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Monday, 8 April 2013

Pondering the 'Green' philosophy ...

Most readers will know that I do not support the 'Green' movement in almost all of the aims and ambitions as they are currently stated. With that said, let me also make clear that I do support the search for alternative sources of electrical power generation, I do wish to see the planet kept clean and tidy and I don't like pollution in any form. So, perhaps to the surprise of many earnest 'Greens,' I actually do give a considerable amount of thought to my impact on the planet. What I do not believe in is the screaming headlines about total meltdown of Ice Caps, sea level rises of several metres or global temperatures that will fry us all.

Once again we are seeing scientific papers being produced claiming that observed data must be wrong, since their 'estimates' and 'probabilistic models' give a different outcome. Somewhere, someone must be having a laugh. In particular those who oppose our society must be revelling in the way in which the ill-informed, earnest followers of anything 'Green' rush to take up placards and blockade sites where they believe 'evil Capitalists' or equally evil 'government' is about to 'destroy the environment.' I do wish these folk would actually take a step back and consider carefully the alternatives.

I do firmly believe that we need to find alternatives to oil, gas, coal and our consumption of them. The trouble is, as soon as you start a debate on any of this, some earnest 'Green' hijacks the discussion and wants to drag it into a debate which usually includes us all returning to some sort of 'self supporting' Utopia. Civilisation doesn't work that way, and technology certainly doesn't run on cow-pats. Except, if one part of the 'Green' movement gets its way, we won't have any cows either. No, what we need is affordable energy, which is, if not renewable, at least minimal impact, and it does need to be reasonably 'locally' sourced. At present most of the western nations are heavily dependent on supplies of oil and gas from countries which can, at the drop of a hat, decide they aren't going to supply them, or will only continue to do so at vastly inflated prices.

At present there are a lot of companies turning to electric cars as a solution to oil consumption and exhaust pollution in cities. This is probably, in the long term, a good move, but it does create two very large problems. First, it switches the fuel consumption from the user to a producer. To sustain more electric cars, we need more electricity produced. Wind isn't going to cut it. Not with the current technology which is, despite protestations to the contrary, at least as old as using wind power to grind grain. Nor will solar panels do much more than contribute a small trickle of current, and both of these technologies have a massive environmental impact.The manufacture of solar panels in particular is environmentally extremely damaging, and now we come to the other bit. Efficiency. Put simply, they aren't that efficient.

Secondly the batteries are massively damaging environmentally to produce, don't have a long 'life' and can't be recycled. The metals used in them are hugely toxic, and stored in quantity, at least as potentially harmful as any potential nuclear leak could be. You really do NOT want to be anywhere downwind of a fire involving them.

A coal fired power station generates a large amount of electricity quite cheaply, but its efficiency - according to Greenpeace - is seldom more than 47% because of the 'waste' heat lost in the condensing process for the steam lines. (Some 'Green' campaigners actually believe that the 'steam' from these towers is a pollutant and is 'waste' venting from the steam lines). The best estimates put windfarms at about 25 - 30% efficient in producing power, while solar panels loiter around 16%. It simply does not make economic or environment sense to replace something with a higher efficiency ratio (and I don't agree with the Greenpeace method of calculating the 'efficiency' of conventional power stations) with less efficient and much more expensive ones.

The trouble is that the technology to generate electricity with more efficient systems has been hamstrung by the focus on 'renewable' sources; that is, wind and solar. One should not mention nuclear in the presence of a 'Green,' it tends to produce foaming at the mouth, rabid placard generation and hysterical ranting about the 'dangers' of radiation leaks, vast piles of 'waste' being stored where it can pollute water courses and the dreaded word 'cancer.' Yet the same person will happily place a generator of ionising radiation to their ear to plan the next 'demo' to blockade some facility they disapprove of with their fellow cohorts. It seems to have passed them by, that modern reactors are smaller, more efficient and contain less fissile material - with a longer active life - than the old one's first introduced over 40 years ago.

Those who for years during the Cold War tried to kill off the western ideal of freedom probably can't believe how efficiently our 'Greens' are preventing growth and the development of the technologies we need to remain competitive in the economic arena. It must be the supreme irony to have a society like ours, that prides itself on its technological abilities and has given the world so much in terms of health, scientific advances and the whole concept of freedom, is allowing a small group of ill-informed 'campaigners' to destroy it.

As I said at the beginning, I want to live in a free and fair society. One that is not dependent on some despots good will for my energy and power needs, one that is free of bigotry of all sorts and especially free of the sort of misanthropic misogyny that seems to motivate so many in the 'Green' movements. Hopefully, someone, somewhere, will find a way to turn the tide before we all go under. Recently political correctness was described as the New Stalinism. I think that is apt, but it leaves out the damage being done by media promotion of half truth, fantasy and propaganda to a populace perhaps too idle to check facts for themselves. They call this the 'connected' generation, yet they, to a man, seem to be less well informed on anything than their predecessors.

To me that is a mystery.


  1. I think it is very hard to have any sort of sensible debate about alternatives to oil without it being slanted by one side or another.

    I find it mind-boggingly hard to compare infant technologies like solar with established ones like oil and nuclear - we know what they produce today but what will they be like in 20 years? Based on the current inefficiency of most green technology, nuclear does start to have an appeal.

    I do wish that whilst our energy costs are pumped up, allegedly to pay for sustainable energy, an equal investment is made in reducing energy consumption. There is still massive amounts we can do here.

  2. Therein lies a problem, the efficiency of much of our equipment has improved, meaning it no longer uses as much energy to run it - but at the same time demand has soared because so much more now needs some form of energy. The problem with the steep rise in costs is that it hits the poorest people hardest - and inflates the cost of 'benefits' as the social security payments are adjusted upward to subsidise those on Benefits.

    We have to find ways to produce the energy cleanly, cheaply and efficiently - cut down use does not seem to be an option at present. Wind, solar and a few others are simply blocking the development of other, greener and more efficient technologies.

  3. Well put. I'm all for clean air and water, and energy sources that take advantage of technology with reduced effects on the environment. But I'm totally opposed to these green extremists who want to send us back to the Dark Ages and live with all the maladies of that era, including the filth and disease.