Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Lecture

[Media prompt] Five EU countries face court action if they don't take steps to reduce dangerously high nitrogen dioxide pollution [which is] responsible for more than 10,000 premature deaths in Germany in a single year.
The Lecture

“It was only after the so-called ‘Final Warning Letter’ from the commissars in Brussels that scientists were able to develop counter-measures to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels. This was back in 2017.”

Professor Müller took a sip from his water bottle, and as he screwed the lid on said, “Most of you weren’t even born by then.”

A handful of students, the ones listening to every word, the ones in the front desks, laughed.

“We had readings of more than double the permissible level in over thirty locations in Germany. Can you imagine?”

He displayed a map overlaid with red circles. It didn’t seem so bad when you saw it like that, microscopic spots on a green map. How many people were really harmed?

“At these levels,” he said, “NO2 was killing about 10,000 people prematurely each year.”

I neatly pencilled 10,000 onto the page where I had been drawing a cowboy on a horse, with its legs looking decidedly unnatural, circling it several times and underlining it once so that it stood out. Then I erased it and drew it onto the cowboy’s hatband.

“I was on the team that developed the first strategic framework for NO2 reduction.”

Professor Müller paused to let that sink in. Perhaps I should have drawn a scientist on a horse, his lab coat flapping in the wind. He showed a picture of himself next to Angela Merkel and some people I didn’t recognise, all of them smiling or laughing as they stood astride their NO2-reducing bicycles. I thought of drawing Merkel on a bicycle, but went off the idea. I focussed on getting the horse’s legs right; the trick wasn’t so much in the anatomy but making it look like all four legs were working in unison. It’s harder than you think.

When I finished, I looked up. The professor was ending his lecture; “By combining them, we were able to reduce NO2 dramatically and, more importantly, reduced premature deaths to zero.”

The Germans really are the worst people in Europe, I thought, worse than the Dutch. And German scientists are the worst of all; so full of themselves with their petty little projects, so proud of their meagre accomplishments. If he and his Merkel-worshipping sycophants were at all concerned about deaths in Germany, they’d have been better off expending their brains and energy elsewhere.

When the professor asked for questions, I raised my hand.

“Thank you for your fascinating overview of how you saved so many lives,” I said, closing my sketch pad. “But I wonder if you could tell me why Islam wasn’t listed as a life threatening pollutant in 2017, along with NO2?”

There was a cry of outrage from the middle rows, and it was a good thing I’d packed the equaliser, which I now extracted from my backpack and placed on the desk with a loud clunk. Several of the dull-eyed sub-Saharans who now dominated our classes sat back down in their seats; they might have low IQs and poor impulse control, but they’re not suicidal.

Professor Müller stammered something I didn’t catch.

“Because it’s fascinating to hear you talk about reducing deaths caused by gas,” I continued, “when Merkel the Destroyer let in millions of Muslim refugees, who are now responsible for the deaths of more Germans than NO2 ever was.”

“I’m German, too,” shouted a loud mouthed woman on my right. “I have just as much right to be here as you.”

I slipped my sketchbook into the backpack, zipping it and standing up.

“No, you’re not,” I said. “And no you don’t.”

I picked up my little friend and slid off the safety. Then all hell broke loose. 

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