Sunday, August 10, 2008

Not King Coal

at the coal face Coal is what fuelled the Industrial Revolution. It, or rather the Miners lead by yer Arfur Scargill, also resulted in the 3-day week back in the 1970s. Fond memories – no desktop computers back then, I had a mechanical Plus-Adder on my desk and I used a thingy called a pen. So, Mrs Thatch closed down all the Pits and we went over to Natural Gas. Trouble is, the North Sea reserves are now running out and we don’t want to be dependent on Russia, particularly as they are now having a barny with their neighbours and own Chelsea FC.

The Nuclear Option looks to have been given a
death sentence. The government’s recent attempts to sell British Energy to some foreigners [the French] fell through, mainly due to the legacy costs of what we’ve already got. No problems selling our gold reserves at the bottom of the market but we won’t go there.

So it looks like it’s back to coal. We’ve got plenty of it. But the trouble with this is it’s dirty. Back in the 1950s we had to have the
Clean Air Act as pollution was killing most of us. And we didn’t have Global Warming, [it’s August 9th and I’m sitting here in my winter fleece wearing woollen gloves with no fingers so I can type] and all that stuff about CO2 emissions.

So, the first new Coal-fired power station in the UK for 30 years is proposed to be built at Kingsnorth in Kent, but without any commitment to
carbon capture. Cue protest.

But first let’s look at our friends over the pond. There, coal is
out of fashion. “In the US, the tide is turning against coal at the grassroots, state and federal levels - 59 applications for coal-fired power plants were cancelled, abandoned or put on hold in 2007 and there is a bill going through Congress to put a moratorium on new unabated coal developments..”

Then we read that the UK is
in delusion about CO2 emissions, they are going up not down as Ministers claim, and this from a report by Defra, apparently sat on since February.

Arthur ScargillBut
Arfur’s back, minus the birds nest haircut, arguing for more coal. There’s a turn up.

So back to the protest in a field near Kingsnorth. I did consider going along but couldn’t find a 4* hotel in the vicinity. Just as well, things are getting pretty nasty down there. Hoards of Police in riot gear, some from the Met, have been searching the people and confiscating serious terrorist threat items like
toilet rolls and soap. Never mind civil liberties this is a direct attack on personal hygiene. One chap was banged up for 5 hours and denied his legal rights for possessing the controlled substance known as Vitamin C.

Of course the Police claim that their response is

However, one MEP, and two MPs have
written to the Gold Commander of Kent Police to complain about attacks on the right to protest.

Pause for thought.

Now, according to their own government figures, we could achieve a 30% reduction in energy use in the UK through existing efficiency measures alone. Then there is renewable and decentralised energy production with local and sustainable infrastructure and potentially thousands of new “green collar” jobs. So, why are they not biting the bullet?

Because they are BIG government and that’s what they understand. Their political lives rely on BIG donations from BIG business. Can’t have little people getting in on the act can we? How do we control them? We’ll be out on our ears.

We’ve also got the added problem of BIG taxation to pay for their pet projects and social engineering. If we start getting more efficient then the sum of the added values in the economy are reduced; meaning GDP goes down. Holy shit GBatman, can’t have that. GDP growth is the Holy Grail. It goes up tax revenues go up, hell we might end up not being able to finance all those quangos and EU commissar positions we’ve dished out to our otherwise unemployable mates. Can’t have hoards of ordinary people earning an honest crust helping others to be more self sufficient and not reliant on us and our very simple post neo-classical endogenous benefit and tax credit system, blimey we might end up being benefit scroungers ourselves, not that we aren’t already, coz we’re FA use at doing anything practical or useful. We might have to be re-trained in one of Tony’s Academies, heaven forbid.

And GB reckons that
Britain is not Broken.

Well, to quote
Edward Heath, the prime minister at the time of the 3 day week – “he would say that wouldn’t he?”


  1. Excellent article B21.
    I could try to be intellectual.
    I will forget that the French are called foreigners.
    I remember the three-day week and the restriction of the use of electricity.
    I embraced the concept gleefully: hoovering? Disgraceful waste of precious resources. Hubby bought me a broom.
    Not a good idea! No, I did not fly away on the broom but the broom took a prompt trajectory in the direction of the garden. (It is still there somewhere!)

  2. And it was the last time I brought her a present.

  3. Just to add to marital strife, did he say brought?
    So, he did not even buy the *****y thing!

  4. According to The Times Kingsnorth WILL have carbon capture technology.

    We are now much better at designing nuclear power plants because Engineers have taken over from Scientists. The technology is the same as is used in nuclear submarines. Not "safe" but a great deal less likely to blow up in our faces.

    The future of energy generation is in burning Hydrogen (which is what natural gas is). Problem is that to manufacture Hydrogen gas from seawater is feasible but current technology takes more energy to breakdown the water than you could get from the Hydrogen - but it is looking promising.

  5. E.ON have "given assurances that Kingsnorth can be fitted with carbon capture as soon as the technology is available".

    The Times, 3rd Aug 2008.

    That is not the same as being required to do so by conditions of Planning Permission or Government edict that they should invest in developing the technology themselves.

  6. It suits certain elements of Govt and business to continue this carbon-capture/tax/emission/cause of death of planet by heatwave rubbish.

    Could someone explain to me how there were global warming periods over the past million years before the birth of the modern industrial world? Perhaps someone could tell me how many airplanes and 4x4s existed in the early Middle Ages, when there was an extensive warm period (around 300yrs)?

    We should have been investing in nuclear power over the last 20yrs, just as France has done - instead we are now dependent for fuel on our bon amis over La Manche, and our not so very good comrades further East, Moscow-way.

  7. ps. I think that should have been 'chers amis', Anne will correct me.

    And surely the first person to say 'he would say that, wouldn't he' was Mandy Rice Davies; still, easy to confuse her with The Grocer ........

  8. Judith sent me to google for checking!
    I have been on this island so long that I am prone to anglicisms!
    Anyway, my mind has now been refreshed: bons amis= good friends, chers amis= dear friends.
    I think the subtle difference is the same in both languages.
    I am no expert but I think the crafty French government got away with their nuclear power plants by bribing the localities with medical facilities, swimming pools, sport fields, etc,...
    (Now, the ecofriends are going to attack me because 'what do I know?' and, no, I am not certain of my facts.)
    A couple of years back I asked some chers amis, where the French decontaminate the spent nuclear fuel. Cherbourg! Not that far from England!
    It's all so complicated.
    What nobody has raised yet is: who would go back down the mines to extract the coal?

  9. To answer Judith's point about previous global warming periods -

    These are usually due to increased activity in the Sun and this is undoubtedly a factor in our present global warming cycle. HOWEVER - we now have the technology that Ammonites didn't have to a) to stop it getting any worse and b) to actually make it worse. We can therefore make choices that were not available to creatures on Earth millions of years ago. Whereas there is a lot of scaremongering from both sides of the Global Warming debate, why make choices that are actually harmful to the environment and people in it - which includes putting other people's food in your car petrol tank as well as burning down rain forest.

  10. Is this last post for real?
    We can act against the sun!
    I cannot believe somebody will believe that!
    Such strong opinions and anonymous!
    annesevant with her head on the block!

  11. No, Anne. Our Anon was saying that whatever the effect of the SUN, we can make it worse but we don't have to.

  12. If there is global warming and it is happening because of the sun activity, sooner or later the human race will disappear, so whatever we do or don't do will only delay the inevitable( or hasten it).
    So, should we argue so much about what to do about it since it is going to be far too little far too late and it is not going to change the end?
    However, destroying the environment in the search for biofuels, that is criminally short sighted. Not controlling the increasing numbers of the human population is stupid beyond belief.
    What about these terrible GM crops which only serve to make rich companies richer and rich country richer too and are destroying the habitats of so many animals and plants? That is a crime against life.
    The only good thing I can think to say is that pollution is not as bad as it was in the fifties.

  13. I do rabbit on. Although I have always loved nature it's only recently (thank you B21) that I have become more interested on reasons and causes for climatic change. Yesterday, I heard something totally new to me during an interesting BBC programme about ice: climatic changes in the past have been linked to small changes to the earth orbit! How do they know? (I am sure they do!)
    How is our orbit doing these days?