Change Greed to Green – Short play in verse
Suitable for Service on Climate Change, The Environment etc.
by Tom Hiscock.
Written in 2008 but just as relevant 10 years on…
(Though the story of the ozone levels has still not finished.)
Optional: A Group to interpret the first poem through Movement and Music, Mime or Dance:
Members of the Pollution Family:
- Carbon Dioxide:
- Industrial Waste:
- Oil Slick:
- Other Evils:
- Climate Change:
Representatives from Green Groups
Enter the Leader.
Leader: “In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth.” He laboured intensively
for 6 days and then He rested. He looked upon His work and, “Saw everything that He had made and, behold, it was good.” It was really good.
[The Producer might like to use a small group to interpret the following poem through music and movement, mime or dance. The group should exit at the end of the poem and may return towards the end as Environmentalists.]
For the graceful green of glorious trees,
For branches swaying in the breeze,
For flower-filled field and rippling stream
Where fish among the rushes gleam,
WE THANK YOU, LORD.
For flowers that open, one by one,
Their petals gleaming in the sun,
Each perfumed, colourful surprise
Attracting bees and butterflies,
WE THANK YOU, LORD
For feathered loveliness and grace,
For tiger’s power and panther’s pace,
For flickering tongues as serpents glide
And burrows where the rabbits hide,
WE THANK YOU, LORD.
For all the marvels You have made,
For the world’s so varied cavalcade;
For all the beauty that we see
In Life’s immortal tapestry,
WE THANK YOU, LORD.
[A group of 6 actors enter. These represent the Pollutant Family and consist of Pollutant himself who introduces and acts as Spokesperson, the gases, Methane and Carbon Dioxide, Industrial Waste, Oil-slick and Deforestation. They are dressed in black. If it is possible to include some motif to suggest who each one is, all the better, though this is not essential. There must be no doubt, however, that they are the Baddies. Pollution stand centre-stage with the Pollutants on either side of him.
[Choral Speech may be used for the following lines:]
We heard your poem, for what it’s worth,
About the beauty of the Earth;
About the wonders that you see
And Life’s immortal tapestry.
What foolish words, for we all know
The Beauty of the World must GO!
We Pollutants know that’s true
And, in your hearts, so do you;
Yes, we’re Pollutants, proud to do
All the harm we can, and YOU, [Points to Audience, dramatically]
Members of the Human Race
Are helping us destroy this place.
Leader: Who are you?
Pollution [bowing]: I am Pollution and this is only part of my great family.
Leader: Well;, you can take them away again. We don’t like them.
Pollution: Oh, I can’t take them away. They’re here to stay. They’re needed.
Pollution: I know you talk about carbon dioxide and the damage it does, but if you
must have cars and exhausts …. [Shrugs]
Carbon Dioxide [Stepping forward]: I’m Carbon Dioxide and I’m everywhere;
Polluting the world, but do you care?
You won’t give up cars and enjoy the walk
So all this ‘Green’ lifestyle is hot air and talk.
You allow me to belch out of chimneys high
And float, heat-laden, up to the sky;
Each of my molecules stores up heat
So my effect on the climate you cannot beat;
I help to create the ‘Greenhouse Effect’,
But you want luxuries – what do you expect?
Pollution [To Carb. Diox]: Yes, but don’t get too cocky or I shall mention ‘Methane’.
Carbon Dioxide [Shrinking]: Not Methane. Please not Methane.
Methane [To Carbon Dioxide]: Methane, that’s me and I tell you true,
I store far more heat than you.
Pollution [Nodding]: That is correct. [To Audience] Did you know that every molecule of Methane stores up twenty times as much heat as one of his?
[Indicating Carbon Dioxide.]
Carbon Dioxide: Yes, but he’s so vulgar.
Methane: I am not. I can’t help it if cows belch.
Carbon Dioxide: True, but they belch out 90 million tonnes of you a year.
Pollution: And it all floats upwards, just like his. [Again indicating Carbon Dioxide.]
Carbon Dioxide: Vulgar. Now I’m produced by burning fossil fuel.
Deforestation: Helped by me. [Carbon Dioxide bows acknowledgement.]
Leader: What horror are you?
Pollution: Oh, he’s Deforestation.
Deforestation: Yes, I’m Deforestation. I’m the tree-feller; the feller that fells trees.
[Laughs] Just my little joke.
Leader: Trees are the lungs of our planet and you joke about cutting them down.
What do you cut them down for?
Deforestation: There’s no profit in Forests. Just a lot of trees standing there doing nothing.
Get rid of them. Clear the land so that crops can be grown and sold to make people
RICH. Palm oil’s the latest craze, so I’m told. But human beings are so predictable –
I expect it’ll be something completely different tomorrow. [Shrugs.] Who cares,
as long as it makes a profit!
Leader: You do immense damage cutting down trees and all you can talk about is profit.
Deforestation: Profit, Sir/Madam, makes the world go round.
Leader [Muttering]: Destroys it, you mean.
Deforestation: Oh no, Sir/Madam, we leave that to the Human Race.
Industrial Discharge [To Pollution]: ‘Ere, are you going to keep me standin’ ‘ere for
ever. I’m old, I am, and I’m fed up listening to these killers.
Pollution: Aren’t you a killer?
Industrial Discharge: Me? I’m a pussy-cat. I’m made up of all those old, unwanted
chemicals the factories throw out. I used to float down the rivers, all
peaceful like, until I reached the sea. But now ….
Industrial Discharge: They’ve introduced laws, you know.They’re so particular.
But sometimes I escape into the rivers and meander down to the sea.
Leader: Killing as you go?
Industrial Waste: Perhaps I do harm a few fish…..
Oil Slick [Nudging him]: A few fish, Old Boy? You’re like me, you do untold damage.
[Nudges again.] You leave rivers dead.
Industrial Discharge: You’re pretty ruthless yourself.
Oil Slick: Oh yes, we Oil Slicks kill seabirds galore and we mess up beaches for
humans, but you have one great advantage, Old Fellow – you’re always around!
Industrial plants have to dispose of their unwanted rubbish.
Industrial Discharge [Staggering and Indignant]: Unwanted Rubbish!! Industrial
Discharge, if you please; Factory Emission; Chemical Outflow …. and
I don’t have to wait for an oil tanker to run aground before I appear.
Oil Slick: Yes, that is annoying. How I long for a good disaster. The thunderous
seas, the tanker thrown on to the rocks, the oil slipping out through cracks
to ride the wild waves and coat the seagulls with oil.
Oh yes. [Turns to Audience.] It’s all your fault, you know.
You must have petrol for your internal combustion engines.
Pollution [Smiling]: Ah, those infernal combustion engines. We should have brought
the gases along that puff out of the exhausts and float upwards to join
the 70,000 chemicals in the sky.
Leader: Stop! It’s too horrible.
Pollution: Stop? I’ve hardly started. I want to introduce my Packaging. All that
plastic. And my Nuclear Waste and my Agricultural Insecticides and …..
Leader: GO AWAY!
Industrial Discharge: I’m always trying to go away but there’s always more
Oil Slick: I’ll go away when you [Pointing to Audience] give up your cars and walk.
Deforestation: I wonder if you all search the shops for second hand recycled things instead of buying new?
Pollution: Of course they don’t. We’d be out of a job if they did.
Leader: You really enjoy being destructive, don’t you?
Pollution: We’ve no option, we are all contributors.
Leader: Contributors? I don’t understand.
Pollution: You will in a moment. You see, we all contribute to –
[Roll of drums, fanfare of trumpets or some other dramatic means of introduction].
CLIMATE CHANGE enters. He/she is the only character to have an elaborate costume. The character’s costume depicts extremes of climate.
perhaps a cloak could be used, rather like Joseph’s coat of many colours,
decorated to show torrential rain and burning sun. He/she could wear a hat,
rather like a dunce’s cap, painted to suggest an iceberg. From its rim could
hangs strips of blue suggesting that the ‘Polar cap’ is melting. In one hand
he/she could carry a sunshade while in the other an inside-out umbrella.
l Polluters bow to Climate Change. Pollution completes the introduction.]
Pollution: Climate Change, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Climate Change: Oh yes, I am the Climate Changer,
I pose by far your greatest danger,
I’ll turn your Winter into Spring,
Torrential rain and drought I’ll bring,
Tornados, floods, your lot shall be
I’ll drown you in a tsunami;
Then I shall melt the Polar ice,
The oceans rise – not very nice –
In years to come there may well be
Far less land and much more sea.
And don’t forget, yours is the fault!
Unless you somehow call a halt,
I’ll turn your climate inside out,
And these and more will come about.
Leader: You are here, turning our world upside down, you are ruining our climate
because of these? [Indicating Pollutants.]
Climate Change [Smirking]: Yes.
Leader: And you [Turning to Pollutants] are here because of ……
All Pollutants [Pointing to Audience and shouting]: YOU!
Pollutants: You are our masters. We are here because of your life-styles. We shouldn’t be here but for you.
I feel sorry for some of you. Those in the Developing World are developing their industry and that is bound to cause Pollution- but you can hardly blame them for trying to better themselves.
You grumble about the destruction of forests but people need to use the land.
So Necessity is one of our helpers.
Ignorance is another, and Indifference.
But I must admit that our real helper is GREED. The urge to make money overrides everything,
so let me introduce the main culprit, the MIGHTY, the UNIVERSAL GREED.
[Points towards the entrance. Greed enters. He is richly dressed.
He takes centre-stage and bows to the Audience. He is holding a glass of wine.]
Greed: Yes, I am GREED, my millions made
Through Industry, Commerce and Trade;
For money-making’s been my aim
[And I suspect you’re all the same,]
For I just love my life’s good things,
Exactly what my money brings.
It’s paid for all of my estate,
A mansion that really is great,
It’s furnished with the very best,
While near the house, I’m sure you’ve guessed,
A swimming pool, Olympic size,
And grounds on which to feast your eyes;
` My helicopter’s tucked away,
I have one car for every day,
I’ve a yacht on which I often cruise
And luxuries I rarely use,
So life’s as perfect as can be,
For money buys it all, you see;
So raise your glasses, drink good health
To money – may you all have wealth.
Leader: B … b … but all this Industry that makes you so rich; all this jetting around
the world, what’s it doing to the Environment? It’s destroying it!
Greed: Rubbish! I’m building. Haven’t I just told you about my mansion, my
swimming pool, my garden, my…..
Leader: Climate Change will destroy all your works. The plants in your poor, polluted garden will die and you won’t be able to sunbathe by your pool
because the climate will be too hot …..
Greed: Oh come, money will buy me everything. I can just plant new plants
and as for my tan, that doesn’t come from the sun’s rays.
Money buys everything.
Leader: But money won’t save our planet. [ The Leader advances upon Greed who
is standing with the Pollutants.]
You will not triumph. Dedicated people are fighting against you.
Pollution: We shan’t go away, you know.
Leader: Perhaps not, but your destructive powers will be reduced. Even now some
of you are losing your destructive powers.
Pollution: Name one.
Pollution [A little dismayed]: Ah, Chlorofluorocarbon. Well ….
Leader: Call the dreaded polluter.
Pollution: Yes, well, I … er ….
Leader: Call CFC. [CFC enters. He/she is rather a sad figure.] Tell me, CFC,
are your destructive powers as great as they were?
CFC: No. They’ve invented refrigerators that don’t need me. They’ve ….
Leader: They’ve limited your powers. They’ve stopped you doing such damage. I’m
told the hole in the Ozone Layer is closing.
Pollution: But the ice is melting, the seas will overwhelm the land. The ….
Leader: But the fight is on. Bring on those battling to save the World.
[Bring in Groups who are fighting Pollution and trying to make the world a greener and better place, e.g., Friends of The Earth; The Green Party; CEL Group; Greenpeace; and others. Local groups if any, are most important.]
Everywhere Pollution fight
And fight with all your might.
Fight with deeds and prayer,
Show the whole World we care;
Fight Pollution EVERYWHERE.
Leader: We must change how we behave
If we wish the World to save.
Conservation is our cry,
Act now or the World will die.
Different groups or indiviuals then say the following:
From Power Station flues
Belch global-warming CO2s.
Surely if we’ve any gumption
We must lessen power consumption.
Really, heat must not be wasted,
Are your homes well insulated?
Wasting electric light’s a crime which
Can be solved by flicking a switch.
Keep saucepan lids on all the time,
Heat loss while cooking is a crime.
Chemical fertilizers are cheap,
But then, so is a compost heap.
Carbon dioxide’s absorbed by trees;
Help the world – plant some, please.
Exhaust pollution you will meet
Whenever you are in the street;
If you must drive, share your car,
But it’s healthier to walk by far.
Land-fill sites are worrying;
Don’t forget recycling.
Local buying is the thing,
And leave behind the packaging.
Leader: Join in the battle to save our planet.
Begin by singing the Environment Song.
The Environment Song, [To the tune of “There’s a Spirit in the Air.”]
Let the whole world know we care;
Fight with deeds and fight with prayer,
In the Earth, the Sea, the Air,
Fight pollution everywhere.
Floating gently in the breeze,
CO2 and CFCs,
Rising upwards through the air,
Warming up the atmosphere.
Rivers once where fishes fed
Now are chemically dead;
Slicks of oil the waves defile,
Killing sea-life all the while.
Pesticides their poisons spray,
Soil erosion eats away;
Forests cleared with excess speed,
Land destroyed for Human Greed.
Purify the atmosphere,
Clean the earth; the waters clear;
The World is God’s so act and pray,
Save our planet – START TODAY!
(c) Tom Hiscock 2008