Greenhouse gases: The life of your next party?
It is truly amazing the interesting people you meet here in Aspen. I thought that the AT&T marketing executive from New York that I met back in the 80s who dressed in elf clothes whenever he was on vacation pointy-toed shoes and all topped them all. But, I met a new contender this week.His name is Hop Hitenschtompel (you think Im kidding), and hes about as normal as you or me well, you anyway. He was visiting from Atlanta and I met him when he joined our threesome for a round of golf between snowstorms earlier this week. What makes him unique is what he does for a living. A few years ago, on the dawn of the current environmental crises, he launched a company that manufacturers and sells greenhouse gases. Yep, thats what I said. His company is called AtmonStech, Co., and I interviewed him between putts. All I had available for notes were a golf pencil, a scorecard and the back of a Swisher Sweets box, but I think that I got most of our conversation down:Roger Marolt: Youre kidding me, right? You said you manufacture greenhouse gasses. Dont you mean that you produce greenhouse gasses as a by-product of manufacturing something else?Hop Hitenschtompel: No. You heard me correctly. We manufacture and sell greenhouse gasses. Its basically the same stuff that comes out of the tailpipe or your car.RM: Why?HH: Well, I guess we got into it for the same reason any other business person would. We saw a potential demand and decided to meet it.RM: Youre pulling my leg.HH: Not at all. We recognized the immediate and profound interest people have in our overheating planet. We are scientists by training and noticed some of the misconceptions about global warming and greenhouse gasses that many people have. We came up with the idea to add coloring to various gasses so that people could release them in their own backyards and witness exactly how they rise and expand as they are absorbed into our atmosphere.RM: I cant imagine that there was much business in that.HH: And you would be right. Sales were poor to say the least, but one day we were doing a demonstration release for a potential client. As we explained what was happening, her children watched on in amazement. Of course, they didnt care one iota about the science behind the product, they were just completely entertained by it, the various colors swirling into the sky and all that. It gave us the idea that helped us go big!RM: And that was HH: We inadvertently got into the entertainment business! We started doing birthday parties for kids. We made the carbon dioxide one color and the ozone another, and, since they have different weights, they make spectacular, ever-changing patterns as they rise above the ground and mix with the air. Pretty soon we were doing barbecues and beach parties. Eventually we developed a portable indoor ventilation system that allows the gasses to swirl around a living room for a few minutes before being vacuumed out. It is an incredible cocktail party conversation starter.Eventually we mixed different scents with the different gasses that result in very pleasing effects. We came up with a phosphorescent blend so that some of our combinations glow in the dark. We have also experimented successfully with varying temperatures for the gasses. Our higher-end blends that combine many of the special effects are pricey, but people cant seem to get enough of them. In 2006, we sold only 5 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Last year, we sold more than 48 million metric tons of gasses and are in the process of taking the company public. Next year, you will see our colored gasses at rock concerts all over the world. We are even negotiating for the worlds largest ever one-time release of greenhouse gasses at half-time of the Super Bowl. Itll be spectacular! Our name is suddenly very recognizable and we are using the momentum to brand in the luxury products market.RM: Youre not kidding then. You actually market greenhouse gasses! I assume that these greenhouse gasses you are selling, purely for entertainment purposes, are just as damaging to the environment as the ones that come out of a trucks diesel engine or a steel factorys smokestacks.HH: Absolutely. A greenhouse gas is a greenhouse gas, and we dont try to hide that fact. We own up to the damage we are doing. At the same time, we are fully committed to reducing the impacts we have on the planet. By the year 2016, we will offset 100 percent of the greenhouse gas we are manufacturing through the purchase of carbon credits. Already, we are producing more than half of our greenhouse gasses using biofuels. The factory where our 285 internal combustion engines produce the gasses 24 hours each day is sustainability-certified and made completely of renewable bamboo. It is solar heated in the winter and geothermally cooled in the summer. Each of our two-dozen 5,000-gallon underground gasoline storage tanks is made of recycled carpet fibers. Our employees have started a foundation, through automatic payroll deductions, to save the Boreal rain forest. Our commitment to the environment is absolutely unmatched in the industry.RM: But still, your business is purposefully manufacturing greenhouse gasses to sell for a profit! What do you say to people about that?HH: All we can do is our best. After all, we are a business. We need to remain competitive. We hope that our demonstrated commitment to the environment will convince people that purchasing greenhouse gasses from us for their next party is the best alternative.RM: I have to say that I think what you are doing just seems wrong, regardless. How do you ultimately justify producing toxic pollution that destroys the environment purely for the sake of your customers entertainment?HH: Youve got to live, baby. Besides, we dont see that what were doing is much different than most other businesses.Roger Marolt reluctantly admits that parts of this interview are not true. Hes about out of gas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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