Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 38

Published: 17 Sept 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

I Fought the Law, but the Law Won

East Wing, the White House
Washington, DC
August 1, 2018

President Hawkins's confidence in the career civil servants at the Federal Election Commission had not been misplaced. At his Monday news conference, he was flanked by a handful of FEC employees.

"After an exacting and difficult investigation, the Federal Election Commission has sent letters to seventeen 501(c)4 political action committees ordering them to cease and desist all operations until a review of their status had been completed."

Washington Standard, August 3, 2018: Senator Settles Suit. Senator Macon Randolph has settled for an undisclosed amount a defamation suit brought by the family of a deceased aide.

Lady Chapel, National Cathedral
Washington, DC
August 3, 2018

"How much of our money went to the family of that queer?" the Bishop asked.

"Impossible to tell, sir," Mr. Lennox said. "However, we've been careful that the church's money has not gone directly to the senator."

"You say that, but he's got his fingers in the pie, somewhere," the Bishop groused.

Washington Standard, August 14, 2018: Church Tied to Offshore Accounts. We have received credible information that the IRS has identified illegal offshore accounts in the name of political action committees, including at least seven closely linked to the Universal Fundamentalist Church.

At press time, the UFC had not responded to requests for comment.

Lady Chapel, UFC Cathedral
Washington, DC
August 15, 2018

"I thought we were isolated from those PACs," the Bishop said. "How did they make the connection?"

"I'm still working on that, sir. The computer security firm you hired has found nothing, but somehow the government has found links between us and the PACs and the off-shore accounts."

Mr. Lennox was remarkably calm, but none of the leadership noticed. Mr. Lennox was calm because he had put into place some plans that he did not share with the Bishop and the Elders.

_Global Explorer_
-0.04, -100.5
August 15, 2018

At twelve, the triplets were among the youngest kids on board; however, they were big and bright for their age, and it hadn't been hard to integrate them into the classes and activities.

Nicky and I conspired with the kitchen staff and the captain to celebrate their thirteenth birthday—a welcome to the world of teenagers. Actually, I wasn't looking forward to them becoming teens. Part of that was knowing that they would likely find even more ways to cause trouble.

Part of that was knowing that they would be losing the innocence of childhood. Dad and Francesca and I had tried very hard to help them learn about the real world as well as the world in which they lived—the world of Anconia, with walls and guards—without frightening them. That was about to be over.

Automotive World, August 20, 2018: Hydrogen Powered Vehicle Takes Car World by Storm. The world's first hydrogen powered car, the Anconia Escapade has begun tests, and is expected to enter production in the next few months. In addition to carbon-nanotube construction, the car is said to be powered entirely by a hydrogen fusion engine.

_Global Explorer_
Galapagos Islands
August 20—September 30

We had more than 7,000 nautical miles and nearly three weeks to plan our visit to the Galapagos. I was particularly concerned about the impact several hundred visitors would have on the islands ecosystems. Our friends in Greenpeace had a saying: The Galapagos are where the animals study the tourists to see if evolution has really happened. I also knew that some people had named this epoch the Anthropocene, because of humans' impact on the climate and our responsibility for the extinction of scores, perhaps thousands of species. I didn't want to find myself or the Explorer named as a villain.

Dr. Gannon and I prepared a briefing for the campers and Sea Cadets. We wanted them to know that our mission wasn't just to take pictures and disturb the wildlife. Despite the precautions taken by the Ecuadoran government, there were enough tourists doing that, already.

We got everyone together in the auditorium. Dr. Gannon began. "The ship's intranet has more than 100 popular articles and more than 300 scientific papers about the Galapagos and the many species of plants and animals that live there. Darwin's books are also available, and you may download any of this material to your iPads."

I had agreed to deliver the hard part. "Before you may visit any of the islands, or scuba or snorkel near them, you will be expected to prepare a proposal describing what you want to study and how you plan to study it. There's a guide explaining how to do that on the intranet, and a fill-in-the-blanks form, too."

Then, Dr. Gannon let them down, softly. "All your teachers, all the UN Science Corps, and all members of the science staff will be available to help you. We are not seeking to make your lives difficult; we are looking for ideas."

Before we arrived, two students from Iceland brought an unanticipated problem to our attention. The human residents of the Galapagos were paying some of the highest prices in the world for electricity. What they had came from imported oil, and they were looking for alternatives. They had rejected wind, because they knew that wind turbines were bird-killers, and the Galapagos were home to some incredible and unique bird species. They had rejected solar because they were subject to weeks-at-a-time monsoon rains. However, they were eager to sign on to the latest notion, geothermal power.

As these students pointed out, the problem with geothermal was that the wastewater from those power plants—heated water laden with all kinds of dissolved minerals—was a terrible pollutant that could find its way into the ocean. Specifically, the pristine ocean that was home to unique and now endangered species. The situation was Antarctica, and the "protection of marine life conference," all over again. Except that this time, we didn't have an international community to depend on. It was going to be up to us.

A call to Jonathan, and then another to Dad gave me the go-ahead. I sent a message to the Anconia office in Guayaquil, and asked that it be delivered by hand to the president. In it, I explained H-power, and offered to install generating plants on each island that was inhabited by people. The reply was unexpected. I guess I thought no one would turn down Anconia, much less cheap and clean power.

I read between the lines. The people of Ecuador, like those of many countries in South and Central America, had been jerked around by conquerors since the 1500s, when the Spanish conquistadores had poisoned the land with their religion, diseases, and greed. Ecuador had shrugged off most of that yoke, but was still sensitive to any efforts by foreigners to interfere in their affairs. The reply from the president was polite but firm. They weren't interested. We would be as welcome as any tourist ship to the Galapagos, but we were nothing special in their eyes.

We had less than a week before we reached the Galapagos. I knew the situation was untenable. As in absolutely unacceptable. But what to do? A long talk with Nicky and several of the high-school students whose proposals for research looked most promising, gave me the answer.

I called a meeting in the auditorium of all the Sea Cadets and high school students. I saw that all the off-watch UNSC people had joined, as had many of the crew.

"I know that a bunch of you sent emails to your parents after we were attacked by that Korean ship. I know that you told them you were doing something important and that you wanted to be able to keep doing that.

"You are at the locus—the center—of the most important thing happening today: the preservation of this planet not only for humanity, but also for the millions of species who are our co-inhabitants.

"I know that some of you learned from the Marshallese kids their understanding of the unity of life in a way that does not depend on the many revealed religions.

"I honor you and I love you for that.

"Today, I'm asking you to make a grand effort to protect the Galapagos. I'm asking you to send those emails, not only to your parents but also to your friends, to your local newspapers, to your politicians.

"The people of Ecuador are rightfully concerned about the real cost of the hydrogen power we have offered. They wonder, rightfully, if it is a wedge that we will drive into their society—if it's the camel's nose under the tent. It is not.

"Between the Sea Cadets and the high school students, more than 90 countries are represented. If those countries—even if only many of them—reassured Ecuador, then perhaps we can stop the potential environmental disaster that geothermal power could create.

"What you need to know—all facts gathered by you and your peers—is on the ship's intranet. If anyone has questions about the science, about the facts, you are free to contact me or any member of the UN Science Corps, any member of the science team.

"Do I have an agenda? Yes. I am ready to offer hydrogen power, but with caveats. One is that the human population of the islands be stabilized and eventually reduced until there is only a caretaker staff here. Another is that tourism be reduced, and limited to set areas.

"There's going to be a lot of pushback, not only from the government, but also from the cruise lines who profit from the rape of these islands."

I paused just long enough that they thought I had finished my speech. Then, I asked, "Will you—"

Before I could finish that sentence, every kid in the auditorium was on his or her feet, cheering. Someone started a chant: "Yes, yes, yes, yes … " bounced off the walls until another chant began. "Galapagos … Global; Galapagos … Global." I understood they didn't mean just the Global Explorer, but also that its mission—and theirs—was global.

@sciencetruthnolies: enough energy in explorer auditorium to power galapagos for next 100 years

We had put a video of the program on Francesca's web site, and were not surprised that Sciencetruth had picked up on it.

This was another of those "do it because it is right" things. It was also a long-term thing that was not settled for several months after we left. The assurances that Anconia Industries and the international community offered were enough. On the other hand, the Ecuadorans didn't have the resources to implement the agreement. That took a lot of behind-the-scenes maneuvering, but when a consortium of universities from seventeen countries agreed to provide support, the Universidad Central de Ecuador happily signed on as leader of the consortium. It looked like we might be successful, after all.

Ergon Energy Board Room
Bala Cynwyd, PA
August 21, 2018

"Why didn't we see this hydrogen car thing coming?"

"Too late to ask that. The question is, what are we going to do?"

"Go on the offensive. We have people in the NTSB. We've been paying them for years. Now, use them."

"And if that doesn't work?"

The chairman cracked his knuckles. "We have hundreds of roustabouts, thousands. They will be put out of work. They will be angry. All we need to do is point them in the right direction. To Anconia plants.

Alexander Anconia's Journal
August 21, 2018

The pushback from damn near everyone threatened the new Escapade.

I would have thought that the biggest pushback would have come from the other auto manufacturers. And they did complain until Dad said that as soon as the "test phase" was over, hydrogen engines and nanotube body parts would be offered to others. The Navajo were already building their second carbon nanotube plant. Dad's decision was based purely on money: the profit margin on automobiles was small; the profit margin on H-powered engines was huge. And we'd still be "doing what is right."

The biggest pushback, however, came from the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB demanded that we prove that the H-powered Escapade was "safe," although they didn't put any specifics on what they meant by "safe." Typical bureaucrats!

I wondered why Dad didn't challenge them … and then saw how he did! It was hard for me to read the press release without giggling … and I knew that Francesca had been part of it.

"Anconia Industries will be happy to demonstrate the safety of the hydrogen-powered Escapade, and propose a demonstration at the NTSB test track in Virginia. At a time of your choosing, we will drop an H-powered vehicle onto the test track from an altitude of 45,000 feet."

Before that was necessary, however, President Todd had replaced the leadership of the NTSB—fired them, actually—and the test was unnecessary.

@sciencetruthnolies: anconia and others can make cars that don't pollute would like to have seen the test though

_Global Explorer_
Flight Deck
August 27, 2018

We had been at the Galapagos only about a week before a hundred new fall semester high school students began arriving by Clipper, and had to be integrated into the ship's life and our research. Francesca was a step ahead of me, there, and they all arrived with research proposals in hand. I reluctantly sent her a thank you message.

Quick Snack "Convenience" Store
Arlington, Virginia
August 30, 2018

An aide to UFC Bishop Boggs glanced at the magazines and newspapers displayed at the checkout. And gasped. The photograph of the Bishop was a little blurred on the cheap newsprint, but the headline was clear: "Bad Boy Bishop Boggs." The teaser was more frightening: "Links to Mafia Questioned." The aide grabbed a copy of the paper to go with his coffee, and hurried back to his car.

Elsewhere in Virginia, Francisco Anconia washed newsprint from his hands. He chuckled. And then called his daughter.

"Good work, kiddo, getting the Boggs article printed."

"Wasn't hard, Daddy. I bought the paper."

When Francisco remained silent, she added, "They are the most popular tabloid, and the ROI is going to be about 35%, especially with all the dirt we have on the UFC."

Francisco still said nothing.

"Daddy? There are so many shell companies involved that no one could ever trace it back to me. Besides, the triplets got to register Alexander's ship as a trademark, and they're now ahead of me by at least three and a half-million dollars. They're my little brothers!"

"Like I said," Francisco finally spoke, "Good work, kiddo. You know that it's been years since I've been able to claim any of you as dependents on my personal income tax, don't you?"

"Love you, Daddy."

"Love you, Francesca."

There was a dot-pdf file of the tabloid in Nicky's email. He called me to look at it.

"Why a tabloid?" he asked.

"I think it's something from Sun Tzu," I said. "We're attacking on another front. Most of the sheep who are members of the UFC or other fundamentalist and evangelical religions are the uneducated, the nearly illiterate, the ones who read the tabloids. Do you know they're written at the third grade reading level?"

Lady Chapel, UFC Cathedral
Washington, DC
September 5, 2018

"The lawsuit has been expanded. They've named seven more individual churches."

"Where is that Goddamned atheist organization getting their money?"

"Anconia, almost certainly. There's no one else … "

"Can we prove it?"

"No, sir. We can't."


"What about this … newspaper?" the Bishop asked. No one needed to ask what newspaper he meant.

"Sir, they're just on the edge of libel. But just that … on the edge. They've never been successfully sued, and they have a way of getting large settlements from people who try to sue them. I don't think—"

"That's just it! You don't think. Sue them! We have greater resources than they."

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