We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“Our fearless leader has descended from the mountain with a 10-commandment plan for a green industrial revolution. At a cost of £12 billion, he will have all Britons driving electric cars powered by North Sea wind turbines and giving up their gas boilers to heat their homes with ground-source heat pumps. He will invent zero-emission planes and ships. This vast enterprise will create 250,000 jobs.”

Matt Ridley, who is as unimpressed by the UK government’s fantasy energy policy as I am.

For me, the drive towards a supposedly “zero-carbon” economy is an obsession that I fear will blight much of what is left of my life and those of many others. Pushing back on this will be on a par with the drive to bring down the Soviet Union decades ago.

33 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Barry Sheridan

    I initially thought, oh, another fantasy by a disconnected politician ignorant of practicality, logistics and engineering. Surely none of this is remotely possible with a population of 65 million to feed, house, keep warm and mobile. Yet, perhaps that is the point, there won’t be 65 million of us, there will be a few million! After all I keep hearing about a global ideal of no more 500 million people, perhaps over the next decade we will see those unnecessary billions die so utopia can be created.

  • Mary Contrary

    Harder than fighting the Soviets. This is the enemy within.

    And even this will pale compared with fighting Critical Theory, with its direct attack on language and rationality.

  • Stonyground

    Zero emission ships have already been invented. Steam power made them obsolete, just like wind power generally.

  • GregWA

    Soviet Union – great analogy! But who will be our Thatcher, Reagan, and John Paul? Who could deliver an “Evil Empire” speech and lead us against this idiocy? For that matter, who will deliver the “Iron Curtain” speech? Jordan Peterson? Nigel Farage? Daniel Hannan?

    I would love to say it could start with honest scientists, you know, the kind who studied physics, math and chemistry in school. Not those who came from departments whose name included “Science” or “Studies”. But they’d need a platform, visible and not easily taken down. Would such a platform be allowed to exist today?

    Re Stonyground at 10:55am, even those ships required emissions to build. The emissions that sustained the lumber harvest, the metal making, rope and sail making, all required labor and significant emissions to feed, house and clothe the laborers, smelters, and carpenters. Powering all that with coal likely had higher emissions per ton of freight/passengers than steam, certainly higher than nuclear. I know you know this, but the average green bilge imbibing big city rube doesn’t.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The move from sail to coal-powered ships also vastly improved reliability, given that ships did not have to hunt the trade winds and were not becalmed at times. And reliability is the key – having lots of blackouts, as in California, is not great for the home of Silicon Valley.

  • Dr Evil

    It will not come to pass. There is not enough cobalt or lithium for the UK to have electric powered cars, lorries, buses etc. Not when other countries join the rush. Fuel cells hold out a hope as do hydrogen boilers. But the best way to make hydrogen is passing water over white hot coke, derived from coal as my O level chemistry text book said. We need CO2 for crops and trees. Virtually all our politicians read soft arts type degrees at university. Hardly any have scientific or engineering degrees. They just don’t understand how daft they are with this ‘green’ nonsense.

  • GaryTaylorFanClub

    Genuine Q: don’t Solid State batteries get us there?

  • Fraser Orr

    @Dr Evil
    Virtually all our politicians read soft arts type degrees at university. Hardly any have scientific or engineering degrees.

    FWIW, I remember reading somewhere that Thatcher was more proud of being the first PM with a degree in science than she was of being the first woman PM. Such seems in character for her.

    They just don’t understand how daft they are with this ‘green’ nonsense.

    The underlying assumption of your statement is that politicians are trying to do what is best for the country. But they aren’t. They are trying to do what is best for themselves. Without a crisis we don’t need politicians nearly as much. So politicians guarantee that there are endless crises. Fraser’s basic rule of politics is “All political programs are designed to reelect politicians and grow the budget and power of government departments.” Through that lens most government programs are spectacularly effective.

  • bobby b

    “The underlying assumption of your statement is that politicians are trying to do what is best for the country. But they aren’t. They are trying to do what is best for themselves.”

    Trump?

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    Trump?

    Trump is an interesting case. He isn’t really a politician, which is to say his career isn’t built around politics or moving up the bureaucratic hierarchy. I don’t think his motives are pure, as some would have us believe, but they are definitely quite different than the run of the mill politician. I think in a sense that is why they hate him so much because he is a mirror to their own mendacity, hypocrisy and self serving character. It is why so often when you hear criticism of Trump it is laughable because they are so clearly projecting their own faults onto him. For example, the whole “Trump conspired with Russia” thing, which used as its foundational document something that the Clinton’s had commissioned from a Russian spy. The irony of which seems utterly lost on the press.

  • I don’t think his motives are pure, as some would have us believe, but they are definitely quite different than the run of the mill politician. I think in a sense that is why they hate him so much

    I have similar (but not identical) views regarding Nigel Farage. He is hated by certain people precisely because he is not a conventional politician.

  • Sigivald

    Britain could go very-nearly zero carbon.

    With a massive investment in nuclear power and a slow conversion to electricity for most things using fossil fuels.

    It’d be expensive and slow, but it would work, and it wouldn’t leave people frozen and poor.

    But that doesn’t sell well, so you get fantasies like that.

    (Zero carbon is a stupid extremist hippie goal, equally, but given that, the above.)

  • Peter MacFarlane

    “There is not enough cobalt or lithium for the UK to have electric powered cars”

    There is, if only the elites have cars.

    It is quite possible that that is the plan.

  • Albion's Blue Front Door

    Measure of the current loony-left-liberal idiocy was scrawled on a wall near where I live in a small midlands town. The scribble called for an end to ‘fraking’ (which I did not know was a thing) and said that hydrogen would save us. Also love. Apparently love is an important factor, so please factor in lots of love when planning the decline of civilisation. Thanks.

  • Jim

    “There is, if only the elites have cars.
    It is quite possible that that is the plan.”

    I’m absolutely certain that is the plan. At least to drive a significant proportion of the public off the roads, the poorest end society of course. If you can price the masses out of personal transport the rest of the ‘zero-carbon’ malarkey becomes a lot more achievable. If you’ve also destroyed their ability to travel internationally as well, thats another large step forward. Hmm, what just happened to the air travel industry?

    The final drive will be to make people live in cold houses and eat a suitably turnip based diet.

  • Eric

    Zero emission ships have already been invented. Steam power made them obsolete, just like wind power generally.

    There were sailing ships hauling ore from Australia into the 1950s. If the price of oil rises enough, that sort of thing becomes economic again. Not that I see that happening any time soon.

  • Flubber

    “The underlying assumption of your statement is that politicians are trying to do what is best for the country. But they aren’t. They are trying to do what is best for themselves.”

    Not even this. The elites are Malthusians. They see the plebs as an excess population, that needs culling.

  • APL

    GaryTaylorFanClub: “Genuine Q: don’t Solid State batteries get us there?”

    What are ‘solid state batteries’?

    And where is ‘there’?

    — in any case, even if you have a very efficient battery, you’ve still to charge it once you’ve exhausted it’s initial charge. So you still need some, probably 20 – 50% more generating capacity to provide the charge for the all new electric economy.

    Then you’ll have to completely upgrade the existing electricity distribution system. …

  • mongoose

    @APL What are ‘solid state batteries’?

    They are batteries with a solid electrolyte. The idea is that the electrolyte energy density is much greater and therefore, you get either more range or less battery in your electric car. It is highly experimental and unproven as yet (IMHO). The nano-tech used is also said to resist degradation of the battery over many more recharge cycles than liquid electrolytes. There is talk of just one battery for the life cycle of a car. That would be a game changer for the end user but still leaves a need for a lot of magic electricity for which there is no current generation capacity.

  • Stonyground

    The same applies to electric cars, even if they could be powered with emission free electricity. What is the “carbon footprint” involved in building and installing a wind turbine? The truly tragic part is that there isn’t even a problem.

  • David Norman

    I think for Boris it’s displacement activity. The need to preserve his own sanity makes it impossible for him to confront the fact that the Government’s Covid policies have been hysterical, disproportionate and disastrous; easier to indulge in a fantasy about foisting green boondoggles on the public on a shorter but still just comfortably in the future timescale.

    On a separate point, what will be the effect of these anti fossil fuel policies on the production of all the items made from fossil fuel byproducts that play an important part in the way we live our everyday lives ? For some reason this doesn’t seem to be discussed much.

  • lucklucky

    ” The nano-tech used is also said to resist degradation of the battery over many more recharge cycles than liquid electrolytes. ”

    In the past Mauro Forghieri an Italian Ferrari engineer designed the chassis, the engine. So a competent person could design a car.

    Now to design a car you need thousand and thousand of people. You can’t now repair your owncar, that knowledge of mechanical things that many persons had disappeared.

  • mongoose

    @luckylucky You can’t now repair your owncar, that knowledge of mechanical things that many persons had disappeared.

    That’s true. One day at university – long, long ago – I broke a valve spring in my Ford Escort Mk1. (I didn’t then know that but it was making a nasty thwacking clicky racket at the top somewhere.) I let it roll down the great big hill we were on and into the yard of the local mechanic. He listened. Then he gave me a socket set to take the rocker cover off while he got on with something else. And there it was. We reckoned we had all the bits, and my piece of mobile crap could take the risk that we had not. He got a spring out of his shelf of scrap this-and-that, one of those compression thingys to squeeze the spring down while you slip in the retaining collar bits, and we fitted it – in the snow, on a winter Sunday morning. He charged me a fiver and I was on my way in an hour or so.

    These things cannot happen now and we are the poorer for it – in money but in a whole lot more too.

  • Fraser Orr

    @mongoose
    These things cannot happen now and we are the poorer for it – in money but in a whole lot more too.

    I don’t know — I think you are remembering the good and forgetting the bad. My first car was a Ford Capri. It was so badly rusted and I had done so many body work repairs that my mother called it Joseph — because it had a coat of many colors. Back then after about 80,000 miles a car was pretty much kaput. In the mornings when I went to start it it was always a coin toss if I was driving to college or taking the bus. Now? My last car lasted to 250k miles, and I could have driven it some more but it was time for an upgrade. It’s paint work was basically flawless, and in the fourteen years I owned it, it started every morning, the only exception being when the starter motor wore out, and when it needed a new battery. Newer cars are safer, take much less gas, last much longer, are much more reliable, are more comfortable, and are filled with cool electronic do-dads.

    One time, the aforementioned Joseph was parked outside the University all day and I came back and jumped in and drove home. About half way home thought something was strange — it seemed someone had broken in and tried to steal the radio. But I guess it was so crap that they didn’t want it. The car was so messed up (you could unlock it with a penny) I didn’t even notice it had been broken into.

    I like new cars a LOT more than older cars. And, FWIW, I would NEVER buy an American car, unions ruined them. Japanese and Korean cars, even ones build in the US, are simply better in almost every way.

    Oh, and a reminder, if you are going to buy American, buy Ford. They are the only one of the big three that did not put their nose in the Obama bailout trough, and when they dared to suggest that that was something they should advertise, they were shut down with brutal threats from the government.

  • bobby b

    Ha! All true – we speak of the good old days when we could work on our own cars, but forget that that was mostly because we HAD TO work on our cars if we wanted to go anywhere.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    Ha! All true – we speak of the good old days when we could work on our own cars, but forget that that was mostly because we HAD TO work on our cars if we wanted to go anywhere.

    And don’t forget the do-dads. My most recent car has heated seats. The scrooge in me was kind of put off by such a ridiculous extravagance. Now? After an icy Chicago winter? I think heated seats should be mandatory. 🙂

    OMG, in the bad old days you had to actually wind your car window down with a crank… you know like in some sort of horror movie.

  • James Strong

    On the subject of modern cars: I sold my 9 year old car in August. My latest car does not have a CD player, it has a USB slot.

    The salesaman thinks this is a good thing, but I cannot see why.

    Can anyone here convince me?

  • mongoose

    No, Fraser, I don’t forget. My first car was so rotten I had taken the carpets out and painted the floor with black mastic that should have been on the roof of a garden shed. And I had filled the wings with that blue stuff that one shaped with a surform plane. But the point remains that while they were heaps of crap, one could actually do the mechanical things oneself.

  • bobby b

    “Can anyone here convince me?”

    Let me try. (I love this particular option.)

    Buy a USB flash drive. Fill it with 300-500 mp3 music files. Stick it in the slot, and you can play music without repeat for days. No scratched or broken CD’s. No fumbling around for the right CD. No skips when you hit a bump.

    ( https://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Cruzer-128GB-Flash-SDCZ36-128G-B35/dp/B00TKFCYP0/ref=sr_1_3?crid=31B4AZX7Z5T5R&dchild=1&keywords=flash+drive&qid=1607684959&sprefix=flash+drive%2Caps%2C196&sr=8-3 )

    I haven’t stuck a CD into my dash in years.

  • Fraser Orr

    @mongoose
    And I had filled the wings with that blue stuff that one shaped with a surform plane.

    Yeah, I remember that blue stuff….

    But the point remains that while they were heaps of crap, one could actually do the mechanical things oneself.

    But the two things are not unrelated. Modern cars are better in part because they are more sophisticated in their engineering and consequently less amenable to the amateur’s ministrations. They are better because instead of springs they have electronically controlled solenoids, to use the specific example you gave. These solenoids give much better control of the engine intakes than some mechanical spring with highly variable springiness. And the mixture injected has much better control because it is mixed using complex electronic sensors rather than a rough flap in a carburetor.

    Which is to say modern cars are better mostly for the same reasons they are harder to work on.

    When I was a kid I built my first computer from scratch. Today that means “I plugged some cards and memory into a motherboard, and put the processor in a ZIF socket then stuck a fan on top. Back then it meant “I soldered the 6502 processor and static memory along with a hundred resistors and caps directly onto a PCB I etched from a premade pattern.” But let me be clear, modern computers are vastly better because the engineering involved in them is far beyond the capability of the average home guy with his $30 soldering iron.

  • Chris in texas

    Fraser,

    I don’t follow automotive engineering as closely as I did when I was younger, but can you name any car with a solenoid managed non-spring (pneumatic?) valve train (outside of formula one)?

    Chris

  • bobby b

    Chris in texas, I read what FO said as referring to the more precise delivery of a stoichiometric mixture of air/fuel by computer-controlled pulse-width-modulation of an injector directly into a combustion chamber than is possible by the grosser method of cutting off a venturi-fed air stream through the slamming shut of a valve by a spring that might be young and strong or old and weak.

    So, not so much just the tactic of valve actuation as the strategy of fuel delivery.

  • Paul Marks

    12 Billion Pounds?

    The British government deficit this year is 400 Billion Pounds – just the deficit, not total spending (which is vastly higher than 400 Billion Pounds).

    If the “Green” Agenda cost 12 Billion I would be overjoyed. But I suspect that the true cost of the “Sustainable Development” Agenda will be rather higher than that.

    Add a few noughts.

    By the way this is nothing much to do with Prime Minister Alexander Johnson – he did not create any of these policies.

    They are international policies – “Sustainable Development” (been around since at least 1992), and “Build Back Better” will not be denied.

    Anyone who stands in the way of the international agenda will be REMOVED – as President Trump is being removed. In his case by vast Election Fraud – quite BLATANT Election Fraud.

    The Election Fraud was BLATANT to send a message – a brutally frank message about who really controls this world.

    Sorry – but there it is.

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