Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Category Archives: Eco-fascism

I’m Bored. Let’s Have a Go at a Green.

Green Patio Heater

What? It's green isn't it? (You can get them in silver too, I think.)

Darren Johnson is a Green Party member of the London Assembly. He’s a ‘London-wide’ member, which means he wasn’t popular enough to be voted in for an actual GLA constituency.

Anyway, not having to service a constituency means he has time to pen missives to every local paper in London and the surrounds, such as this:

Londoners are facing high unemployment, falling real incomes, soaring rents and fares, as well as environmental problems such as dangerous air pollution and cold homes.

I want the Mayor of London to set a budget which responds to these basic concerns.

Freezing the council tax will help slightly, but Londoners travelling to work are having to pay out far more in fare rises, than they are saving in council tax.

Did you notice what was missing? The one major cost pressure he didn’t list was fuel prices – over half of which are made up of taxes and duties. Oh but of course, cars are evil aren’t they?

Rewarding people for using environmentally friendly public transport should take priority over car driving in London.

In the short term we can lower fares by raising the central London congestion charge for the most polluting gas guzzlers and setting up a new ‘anti-pollution’ charging zone around Heathrow airport.

In the longer term, this may well solve the problems of people travelling in to London, since once the congestion charge has been raised so high that no-one can service the place, they’ll be out of a job, or working outside (Inner) London*. Yes, it will have to go up for every vehicle, since it has always been about revenue-raising and not reducing congestion (which it doesn’t).

This is just one of the ways in which the Mayor could improve our environment, whilst helping the poorest to cope with hard times.

You know, Darren, this isn’t the 1950’s; the era when estates for ‘poor people’ were laid out with no provision for cars because poor people just couldn’t afford, or didn’t need, to drive.

Outside Inner London, there are many people – ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ – for whom a freeze in council tax is worth more than the rise in the fares they pay for their occasional trip into town. Of course, what would really make a difference to their living costs – whether it’s transport (those evil cars) or “cold homes” – is reducing the cost of fuel. That’s the cost, for instance, of filling the car up so they can get to work, since not everyone toils in Zone 1 (and yes, that may include charging up the Pious Prius). The trouble is, Darren Johnson’s solution to that probably involves windmills, and the sort of financially myopic interventionism in the energy and oil industries that would just bring forward the day when the lights do actually go out.

But hey, by then at least we’ll have this global warming licked and we can avoid that traditional spike in demand for sun cream every February.

* Indeed (for the sake of completeness) once no-one can be bothered to use Heathrow anymore because the cab fare costs more than the flight….

From the ‘North Pole’ to Gaza

I am indebted to the excellent Prodicus for highlighting this little gem, via the fine Orphans of Liberty blog:

British crew become first to row to magnetic North Pole
The six-man crew’s 450-mile journey was only possible because of an increase in ice melting over recent years.

A six-man British crew celebrated Friday after becoming the first to row to the magnetic North Pole.

On the final 50 mile leg, the crew rowed most of the way but then had to haul their 1.3-tonne boat over nearly two miles of ice rubble in a nine-hour slog.”

Yep, that’s right, they didn’t row all the way at all. Didn’t approach the actual North Pole and didn’t actually reach the current magnetic North Pole either.

Perhaps it’s my deranged right-wing mind that saw a very tenuous but interesting parallel to be drawn between this story, and one particular incident in a part of the world with rather less ice to clamber over, in January last year:

Egypt bans Gaza-bound humanitarian aid convoys
Egyptian FM: Aid bound for Gaza will be barred from Egypt after activists clashed with police this week.

… members of one convoy led by British MP George Galloway committed “criminal” acts on Egyptian soil on their way to Gaza.

“Egypt will no longer allow convoys, regardless of their origin or who is organizing them, from crossing its territory,” [then Egyptian Foreign Minister] Abul Gheit said, according to AFP.

“Members of the [Viva Palestina] convoy committed hostile acts, even criminal ones, on Egyptian territory,” the foreign minister added without elaborating.

The comments come a day after a foreign ministry official told Galloway he was no longer welcome in Egypt as he flew out of the country…. Egypt accused Galloway, who once called at a London rally for the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak*, of trying to embarrass the country, which has refused to permanently open its Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

What connects the two? They both involve groups inculcated in the left-liberal worldview being mugged by reality. One regarding the ‘settled science’ and truth about climate change, the other expecting Gaza and their crusade for its people to be an ‘access all areas’ pass in the Arab world as much as it is in the studios and newsrooms of the left-leaning media. With no disrespect to the northern explorers, I can’t help but chuckle at both.

*of course, George got his wish, but the Rafah crossing can still be a bit hit-and-miss it seems.

Labour in Judging Others By Their Own Standards (Electric) Shock

Such is the place that Jo Moore‘s famous email has in political history that these days it is, in fact, rather difficult to “bury bad news”. For any major event, expected or otherwise, there are legions of hacks, bloggers and even two-bit amateur commentators such as yours truly, who immediately scour the government news channels and emissions from Whitehall that might vaguely justify the infamous label.

German electric car, 1904, with the chauffeur ...

An electric car in 1904. It's the transport of the future, you know. (Bundesarchiv)

This was the reaction of John Woodcock MP, Shadow Transport Minister to an apparent change in policy by the Government on electric cars. Now I will be honest and flag up my scepticism about the whole electric car thing. In towns, fine, but I suspect that other technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells should command shorter odds for the epithet “fuel of the future”: it can utilise much of the existing infrastructure (i.e. service stations, tanker fleets, etc.) and thus is more likely to be picked up and promoted by the oil/gas companies.

As Paul Waugh reported

To the dismay of the eco lobby, the Coalition’s grand plan of a national network of public charging points for electric cars appears to have been quietly dumped.

I don’t know to what extent there actually was such a grand plan, having too much of a life to examine such minutiae. If they did, then it was a silly idea. For electric cars to be viable, they should at least be able to make a good few decent length return journeys between charges, making public charging points pointless (sorry). We have networks of (non-public) filing stations because keeping large tanks of petrol in every home is not very safe (and we would miss out on the economies of scales and transportation efficiencies offered by the free market competition that exists presently). Electric charging points, however, already exist in every home.

Thus Hammond’s view was one of common sense:

Public chargepoints are part of the answer but putting a chargepoint on every corner is not the right approach. It is most convenient for drivers and best for the energy system for the majority of charging to happen at home.

This approach also still leaves the door open for hydrogen and/or other sources to take their place in the market without the government having then wasted money on little white elephants on every street corner.

As Paul Waugh points out, this is a quote from the press release, freely available on the DoT website. So, not really bad news, and not really buried. Methinks Mr Woodcock has spent too long in the pull of Labour’s spin cycle.

Environmentalism Fail (no. 94)

Queue of aircraft for take-off including jets ...

"They could always pave over the front garden..."

So apparently there are too many aircraft waiting around for a landing slot at Heathrow.

Who, as they say, dathunkit?

Options to expaned Heathrow, either through a full-blown third runway plan or simply making more efficient use of the existing runway capacity, have been fought and rejected. This is because, as we all know, aircraft are Evil, Very Bad for the Planet, We Must Think Of The Children, etc, etc. Such is the attitude that has survived through to the Coalition, with the third runway – finally floated by Mandelson of all people – killed off in a gesture aimed at buying a few votes in west London fighting climate change.

So, while competitors in the market for business traffic and international hubs like Schipol, Frankfurt and Paris CDG have more (and increasing) capacity, we pat ourselves on the back for being so green (in both the policy sense, and that of naivety). Well, now we can be very pleased with ourselves: 190 tonnes of fuel and 600 tonnes of CO2 wasted every day. Well done Luddites, you can now return to your caves satisfied that you’ve done your bit for our grandchildren … who will be living on the continent, or the US, or Far East, or wherever all the business will have moved to.

Yes, but, but … aircraft emissions are bad, so let’s not encourage them, eh? This is the same logic that gave us, under dear old John “Bonker” Prescott, anti-car policies such as maximum (and meagre) parking standards incorporated into the planning rules. Thus we have more recently built housing and commercial developments with roads clogged up with parking, and cars driving round and round, looking or waiting for a space, coughing out emissions (or simply wasting fuel, if CO2 isn’t your thing). Perhaps LHR could take a leaf out of the response of some householders and pave over the front garden.

Or perhaps Boris’ island isn’t such a bonkers idea after all….