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]

Don’t give up the day job. Try doing it instead.

Here is a confession: I wrote most of this post on January 17th, the day I read the Times article that I quote. Then something distracted me and I put it aside to finish later. It is now “later”, as in “250 days later”, and, having been reminded of the onrushing apocalypse by the reaction to Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget, I have finished it up and present it to you now.

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How’s your science fiction novel getting along? Oh. Sorry. Same here, I must admit.

Maybe we would be doing better if the government were paying us to write the stuff?

“Met Office forecasts a Britain of militia war, bartering and child labour”, the Times reports:

It is 2070 and Britain as we once knew it has vanished. The government has collapsed, the police and justice system no longer exists. Militias control feudal microstates within the UK, with people accepting severe restrictions on freedom in exchange for work and protection.

This is not the beginning of a sci-fi film but a report commissioned by the Met Office into how the UK might evolve over the next century.

The “Met Office” is the Meteorological Office, the UK’s national weather forecasting service.

The weather service is behind a “ground-breaking project” to explore five different paths the nation could take up to 2100, and show how it will be easier to mitigate and adapt to climate change in some versions of the future than others.

In one scenario, researchers explore what would happen if international tensions caused the UK to increase border controls and increase military spending. Political and social tensions would initially be spearheaded by “nationalistic public attitudes” that would support populist leaders who drive a breakdown in international relations. A lack of foreign trade would push the government to lift environmental regulations to focus economic growth on domestic manufacturing and intensive farming. Food safety and animal welfare standards would also be lowered.

By 2040, in this scenario, the four UK nations have become independent of one another, with strict border controls leading to the countries making use of their own resources. By the 2050s, the railway system, the NHS and universities will have collapsed, while “child labour re-emerges in connection to a widespread return to subsistence farming and bartering systems”. By the 2070s, the government has collapsed and militias enforce laws in microstates, while controlling resources and an illegal arms trade.

The scenario is one of five different outlooks called Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, a UK-version of a framework used by international climate scientists and economists to examine how societies and economies might change over this century.

The Met Office report was carried out by Cambridge Econometrics, a consultancy firm, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and the universities of Edinburgh and Exeter. It was funded by the Met Office and UK Research and Innovation, a government-funded body.

There are a few more pessimistic scenarios, including one in which “a rich elite has privatised the NHS and introduced military conscription to deal with criminality and social unrest” (I could go with the first half of that) and then, shining softly in the darkness like your one permitted eco-friendly lightbulb, there’s the one where…

… the UK makes a “societal shift towards more environmentally sustainable systems”, researchers believe poverty will be “eliminated”. This would also involve rejoining a “progressive and expanded EU”.

They couldn’t resist.

In this outlook, the UK will have a “fully functional circular economy” as society quickly becomes more egalitarian, “leading to healthier lifestyles, improved well-being, sustainable use of natural resources, and more stable and fair international relations”.

Decades ago the U.S. Center for Disease Control got bored of doing its day job and decided to spend its time controlling guns instead. In vain did the Republicans add a rider to the 1996 omnibus spending bill telling ’em to stick to diseases; Obama repealed it. Turned out the CDC might indeed have been better employed doing what it said on the tin.

I hate to dash the dreams of fellow aspiring science fiction writers, but I think the same advice might apply to the Meteorological Office.

Samizdata quote of the day

Heaven forbid trying increase gas supplies in a time of gas shortage. Amazing how many greens seem to have a convergence of interests with nice Mr. Putin. Funny that.

– Perry de Havilland on the opposition to fracking in UK from the usual suspects.

Blue remembered hills, 2022 version

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

– Blue Remembered Hills by A.E. Housman, from the collection A Shropshire Lad, published in 1896.

We do blue hills so much better in 2022:

Samizdata quote of the day

“The U.S. could have set an example for the world through innovation. Instead the government chose to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to achieve no noticeable climate benefit.”

Bjorn Lomborg, Wall Street Journal ($).

If we had…

…a free market in money then we wouldn’t have inflation. (Please note that with zero inflation prices can still move relative to one another.)

…a free market in housing then we wouldn’t have a housing crisis.

…a free market in healthcare then queues for cancer care would be much shorter, perhaps even non-existent.

…a free market in energy then – all things being equal – things would be looking a lot better for this winter. Of course, if we had a genuine free market in energy – all things not being equal – then polluters would be compensating their victims. This could lead to some very odd outcomes and I wouldn’t like to predict what they would be.

…a free market in education there would be a lot less wokeness and a lot less student debt.

…a free market in social media we would have pile-ons, doxing and cancel culture.

Samizdata quote of the day

“If consumers and businesses cared about the CO2 they emit, the last cars they might buy are hot-selling EVs like Ford’s Mustang Mach-E or GM’s Hummer EV.”

Holman W Jenkins, Wall Street Journal ($)

Discussion point – has the recent very hot weather in the UK made anyone reconsider their views on global warming?

I know the spectrum of views on this topic among Samizdata folk varies widely, from “Hell, yes” denialist to, well, me. That is, to someone who climate alarmists would call a climate denialist but who does not self-identify as such.

Anyway, on Monday and Tuesday it was hot. I mean really hot compared to the UK average. I remember 1976, and it was hotter than that. We have often poured justifiable scorn on predicting the climate by computer models and quoted versions of Groucho Marx’s line from Duck Soup: “Who are you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” – or in this case, your own epidermal thermo-receptors. The evidence of my own senses said it was the hottest two days of my life and that’s still true even if the BBC said the same.

Let them eat cake

“Sure, organic agriculture is sustainable: it sustains poverty and malnutrition.”

Taken from an article by Matt Ridley, on the self-imposed agricultural disaster of Sri Lanka, caused by the government’s suppression of artificial fertilisers in preference for more “organic” methods.

As Ridley concludes in his article: “If the world abandoned nitrogen fertiliser that was fixed in factories, the impact on human living standards would be catastrophic, but so would the impact on nature. Given that half the nitrogen atoms in the average person’s body were fixed in an ammonia factory rather than a plant, to feed eight billion people with organic methods we would need to put more than twice as much land under the plough and the cow. That would consign most of the world’s wetlands, nature reserves and forests to oblivion.”

In Holland, farmers have been protesting the Dutch government’s plans to cut nitrogen emissions.

It seems that “educated” and “well-informed” people the world over want to reverse a truly “Green revolution”, driven by new fertilisers, seed varieties and agricultural technology. And all the while doing so when Ukraine, one of the world’s most important exporters of wheat, sunflower oil and other important products, is being attacked.

I am searching in vain to find much reflection about any of this from those folk running to be next leader of the Conservative Party.

How’s going green working out for you, Sri Lanka?

Reported a few minutes ago by the Times of India: Breaking News Live: Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flees as protesters storm residence

The mob breaking into his palace does not necessarily mean that a president becomes an ex-president. But that’s the way to bet. Other leaders might like to note how this came about:

What a difference a year makes: the green dream dies in Sri Lanka

UPDATE: Some reports say that (now almost certainly ex-) president Rajapaksa has been seen at Colombo airport. Meanwhile, fancy a dip in the presidential pool?

Samizdata quote of the day

If police were opening fire on protesters in a European nation, we would have heard about it, right? If there was a mass uprising of working people in a European Union country, taking to the streets in their thousands to cause disruption to roads, airports and parliament itself, it would be getting a lot of media coverage in the UK, wouldn’t it? The radical left would surely say something, too, given its claims to support ordinary people against The System. Cops shooting at working men and women whose only crime is that they pounded the streets to demand fairness and justice? There would be solidarity demos in the UK, for sure.

Well, all of this is happening, right now, in a nation that’s just an hour’s flight from Britain, and the media coverage here is notable by its absence. As for the left in Britain and elsewhere in Europe – there’s just silence. This is the story of the revolting Dutch farmers. These tractor-riding rebels have risen up against their government and its plans to introduce stringent environmental measures that they say will severely undermine their ability to make a living.

Brendan O’Neill

Samizdata quote of the day

What is the fundamental difference between church indulgences and emission allowances? Primarily it is that critics of allowances are not burned at the stake. Presumably because it would cause too many emissions. Otherwise, however, it is the same idea.

Luboš Zálom

The law will find you eventually, evildoer (bin crime edition)

I was arrested & thrown in cell by cops for putting rubbish bags next to my bins EIGHT YEARS ago – the Sun.

A MUM-of-two claims she was arrested and thrown in a cell by police for putting rubbish bags next to her bins eight years ago.

Heather Underwood says she was “shaken” when cops came knocking with a warrant on Thursday morning over the 2014 incident.

The 32-year-old was taken to a custody suite where she was told she had left several black bags next to the bins at her old house.

She was then kept in a locked cell for four hours before finally being told the case had been discontinued.

The charge was for fly-tipping, but Ms Underwood says that at that time in 2014 she had only just moved into the property and found the bins already filled by the previous tenants, so she put her own rubbish in bags next to them. It never occurred to her that this was not allowed, let alone an offence that would be pursued for eight years.

Who is the Inspector Javert of Knutton, Staffordshire? Surely their devotion to duty should be recognised.

There, out in the darkness
A fugitive running
Fallen from God
Fallen from grace
God be my witness
I never shall yield
‘Til we come face to face
‘Til we come face to face

Unless… the Sun did let slip that this lady works as an OnlyFans model. I very much hope that had nothing to do with the police pulling her in.

“The most degrading part of it was when I had to use the bathroom and the toilet just had a glass window, I didn’t even have any privacy.”