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The New Home Front

A report from Caroline Lucas:

The changes now underway in our climate, if unchecked, pose probably the greatest threat to Britain that we have ever faced. Our health and security, our society and way of life, our natural environment, even our coastline, are all at risk from uncontrolled natural forces – disease, drought, flood and storm. In terms of the human and financial cost in the UK and internationally, the impact over the coming decades has been compared to the world wars of the twentieth century.

Has it now? Only by someone who doesn\’t know what they\’re talking about I think.

In 1918, fully 50% of the economy was being spent on the war.

M\’Lord Stern has said that if everything goes wrong (that is, that climate sensitivity is high, that if we have a regionalised and localised capitalism powered largely by coal) that in 2100 the costs of climate change might be 20% of the vastly increased (some 7 times present) GDP of the time.

Not really the same, is it?

That’s why I commissioned this report from the leading writer and analyst Andrew Simms,

Oh God, it\’s going to be a stinker, isn\’t it?

Use of household electrical appliances dropped 82 percent. A war on waste, new social norms and rationing helped general consumption fall 16 percent (and more so at household level).

So, households were more than 16% poorer (this is indeed what a greater than 16% fall in consumption means) and this is something to be praised is it?

The nation’s health improved. After an initial upward spike at the beginning of the war mortality rates fell dramatically among both men and women as active health policy was introduced, diets changed and people become more active.6

Might be worth mentioning the rather large spike in mortality caused by bombs, guns and tanks really, no? And \”becoming more active\” is a euphemism for hard labout digging the veg patch, isn\’t it? Gosjh, how wondrous that millions got to return to the peasant lifestyle, eh?

A determination to enjoy life grew. Spending on ‘amusements’ went up 10 percent

Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die…..

Britain faces the need for a rapid economic transition in the face of climate change targets, energy insecurity and the peak and decline of global oil production. Based on recent trends, and using a cautious, conservative estimate of environmental risk, in just 71 months from January 2010, taking us to the end of 2016, the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means that it will become ‘more rather than less likely’ that temperatures will rise by at least 2C.10 This is generally considered a critical threshold, after which environmental dominoes begin to fall more unpredictably and potentially uncontrollably. In other words we enter a world of ‘climate roulette,’ in which warming becomes possibly irreversible.

This is a calculation made by Andrew Simms to get himself a 100 piece contract from The Guardian: one a month detailing how close we\’re getting to this \”crisis point\”. There is no validity to said calculation.

Lloyds of London recently predicted that problems of supply not matching demand could see oil at $200 per barrel by 2013.

You what?

No, not $200 a barrel: that could indeed happen. But what is this drivel about supply not matching demand? You\’ve just said that the price will be $200, which will therefore be the price at which supply equals demand. For supply matches demand at a price.

Turn this around for a moment to see the stupidity of it. Solar cells: it would be really great to have a system that we can put on the roof for 50 cents. Certainly solve and awful lot of problems if we could. But we don\’t have such: systems for the roof cost £20,000 (say). So supply doesn\’t match demand at 50 cents but it does at £20,000. Complaining about oil being $200, where supply matches demand, is exactly the same as complaining that solar power systems cost £20,000, not the 50 cents we\’d rather like to pay.

The UK’s reliance on imported energy is rising and has risen steadily since 2004 when declining North Sea oil production meant we first became unable to meet our own energy needs since the North Sea’s heyday.

This international trade thing\’s pretty shit hot, isn\’t it?

Innovations like the Green Investment Bank and Green bonds and pensions to help pay for the transition will create a healthier finance system too.

Oh dearie me, that\’s the voice of Ritchie there. And they\’re still not getting it.

Green bons and pensions don\’t work: because there is no mechanism by which the social benefits (the getting rid of those externalities of climate change from emissions) can be paid to the investors. So there isn\’t actually a return that can be distributed.

Except, of course, if you manage to create a viable system of subsidies, Pigou taxes and so on which will enable a return to be made. But, and here\’s the kicker, once you have created that system you no longer need Green bonds or pensions. Because now such investments are attractive in their own right, as normal bonds and normal pensions.

So either Green bonds cannot exist, because there\’s no return to them, or Green bonds don\’t need to exist as such investments are attractive anyway.

Thirdly, moving to levels of economic equality comparable with that, say, of Denmark, would create an economic safety net to buffer the process of change.

Eh? That\’s a bit of a leap isn\’t it? That a Gini of 0.25 rather than one of 0.35 (dimly remembered numbers) is part of the solution to climate change?

There\’s just a hint of a soupcon of a suspicion that perhaps climate change is being used as an excuse to pile in the kitchen sink n\’all of Mr. Simms\’ desires, no?

Have a look at pages 16 through 18. He\’s positively frothing at the mouth at being able to run a vast propaganda campaign backed up by rationing and sumptuary taxes. I rather get the impression that Our Andrew would like to have this power over his fellow citizens, climate change or no climate change.

Also worthy of further exploration is the relative success in war-time Britain of efforts explicitly to substitute cultural activity and production – theatre, music, film, art, festivals, sport, and numerous other local entertainments – for material consumption.

All very cultural commissar isn\’t it? You will sing Kumbaya rather than play Call of Duty. Although I would certainly support Mr. Simms asking Julie Bindel to reprise the Windmill Theatre productions.

All people needed was ‘to be told precisely what to do’

Yup, he\’s positively foaming with the desire to impose rationing.

While people grumbled about rationing, and were often prepared to bend the rules or buy black market goods, it was still seen as fairer than the alternative of allowing prices to govern demand, so that goods became unaffordable to all but an elite, as in Soviet-era Russia.

Eh? Since when did Soviet Russia use prices rather than rationing? Quite barking.

Anyway, the conclusion is essentially that we\’ve got to do everything that nef has been suggesting over the past decade. From personal carbon rationing to fiorced collectivisation of \”underused\” property.

The only thing really missing is the reason why? Oh, they talk about \”climate change\” a lot but don\’t quite manage to tell us why a move to a non-cabon emitting energy system (say, thorium cycle, or solar PV plus fuel cells) wouldn\’t solve the problem rather than having to appoint froth mouthed loons like Andrew Simms to rule over us all.

And that really is the important question that has to be answered, isn\’t it?

18 thoughts on “The New Home Front”

  1. I’m always curious what diseases are going to ravage Britain should the average temperature creep up by 2 degrees. Australia is a bit warmer than the UK, but I haven’t heard of people dying all over the place of uncontrolled diseases.

  2. Have you only just cottoned on to the fact that the Greenies reckon that it is their turn to rule the world? Supported by Soros and Strong of course and administered through the UN? Ritchie doesn’t stand a chance besides those two.

    It obviously takes longer to smell the coffee in Portugal….

  3. If you could wave a magic wand and scrub all industrially produced carbon from the atmosphere who would be most happy about it?

    It’s not going to be the warmanistas that’s for damn sure.

  4. C’mon Tim, get with the programme. Everyone knows that we will all be happier with Andrew Simms as our personal dictator-for-life. I know Andrew Simms certainly is, and that should be evidence enough for us all.

  5. “A determination to enjoy life grew. Spending on ‘amusements’ went up 10 percent”

    Hardly surprising spending on amusements went up given there was nothing else to spend it on other that svaings (food on ration, housing limited and consumer goods production pretty much curtailed with restrictions on imports) and more people had income (women moved from home to labour force, formally unemployed men in army).

  6. Christ, it’s such a WASTE

    we could have a Green Party that advocates sensible ecological policies based on a solid understanding of economics and ecology.

    Public environmental goods, externalities … there are all sorts of sound mainstream economic reasons why government policy, taxes and subsidies, and other non-market interventions might be good ideas, if well thought out, and why ‘leave it to the market’ won’t be good enough.

    instead we get the leader of the Green party spouting rubbish and commissioning reports from morons like Simms, wasting time and effort coming up with useless crap, filling the heads of Greenies with nonsense, turning the Green movement into a laughing stock… I’m just embarrassed for them. Why do they have to be so cringe-makingly awful?

  7. Isn’t this just a description of Socialism? The desire, of Socialists, to control every aspect of everyone’s life. Naturally, they see themselves as the elite who will do the controlling, not the poor bastards who are controlled. And of course, in return for taking on such grave responsibilities, there will naturally be some recompense; maybe a larger residence, a personal car-with driver; better food and, perhaps, the greatest reward of all, the adulation of a grateful nation.

  8. Another thing about these Greens referencing World War 2 controls and rationing as being a great solution forget is that they were Massively unpopular. For the course of the war they were accepted as necessary as the country as a whole accepted the threat from Nazi Germany and the need to fight it. War is of course temporary, it will end after a few years.
    After the war when many restrictions were carried on because of economic problems and the desire to build Labour’s ‘New Jeruselem’ these restrictions were seen as less and less acceptable, leading to the election of a Tory government commited to removing as many as possible.
    The Greens want these restrictions forever, and polls show that a substantial majority of the population don’t even accept the seriousness of Climate Change so would hardly accept rationing to fight what they see as a non-existant threat. How long we would accept these self denighing ordinances while remaining a democracy is a very moot point.
    Personally I think Greens like the idea of directing a big response like WW2 required because it makes them feel imporatnt. Fighting Nazism was an unalloyed moral good and they want to think they are modern Winston Churchills.

  9. @Jonathan: Absolutely spot on. If anyone ever needed proof that the Left took over the Green movement after the fall of Communism, this article provides it.

  10. Isn’t it great that the one thing he chooses to criticise the Soviet economy for is over-use of market mechanisms?

  11. Who would have thought that the solution to “Climate Change” would be an authoritarian system run by marxists?

    The Watermelon Party.

  12. William,

    “…the impact over the coming decades has been compared to the world wars of the twentieth century.”

    She’s not talking about the cost, but the impact. Clearly a war that takes up 50% of GDP has a higher impact than something that takes 20% – regardless of what the GDP happens to be.

    For example, the impact of a 1,000 pound fee on a student is likely to be higher than a 2,000 pound fee when they are in employment.

  13. If there’s one thing economists know, and even non-economists like me know, it’s that buggering around with supply and demand leads either to glut or famine. It’s debatable that even during wartime that rationing was desirable. The black market, with all its negatives, existed precisely to shift resource allocation back in the direction it should be.

    Another point: all of this green miserablism is touted as being in order to save the world. But if Andrew Simms and Caroline Lucas were the ones in power, I’d sooner see the planet roasted to a cinder. It’s like my Dad used to say: vegetarians don’t live longer, it just feels like it.

  14. On the measure of externalities:-

    The Simon-Ehrlich second round.

    “In 1995, Simon issued a challenge for a second bet. Ehrlich declined, and proposed instead that they bet on a metric for human welfare. Ehrlich offered Simon a set of 15 metrics over 10 years, victor to be determined by scientists chosen by the president of the National Academy of Sciences in 2005. There was no meeting of minds, because Simon felt that too many of the metrics measured attributes of the world not directly related to human welfare, e.g. the amount of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere.[9] For such indirect, supposedly bad indicators to be considered “bad”, they would ultimately have to have some measurable detrimental effect on actual human welfare. Ehrlich refused to leave out measures considered by Simon to be trivial.”

    From Wikipedia and I like the reference to the NAS!

    Mind you the one benefit that these green grubs won’t talk about is the millions who died. Just ask Joe Stalin.

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