Sunday 11 November 2012

Say again?

I am no enemy of ‘green’ technologies. I say ‘green’ in quotes because it’s rare that we use any of the Earth’s resources in ways that are truly wise and don’t have an overall negative impact on somebody along the way. Often, Green proponents are dreamers, just as hell-bent as other causes on forcing their policies on those who don’t agree and rarely managing to make a real case. But, if there IS a case for using a low-impact energy source, I’m all for it.

This weekend a story about EU green energy policy caught my eye: Apparently, David Cameron backs the EU's grand design for energy. I’m not entirely sure what his backing of that ‘grand design’ really means, so I am inclined to try and find somebody who really knows. But I know that’s not going to be possible; nobody with interests in the green energy industry will tell you the objective truth. 

Some of you know that I teach electricians for a living. They don't, in the main, understand what electricity really is, how it does what it does and alarmingly, how to make it safe. Although they may do an excellent job of repeating what they have been shown, they REALLY don't understand generation, transmission or storage of electricity. So there’s no point in you asking an electrician. 

David Cameron won’t have asked any electricians either. Neither will he have consulted any engineers, because politics and cold hard facts just don’t mix. No, he will have been advised by ‘advisors’ (again, in quotes) and who will those advisors ALWAYS turn out to have been? That’s right, lobbyists for the technologies they promote… Directors of ‘green’ technology companies, or their willing dupes. 

Humans are on record as being profligate, poor decision-makers. We barely listen to the arguments and then return to our knee-jerk first choice. Or we work out we can’t afford that car/jewellery/suit/suite… and buy it anyway. It’s partly because our true nature is reactive, rather than contemplative, but even so that’s hardly an excuse in government. 

With my sparkies I tell them, tell them again, get them to repeat it several times, then tell them again. Then when I ask them what I just told them they often reply, “Sorry, what?” It’s the calculators in primary school argument all over again; there is no substitute for hard graft and if you don’t grasp the fundamentals you just aren’t ready for the rest. 

A politician is unlikely to be able to grasp the technical principles behind policies he is being lobbied to promote. But he can at least ask again. And then again and again until that chink of light appears. 

So, Mr Cameron, before you engage in yet more unnecessary spending of money we can’t afford in pursuit of ideals we generally don’t hold, achieved by means we don’t really understand and making profits for anybody but us, you might want to hang on to this handy crib-sheet of questions for the green lobbyists:

DOES it work? HOW does it work? Can you PROVE to me that it works? How much will it COST in total to set up? How long will it last? What will it save? If it doesn’t save anything, why should we consider it? How many jobs will be lost? How many of the jobs created will go to British workers? Can you prove all of that? If not, why are you here? Now, tell me again why you’re asking for public money? If it’s as good as you claim it is, surely you can get private funding? Next! 

Next... Ah yes, the European Union. Tell me Mrs Merkel, “DOES it work? HOW does it work? Can you PROVE to me that it works? How much will it COST?...”

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