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The shape of Britain’s totalitarian future

David Miliband, Britain’s Environment Secretary, gave a glimpse of what a future of total state regulation might look like by laying out the idea of individual ‘carbon rationing’ . It would allow the state to keep track of all your ‘carbon related’ economic activity and thereby regulate, well, damn near everything by deciding how many ‘points’ your activities will deduct from your ration. By introducing rationing in effect green extremists are floating the idea of putting the entire nation on what amounts to a de facto war footing in which the state controls ‘fair’ use of scare resources, taxing people with more money for their ‘unfair’ carbon use.

Make no mistake, this is not about environmentalist voodoo science, it is about controlling people and this is the tool they are going to use.

26 comments to The shape of Britain’s totalitarian future

  • guy herbert

    Quite right it is about control. (And yet another excuse for state monitoring of individual identity.) If there’s good reason to discourage fossil-fuel use*, then taxation is they way to go. Centralised monitoring of everything is a good deal less Green, for precisely the same reasons it is less efficient economically: all those bureaucrats and all that infrastructure consume resources themselves, and necessarily take suboptimal decisions to boot.

    * Which there just might be – but generalised “carbon taxes” are nuts by any measure. If I run my tractor on home grown hemp oil, then I’m not obviously adding to atmospheric CO2 by it.

  • Michael Taylor

    Yes, it is a nakedly totalitarian proposal which suggests he is actually off his head, driven mad by power and religious environmentalism. My guess is the men in white coats will take him away for a quiet lie down before this gets much further.

  • Would this be yet another “war”?

    Why don’t we try and win the ones we are fighting first, or even better give up on some of them first. I have only so much “war” in me.

    Now, my kind of “war” is War on Government Stupidity, or WOGS for short. Oh dear, that word’s already got a meaning; but never mind, that meaning’s been banned for years, and it’s a shame to waste a legitimate English syllable.

    As to reasons:

    (i) The case against carbon buring as a materially dangerous cause of anthropogenic global warming is scientifically weak. It depends on nothing other than computer simulations that are, so far, uncalibrated and unverifiable to an adequate extent. That is plus a call to the people to belive, based on annecdotal evidence (did anyone see Ming on TV last night: global warming exists, therefore its anthropogenic). Then there’s the misapplication (or is that missing application) of statistics.

    (ii) There is currently no real available alternative, within the power of the people; and that’s down to Government inaction on nuclear power.

    (iii) It is quite possible that some of the AGW problem (if it exists) is down to increased hydrogen burning (eg through increased use of natural gas), as water vapour has a vastly stronger warming effect than carbon dioxide.

    (iv) It’s also quite likely that a major cause of global warming is solar radiative. There is no data of sufficient accuracy going back far enough to be sure.

    (v) Even if a reduction in carbon burning is a material cause, the hufflepuff will have no material effect, except wasting some portion of the economy of the West, while the rest (China and India in particular) get on with not wasting part of their economies on nothing useful.

    (vi) A major effect of carbon rationing will be the introduction of a black market, new crimes, diversion of law enforcement onto those crimes, and so less deterrence against real crime.

    Let’s wage WOGS.

    Best regards

  • I can’t imagine any greater incentive to create black markets for the sticky black stuff, and endless lobbying by special interests for exemption.

  • Freeman

    Let’s hope this becomes another failed policy of the Blair government. Have they nothing better to do than to annoy us? Please spend some more time with your family Mr Miliband.

  • Pete

    We have nothing to fear from this idea. To make it work the government would need to keep tabs on so many things about an individual that a superb IT system would be needed, and it would need to be administered efficiently. That just isn’t going to happen. Even if it did it would prove extremely unpopular with the middle classes, who depsite being the class from which most greens are drawn, are ever more profligate with their energy use.

  • Nick M

    I can see it now – a secret underground of “carbon dissidents” dousing their BBQs when the Government drone flys overhead with it’s IR cameras…

    I suspect in 20 yrs time Global Warming will have quietly slipped off the agenda the way the ozone layer and all these other secular apocalypses have.

    But what will replace it? I wouldn’t bet against “Global Cooling” and an elderly Jonathan Porritt issuing dire warnings about an impending ice-age…

    Maybe, people will get smart to the enviro-doom-mongers but I doubt it. Europeans have become increasingly secular but they still need an “End of Days” myth. It’s interesting that the much more Christian US hasn’t bought into this greenie codswallop anything like as much as we have. The Americans seem to prefer the good old fashion version in Revelation.

    Well, it’s probably got about as much scientific rigour about it.

  • Ian Grey

    My MP(Link) is deadly serious about this and definitely wants carbon rationing. I have had him as a guest on community radio and didn’t even bother to argue the opposite view- he has the fervour of a Jehovah’s Witness for evangical environmentalism.

    See his latest contribution here(Link)

    He was savaged by Jeremy Clarkson last December in a rather entertaining way, see it in Times Online here(Link)

  • Julian Taylor

    Sorry, but when MP’s use the term ‘deadly serious’ its almost the same as ‘I totally agree with everything you say’ – as witnessed last night on Newsnight with the eminently inept Menzies Campbell. We should bear in min that no MP is, has ever been, or ever will be deadly serious about anything that does not directly benefit him or her.

    It strikes me that this ‘carbon rationing’ is David Miliband and His Masters Voice’s little nocturnal emission of how to bring Kyoto down to a “personal level” so that it can be used to batter an already heavily cowed British population into yet more authoritarian submission.

  • I see it as a control mechanism.

    Even if they do not have the IT yet, that will not stop them scuttling off forming committees, setting up working groups, powerpointing, spending, funding consultants, spending more, advising, being lobbied (read that as you will) and generally doing what NewLabour does, which is to kick of a half-hearted/baked ill-thought-out series of “measures”.

    Basically it is one step away from outlawing cash. I really believe NL wants to do that and is itching to find a way…maybe this carousel fraud negligence is part of it, who knows?

  • permanentexpat

    My memory may serve me correctly if I say that it is not many years ago that we had a spate of global cooling cranks berating us all.
    Sacre maquereux……Cyclical, you twats!

  • I posted something today, July 20th at 11:58 AM, which has just been let through by Smite Control.

    Best regards

  • More zany labour blue sky thinking. I much prefer Ming the merciless’ idea for a consumption tax. once people stop consuming things the government will be bankrupt and we’ll finally be free. :D

  • toolkien

    Bad public policy can pretty much be summed as “the cure is worse than the disease”.

    One can only assume that rationing carbon is to prevent a chain events that will have human kind eking out a living “Waterworld” style one hundred years from now, so we bring a dystopian nightmare upon ourselves now. Statism is bad enough, but when the priests lose sight of what the goal is, human happiness, it all goes wrong.

    The easiest way to sniff out quasi-theocracies is their readiness to force asceticism on others by force. Here in the States there is supposed to be separation of church and state, but “secular” ascetics are quickly taking over the roost.

  • RAB

    I am given to understand that, ahem,
    The wonderous computers that model these global meltdown predictions (and we all know how well govt computers work dont we?) has the sun as a constant.
    But it isn’t. Sometimes planet Earth is closer to and farther from, the sun. Also the axis wobbles and the poles have flipped positive to negative many times in Earth’s history.
    So until someone explains to me why we had 4/5 ice ages that could not have been caused by human interaction, and could not have been solved by a caveman cookingpot ban, then I will take my own precautions to deal with the climate variations.
    For instance, I always live on top of the highest hill I can find. I currently live on the highest piece of ground you can find in Bristol, and am currently wearing one of those Egyptian nightshirt type jobbies that I picked up on holiday for a fancy dress party, never thinking I would ever wear it again.
    You may look a prat, but damn you feel cool!

  • guy herbert

    Joun Lettice is splendidly funny on the subject in The Register.

  • permanentexpat

    RAB: I’m also a high (fairly) liver…in the altitude sense &, with the current high temps, my normal dress at home is a Burmese ‘lungyi’, discovered, along with malaria, during WW2.
    I also look a bit of a prat……but then, I always did ;-)

  • RAB

    I’ve been worried about your liver for a while now,
    rather like mine!
    Shine on you Sarong Diamond!

  • andrew duffin

    Nigel Sedgwick, your point iii is ridiculous.

    Are you really suggesting that a few power stations put more water vapour into the atmosphere than that which occurs naturally?

  • andrew duffin wrote:

    Are you really suggesting that a few power stations put more water vapour into the atmosphere than that which occurs naturally?

    No. If you really think that, you have somehow, in your mind, changed or exagerated what I wrote.

    I am suggesting it might have an effect. So far (having looked a bit) I’ve found nothing that convinces me otherwise, but I might be wrong. Please oblige with appropriate scientific references, if you know of any.

    So far, I’ve found just hints (but no unambiguous statement) that water vapour levels are only known with between 10% and 30% error and that, presumably, current climate models make an assuption (within this range) that fits best to measured “output” temperatures. I also currently believe that, in the models, water vapour levels are assumed not to have changed as a result of power stations or petrol-driven vehicles, etc.

    On one occasion, I had my suggestion discounted (brushed aside perhaps) on the grounds that the effect is small and that the “extra” water vapour does not stay in the atmosphere nearly as long as CO2. However, I also understand that increased water vapour (and associated cloud cover) is one of the important amplifying effects in the case for material AGW through the “greenhouse effect”. Noting that urban temperatures are typically 1+ degrees C higher than non-urban areas (and that this is put down to anthropogenic release of energy) I remain unconvinced, by hand-waving poo-poo-ing, that the water vapour that goes with that is an immaterial effect, especially when the “amplification factor” is considered.

    I like to think I am not stupid; show me convincing evidence and I will be converted.

    Don’t forget that my issue here is the CO2 effect versus other effects (including the possible H2O effect). However, one should also consider the amplification effect arising from all anthropogenic non-carbon based energy generation; eg gas and nuclear. Thought perhaps this effect should exclude wind, wave and hydro, which are more immediate extractions of energy from the environment.

    Best regards

  • Concerning the case (or not) for CO2 being a dangerous material cause of global warming, and thanks to End of the Hoickey Season in Numberwatch’s July postings for bringing it to my attention, we have the following:

    (i) summary;

    (ii) main report

    These are some world-class statisticians putting the boot into the “Hockey Stick” theory of global warming. Remember that is the one that formed the mainstay of the IPCC report, back in 2001.

    The bit I really like is plotting the temperature curve, showing that the medieval warm period is hotter than now. These statisticians pulled that from an earlier IPCC report, or was it that IPCC pulled it from their later report.

    Anyway, have a read: everyone should read at least the summary.

    If the statistics is flawed, as with cot death syndrome and murder, perhaps a referral to the court of appeal is in order.

    Best regards

  • ben jarrell

    I just got back from a month in Austria learning about their legal system, and I don’t think I ever really grasped how much power the Greens exert in Europe.

    What scares me is that once something like this passes muster in Europe, it can much more easily be passed off as a sensible idea here in the US… regardless of its veracity.

  • AllanMacRae

    Apart from one Wall Street Journal article, the press has been remarkably silent on the issue of the Wegman report, prepared for a US Congressional Committee.

    I sent this note on July 16/06 and a committee hearing was held on July 19.

    This “Wegman” report was prepared by a group of statisticians at the request of a Committee of the US Department of Energy and Commerce.

    In a sensible world, this report should be the final word on Mann’s bogus “hockey stick”. It is a scathing rebuttal of Mann et al (MBH98 and MBH99, etc.), Mann’s hockey stick, the hockey team, and Mann-made global warming. It is furthermore a full vindication of McIntyre and McKitrick’s criticism of the hockey stick (MM03/05a/05b). We are all deeply indebted to Canadians Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick for their competence and perseverance.

    The Wegman report said what the recently-commissioned US NAS report should have said, if the NAS report had been more forthright and less politically-correct.

    The proper next steps should be to scrap Kyoto and all its clones, and go back to conducting basic research on climate change, to determine if there is a real problem or not.

    Here is a preview: Those of us who have opposed Mann’s hockey stick and Mann-made global warming believe that humanmade CO2 does not pose a risk of catastrophic global warming. There will be some warming due to human activities, but it will be small (less that 0.5C) and not harmful.

    We have been proven correct so far – and I am confident that we will be proven correct again.

    Regards, Allan M.R. MacRae, P.Eng.
    Calgary

    AD HOC COMMITTEE REPORT ON THE ‘HOCKEY STICK’ GLOBAL CLIMATE RECONSTRUCTION

    http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/home/07142006_Wegman_Report.pdf

    Findings

    In general, we found MBH98 and MBH99 to be somewhat obscure and incomplete and the criticisms of MM03/05a/05b to be valid and compelling. We also comment that they were attempting to draw attention to the discrepancies in MBH98 and MBH99, and not to do paleoclimatic temperature reconstruction. Normally, one would try to select a calibration dataset that is representative of the entire dataset. The 1902-1995 data is not fully appropriate for calibration and leads to a misuse in principal component analysis.

    However, the reasons for setting 1902-1995 as the calibration point presented in the narrative of MBH98 sounds reasonable, and the error may be easily overlooked by someone not trained in statistical methodology. We note that there is no evidence that Dr. Mann or any of the other authors in paleoclimatology studies have had significant interactions with mainstream statisticians.

    In our further exploration of the social network of authorships in temperature reconstruction, we found that at least 43 authors have direct ties to Dr. Mann by virtue of coauthored papers with him. Our findings from this analysis suggest that authors in the area of paleoclimate studies are closely connected and thus ‘independent studies’ may not be as independent as they might appear on the surface. This committee does not believe that web logs are an appropriate forum for the scientific debate on this issue.

    It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility. Overall, our committee believes that Mann’s assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.

    Recommendations

    Recommendation 1. Especially when massive amounts of public monies and human lives are at stake, academic work should have a more intense level of scrutiny and review. It is especially the case that authors of policy-related documents like the IPCC report, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, should not be the same people as those that constructed the academic papers.

    Recommendation 2. We believe that federally funded research agencies should develop a more comprehensive and concise policy on disclosure. All of us writing this report have been federally funded. Our experience with funding agencies has been that they do not in general articulate clear guidelines to the investigators as to what must be disclosed.

    Federally funded work including code should be made available to other researchers upon reasonable request, especially if the intellectual property has no commercial value. Some consideration should be granted to data collectors to have exclusive use of their data for one or two years, prior to publication. But data collected under federal support should be made publicly available. (As federal agencies such as NASA do routinely.)

    Recommendation 3. With clinical trials for drugs and devices to be approved for human use by the FDA, review and consultation with statisticians is expected. Indeed, it is standard practice to include statisticians in the application-for-approval process. We judge this to be a good policy when public health and also when substantial amounts of monies are involved, for example, when there are major policy decisions to be made based on statistical assessments. In such cases, evaluation by statisticians should be standard practice. This evaluation phase should be a mandatory part of all grant applications and funded accordingly.

    Recommendation 4. Emphasis should be placed on the Federal funding of research related to fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of climate change. Funding should focus on interdisciplinary teams and avoid narrowly focused discipline research.

  • Matthew Shaw

    What Miliband should have said:

    Imagine a country where government policy becomes a new currency. MPs carry bank cards that store both pounds and policy points. When we propose ever more absurd restrictions on individual freedom, we use our policy points, as well as our own pounds. To help reduce the frequency of swivel-eyed policy announcements, the citizens would set limits on the amount of policy that could be used.

  • Voodoo science indeed. Someone needs to look to the state of their education before they start ranting about totalitarians.

    Where do you think the oil comes from you wanker? What do you think your going to do, starving amongst all your guns and nonsense books when it runs out?

  • John, I am sure you have a point, you just are not making it very clear.

    And when we run out of oil, we will start growing more in the wheatfields of the world, not to mention trying harder to get nuclear fusion power to work.