Kingfisher’s GHG emission reduction plan

Quan-Hoang Vuong

September 16, 2023

*Editorial note: This story is the closing chapter of The Kingfisher Story Collection (3rd Ed.) [1]. It was translated by Minh-Hoang Nguyen from the original Vietnamese version.

As time passes, news about the now hotter Earth buzzes through the bird village. Those kingfishers residing along the banks of the Red River often report drying riverbeds and skinny fish. As Kingfisher casts his gaze upon the events that have unfolded, he can’t help but feel a sense of unease creeping up within him. He decides to collect all the scientific information. An elite squad with a unique talent for gathering vital information is formed for emergency information collection. The team comprises Miss Stork, Miss Flowerpecker, Mr. Sparrow, and Mr. Bulbul.

The Kingfisher flies to the pond and meticulously counts the swimming fish whenever there is news. Some fish swim to and fro, making it hard for the Kingfisher to keep track. Sometimes, his head gets all wibbly-wobbly. But, in the end, Kingfisher figures out two principles.

First: Just listen to scientific news, but the environmental intelligence birds must keep the information simple. Throw away anything that sounds too complicated. Only keep what is simple to grasp. Keep whatever news that seems friendly to the ears. If the information appears fuzzy and causes the brain to implode after two sentences, toss it away and stop listening. Doing so will make the news as orderly and simple to understand as the truth!

Second: There must be a plan of action because delaying will be dangerous. Kingfisher is unsure if he is too worried, but every time he counts the fish in the pond, the number of fish seems to decrease. The hot and stressful weather also makes his feathers molt and grow slower. The situation seems life-threatening!

The challenge is that the procedure needs to be straightforward. If it is too challenging, the bird community will pretend to comply but eventually not implement it. Due to the small size of the elite squad, it also cannot thoroughly inspect all the families. Kingfisher once attempted, but his inspection squad came back tattered and empty-handed.

At the very last possible moment, Kingfisher’s wisdom shines through. He is midway through a fish when the idea pops up, and he almost chokes. (Just like the Loach giving birth on a banyan tree, leaking the secret that Kingfisher almost chokes on a fish might startle the globe.)

From the collected scientific information, Kingfisher knows methane (CH4) is the most damaging greenhouse gas (GHS) to the Earth’s atmosphere. Some even claim this gas can be 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide (CO2). Miss Stork murmurs to him this horrible gas is mainly generated from the feces of all species. After hearing that, Kingfisher is very concerned for the bird village. Even cows, pigs, and chickens have already planned for their living and defecating places, but the bird still defecates anywhere, anytime, and without any quantity control. It’s impossible to reduce methane if the birds continue this undisciplined lifestyle. This concern makes Kingfisher nearly choke on fish, so he urgently organizes the defecating activities in the village.

With his utmost wisdom and the lobbying power resulting from delicious fish, Kingfisher, and his task force have received a consensus from all birds residing in the village over his GHG emission reduction plan. The plan reads:

  1. Each bird’s house must gather the house’s feces in one place for inspection. Mr. Bulbul will be responsible for measuring each house’s total droppings and estimating the village’s greenhouse gas emissions using scientific tools and equations.
  2. All birds have to reduce their portion of food intake to keep their droppings in check, helping to reduce the emission under the village’s limit.
  3. The estimated statistics will be presented to all the villagers. Whoever releases the emission exceeding the permitted threshold will be severely punished. The most brutal punishment is prohibiting defecation for one week long!

The bird village hastens to deploy the plan. The inspection squad bustles to supervise and collect the data. Morale to reduce emissions and protect the Earth skyrockets. Miss Flowerpecker even proudly shares that she lost 3 grams of weight in one week because of her enthusiastic work. Meanwhile, worms have the greatest chance of enjoying delicious meals without worrying about the intervention of Miss Flowerpecker, destroying hectares of vegetable fields.

On the reporting day, the whole bird village happily waits to hear the emission reduction results. Most wait for the rewards they will receive. Some look around, uncertainty etched on their faces, anxious to learn if they would be forbidden to poop.

Kingfisher perches solemnly on a sturdy bamboo branch in the middle of the pond to announce the plan’s results. He says:

– Our village has gloriously reduced its GHG emissions. According to our task force’s calculation, methane emission has declined by 90% through our environmental protection campaign. While eating much less, the chicks in our village still gain weight very well; for example, the Sham-bird family’s children increased their weight by 50% during the campaign! Members of all other families also gain weight, although they ate less and defecated much less! Upon checking their house’s droppings site, only Mr. Sparrow’s family pooped more than the permitted threshold. However, the village decides not to prohibit them from defecating because they seem to try really hard to eat less. The whole family of Mr. and Mrs. Sparrows is now emaciated, with only skin and bones being seen. Even their feathers molt seriously.

Mr. Sparrow’s family then flies to the middle and shows the village their severe malnutrition to prove they have tried their best to eat the least possible. All the birds show their sympathy and agree not to punish.

All the birds clap loudly and cheerfully because the emission reduction goal is accomplished. The Earth will become beautiful again like it used to be, and the pond will have plenty of fish.

However, to ensure all the measurements and estimations are correct, Miss Flowerpecker transparently demonstrates the process. There are some noteworthy points (but the whole village is requested not to modify the previously agreed report) as follows.

Point 1: Inspectors who supervised and collected the data were frequently threatened by bigger-sized birds. They would be pecked, plucked, and captivated if not “having an in-depth discussion” over the data with the inspected birds. Although the discussion went smoothly and the data were modified many times, Miss Flowerpecker still could not remember how the data had been changed after being pecked by Hawk. Since that day, Miss Flowerpecker had no courage to come into Hawk’s house but only stood from afar and asked. Then, Hawk let his five children report the data. Each gave a different number; then Miss Flowerpecker had to choose the smallest number among the five.

Point 2: After checking and comparing the data, all the inspectors found clearly that Mr. Sparrow’s family was the only one violating the permitted threshold and must change their environmentally destructive behaviors. Although the whole Sparrows family ate and pooped very little, all the maths “suggest” that the amount of feces in the Sparrows family is very high. The inspection squad came to Owl-the-Scholar for help. After in-depth research and advanced data analysis, the team contended the feces were from the Sham-bird family. However, because Sham-bird rejected the allegation, and the droppings all appeared on the Sparrow’s site, the Sparrows must take sole responsibility.

*Grand conclusion: The report is still completely honest, trustworthy, and ethical, even though the data are fabricated and measurements are falsified. The methane emission reduction campaign has achieved phenomenal success. Therefore, the bird village approves the inclusion of the report in Kingfisher’s lifetime achievement archive.


[1] Vuong QH. (2023). The Kingfisher Story Collection.