Friday 5 May 2023

Wolf Man

When we are lectured by luvvies who make their living by dressing up and playing make-believe we can normally remind ourselves that saner and more rational heads prevail in the realms of science and engineering. So, one would imagine that a programme called Inside Science might want to present us with the ingenious solutions to whatever challenges face us. But no, yesterday’s edition on BBC Radio 4 embarked on a farce of let’s-pretend using that ghastly pseudo-science term, a thought experiment.

The 30 by 30 policy, agreed at COP15 in November is a commitment (thus far unpromulgated to the huddled masses who will have to pay for it) to turn over to nature 30% of the Earths land mass by… wait for it… 2030. Well, this is the first I have heard of it, yet instead of Inside Science giving us a proper appraisal of the task, the way ahead and the rewards it would bring to all, it did no such thing.

Instead, it presented a twee, imaginary look backward from the far-distant future of 2030 (yes, just 7 years away) where the whole of the United Kingdom is a green and pleasant land, in harmony with a newly burnished nautical world teeming with fish and fowl and … wolves. Oh yes, in just seven years we will not only have re-introduced wolves, they will also have successfully bred and perfectly culled the deer population, allowing mature forests to grow on former heathland.

Furthermore, the entire population having become devout vegans, cattle and sheep grazing on upland slopes will have ceased and the tree line will have climbed well above present levels. Every man, woman and child will live in bucolic splendour with space to breathe in the newly clean air, enthuse by a new love of walking and conservation. Foreign holidays would be undreamed of – why, tourists would flock to Britain just to see the wildlife.

The ridiculous wolf enthusiast, George Monbiot, delivered a caricature of his already caricatured self, along with a clutch of breathless, infantile imagineers. In this so-called ‘experiment’ – teenage daydream would be far closer to the mark – they posited a world transformed and led by a 22-year old Prime Minister. Well, duh-err, obviously the world of the incredibly-near-future will take all its direction from people who are currently swotting for their GCSEs.

The intentions of the panel may have been to show how, with a determined mission, we might entirely transform this country, but it was as fatuous an attempt as is the government forever setting new targets to be missed. The idea that, outside a cosy tea-party set of comfortable, educated, middle-class Greenies, anybody really gives a fig for 30-by-30 is illusory at best and downright laughable in reality. Worse, it is an insult to those families struggling to pay the bills, worrying about the cost of getting to and from work and fearful of future winters where heating is an impossible dream.

If the chattering classes really cared about the human population one bit, as opposed to beavers, bears and wolf packs, they would push for a proper cost-benefit analysis of going all out for net-zero. Is it even achievable at all, and if so, at what cost? Is it possibly the case that in doing nothing at all we may end up in much the same situation and merely have to adapt to any environmental changes? Or is the truth somewhere in-between, in the unexplored cracks between all the disparate proposals? In the absence of proper inquiry and subsequent, coordinated guidance we are, effectively, where we are now anyway.

Welcome to your future home...

You want a prediction? By 2030 the headway we may have made in wind power, solar, electrification of transport and heating, will already be showing signs of strain. We haven’t the will or the manpower… or the money, to do anything on the scale that the government’s unachievable targets demand; far from it. I predict that electric vehicle introduction will falter and the deadline will only get pushed back at the very last minute. I reckon that heat pumps will quietly fade from the headlines as more and more find they can neither afford to buy nor run them. And as for the wolves? You may as well be howling at the moon.

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