I am still thrilled that this crazy lampooning of The Lady of Shallot placed 2nd in the wonderful Wergle Flomp Humorous Poetry Comp 2010 on Winning Writers https://winningwriters.com/
Wergle Flomp Humour Poetry Contest 2010 (view all the winners)
The Wife of Lance Allot Wendy Waters
On worsted lines the washing dries
Damp trails of whites, rank bales of lyes
The dross of kids, the mess of dyes
My life is crap, the lady cries
The wife of Lance Allot.
And up and down her patience goes
One minute fine, the next she blows
And through it all she cleans their clothes,
The lady scrubs a lot.
She scours his briefs and frequent quivers
When they first met he gave her shivers
Rode her till they both delivered
Cries that rent the neighbours’ livers
And had her screaming Lance a lot
Four grey socks and skid-marked boxers
Won’t respond to soap or OXOs
Silently the lady voxes
F**k you Lance Allot.
A skinny margin has her thrown
I’ll stay until the kids are grown
And when I leave I’ll call my own
The cougar cubs, the oats I’ve sown
I’ll leave you Lance Allot.
Dot next door will lend a hand
If ya ‘pendix burst or ya jugs disband
But mostly she’ll just gawk and stand
And leer at Lance a lot.
Doubray their son is fair and pearly
His sisters call him poof and girly
Lance who once was dark and curly
Swears the boy was sired by Charlie
The other half of Dot.
Heavy, she hauls the washing in
And with a curse she quiets the din
Youse kids will be the death of him
And me she cries a lot.
Lance is at the pub again
The girls are watching soap on ten
Doubray pens a poem to Ben
His new best friend the son of Glen
The man who mows their lawns.
She thought she saw what might have been
A look from Glen, a flash of keen
But then again ’twas through the screen
And Lance was on the porch.
And so she washes night and day
The whites are first, the colours lay
In piles beside Doubray’s display
Of flowers he picked to cheer her eh
Neglected Ms Allot.
Another dreary year will close
And she remains a slave to clothes
Tis nothing like the life she ‘sposed
Would come with Lance Allot.
And glancing in her mirror here
Wrinkles of the world appear
A craggy frown, devoid of cheer
She gazes at the highway near
Winding far from Lance Allot.
There a truckie trails a Ford
And here a Camry veers t’ward
A river dark that snails the yard
The lawns of spunky Glen.
Sometimes a bunch of girls go by
Their manners low their dresses high
And as she watches them she sighs
I was once like that she cries
Only I was better.
Me hair was bleached and backcombed hived
Me tits were fit to burst the sides
Of size ten Tees in smoky dives
Snogging Lance Allot.
To memories of these past delights
The lady turns her jaded sights
Replacing Glen in all their nights
And rues it p’robly isn’t right
Betraying Lance Allot.
For all his faults the man is here
And when her load is fit to rear
He lends a foot and rights the weir
The load is back on top.
The lawn looks like a craven fen
She dials the phone and speaks to Gwen
The mulish wife of hunky Glen
Who hollers it’s that broad again
Missus Lance Allot.
Glen takes the call and speaks real low
And asks if Lance would care to go
Out for the day ’tis easier so
I need to speak ta you.
On Sunday morn she rises early
Wakes the kids and washes curly
Graying locks that stay unruly
A hundred strokes and still they’re only
Shades of what she was.
Lance goes out to watch the soccer
Wishing Doubray was more ocker
Instead of being a little poofter
He glares at Charlie Pratt.
At eight o’clock Glen parks his Ute
He cuts the engine stabs his boot
Into the gravel pitted roots
Of bindi eyes and couch reshoots
And looks for Ms Allot.
The lady has just sent the kids
Off to their Gran’s with fifty quids
Of hard-won graft to tell this fib
And say they stayed at home.
Glen’s not a man who mucks around
He takes her on the porch front sound
Releasing urges long-since ground
By daily drear and washing mounds
And snoring Lance Allot.
It’s been getting bad he cries
The urge to get between ya thighs
By jeez yer easy on the eyes
Come away wiv me.
But who is this? And what is here?
Lance is home with crates of beer
And gob smacked by the unclad rear
Of gardener Glen and too-late tears
Of faithless Grace Allot.
Ya could at least have gone inside
Instead of mangling all me pride
By rooting where the neighbours spied
I’ll never live this down he cried
Ya faithless smarmy cow.
The years have passed the kids have grown
And on the porch Grace stands alone
Surveys the lawn that once was mown
The empty line where clothes once groaned
The shirts of Lance Allot.
Who died of flu in a year of drought
The day before Doubray came out
And trembling, cried with his last spout
I love ya Grace Allot.
I have a magical connection, albeit etheric, with Irish men! The covers of both my novels were gifts from talented Irishmen and one of my reviewers, Peter Donnelly, who has been incredibly supportive is also Irish.
The image is of a three-hundred-year-old angel in a Dublin Cemetery.
FIELDS OF GRACE http://bit.ly/WWFOGis my second published novel and once again the stunning cover was given to me by an Irishman, Dean Michael Rochford, an artist whose amazing work can be found on Twitter @DigiluxEU
“’This modern world metes out time like currency…Everybody rushing about in pursuit of nothing, producing little of lasting value.’” – Catch The Moon, Mary
There’s so much truth in this statement spoken by Gabriel, an angel and the foil of Wendy Waters’ debut romance novel, Catch The Moon, Mary. Productivity, to Gabriel, comes in the form of creativity, particularly music. In his world, music is a tangible tool, like seeds that can grow new worlds, ideas, and states of being.
It’s no surprise that the book’s author has a background in music. This Australian-born composer and lyricist uses music as the base of her debut novel about loneliness, connection, and the transformative power of music. To learn more about the author, check out my interview with Waters here!
Mary Granger is a young girl with an extraordinary musical talent. It has a supernatural effect on all who hear her play. The power is so strong that it catches the attention of Gabriel, an earthbound angel looking for a way to re-enter heaven. Gabriel visits Mary one night and offers to protect her from her pedophilic father and make her famous. In return, he asks for the use of her music to recreate heaven on Earth. His intention is to rule over a new existence stripped of the flawed humanity that current inhabits the world.
As Mary grows into a young woman, Gabriel frequently visits her to protect his investment and urge her to begin her career as a musician. Their shared goal is to eventually play Carnegie Hall. Whenever life intervenes in pursuing her music, Gabriel removes her obstacles. His favorite method is to murder those who stand in her way. Torn between her love for Gabriel, her music, and the family she attains as she pursues her musical aspirations, Mary weaves through a life that is part human and part divine.
A Music Lesson
The beginning of each chapter features a piece of musical vocabulary along with its definition. Each term corresponds to the events that take place within that chapter. This is just one of the ways that music threads the story together.
Print is at a disadvantage in that the reader is bound by their limited knowledge of a subject in order to imagine it as they read. So, there is a disconnect between Mary’s music and the effect it has on the other characters in the book. But the story doesn’t rely on hearing her music in order to understand its power.
Mary is a very submissive heroine. Her inaction stems from her childhood molestation at the hands of her cold-hearted father. However, it’s her relationship with her loving mother that saves her from the bitterness and addiction that her half-siblings endure as the result of their own history with their father.
However, her goodness comes with a price. That price is the inability to defend herself from those who try to take advantage of her, starting with Gabriel. Music could be her bargaining tool. But she is just as much of a slave to it as Gabriel. As a result, she suppresses her gift in order to keep her blackmailing angel away. Her love of music gets redistributed into her love for Gabriel, despite his controlling and murderous nature.
Making a Deal with an Angel
Catch The Moon, Mary puts a spin on the classic selling your soul to the devil trope. Selling your gift to an angel should feel like a safe bet. But the angels in this story are just as flawed with jealousy, desire, and power as any human. Mary’s agreement with Gabriel, as crucial as it is in the preservation of the remainder of her childhood and the success of her future, becomes a form of mental imprisonment that puts her at his mercy.
Despite her dire situation, however, Mary lacks any emotion or personality outside of her music. She barely reacts when Gabriel kills off one friend, acquaintance, and family member after another. She also claims to not understand humor. This led me to wonder if she suffers from a personality disorder or lands on the autism spectrum. She tends to go with the flow of events, no matter how tragic. As long as the picture frames are straight and nothing is moved from its rightful place, she endures.
A Family of Misfits
“Home. A space defined by four walls, a gathering of family and friends, a place where milestones are celebrated and rooms trigger memories.” – Catch The Moon, Mary
As events unfold, the people who Mary meets in her musical journey are also affected by her relationship with Gabriel. Whether it’s her long lost half-brother and sister who she connects with after the death of their father, her employers who offer her a job until her music takes off, and Gabriel’s estranged brother, Rigel, and his partner, Alfio, all have their lives altered as the result of Gabriel’s jealous nature and master plan.
Loneliness is the main motivator for Mary’s relationship with Gabriel, but as this collection of characters enter her life, his control over her is whittled down to pure romantic attachment. It’s not the selfish, divine being that saves her but the good-hearted mortals who unconditionally care for her. But in spite of his murderous nature, his tendency to disappear when she needs him the most, and his power-hungry vision for the world, she cannot shake that longing to be with the angel who loves her music the most.
I recommend Catch The Moon, Mary to romance and fantasy readers and to those interested in music, particularly those with a background in classical music. This story is a modern spin on classic mythologies and biblical morality tales in which creativity, nature, love, and corruption entangle to form a dramatic, operatic novel about how both our divine gifts and human flaws are instrumental in shaping our lives.
Wendy Waters is also the Lyricist/Composer for musicals, FRED, ALEXANDER and Lyricist/Book for THE LAST TALE written with composer Shanon D. Whitelock For more information check out http://wendywaters.net
Add mock-up by Dean Michael Rochford Twitter @DigiluxEU
Life ebbs and flows like a tide and the lows that strand us in hopelessness are hard to cope with. But take a breath, the tide will rise again and for a while we will be transported above the world and its troubles. For a while we’ll be closer to the silent, solid, durable stars upon which we can map out destinies and journeys.
And remember when all we see is ocean from horizon to horizon the stars become our landmarks.
In a world that changes daily, eroding and abraded by madness and inflexible mindsets look to the stars for inspiration. Puzzle out the meaning of those alien and exquisite blimps of life removed from us by eons and lightyears and remind yourselves that you have another life apart from your gravity-constricted span on earth. You are a citizen of the expanding Universe and you have many names.
If people could understand themselves in relation to the stars they would allow both change and permanence. Change isasmuch as we are part of a greater, unknowable Universe that connects us to concepts and paradigms of life only accessed through the imagination and permanence because for millions of years the strange and infinite sky has shown us the only model of eternity we can currently conceive.
So the paradox is we must believe ourselves immortal and at the same time in a state of constant flux. Like the tide that ebbs and flows, our days become yesterdays, dying to the night and are born again with the light of each new dawn.
Live as if there is no tomorrow and dream as if there was no yesterday.
It’s been a busy year with the usual mix of highs and lows. Rather than write about it, I’m going to show you my year in pictures.
The highlight was my daughter’s wedding to a Frenchman called Louis in Provence 20th July. A fabulous day and evening which brought family and friends from all over the world together in a kind of harmonic convergence. Old familial wounds had the chance to be redressed and healed. New family ties were created and forged.
Genevra and Louis in Capri.
Louis and Genevra’s Wedding in Provence.
And so, to see my daughter get married I had to fly to France! Quel drag!!!
Paris has been top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember and so to finally see the City of Lights was like waking up after an interminably long sleep and what a joy to see it with my daughter and my mother and my new son-in-law.
Une selection de Paris!
It may have taken me decades to FINALLY get to Paris but I can still fit into a Size 10 pair of ripped jeans!
And then to London to meet the cast of my Cabaret Show, Wendy Waters Rites Words, a collection of songs drawn from three of my musicals, FRED, ALEXANDER and THE LAST TALE (composer Shanon D. Whitelock).
In my hotel room with London cast left to right Frank Loman, Monika Lidke (brilliant singer and close friend) Louise Burke, me and Lauren Lovejoy.
London cast of Wendy Waters Rites Words, Louise Burke, Lauren Lovejoy and Frank Loman with program.
And then back to Australia and into the worst drought we’ve ever had and a government in denial of Climate Change. My brother Dr. Marcus Scammell is exhausted but still fighting to raise awareness and develop renewable Green Energy alternatives.
Dr Marcus Scammell with Dr Alison Bleaney in Tasmania. Fires burning all over Australia.
And in between I took a trip back out west to scope the place where Genevra was born and where I once lived when I was married to her father, Grazier, Richard Hart. It was sad to see how dry the land was but wonderful to see that the trees I planted thirty years ago have grown and provide a patch of green!
Willows on creek
And the friends I have lost in 2019, Tom Martin, Deb McKain and Patrick Ward.
And then I self-published Fields of Grace, my second novel. I was waiting for a traditional publisher to offer me a lucrative advance and a mega-marketting campaign when out of the blue a brilliant Irish artist named Dean Micheal Rochford sent me a stunning cover image and asked me if I’d like to use it. It seemed like a sign to me!
I have a lot of good fortune with the Irish! Particularly Irish men. The cover of my debut novel, Catch the Moon, Mary (middle top row) was also given to me by a stunning Irishman, photographer Des Cannon and now Irish reviewer Peter Donnelly of the Reading Desk has included Catch the Moon, Mary in his 2019 Faves List. So honoured!
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making me feel valuable and needed on this earth as we move into 2020, a year that will almost certainly bring great and necessary changes. Happy New Year one and all!
Highlights and Hallmarks 2019
Shanon Whitelock Composer The Last Tale
And lastly I will leave you with a tantalising glimpse of what’s coming to fruition in 2020.
Copied from the comments on the MFW page (edited for length and context) with thanks to John Irvine Bruce Walker for this must-read response.
“Hi everyone, my name is Bruce Walker. I’m one of the survivors of the Wytaliba fires of Friday 8th November 2019. I’ve been an RFS volunteer for close to 20 years, and am part of the highly regarded Wytaliba RFS – one of the most respected and hardened crews on the northern tablelands and beyond. Our crew number over 50 and include decorated vets of Ash Wednesday and many other national disaster catastrophic level fires.
Regarding hazard reduction. let me fill you in. We used to do managed hazard reduction whenever it was viable in winter. However – sadly, the moment Gina and Rupert went halves and purchased the LNP wholesale, we saw a MASSIVE increase in wholesale industrial logging across the nation.
Tell me, when you garden, do you use MULCH? Compare a mulched garden to a non-mulched garden and you’ll see a near instant difference. If you’re not schooled on how soil works, try standing all day in the sun with no hat on. What happens? That’s right, your head gets fucking hot.
That’s what’s happened to the planet. Now, as anyone who’s dabbled in, you know… physics, will spell out better than I can – an increase of just one degree is quite significant.
Another neato thing physics talks about is the water cycle. You see, part of the water cycle is this cool thing called “transpiration”. It’s part 4 of this essential way in which trees send up moisture to meet clouds, creating low pressure troughs which draw rainfall inland. In fact, it’s physically impossible to get rain on the lee side of a mountain, without trees doing this very thing. Impossible. Ask the residents of the Atacama Desert in Chile, who haven’t had rain for one THOUSAND years. Why? no fucking trees!
So anyway, back to the Greens enacting a ban on burn-offs – that time we elected them to majority government and they had the final say. When was that again? I’ll wait.
Nah. Let’s move on, since we ALL know this was never a thing . Ever.
So anyway – here in Wytaliba, we used to have an incredibly green lush valley – right up until industrial loggers finally broke into compartments to our north. Right about this time, there was a near instant and significant drop to our vital streamflow. This happened again after each and every highland logging operation – and with LNP slashing and burning every national park in sight, well… you know, let’s not go there. Climate change is a hoax, right?
So wholesale burn quotas came in with LNP too. This… well.. I just want to pause here and say “wow” because this did indeed make us say wow. In recent years, we’ve seen hazard reduction burns take place completely surrounding our once green, lush valley. So much so, that after the last July burn – of an area once supplying most of our water – well… 27 years of no burn had left a healthy and regenerating semi-arid rainforest. Now it’s simply arid nothing.
Despite this burn, and 3 more last year, we got the following result – fires flared up in this dry mulchless wasteland and burned for 6 weeks, destroying 2 more former rainforest areas, leaving them also tinder dry and unable to transpire – hasn’t actually rained a drop since then. Weird. almost like cause and effect took place.
Clouds pass over, for sure. they get rain on the tablelands even – but – as physics reminds us, when air drops it warms, expands, and rather than raining, sucks even more moisture from trees and soil.
Oh well. I mean, this is normal for Australia, isn’t it? Watching 200 year old trees slowly wither and die right in front of you. That’s normal. Happens all the time. Rivers dry up too, even though ours is home to platypi – who aren’t known for travelling much – and hasn’t dried up in probably 100,000 years minimum.
Until last summer. And it’s been bone dry since August.
This has never happened in my entire 25 or so years here. No local elders remember such a thing. Wow.
Now, we all know about the Kinglake fires and the hundreds more around the state. My crew and many other heroic RFS volunteers have been fighting them for months on end. Yet another backburn actually got lit up about a month ago, on our south side, just half an hour before high southerly winds were due. The responsible paid agency, then ran out of paid hours, packed up and left it to spot onto our property and threaten 80 homes.
We’re like the mujahideen of firefighting though, so we got it after about 10 days nonstop hectic battle.
This… brings us up to date. We’ve got bare, blacked out dust for 50km in all directions. right up to the actual eaves of half the homes here. Which is why Friday’s hell-storm caught all of us by surprise.
A mushroom cloud went up at 3pm, 20 or so km away. Within 30 minutes, high winds turned that into a 20km long front – strangely, this front was on ground burnt black as recently as 3 weeks ago – crown fires too, since every tree was literally a giant matchstick with dead leaves and nothing else. This then switched to 80km/h southerlies and rained hell on 3500 acres of already blacked out ground.
Well… you can’t say we didn’t prep or do hazard reduction redneck style, can you? Or can you?
Curiously, within 1 hour we’d lost 20 homes, a school, a fire-shed, and a concrete fucking bridge – meaning only 2 outside units even got in to help. Falling trees in the hundreds blocked the old Grafton road, so no one could even help neighbours.
By dawn, of 80 homes in our community, 52 were lost, 2 dead (one a sex party voter, the other apolitical (this one is for you, Barnaby fucking Joyce) 😉 We had many injured, thousands of local animals died, and it looks like a warzone here. Which it almost did before, except we had homes.
So, ALL you fucking armchair experts out there, tell me, how again, was this the Greens fault? Thanks. looking forward to your well thought out response.
Bruce Walker, Wytaliba RFS member and survivor. 🙊🙉🖕” Bruce Deliversrants Walker
With so much misinformation floating around social media I felt it was time to ask a real environmental scientist, my brother, Dr. Marcus Scammell, to explain in layman’s terms how burning coal, driving cars and using electricity was creating an increase in global temperatures. Like anybody else without a scientific background I need someone with integrity to explain to me how my lifestyle may or may not be contributing to climate change.
I am listening and I want the facts.
Like everybody else, I want to believe that these raging temperatures and wild weather patterns are just part of a cycle. I want to believe that humanity hasn’t impacted negatively on the planet. But denial is a dangerous river and I don’t want to drown in it thanks. And so I asked a scientist whose integrity is well-known to me. My brother has no political or economic agenda biasing him. He is a dedicated scientist who can’t be bought by the Murdoch Press or the Rhinehart PR flunkies.
He can’t be bought.
A bit of background. My brother was still doing his doctorate when he discovered it was tributal tin leeching out of toxic anti-fouling paints that was stagnating Sydney waterways, significantly Sydney Harbour. With the density of traffic – ferries, pleasure craft, cruise liners – in such a small area he observed that there were no oysters. The Harbour and surrounding estuaries were essentially dead.
Fast forward to the nineties and the oyster farmers in Tasmania get in touch with my brother and ask for help because the oysters are dying in their thousands. There is a 95% extinction rate. My brother flies down at his own expense and investigates and what he finds sends shock waves through the logging industry who pull out the Murdoch Press and the Tasmanian Government to discredit him and so, despite the support of the ABC and two episodes of Australian Story his findings were quashed and he was, in effect, silenced.
Aerial Spraying, Oyster Deaths & Tasmanian Devil cancer link
A report on mass mortalities in oysters from Tasmania’s
east coast highlights a correlation between the use of
four highly toxic chemicals, the oyster deaths and the
deadly facial tumour disease occurring in Tasmanian Devils.
Audio Audio snippets from the Australian Story program on Tasmanian GP Alison Bleaney. Speakers are Alison Bleaney, her husband Michael, and Dr Marcus Scammell.
Dr Marcus Scammell and Dr Alison Bleaney in Tasmania
To protect the poisonous and polluting logging industry a vicious and nasty campaign to discredit my brother was set in motion. However the scientific community was not so easily duped and this plea for support of my brother and Dr Alison Bleaney came from Dr David Obendorf 28.02.10
OPEN LETTER CALLING ON ALL SCIENTISTS AND MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS TO SUPPORT THE INTEGRITY OF SCIENCE IN TASMANIA. The recent release of significant eco-toxicology research by St Helens general practitioner, Dr Alison Bleaney and marine ecologist, Dr Marcus Scammell about toxicity linked to genetically selected Eucalyptus nitens monocultures has implications for drinking water …
But with big business driving the Tasmanian Government the campaign stepped up. However, not everybody was fooled. The ABC upped the anti and ran an unprecedented second program on Australian Story. The backlash was predictable and pathetic but the support was heartwarming. Ordinary people started asking sensible questions about whether or not it was morally responsible to poison the arterial waterways that supplied drinking water to animals and human locals as opposed to supporting the mega-business of logging.
With local oyster farmers worried about deformities suddenly appearing in their oysters Sydney marine ecologist Dr. Marcus Scammell was appointed by the Tasmanian Government to investigate. Wondering if there might be a connection between ill health in her patients and the health of the oysters, Dr. Bleaney contacted Dr. Scammell. Certain there …
I would believe Dr Bleaney and Marcus Scammell over our gov’t and their bureaucrats any day…we already know how this Lab/lib/gunns gov’t work and it’s certainly not for the general population. Big industries come first at any price, with this lot of hypocrites.
I only cite this backstory because I am seeing a repetition of this media-backed corruption right now in regards to Climate Change and it alarms me that we may not move fast enough to save our planet. As long as the Murdoch Press keeps up a sullied stream of anti-Climate Change articles twisting the facts, people will be lulled into a false sense of security. We will fiddle while Rome burns.
Indeed Australia is burning and idiots are scape-goating the Greens just as my brother was scape-goated when he was presenting a very inconvenient truth.
Let me point out here that to backburn you have only to apply for a permit, not from the Greens, but from your local RFS, not, I repeat FROM THE GREENS.
Fire permits – NSW Rural Fire Service – rfs.nsw.gov.au
Fire permits help ensure that fire is used safely. A permit sets out the rules around how a fire is lit and maintained, and lets firefighters know when you are conducting burning activities on your property. Fire permits are available for free from the NSW RFS. To get a fire permit…
In August 2019 when the RFS usually carries out backburning, conditions were deemed too dangerous. We were in the middle of a drought and erratic winds were making the task difficult for the RFS. The Greens had nothing to do with this decision.
I have written many blogs about the psychic and spiritual pollution created by psychotically-greedy billionaires and the political gaslighting that creates these ongoing oil-grabbing wars in the Middle East but I have not until today written about the physical pollution created by climate change.
He has also posited that his anti-fouling paint has a useful by-product in the form of increased speed in yachting craft, liners, ferries, ocean-going vessels and even aircraft. Even a slight increase in speed will save gallons of fuel and lower the carbon footprint significantly.
He tends to keep to himself these days and only his very trusted family and friends are privvy to his genius solutions. He knows I’m writing this and is happy to provide a simple layman’s explanation of Climate Change for those who can’t quite get to grips with it.
The Green House Gas Issue
My Understanding of it, Marcus Scammell PhD
My degrees are in Science specialising in Marine Ecology. My PhD was focused on the impacts of antifouling paints (containing TBT) on the intertidal environment with an emphasis on the impact on commercial oyster production. After qualifying in the early nineties, I was employed with Sydney Water measuring the impacts of Sydney Water’s activities on aquatic environments and later the success or otherwise of engineering solutions to reduce Sydney Water pollution impacts. I left Sydney Water a few years ago and am now working on an alternative to toxic antifouling paints.
My sister has asked me to explain how the green house gas issue works so I will try to explain it in the way I understand it.
What is a Fossil Fuel?
Fossil fuels are Hydrocarbons. Unsurprisingly Hydrocarbons are made up predominantly of hydrogen and carbon of varying sized molecules. They occurred when dead forests became trapped under sediment (coal) or when dead sea creatures accumulated on the bottom of shallow seas and became trapped under sediment (oil, diesel, petrol etc.). They readily burn in the presence of atmospheric oxygen creating usable heat and releasing carbon dioxide and water.
So, in short, we take carbon buried in the ground, burn it, releasing carbon to the atmosphere.
My car has an eighty-litre fuel tank which I fill with gasoline. Gasoline is a mixture of shortish hydrocarbons and has a specific gravity of between 0.71 to 0.77. What that means is a litre of gasoline weighs between 710 grams to 770 grams. For the sake of this example lets assume a litre of Gasoline weighs 740 grams. So, a full tank of Gasoline in my car weighs roughly 59 kilograms.
The chemistry of Gasoline combustion is often simplified to the combustion of a molecule called Benzine, a major component of Gasoline. The equation looks like the following:
C8H18 + 12.5 O2 → 8 CO2 + 9 H2O
If we assume that the combustion of each litre of Gasoline (Benzine) is complete, i.e. all Benzine is burnt. Then we can estimate how many kilograms of Carbon Dioxide is produced per kilogram of burnt Benzine. The molecular weight of Benzine (C8H18) is approximately 115.672. The molecular weight of 12.5 Oxygen atoms (O2) derived from the atmosphere is approximately 199.9875. The molecular weight of 8 Carbon Dioxide atoms (CO2) released to the atmosphere is approximately 352.072. The molecular weight of 9 Water molecules (H2O) released to the atmosphere is approximately 162.135. Thus, the ratio of Benzine, burnt to Carbon Dioxide released is approximately 115.672 to 352.072 or approximately 1:3. Thus complete combustion of 1 kilogram of liquid Benzine produces approximately 3 kilograms of gaseous Carbon Dioxide.
So, one tank of Gasoline (approximately 59 kilograms) produces approximately 177 kilograms of gaseous Carbon Dioxide (a green-house gas).
I use approximately one tank of gasoline a week (Australia is a big country and I drive a lot). My car turns carbon that was originally in the ground into atmospheric Carbon Dioxide at a rate of about 170 kilograms per week.
Scale that Up
If we look back to the beginning of steam engines and the combustion of coal through to the production of internal combustion engines and on to the jet engine and multiply that by the number of engines both past and present it is not that hard to see that every engine producing 100s of kilograms of Carbon Dioxide per week or per day or per hour (big ships) depending on the size of the machine, we’ve got an awful lot of Carbon Dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere (carbon that has been sourced from under the ground).
This does not include the other greenhouse gases that fossil fuel combustion also produces but it gives some idea of the scale of the problem.
Earth, Heating and Cooling
I am going to massively oversimplify this bit so be warned my scientific friends, if you want to explain this in the detail it deserves, go ahead.
During the day, when our part of the planet faces the Sun, the surface heats up. Now, we are protected from the more harmful radiation by the Earth’s magnetosphere which deflects the most dangerous particles around the planet. The atmosphere filters out a lot of the UV light and the water cycle and the plants help slow the heating of the planet so during the day we don’t cook. At night the planet releases that heat back to outer space but not all the heat is lost thanks to the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere along with heat retained in the water cycle and the biomass on our planet. So, at night we don’t freeze.
Simply put, increasing greenhouse gases reduces the heat loss at night (I warned you my scientific friends). The Sun heats us up each day, but less heat is lost. That happens the next day and the day after that and the year after that and the decade after that. Gradually increasing the average temperature on the surface. The more greenhouse gas accumulates the more the cycle is exacerbated.
But the Earth is Big, and the Carbon Cycle is Complicated.
True! Photosynthesis regulates the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. Plants actively take carbon dioxide and water and turn it into sugar and oxygen. Erosion of rocks also regulates carbon dioxide as does sequestration into soil, absorption into the ocean, and other processes. But the problem is we are releasing greenhouse gases that were sequestered into the soil millions of years ago, faster than natural processes can take it back up. Hence its concentration in the atmosphere is increasing.
But, my sceptical friends, how do we know that the carbon in the atmosphere is predominantly from fossil fuels and not due to deforestation (also caused by us) or damage to soil microbial communities from agriculture (let me think, also caused by us).
This is where some really clever science comes in. As ice accumulates in glaciers and at the poles it traps bits of atmosphere in it. A small proportion of Carbon that is exposed to sunlight becomes irradiated forming the isotope C14. Carbon that is not exposed to sunlight decays back to its stable form which I think is C13. This takes a long time, in the order of 5,000 years. So, carbon that is buried in the fossil fuel deposits has a very different ratio of C14 to C13 than carbon in the atmosphere.
When ice cores are extracted, the trapped gases can be analysed, from, for example, three hundred years ago. This can be measured for both carbon dioxide content and isotope ratio. In recent times the carbon dioxide concentration trapped in these ices has increased telling us that CO2 in our atmosphere is indeed going up and this trend started around the time of the industrial revolution. Secondly, the isotope ratio is changing. The extra carbon dioxide isotope ratio is low in C14 indicating that its source has only recently been exposed to the atmosphere. It has the isotope ratio of a fossil fuel.
It is the combination of understanding the sheer volume of greenhouse gases we emit and the clever chemistry of the isotope scientists that has convinced most scientists that this is real, and we need to do something about it. I hope this helps others understand this issue.