Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour 2012

Over at the ever wonderful Watts Up With That, Anthony Watts has chosen to reprint Ross McKitrick's response to Earth Hour.

It is well worth a read. It expresses perfectly the sentiments of so many of us who reject the reactionary idea that we should seek to 'return to Nature'. And he points out that:

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

Here's a simple thought experiment- if there was a time machine that could take you on a one-way trip back to a time when you could 'live in Nature', without electricity, clean water, modern medicines and the other benefits that we have now, how many of these environmentalists would take it? How many would really opt for the state of grace they like to imagine over and above the benefits of modern capitalist society? There are plenty of people I'd chose to send - starting with the gurus of the modern green movement - but I for one would stay put no matter what.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More UK Shale

A report on the Global Warming Policy Foundation's website covers the discovery of even  more potential shale gas fields in the UK. You'd think that this would be good news all round. Good for the economy, good for the local community, and, if you're that way inclined, good for lowering CO2 emissions. But no, this is the age of green, sustainability and climate alarmism. Instead of being greeted with a welcome and the wish that the government takes the brakes off development, we get local politicians like this:
Melton borough councillor Matthew O' Callaghan said: "While an additional source of fuel is to be welcomed, there are significant concerns about the process used to extract this form of energy.

"There should be exhaustive tests and concerns allayed before any commercial extraction is even considered in what is an extremely sensitive area of the countryside."

Coun Malise Graham, a member of the same authority, said: "It is vital that a thorough investigation is undertaken before work goes ahead."

Tony Stott, chairman of the Leicestershire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "The development of a gas industry on a large scale could transform and industrialise countryside and many rural communities.

"More research on the environmental effects, such as methane leaking, pollution, groundwater contamination, and the risk of minor earthquakes, is urgently needed."
It's hard to feel optimistic when green ideology is so all-pervading that even local officials, whom one would hope are more closely connected to their communities than the parasites that infect Westminster, respond so negatively to the chance of lower energy and increased development.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Save The Carrier Bag

Of all the lost causes that this blog supports, the campaign to defend the carrier bag seems the most Quixotic. After all, who can love the humble supermarket carrier bag? They're cheap, ugly and functional items that manage to unite forces as disparate as the BBC, the Daily Mail and legions of right-thinking people everywhere. But not here.

Firstly, let's note that the terminology around these bags has shifted. The bags are now referred to as 'single-use carrier' bags, to emphasise the wastefulness of the whole enterprise. Single-use is bad by definition, however, who decided that supermarket carrier bags are single use? Most people I know generally re-use the bags. A lot of people have a pile of them at home for storing and carrying all kinds of stuff, including taking them back to the shops to use again.

Next we have to look at why 'single-use' has such negative connotations, and it's all to do with using up the Earth's scarce resources. Except that supermarket carrier bags are made from polyethelene, which comes from ethelene which is a waste product from natural gas production. If it wasn't used as a feedstock, then the ethelene would have to be burned off - which is both wasting energy and also produces more CO2 emissions (if you care about such things). So, far from wasting valuable resources, making carrier backs finds a use for an existing by-product.

But surely bags from renewables - like paper - would be better for the environment? Nope. Think again. Carrier bags are light, and take less energy to produce and transport than paper bags. According a story from the Independent (hardly a bastion of contrarian thinking), a study sponsored by the Enviornment Agency, showed that polyethelene carrier bags have about less than a third of the carbon emissions of paper bags.

Ah, but what about the pollution? What about the plastic 'garbage patch' twice the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific? We've all seen the pictures in the Daily Mail... Sorry, overdone. Not only is the size of the problem exagerrated, there's also not much evidence that carrier bags are a key component of the pollution.

So, in all, the plastic carrier bag is yet another example of environmentalism wanting to solve non-existent problems. The solutions proposed end up being worse for the environment, and in the process make life just that little bit more expensive and a little less convenient. So, par for the course really.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

BBC in bed with FoE again

As usual, the BBC can do a good job in leaving the reader speechless (with rage, usually). Take this latest example from the always odious Richard Black. Under a headline of UK nuclear plans 'put energy in French hands', Black regales us with the story of 'four senior environmentalists' (all former directors of Friends of the Earth UK), warning David Cameron that the plans for new nuclear build put the UK tax payer at too much financial risk.

The gall of these people is unbelievable. One of them is even quoted as saying:

"How on Earth can the prime minister justify paying billions of pounds of subsidy to French power companies when the chancellor is slashing welfare budgets for poor people in Britain and there are a million young people unemployed?"

Since when have these four ever been interested in the British tax payer? I hear no complaint from them about the millions wasted on wind farms, solar and other 'renewables' gravy trains. Nor do they seem to be aware that it's because these renewables don't function as effective power sources that we're having to go the nuclear route - all in the cause of reducing CO2. Some environmentalists, like James Lovelock, George Monbiot and Mark Lynas have followed through on their own logic and accepted that nuclear is the way to go.

But the truth is that we're already dependent on nuclear, including French nuclear generated electricity piped to the national grid. And that dependency will grow even as we throw money at windfarms.

These four unelected politicians (which is what they are, the FoE being part of the corporate state that runs the EU), are also against the one fuel source that can stop both windfarms and new nuclear in its tracks: shale gas. What's more, shale will also reduce CO2 emissions to a greater extent than most renewables. If they were serious, they would be out campaigning for shale and trying to end the windfarm subsidy-fest that they helped engineer in the first place.

And, if we were serious, we'd also be campaigning for more research into thorium reactors - which again promise cheap, low-carbon energy and without the military spin-offs that have driven so much development of conventional nuclear energy.

But that's never going to happen. The truth is what Porritt and co want is to scale back industrial development, cut back on cheap energy and move society back into a world where light and heat are luxuries and we live in a cold, dark world that's closer to nature and more in tune with Gaia. When all is said and done, primitivism is where their brand of environmentalism inevitably leads...

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Please Help Us Poland

Living as we do in the UK, in one of the citadels of green orthodoxy in the world, we often have to look abroad for positive signs that world is coming to its senses. It's normally slim pickings, but we did have the recent example of Canada coming out strongly against a new Kyoto-type climate treaty. And for a long time we've had the positive example of the Czech President Vaclav Klaus of a leading national politicians speaking sense on climate change and the EU. Increasingly we are also taking note of what's going on in Poland. First off there has been the welcoming of shale gas and fracking, giving Poland a chance a cheaper energy and more independence from Putin's Russia.

Now in a another positive move we see the BBC reporting that:
Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper says that "tomorrow Poland is ready to veto the EU plan to reduce CO2 emissions"...Poland's Environment Minister Marcin Korolec has sent a letter to his EU colleagues urging them to reject the 25% target, the Financial Times newspaper reports. "There is no point whatsoever in gambling with the European economy's future, introducing policies that might put our industries in jeopardy versus our competitors," he was quoted as saying.
This isn't the first time that Poland has acted. Back in June 2011 Poland blocked similar moves to go for more stringent cuts in CO2 emissions.

As always the UK is at the forefront of the suicidal tendency in Europe. Confirming once again the power of the orthodoxy to close eyes and ears to economics, science and reality in general, the BBC quotes an unnamed spokesman from our Department of Energy and Climate Change:
"Moving to a higher target will bring other benefits such as reducing our dependence on imported energy, stimulating jobs and growth in green sectors, and delivering health benefits from reduced pollution."
So, not for the first time, we have to hope that we are saved from the follies of our leaders by politicians from other countries...