The Power Plant

by Dan Beeston

I'm an aquaductic engineer here. Basically, it's my job to make sure the power plants have enough water. It's amazing how much water you need to keep these things going. Still it's not like there's any shortage. That's the platform that allowed this thing to go ahead all those years ago. Forget the fact that we yield more power than all the wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean combined. Forget how safe it's been proven to be. As long as we're using plenty of fresh water those guys up on capital hill are content.

I'm probably getting ahead of myself here, You've never seen the power plants before, have you? They're housed here in the arbouretum. Hang on, we're almost through the decon. Sorry, the decontamination chamber. It doesn't take long going in, but coming out,... The system has to make sure you're not taking any seeds outside the complex. These genetically modified power plants could GET OUT AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD. HA HA HAAAA!!!

No, I don't take those accusations seriously. For one thing, GE produce has been a part of our society for over fifty years now. People are always finding benefits and detriments to new foods but you take a good look at malnutrition figures over the last three decades alone and see how detrimental they are. People are generally healthier now.

Well, these plants are different, sure. But they're not dangerous. I mean, they'd make a nasty weed to clean up from your back yard and that's why the place has these chambers. Much safer than a nuclear reactor. Hell it's safer than one of those power sails in the Atlantic. You know those things still kill the occasional bird.

Ah here we go,... The arbouretum. This is where the power plants grow.

Yes, a lot of people are surprised by how small everything is. That's because they're used to seeing solar farms that stretch out to the horizon. and they expect the trees to be bigger. The thing is they're not actually trees. It's Bull kelp.

Yep that's right. A seaweed. but it's grown on a specially designed lattice that maximises exposure to sunlight.

Heh, that's true. Okay, so it's a genetic offshoot of Bull kelp. The story goes that one of the guys here, Dave Shuman, was trying to figure out the best way to develop new solar cells. He listening to some guy at a convention explaining evolutionary engineering and the guy said 'I guess you could say our eventual goal is to evolve a solar cell that's as efficient as a leaf on a tree'. Now, Dave's a smart guy. Among other things he's done doctorates in both biology and engineering. He figured, that if that step had already been taken by nature, all he needed to do was get all that energy that was turning into mass, and change it into electrical power.

Well, that's why Dave turned to Mike. Mike Grant is a brilliant genetic engineer. He came up with the original design. It involved putting some electric-eel DNA into the plant life. I'm over-simplifying here. I really don't know the details at this point, but you get the,..

SHIT!!! NO!!!!

AHAH HA Ha!!! Sorry, No, you can touch it. I'm just messing with you. You'll feel a slight 'buzz'. It's all pretty safe in this kind of weather. I know that in the middle of summer it's not uncommon to get stung but it's no worse that a standard electric fence.

Overcast weather does drop production a bit, yeah. But it's not nearly as bad as the Greenies would have you believe, and anyway I don't seriously believe that we're suffering from too much water anyway.

Oh I know it's confrontational. But the man on the street just doesn't have the information. CNNBC keeps frightening people with crazy doomsday scenarios but if you look into the numbers it just doesn't add up. All those hydrogen based vehicles don't make that much water. It's ridiculous to think that our environment is going to saturate like that.

I don't care what the scientists say. I'm a scientist, and I'm not on the payroll for one of these 'green corporations' and the numbers simply do not add up. Look, you might be too young to remember but when I was a kid, there was this huge freak-out about too much Carbon dioxide in the air. Everyone thought that we'd caused a massive greenhouse effect that was going to slowly poach us alive.

I know the earth was showing signs of heating up, but they finally figured out is was just the sun's natural cycle. That's not my point. Before that, it was a pesticide pandemic or an upcoming ice-age. My point is that human beings feed on excitement. These doomsday scenarios are never as bad as they're made out to be, and just like the Global warming of the early twentieth century, I'm confident that this excess of saturation will soon be proved to be just another part of the natural cycle.

Oh Lord No! That's not the official position of the company. You'd better cut that from the final article. Oh, and that bit where I was making light of the dangers of GE. I mean, I don't think all these safety procedures are necessary but I abide by them. I'd hate to be wrong, you know. Well, I think that's pretty much all you'd be interested in. Feel free to take a couple of photos and then we'd better get back to the decon. It'll take two hours in total.

Yeah,.. it only takes fifteen minutes for the decontaminator but with the door sealing, the six stage air filter and the radiation,.. just over two hours. Of course you could drop that down to 20 minutes if it wasn't for the regulations and it'd still be just as safe.

I know it's insane, but we've got to make the Greenies up on Capital Hill happy. They're the ones who pay our wages. And hey! At least you've got someone to talk to. I usually have to do this thing by myself.