I I appear to be so “on my own” with my views on the solar feed-in tariff, that I was wondering if it’s just me and George Monbiot on this. I’d like opinions, especially as I plan to write a couple of letters to councils like Birmingham who have mega-projects on the go to coat all their council flats in solar. I want to really try and find out what their thinking is on this.
I found myself at Ecobuild last week, not so much for the eco as for the build.
Thought I’d listen in to a debate they were having that day – here’s the info:
11.45 – 12.30Â Â Climate change – behavoural change
Rt Hon Michael Portillo, Conservative Minister for eleven years, writer, and broadcaster – BBC 1â€™s This Week programme and Radio 4â€™s Moral Maze
Dr Julian Baggini,Â British philosopher and author; co-founder and editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine
George Marshall,Â Founder of COINet (Climate Outreach Information Network); author of Carbon Detox
Prof Herbert Girardet,Â Director of Programmes, World Future Council; author, consultant, filmmaker
Hosted by:Â Matthew ParrisÂ Â politicalÂ Â Â journalist, award winning writer and former Tory MP
The format was supposed to be a brief introduction of 5 minutes or so by each of the speakers, followed by a debate, then a Q&A.
Unfortunately, Parris let his chum Portillo deliver a 20 minute monologue, meaning that everyone else had to have a go too. Didn’t leave much room for debate, or questions. Again, Parris let the questioners ramble on with opinion rather than question. I had a quick question I never got to ask, but it would have a been a response to George Marshall’s point of:
“People say that China is building a new coal-fired power station every week. I mean, really, who’s putting that sort of thing out there?”. He said it dismissively, as if it wasn’t true. Which, of course, it is. Then went on to suggest that we shouldn’t worry about China, we should concern ourselves with stuff like cutting the little plastic windows out of enveloped before we recycle, and almost suggesting we do nothing, ever, just in case it uses carbon. I just wanted to ask “are you saying that a: it’s not true, and b: China doesn’t matter”?
Because China most definitely matters! One single day of a China coal-fired power station is more than all the people in an entire town doing all the right green things. For their entire lifetime. Â I want to know that every action on my part the government force me to do, has an opposite reaction by that government against the massive polluters like China.
I far prefer the George Monbiot approach of campaigning against stupid stuff like 500w Â£2000 rooftop windmillsÂ which only give “green” energy a bad name.
As with all things, you have to use a bit of sense. I read an opinion piece recently (I forget where) but the point was that climate change may or may not be happening. And even if it’s not, being efficient isn’t a bad thing, is it?
What’s the difference between living in a town and commuting to work in a:) a massive 12mpg gas guzzler b:)A hybrid Lexus c:) A smart looking sporty little 75mpg diesel hatchback?
With a:) you’ll be pouring money into terrorist states in the middle east and everyone except Rush Limbaugh will think you’re a massive wanker; with b:) you’ll only being massaging your own green ego as it still only does 35mpg, and with c:) you’ll save a load of cash, get their just as quick and safely, have more space to park, pay less tax and do the journey probably a bit quicker.
Same goes for lightbulbs – you always wonder what kind of dick writes these things about ES bulbs “costing Â£9 each” or “polluting landfills with mercury” or flickering or starting slowly.
Modern Philips “instant on” ES bulbs costs 25p each, only faulty ones flicker, and any mercury in them is more than offset by the mercury emmisions not put out by generating the massive amounts of electricity to heat up a coil of wire in an inefficient design over 100 years old.
More on the mercury business from snopes and wikipedia. Needless to say, the bottom line is that a CFL is just a mini version of the same standard flourescent tubes that have been lighting schoolrooms for 30+ years now, therefore, most of the hysterical Daily Mail bad science is a crock of shite.
Going back to George Marshall, I’ve also read him saying that if a family can’t afford to go to Europe on the train, they shouldn’t go. That’s just so elitest! It’s not the family flying once a year to Spain in a modern plane with a per-passenger efficiency of that of a similar car journey. It’s the pointless weekly business-class flights to-from New York for a 2 hour meeting. And as anyone who’s ever been to any sort of meeting, almost all meetings could be replaced by some hot air, or at most a short email.
In summary – I’m happy to go with almost all the world’s eminent qualified peer reviewed scientists in believing that the current climate-change is aggravated by pollution, rather than go for the voodoo-blogging crystal healing conspiracist bloggers who think it’s a global conspiracy.
However, it’s all about degrees and balance, and both sides of the argument need a little perspective:
Greenies – stop complaining about large, efficient wind-farms, while putting pointless, dangerous devices on your house.
Anti-greenies: Stop (for example) pretenting large wind-farms only provide a few % power – we’re not so stupid to believe that they’re all sited in one place and the wind only blows in that one place at one time (which I really did see a whole argument based on).
Governments: Stop taxing random things pretending it’s for a green agenda
And carbon trading companies: Stop lying to people!
There – that’s the world set to rights. Next?
Britain seems to be having a bout of “Tall Poppy Syndrome“. Â You see, we have this bright young thing on University Challenge. She slaughters the competition, and allows herself a smile when she gets the right answer. Except, people hate her. [Daily Mail] [Guardian]
Update: Her team won! The BBC have a Have Your Say about this.
Right now, with schooling and education standards falling even lower according to the Cambridge Review on education, you’d think we’d celebrate success.
But no! We fall even deeper into the mire of conspiracy and superstition. What’s the racist and obnoxious Jade Goodey ever done apart from whore her death around the media? But somehow we (the media would have us believe) respect and celebrate her, as if being a fat foulmouthed media tart is something to aspire to.
If more people were a little more like Trimble and a little less like Goodey, we might have an economy. Or an industry. Or at least enough people with enough sense not to vote Labour back in.Â
Now, onto MMR: Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science blog keeps track of MMR hoaxes and other media nonsense. However, not everyone likes their work critiqued, especially when they get it so very wrong. In fact, LBC’s lawyers came down on him when he put the following recording of Jenni Barnett talking crap on LBC. She said she welcomed a debate – which she did by closing off the comments and removing the post from her blog. Nice.
Related to this is the BBC’s “Street Science” series on MMR:
And here is a segment on Radio 4′s Woman’s Hour about the dangers of not using the MMR vaccine:
There’s a couple of very good books if you want to get a handle on urban legends, bad science and conspiracy nonsense.