care about the world's bullshit.