UK government produces climate change mouse, fortunately

July 15, 2009

Yup, no doubt about it. The biggest threat the world faces today is international terrorism. Oh, sorry, no. The biggest threat the world faces today is from a pandemic of swine ‘flu. Nope, wrong again. The biggest threat, the moral issue of our time, is climate change. Ah, that’s more like it.

Please don’t call it global warming. The earth’s temperature has been a bitter disappointment to the climate pessimists over the last few years, because the planet has refused to follow the cook-until-done path they had mapped out when they started trying to scare us to death.

on Wednesday the UK government launched another displacement activity. To distract the population from the looming economic meltdown, it came up with legislative proposals designed to meet the self-imposed targets for reducing the amount of carbon Britain turns into carbon dioxide.

To say they are laughable rather overstates the humour content, but the proposals are an impressive cocktail of wishful thinking, trivial gestures and subsidised job creation. There is no realistic possibility of cutting Britain’s carbon burn by 40 percent by 2020. More to the point, the widespread misery which would result from trying to do so may turn out to be in vain.

So what’s Mili mi, the grandly-named Climate Change Secretary, actually proposing? Electric buses on the road “within two years” and new funding for electric cars. Well, golly gee. The world’s biggest carmakers, who know more about this subject than anyone else, are clearly struggling to make the economics work. Another bung from a struggling government is irrelevant.

Besides, the thermodynamics of electric cars is unconvincing. The fuel still has to be burnt, and the electricity transmitted to the car. To beat the overall thermal efficiency of the internal combustion engine this way is hard to do, and that only gets to the point of no increase in emissions.

Next come loans to reduce heat losses in houses, to be repaid through utility bills. Insulating the roof makes sense, although even here the payback is several years. Other measures are marginal, and for many householders the extra repayment on the bill will be more than the saving in energy for decades ahead. Perhaps the (additional) cost of adminstration is Mili’s method of creating jobs.

Still, we’ll be able to sell the extra electricity from the windmill on the roof to the local electricity company at a premium, before jumping into the electric car to go and admire the grown-up (similarly subsidised) windmills which will litter the more agreeable parts of the landscape. Good old mili, eh?


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