“So I get three wishes?” I ask the great Jinni Khalmorot. He just came out of the red LED lamp, after some serious rubbing action on my part. Taking the shape of a great dragonfly, he is completely red, engulfed by smokeless fire.

“No,” he says, a broad grin on his dragonfly face.

“Hey, you’re a Jinni! You are supposed to grant me three wishes. It says so in all the stories,” I object fiercely.

“You get something better. One magic spell that will solve all your problems,” he declares.

That sounds good to my. Foolishly I recall that my greatest problem is global warming, instead of thinking of something sensible, like a mountain of gold or the super power to become invisible.

“Okay, I got your wish,” Khalmorot says, reading my mind.

“What was it?” I ask, confused.

“You want to end global warming,” he remarks. “I’ve got just the thing to do that.”

“Yes?” I say, still confused.

“I learned this great magic spell in high school, back in the days when I fought you-know-who,” he explains. “Carbocadabra.”

“What does it do?”

“Well, it solves global warming. If you use it in my presence, all fossil fuel on the planet will be changed instantly into a mixture of ham and eggs,” he explains.

Sounds good to me. “Carbocadabra,” I say.

And that was the end of that little global warming problem.

Update: One day has passed. Fossil fuel is still around. None of it has changed to ham and eggs. Khalmorot has deceived me. Probably he didn’t even exist in the first place. This must have been some kind of weird dream.

But this might still be useful as a rhetorical device, a metaphor, for the idea of getting rid of fossil fuel from one second to the next

For example, when discussing Bill McKibben’s idea that fossil fuel companies should be opposed to climate activism because the value of their deposits decreases, I could remark that that would be true in a Carbocadabra scenario, but not in reality.

Or when discussing how much warming is already locked in even if we stopped burning fossil fuel from now on, I could spice that up by saying “even if the great red Jinni Khalmorot turned all the fossil fuel into ham and eggs with a “Carbocadabra” spell” instead.


Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

One thought on “Carbocadabra

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