Filling Up


A WARBLING CHARM of magpies in the macrocarpa serenaded the windy forecourt of the service station. Two weather-beaten cockies were filling up their mud-splattered gas-guzzlers and chatting away to one another in the desultory fashion of their kind.

“What do you reckon on this latest attempt to make us pay for climate change?”, said the farmer in the blue windbreaker.

“Not much.”, said the farmer wearing a green jersey. “It’s just like all the others. Designed to make the townies feel better. Won’t make a bit of difference out here.”

The two men hung up their respective hoses and ambled into the station to pay for their purchases.

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Gidday, Bharat!”, said Green Jersey, “What’s the damage?”

“For the petrol? $112.00. To the planet? Incalculable.”

“You’re in the wrong business for a Greenie, Bharat. I keep telling you.”

“Yes, you do. And I keep telling you that it doesn’t matter what any of us do. What humanity has unleashed cannot now be stopped.”

“So you keep telling us,” said Blue Windbreaker. “But if it can’t be stopped, then what’s the point of worrying about it?”

“That’s right,” chipped in Green Jersey, “que sera, sera.”

“You know what makes me laugh, Bharat me old mate?” Blue Windbreaker continued.

“I could not possibly imagine, my friend, but I suspect I’m about to find out.”

“You most certainly are. And it’s this. New Zealand’s entire contribution to climate change represents just 0.17 percent of global emissions. That is zero-point-one-seven, Bharat. Not even two-tenths of one percent. That’s what all this fuss is about: zero-point-one-seven-fucking-percent. Mr James-bloody-Shaw could pass a law shutting down everything. Every factory, every farm, every tractor and every car. He could order the whole damn country planted-out in Kauri, Rimu, Kahikatea and Totara, and have every last human-being shipped across the Tasman to bother the Aussies. And guess what? The world wouldn’t even notice. That’s how big a difference we would make, Bharat. Hell! The Aussies themselves, with five times our population, only contribute 1 percent!”

The service-station owner handed over Green Jersey’s receipt.

“What do I owe you?”, said Blue Windbreaker.

“Yours is $97.50.”

The farmer hands over his card and scratches his chin.

“That was a mighty sobering piece of information we just heard. Mighty sobering. I’m afraid I have nothing to match it statistics-wise. What I’ve got, Bharat, is more in the nature of an observation.”

“Truly, I am being heaped high with the wisdom of my customers this blustery afternoon”, replies the service-station’s owner, as the magpies unleash a fresh volley of cackles.

“Yes, you are, Bharat. So pay close attention. What occurs to me every time I hear the likes of Russel-bloody-Norman unleashing yet another of his ‘let’s kill all the climate-criminals cows’ tirades – is this. If Climate Change is real. And if, as you say Bharat, it can’t be stopped. Then wouldn’t it make sense for all the bloody townies to be extra bloody nice to us bloody cockies? Right now, there are only 30,000 families who know three-fifths-of-fuck-all about how to grow crops and raise livestock. Thirty-thousand families upon whom the rest of the five million useless bastards who make up this country are going to have rely for everything. The food in their bellies. The clothes on their backs. From what I’ve read, we’ll still be able to grow stuff here, even when the rest of the planet really begins to cook. So, like I say, wouldn’t it make a whole lot of sense for the townies to treat us cockies with just a little bit of fucking respect?”

“Perhaps”, says the service-station’s owner, handing over Blue Windbreaker’s credit card and receipt. “Or, maybe, they think they’ll be able to ride out into the countryside, like the Bolsheviks did on their armoured trains, and commandeer all the food they need from the barns of you climate-change-denying Kulaks?”

“Why am I not surprised that you know stuff like that, Bharat? I wonder if BP knows they’ve sold their franchise to a bloody socialist!”

“Not a socialist, my friend, just a student of history.”

“Yeah? Well here’s another blast from the past. Do you know what the American revolutionaries put on their flag before Betsy Ross sewed them Old Glory?”

“I believe I do. It featured a serpent coiled above the motto ‘Don’t Tread On Me!”

“That’s right! That’s exactly what it said. And that pretty little communist in Wellington better not try. I don’t know about you, neighbour, but if she thinks she’s getting her hands on my semi-automatics then she’s sillier than she looks!”

“Amen to that, mate. Amen to that. And if you ever need a spare box of ammo, don’t you hesitate to ask. I’ve got plenty!”

“You didn’t hear that, Bharat.”

“Hear what, gentlemen? I heard nothing.”

“Hah! You’re a good bastard, Bharat. Even if you are a bloody … historian.”

The cockies climbed up into the cabs of their gas-guzzling utes and hauled out onto the highway in a shower of gravel and a cloud of exhaust fumes.

Bharat watched them go, shook his head, and resumed reading the district library’s pristine copy of A Beginner’s Guide To The Russian Revolution.

The magpies in the macrocarpa chortled.


  1. If fossil fuels have any more directly essential use in serving the needs of mankind than by New Zealand’s farming industry; if there is any use that they could be put to that rates a higher priority it would be good to identify it.
    D J S

    • Flying to European countries to cruise the waterways in luxury whilst penning musings on political history is obviously OK, we all know that, it’s in the Geneva convention probably.
      I got a good laugh from the OP, such a clumsy stereotype is just a wind up.
      Fiction certainly suits Mr Trotters grasp of rural life.

      • Peter and KCC
        I don’t want to knock Chris too hard for his trip overseas ; I did the same last year, but his constant disparagement of the farming community I don’t understand.
        As for the anthropomorphic climate change trip, I accepted like everyone else up till a few months ago when I resolved to try to understand the machinery of it for myself. The concept has not in my mind survived that enquiry. I will have more to say on that in the future.
        D J S

        • I fear you are too kind.
          This is Mr Trotters second “ignorant peasant” piece in 2 days. If one is going to preach on a topic then one can expect to have their own hypocrisy examined.
          At least farmers are earning a living and generate taxes and national income, Trotters climate change sins are for his own pleasure.
          Isnt it the city dwelling bourgeois that revolutions are against, not the stupid peasants? Trotter might put us right.

  2. New Zealand as a country contributes a very small percentage of the total quantity of greenhouse gases , but on a per capita basis we are ranked 22 worst for greenhouse gases emmissions on the list of 184 countries. Therefore what we do DOES matter.

    • It matters because cutting down on greenhouse gases is the right thing to do. Globally what we do matters f..k All. So we are trying to set an example. what can be achieved from it globally is debatable apart from improving NZ farming practice. Commendable. What is real, and part of Chris’s article alluded to it, is that we need our farmers big time. The rest of the people can’t grow their own food. We need to encourage our farmers to improve farming techniques that were barely given thought to twenty years ago but have now been shown not to be best practice. They know this, and are changing accordingly. When the plagues and famines come as we are constantly reminded, and the plastic food disappears off the supermarket shelves, the farmer you know might just become your best friend. I don’t think Chris ‘s article was that far from the mark. All be it tongue in cheek. As for the gas guzzlers, well when there are utes available that can perform without petrol or diesel farmers will buy them.

  3. Next weeks exchange features non productive baby boomers conversing with regards the evils of agriculture onboard their jet plane as they take an overseas vacation which the current generation of workers couldn’t afford, while contributing to the 2.5-3.5% of human induced global warming from air travel.
    No warbling introduced magpies, just the whine of kerosene fueled turbines and the hiss of processed air.
    It’s a hoot.

  4. Very plausible Mr Trotter. Some of it accurate( regarding the firearms).
    My district resembles this scenario greatly.I just wish we had a petrol station and Library that wasn’t an 80 km round trip away.

  5. lol…plausible indeed…one point however, agriculture (and its practitioners) these days is dependent on fossil fuels.

    • And how would you know Frank??? Not having ever lead an agrarian life? Methinks you haven’t a clue about how rural NZ operates. In our district at least one third of the farms run on independent power( solar and wind).A sign of things to come. This area also grows the fastest growing Pinus Radiata in the world. And large grazing blocks are being snapped up by foreign money ( once again a repeat of what occurred here 38 years ago)to grow trees. Many of the logging trucks up here have hybrid motors. Like I said Frank what you know about heartland NZ could be written on the head of a pin with room to spare!!

      • how would i know?…its where i live and work…mine is the next ute at the petrol station in Chris’ story

  6. No offence to Chris Trotter, who is obviously a clever bloke with a formidable grasp of political history, but the purple prose he resorts to occasionally makes part of my brain want to stab itself to death. Less is more, Chris.

  7. 4000kg’s of Co2 for a return trip: Auckland to London per passenger. The poor and the homeless deserve a tax credit for not clocking up the air bragging miles and for having a small carbon footprint.

  8. Um,… don’t mammals down to bacteria emit co2 when they respire? And isn’t all life on earth carbon based?

    So that would mean in order to lower co2 levels and become a zero carbon footprint globe we would have to kill off all life on earth. Perhaps we should nuke the whole planet as an option .The only problem is we would then have a fair bit of global warming and climate change happening rather fast, I should imagine …

    Perhaps it’d be less messy to just plant more trees…

    Oh wait ,… they produce co2 when they respire…

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