Vir Cantium

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Biofuelled Cynicism

From the BBC:

The first flight by a commercial airline to be powered partly by biofuel is to take off from Heathrow airport.

Kenneth Richter, of Friends of the Earth, said the flight was a “gimmick”, distracting from real solutions to climate change.

(Also trailed by The Register.)

A gimmick? Well, someone probably said that about the first electric car.

Once, not long ago, when Communism fell, there were a good many socialists who recognised that they would have to find another way to advance their cause, destroy capitalism and bring down the rich. Many of them latched onto worthy environmental causes and gave them a distinct statist/leftist hue. Big cars are killing the planet (and are driven by rich people). Globalisation is killing the planet and developing world (and rich people are behind it). Air traffic is killing … you get the idea. The solutions that were often advanced usually involved slowing down economic growth and having everyone living in a pastoral idyll where, coincidentally, everyone was equal and the whole fantasy was underpinned by a benevolent state. A world where, subsidised and regulated by government, the concept of sustainability never seemed to extend to the financial and economic dimensions.

What has actually happened, of course, is that the rest of the world, having largely acknowledged many of the issues that the green lobby has been banging on about for so long, is coming up with solutions that don’t involve cave-dwelling and allow capitalism to continue its good work. Having seen their basic causes taken up by so many people now, the more red-tinted greens have watched aghast as the world moves forward to an environmentally friendly future that doesn’t match the eco-socialist utopia some may have been wishing for.

So, unable to switch out of anti-capitalist anti-Western mode, they are now attacking the more viable solutions which are emerging, like carbon offsetting and, today, efforts to run airliners on bio-fuel.

“You can’t run the entire global air fleet on bio-fuel – you’d use too much of the world’s food supply”, they say, gearing up for an updated take on the rich-West-causes-African-famine meme. Need I point out that (a) African famine often has more to do with too much government and war and not enough free trade and (b) all previous predictions about population outstripping food supplies have proved false, as technology has allowed us to increase agricultural output and productivity.

Today’s trial is a proof of concept – that you can run an airliner on biofuel. No doubt much more work lies ahead, just as it has taken (and will take) a long time to advance from the humble milk float to the widespread use of electric cars on the motorway (assuming that, in the meantime, other technologies don’t achieve the underlying aims more effectively).

Next … greens attack solar panel industry because it discourages people from switching the telly off standby.


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