Act I: The earth is in danger of overheating. Sam Scientist has made a critical discovery and is running around waving data sheets in the air and warning everyone of the coming calamity . . . but no one is paying much attention. Joe Politician, being Joe Politician, tries to shush the doomsayer – “We don’t want to create a panic,” he says, “Just do what you have to do to fix it.” “This isn’t something I can fix on my own,” Sam calls to Joe’s retreating back as Joe returns his attention to baby kissing.
Act II: The climate is showing signs of stress. Weather-related disasters are more violent, more frequent. Sam is back with even more data to substantiate his fears. He implores Joe to listen and take action. “I thought I told you to fix it,” Joe growls from the side of his mouth without missing a single wave to his cheering public. This time Sam is not so easily dismissed. He follows Joe into the crowd calling in strident tones, “We have got to do something before it is too late or mankind will be facing extreme hardship for the next one thousand years.” The crowd grows quiet as all eyes focus on Joe’s calm, smiling face. Joe turns the attention to Sam with a sweep of his hand. “This man,” he tells the crowd, “has come to me with an unproven theory that the earth is getting warmer. He wants you to drive less, consume less, change your light bulbs and adjust your thermostats. He wants me to tax you for your energy use. He wants me to take your hard-earned money and invest it in fancy, schmancy new technologies that will cost billions of dollars. What do you want?” Joe asks the crowd with a smirk. “Should I raise your taxes?” “No new taxes!!” the crowd calls in response. “Should I invest your money in unproven technology?” “No new spending!!” the crowd calls in response. “Should we cut back on consumption?” “No new rules,” the crowd roars, “let’s go shopping!” With a grim face, Sam turns away, muttering under his breath. “Do what I told you in the first place,” Joe calls to the forlorn figure. “Fix it!”
Act III: A jubilant Sam strides confidently into Joe’s office. “I’ve done it!” he exclaims loudly, “I’ve figured out how to fix it!” Joe leans back in his chair and puts his feet on the desk. “I knew you would,” he grins. “I have every confidence in your abilities! So, tell me, what’s your plan?” “I’m going to build a cannon .6 miles in diameter,” Sam begins. “And I’m going to load it with tons of little mirror-like lenses. Then I’m going to blast the mirrors a million miles out into space. They will fan out and form a shield about 100,000 miles square. This shield will reflect enough sunlight so that earth won’t overheat after all.” “Brilliant!” Joe replies. “When can you have this ready?” “In twenty or thirty years. Of course, I’ll need money to build this thing. Oh, and the mirrors will need replacing every fifty years or so.” “Every fifty years -- for how long?” “Oh, I don’t know – a thousand years -- maybe longer.” “What about this cannon. Is it safe?” “Well, not really. As a matter of fact, it’s enormously dangerous.” “And what about the mirrors, any chance they could cool the earth too much? Or disrupt photosynthesis and plant growth? Or that we wouldn’t get enough sunlight to keep our tans?” “Don’t know until we try it, do we?” “Sounds great!! How much did you say this would cost?” “Well, I’m figuring $350 trillion but you know -- cost overruns, inflation, resource depletion, peak oil – who can say for sure? But heck, if it can save the world for centuries to come, it’s gotta be worth it!”
No, wait!! Hollywood won’t buy off on this one. Even the most hardcore sci-fi fans expect some degree of plausibility. Something this crazy could never be fiction, it could only be true.