Blackouts Will Trigger A People’s Revolt Against The New Eco-Tyranny
Winter is upon us, courtesy of the Arctic blast unleashed by the Troll from Trondheim. We will soon find out whether we can keep the lights and heating on, or whether Britain is about to be plunged into a nightmare of energy rationing, rolling blackouts, three-day weeks, and untold human misery.
The proximate cause of our present crisis is Vladimir Putin’s despicable invasion of Ukraine and the resultant reduction in global gas supplies.
Yet the Government must shoulder its share of the blame: it prioritized reducing carbon emissions above all else, and neglected to keep prices low or to ensure the availability and security of supplies.
This winter may turn out to be a dry run for a much greater, self-inflicted disaster, a harbinger of a new normal of permanently insufficient, costly energy supplies that could jeopardize our way of life, upend our politics and trigger a popular rebellion.
We are nearing a turning point for democratic support for environmentalism. Gordon Brown’s 2008 Climate Change Act legislated to slash CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050, a seismic shift pushed through with little debate but much superficial public approval. [emphasis, links added]
Theresa May strengthened this to 100 percent by 2050, the “net zero” target; again, the public liked the sound of this, if not of Mrs. May.
China will continue to increase its emissions by more than we cut ours, but our entire ruling class has signed up to this iron-clad legal framework, with no dissent tolerated.
Thanks to technology and markets, it ought to be possible to decarbonize without ruining our society and economy, but 14 years on the revolution is proceeding just about as disastrously as anybody could have imagined.
In typical British fashion, our political class has taken all the easy decisions first, and none of the tough ones.
The blunders, the groupthink, the demented short-termism, and the mind-boggling bureaucratic incompetence have amounted to one of the greatest national scandals of the past few decades.
It’s easy to stop extracting fossil fuels or to boast about the decline of our carbon-emitting manufacturing sector, especially when we simply switch to importing goods, oil, and gas from abroad, congratulating ourselves on our brilliance.
We didn’t bother to construct gas-storage facilities or stress-test supply chains for geopolitical risk. We built offshore wind farms and solar but Britain also needed its own Pierre Messmer, the Gaullist who launched France’s huge nuclear program.
Instead, we got Nick Clegg: in a humiliating video from 2010, he rejects increasing nuclear capacity because it would have taken until 2021 or 2022 to come online.
The real-world consequences are catastrophic. When the wind stops blowing and the solar panels are covered in snow, when all our cars are electric and boilers are replaced by heat pumps, where will the energy come from?
Demand for electricity will surge, but there won’t be enough supply. The grid will implode. It may one day be possible to store electricity in giant batteries, but not today. Public rage if and when it all goes wrong will make Brexit look like a walk in the park.
Rishi Sunak’s plans are laughably modest: we are now so far behind any rational transition schedule that only an extreme effort, a Manhattan Project for nuclear power, can possibly rescue us from disaster. HS2 should be halted, and its billions urgently diverted to building nuclear power plants.
Political parties have been lulled into a false sense of complacency: the public wants to be greener, but not at the cost of suffering extreme material regression.
Voters are worried about climate change and wish to decarbonize, but only a tiny minority are fully paid up to the most extreme, fanatical, anti-human, anti-capitalist version of the environmentalist doctrine.
Human nature hasn’t suddenly changed: we still want to enjoy economic growth, to live better, longer, richer lives. We want to own goods and travel freely. Few of us want to be poor and cold and miserable. We don’t aspire to return to a feudal lifestyle, with our overlords dictating how we can live our lives.
Until now, green virtue has come easily and cheaply. Everybody hates littering and waste. It’s not hard to recycle or to shift to reusable bags.
It’s a different matter when people begin to be truly inconvenienced (idiots sitting down on motorways) or forced to buy expensive new cars: the anger is immediate.
Wait until voters are told they can’t fly to Spain, that meat will be taxed, or that power cuts will be the new normal to comply with net zero: there will be a populist explosion.
Politicians everywhere are overreaching, having drawn an incorrect lesson from Covid, namely that we will be willing to give up on our jobs, prosperity, and freedoms in the name of a climate emergency.
Germany faces crippling deindustrialization, to great angst. The Dutch are nationalizing and shutting “polluting” farms, triggering widespread fury.
Switzerland’s winter contingency plans are modeled on lockdowns. Electric cars would be banned from non-essential journeys, shop hours cut, and streaming services downgraded; sports matches, concerts and theatres could be canceled.
The public might wear this once because of Ukraine, but it won’t tolerate intermittent energy becoming the norm.
In typically condescending fashion, France’s plans are described as délestage – load shedding, getting rid of ballast, of “non-essential” energy users – as if bankrupting businesses were obviously necessary for the common good. We are halfway along F A Hayek’s Road to Serfdom.
So why this new snobbery? One answer can be gleaned from another visionary dystopian classic, Michael Young’s The Rise of the Meritocracy. A side effect of individualistic meritocracy, which I otherwise support, is that those who rise to the top become entitled and look down upon everybody else.
As Young put it, “by imperceptible degrees an aristocracy of birth has turned into an aristocracy of talent”. The result is the return of anti-capitalist, neo-feudal attitudes: the elites nudge and compel the masses to do what is good for them, safe in the knowledge that the powerful will retain their privileges, their exclusive “Zil” traffic lanes, their private jets.
It won’t wash. The politicians have a choice: make greenery consumer-friendly, harnessing technology to preserve the public’s quality of life, or face a calamitous democratic uprising.
Read more at Telegraph
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