Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A green dark age developing in Britain

`Greener food and greener fuel’ is the promise of Ensus, a firm that opened Europe’s largest (£250 million) bio-ethanol plant at Wilton on Teesside last year – and has now shut it down for lack of profitable customers. This is actually the second shut-down at the plant – which takes subsidies and turns them into motor fuel – the first being a three-week refit to try to stop the stench bothering the neighbours.

Welcome to the neo-medieval world of Britain’s energy policy. It is a world in which Highland glens are buzzing with bulldozers damming streams for miniature hydro plants, in which the Dogger Bank is to be dotted with windmills at Brobdingnagian expense, in which Heathrow is to burn wood trucked in from Surrey, and Yorkshire wheat is being turned into motor fuel. We are going back to using the landscape to generate our energy. Bad news for the landscape.

The industrial revolution, when Britain turned to coal for its energy, not only catapulted us into prosperity (because coal proved cheaper and more reliable than wood, wind, water and horse as a means of turning machines), but saved our landscape too. Forests grew back and rivers returned to their natural beds when their energy was no longer needed. Land that had once grown hay for millions of horses could grow food for human beings instead – or become parks and gardens.

Whether we like it or not, we are now reversing this policy, only with six times the population and a hundred times the energy needs. The government’s craven decision this week to placate the green pressure groups by agreeing a unilateral tough new carbon rationing target of 50% for 2027 -- they wanted to water it down, but were frightened of being taken to judicial review by Greenpeace -- condemns Britain to ruining yet more of its landscape. Remember it takes a wind farm the size of Greater London to generate as much electricity as a single coal power station – on a windy day (on other days we will have to do without). Or the felling of a forest twice the size of Cumbria every year.

Yet this ruthless violation of the landscape is not even the most medieval aspect of the government’s energy policy. Its financing would embarrass even the Sheriff of Nottingham. Every renewable project, from offshore wind farms to rooftop solar panels to bio-ethanol plants, is paid for by a stealth poll tax levied from everybody’s electricity bills called the Renewable Obligation.

The RO already adds an astonishing £1.1 billion to the electricity bills of Britons per year already; by 2020 it could be £8 billion, or 30% extra. Unlike the poll tax, which was merely not progressive, this tax is highly regressive. It robs the poor – including those too poor to pay income tax – and hands much of the money to the landed rich in three different ways: higher wheat and wood prices; rents for wind farms; and the iniquitous `feed-in tariff’, by which the person who produces electricity by `renewable’ means is paid three times the market rate. As a landowner myself I refuse to join the feeding frenzy of the last two, but I cannot avoid the first.

Lord Turnbull, the former cabinet secretary, put it this way in a report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation this week: `It is astonishing that the Liberals who attach such importance to fairness turn a blind eye to this transfer from poor to rich, running to £billions a year. If you live in a council tower block in Lambeth you don’t have much opportunity to get your nose into this trough.’

Driving up the price of electricity this way destroys jobs. One Spanish study suggests 2.2 jobs lost for each one created by green energy schemes, another Scottish one finds 3.7. If you don’t believe the numbers, ask a local widget maker if the size of his electricity bill affects his ability to take people on or lay them off.

So let’s recap. The current energy policy is taking your money off you through your utility bills, handing that money to a rich landowner – like me – to buy first-growth claret with, putting up the price of your food and your (chipboard) furniture, threatening your job and spoiling your view.

It had better be worth it. The sole intended benefit you will get from all this pain is lower carbon emissions. Not a guarantee of a cooler climate, because Britain is such a trivial part of the world economy, and carbon dioxide’s effect on climate is one of several factors. But at least it will give William Hague a warm glow of satisfaction in showing the Chinese what he calls `the UK's international moral leadership on the issue.’

But notice I used the word `intended’. Does any of this actually lower carbon emissions? With the single exception of hydro, not one of the renewables has managed to save an ounce of carbon. Wind is so unreliable that coal-fired stations have to be kept spinning in the background (powering them up and down wastes even more energy and carbon). Wheat for ethanol is grown using tractors running on almost the same amount of diesel – and is anyway full of carbon itself (infra-red rays do not distinguish between carbon atoms from plants that grew yesterday and from plants that grew 300 million years ago). Solar will always be a statistical asterisk in cloudy Britain.

As for wood, consider the effect of a simple rule passed by the London borough of Merton in 2003 and slavishly emulated by planners all over the country. The Merton rule requires all developers who build a building of more than 1,000 square metres to generate 10% of energy `renewably’ on site. The effect has been to make it worth my while to thin my woods in Northumberland for the first time in decades.

How so? Faced with the need to find an energy source sufficiently dense to fit on site, developers have turned en masse to wood (or biomass as they prefer to call it). This has led to convoys of diesel lorries chugging through the streets of London to deliver wood to buildings – how very thirteenth century! Delivering, drying and burning this wood produces far more carbon dioxide than delivering gas would.

And lo, by bidding up the price of wood, the effect has been to cause landowners to harvest their timber younger than before, which increases carbon emissions. Thus enriched by having lost less money in managing woods, people like me take a holiday – on a jet. So as policy own goals go, the Merton rule is a quintuple whammy. According to one estimate, Britain is producing about six million extra tonnes of carbon dioxide each year as a result of redirecting its wood supply from current use by the wood-panel and other related industries into energy supply.

The neo-medieval policy of picking winners – or rather losers – creates a salivating lobby for subsidies (even the RSPB takes money from wind farms to shut it up about their eagle killing). But it is saddling ordinary Britons with uncompetitive energy prices, lost jobs, rising fuel poverty, spoiled landscapes – and higher carbon emissions too. Time for a peasants’ revolt.


British Industry Rebellion Over Carbon Targets

Chemical firms lead calls to halt a leap in carbon costs that could lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and will cripple the industry.

One British company uses more power than Liverpool and Manchester combined. Little wonder, then, that Ineos, the chemicals giant, is leading the charge against government plans to raise power bills by much more than the rest of Europe is proposing.

The firm’s pleas have gained little traction. Last week the government accepted the advice of the Committee on Climate Change to agree a new target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2027. It will make Britain the first country in the world to commit itself to targets beyond 2020.

Manufacturers say the move, taken with other plans, including a UK-only carbon tax, will cripple industry. They insist thousands of jobs will be lost as firms move their plants to countries where the cost of doing business is lower.

Tata Steel last week announced it was cutting 1,500 jobs at its Scunthorpe and Teesside plants. The company, which employs 21,000 in Britain, has held high-level talks with government in recent weeks over its energy plans.

Meanwhile, in a letter to No10 this month, Ineos founder Jim Ratcliffe warned that he could be forced to shut the firm’s Runcorn chlorine plant, a big energy user and employer of more than 1,000 people.

The outcry is growing. Civitas, the think tank, will this week publish a report warning of an “annihilation” of the UK chemicals industry, which employs 600,000 workers.

David Merlin-Jones, author of the report, said: “The current set of ‘green’ policies, whereby levies and taxes are used to punish the greatest energy users like the chemical sector, will prove to be economic suicide. Existing policies are based on short-termism, expecting too large a carbon reduction in too short a time.”

Business secretary Vince Cable is understood to have tried to reassure several top industry executives in the last week that the government will honour its pledge to introduce measures to mitigate the harshest effects of new climate-change laws. What those will be is unclear.

There are a couple of ways in which Britain’s low-carbon laws will set us apart from the rest of Europe.

One is the “carbon floor” — a tax on pollution on top of levies imposed by the European Union. From 2013, to meet EU climate-change targets, big polluters — such as steel makers, paper mills and chemical companies — will join power plants in having to pay for the pollution they create.

On Friday a permit to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide cost £14.31. The carbon floor, introduced by the chancellor in his March budget, will start in 2013 at £16 a tonne, rising to £30 by 2020.

Big manufacturers say the levy will push their running costs far beyond those of rivals in continental Europe and the Far East.

According to Civitas, total energy bills — which include the cost of the carbon floor, EU carbon permits and wholesale gas and electricity — could rise by 141% by 2020.

“If the government continues to simply add one energy or carbon reduction levy after another on to the energy-intensive sectors, then the risk is that these industries will no longer be able to compete internationally and will simply cease to operate in the UK.”

The other factor that distinguishes Britain is the more aggressive pollution targets that the government agreed to last week. The UK has already pledged to slash emissions by 34% of 1990 levels by 2020, and by up to 80% by 2050. Other EU nations have also signed up to 2020 targets. None, until Britain this week, had signed up to new interim measures to accelerate the low-carbon makeover.


Christopher Booker: Wales In Revolt Over Mammoth Wind Farm Scheme

On Tuesday the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff will see the biggest demonstration so far in Britain against the disaster now being set in train across the land by the Government's infatuation with wind power. Nowhere is this more obvious than in mid-Wales, where the Assembly wishes to see the hills covered with up to 800 giant wind turbines, up to 415ft high, visible over hundreds of square miles. Recently In Parliament, Glyn Davies, the Tory MP for Montgomeryshire, spoke about the anger this is arousing locally, recounting how one recent meeting called at short notice in Welshpool had drawn 2,000 people.

Mr Davies described how the problem is not only the turbines, but the need for two vast substations and 100 miles of steel pylons, up to 150ft high, to carry the electricity into Shropshire to connect with the National Grid. But although he may have spoken eloquently about the visual and social impact of this project, he failed to spell out its nonsensical economic implications. To build 800 two-megawatt turbines would cost at least £1.6 billion, plus, it is estimated, another £400 million for the pylons and sub-stations. With the output of Welsh turbines last year averaging less than 20 per cent of their capacity, thanks to the intermittency of the wind, the power produced by this £2 billion project will average out at little more than 300MW.

Yet contrast this with the 882MW produced by Centrica's new Langage gas-fired power station near Plymouth, costing just £400 million. This single plant, built for a fifth of the money, covering a few acres, will produce nearly three times as much electricity, without disfiguring one of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain. Those Welsh turbines, costing us all £120 million a year in subsidy, will produce power that could have been generated without subsidy at a 15th of the cost. How many of those Assembly members on Tuesday will manage to step outside the bubble of illusion surrounding wind power, to recognise just what insanity they are being made party to?


Sierra Club in Legal War to Stop All Expansion of Coal Power Plants

The Grand Rapids Press recently reported that the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit over a permit issued to a coal plant in Holland, Mich. The lawsuit claims that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ignored state regulations when it approved the Holland plant’s air pollution permit. What the article didn’t mention was that the Sierra Club files lawsuits against every coal plant in the United States that is issued permits either to expand or build.

“They are very proud of this strategy,” said Carol Raulston, senior vice president for communications for the National Mining Association.

Ann Woiwode, director of the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club, verified that her organization does file a lawsuit on every permit issued to a coal plant. She said that is part of a bigger strategy to oppose coal as an energy source.

“Yes, we are challenging permits when they are issued,” Woiwode said. “We are working to move away from coal. … We need to recognize that coal is a costly, dirty fuel.”

Lisa Camooso Miller, spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said in an e-mail that she was disappointed the debate on clean energy has “reached this point.”

“The Sierra Club would prefer to lay the cost of debating the real issues at the feet of the taxpayers by burdening the courts with baseless lawsuits,” Miller said. “Clean coal technologies are being developed, and in some cases deployed, in many parts of the country — and the world. We don't have to sacrifice our economy for the environment. We can have both.”

The Holland Board of Public Works, which operates the coal plant, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Michigan’s coal-burning power plants supplied 60 percent of the electricity used in the state, according to a Michigan Public Service Commission, Department of Labor and Economic Growth 2008 study.

The World Coal Association reports that coal accounts for 27 percent of the planet’s total energy usage and 41 percent of worldwide electricity generation.

The United States is home to the largest coal reserves on Earth, with 28.3 percent of the total, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Russia and China are next with 18.6 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively. By comparison, Saudi Arabia commands the world’s largest reserve of oil with less than 20 percent of the global total, followed by Canada with 13.3 percent. The abundance of wealth in coal located in the United States has led CNBC television commentator Larry Kudlow to refer to the United States as the “Saudi Arabia of Coal” during his frequent calls for an “America First” energy policy.

At current usage rates, the EIA projects that the current known recoverable American coal reserves will provide energy for about 230 more years, or roughly as long as the United States has existed as a nation. The EIA expects usage rates to climb, which would trim the lifespan of known U.S. reserves to just over 140 years — longer than coal has currently been in use as a primary source of electricity generation, which began in 1881.

But the projections assume that no additional recoverable reserves will be discovered or be exploitable over these time periods.


Al Gore's greatest hit

The documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" wasn't intended to be the blockbuster end-of-the-world tale that "Armageddon" was, but it was intended to frighten. The new film was full of disaster footage and catastrophic predictions about climate change. Its leading man: former vice president Al Gore.

Gore received almost entirely uncritical coverage from the network morning and evening shows over global warming, despite plenty of evidence - scientific evidence - that would have discredited him and his film. Since the movie's release, nearly 98 percent of those stories have excluded criticism of the so-called "science" of the film.

Gore's film has been criticized for many errors and hyperbole regarding the past and future effects of global warming - including his exaggerated claim that sea levels will rise by 20 feet and his now-debunked assertion that Hurricane Katrina was caused by climate change. Such examples were used to scare audiences into accepting Gore's political agenda. The errors and agenda of the film prompted a British judge to rule that the film couldn't be shown in schools without a disclaimer pointing out its inaccuracies and political bias. But those critical views are regularly banished from the networks.

The Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute analyzed broadcast news coverage of Gore about climate change and mentions of "An Inconvenient Truth" between May 11, 2006, shortly before the film's release, and April 30, 2011. Here are some of BMI's findings:

* Who Needs Science?: Nearly 98 percent of broadcast stories (266 out of 272) failed to challenge the supposedly scientific claims of "An Inconvenient Truth" about global warming, including dramatic predictions of sea level rise and links between climate change and extreme weather such as tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and droughts. Many of these claims have been challenged, yet scientific criticism was barely represented by ABC, CBS and NBC.

* Gore's Way or the Highway: More than 80 percent (222 of 272) of the network stories and briefs excluded any criticism of Al Gore or his film. About one-fifth of the stories that included opposition were critical of the 2007 Live Earth concerts organized by Gore, but expressed no dissent about global warming.

* Gore For President, or VP or Czar: Gore's success with "An Inconvenient Truth," was used by all three networks to push him to run for president again or accept a position within the Obama administration. In one CBS "Early Show" interview, Harry Smith literally tried to pin a "Gore '08" campaign button on the former vice president.

* NBC the Worst: NBC has thrown objectivity out the window on the issue of global warming, preferring activism instead. In the past five years, "Nightly News" and "Today" maintained that role by including the lowest percentage of opposing views (17 percent) in its Gore/"An Inconvenient Truth" reports. Its parent company NBC/Universal also partnered with Gore for the Live Earth concerts, which were aired on its networks.

* ABC the Best: ABC news programming with "World News" and "Good Morning America," ranked best out of the three networks because they included more opposing views than the other networks. But those views were still only included roughly one-fifth of the time (20 of 95).

To improve coverage, BMI recommends:

* Don't just take Gore's word for it: Al Gore is certainly a passionate activist, but he isn't a scientist. The networks shouldn't take his interpretation of global warming science as truth. Rather, they should be skeptical because of his very real political agenda.

* Include both sides: The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics states journalists should "Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant." It is the media's job to inform the public, not persuade them by leaving out alternative viewpoints. Particularly, networks should give skeptical scientists the opportunity to share their findings - just like they include scientists who say manmade global warming is going to devastate the planet.

* Recognize that advocacy is not reporting: The SPJ Code of Ethics also says to: "Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context."

SOURCE. Full report and video here.

Greenpeace message to CEO:s: Either you do as we say, or .....

"Corporate sustainability" is the latest fad among CEO:s in the UK, and probably elsewhere, too. The pressure from the government, environmental lobby groups and the mainstream media has become so strong that most business leaders now choose the politically correct green talk in order not to be singled out as villains by Greenpeace and other climate change fanatics.

If you do not toe the Greenpeace line, this is what happens:

Not surprsingly, the "green" climate change ideology has given birth to a wholly new business cathegory: the sustainability recruitment consultancy companies. Companies like Allen & York, a leading international Sustainability Recruitment consultancy, offering jobs in Environment, CSR & Sustainability, Renewable Energy and Carbon Management, are now cashing in on the climate change idiocy.

Allen & York´s "specialist" Victoria Kenrick gives one reason why every company needs a "dedicated" Chief Sustainability Officer; the Cameron government´s "CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme":
In addition, the UK government’s CRC Energy Efficiency scheme which came into effect in 2010 is a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme, with the first report due from organisations, which use more than 6,000MWh per year of electricity, in July 2011. Whilst there has been some controversy about the scheme, it still remains that from 2012, participants will be required to buy allowances from the Government, each year, to cover their emissions in the previous year.

This means that organizations that decrease their emissions can lower their costs under the CRC. Companies better positioned to improve their energy efficiency, and save on CRC costs, will be those with a CSO or Head of Sustainability in place, who is able to oversee energy management, sustainable procurement and corporate social responsibility issues, coupled with implementing accurate carbon reporting.

This is the truth about the Energy Efficiency Scheme:
this economic vandalism is being carried out of the basis of a theory that hypothesises CO2 is causing global warming. There is only correlation, no evidence of causation. The net effect of this smash and grab raid on company bank accounts and the cost of compliance, reporting and administration is an increase in the cost of goods and services to the ordinary consumer in the street.

We have departed from an age of reason and logic and entered an age where a belief system, shown to be a tissue of assertions impervious to evidence, holds sway. The real aim of this concerted effort is financial redistribution and an increase in the power and control of the state over its population. Some argue this is actually the embryonic development of a system of global governance, tied together with a common currency – carbon.

All these consultancies, Chief Sustainability Officers and Heads of Sustainability are of course new "green" jobs. But these are jobs that do not make any real contribution to the efficiency of a company. They are in reality "virtual" jobs, that would not exist without totally useless government climate change schemes. But for the sake of political correctness, most CEO:s choose to join the bandwaggon. Not a very difficult decision, because they know that, at the end of the day, the consumers and tax payers end up paying for all of it.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here



John A said...

Minor point - "The industrial revolution, when Britain turned to coal for its energy..." Er, off by a hundred years or more? It was noted during Henry VIII`s rule that wood for heating was becoming scarce and expensive, and it was during Elisabeth I`s rule that in addition to metal-working uses large scale coal-for-[home heating]-fuel started making people rich.

With a plentiful, fairly cheap, and most importantly dependable fuel, steam power - known since Ancient Greece or before - started, almost exponentially, to replace thousands of windmills and water mills as well), and eventually it was widespread enough and had replaced enough older plants that steam power was labelled a "Revolution."

slktac said...

Concerning the media:
I complained to a local news station that a story they ran contained factually incorrect information. Their response, from the station manager, was that it was not their job to check the science. They speak with local "experts" (my quotes) and then put the story on the air. It was not up to the news to verify the accuracy of the story nor was it proper to question a local expert's qualifications. At that point, I came to call the news reports "YouTube" with a bigger budget. They film it and play it.