February 02, 2006

Robert Newman, cretinous, ludite, twat

With previously reliable Polly talking sense for once Al Guardian seems to have got desperate to fulfill its quota of nonsense articles they have decided to get someone new in. Robert Newman, who is an utter, utter moron. Tim Worstall already has had a go at him, but I was too incandesant to properly express my contempt before. But I've cooled down a bit now so here goes.

There is no meaningful response to climate change without massive social change.
Massive social change is something that humans are quite good at, change the incentives and we naturally change are behaviour to maximise the rewards. Something often called the invisible hand of the market. Even over just the last couple of centuries there have been several massive social changes. For example the rise and collapse of Socialism, with the millions of deaths that the Socialist states brought with them, or the rise and retreat of free-trade with the wealth and prosperity that it created. Massive social change isn't really a problem, they are simply something that happens. The problems come with if a society changes into a authoritarian hell hole.
A cap on this and a quota on the other won't do it. Tinker at the edges as we may, we cannot sustain earth's life-support systems within the present economic system.
And what economic system would he be suggesting? It's not Capitalism and the market, currently the most efficient way known of distributing resources as he says:
Capitalism is not sustainable by its very nature.
So what could it be? According to dsquared commenting on Tim Worstall's blog his description of capitalism is
pretty clearly Marx's Capital, Vol 1, and since the term if not the word "capitalism" was originally defined by Marx
Oh dear, alarm bells go off. Especially as he now veers off into an anti-captialist rant about the power of the big corporations. I guess he didn't bother listening to the news, probably a requirement for writing for Al Guardian, about the supposed unstoppable power of the big corporations. Yahoo being forced to hand over the emails of a journalist and Google being forced to censor itself by the Chinese, something that the bette noire of the anti-capitalists New Corporation has had to do for years. Microsoft's continuing battle with the EU that could mean it has to fork out 2 million euros a day. Why didn't the supposedly all powerful corporations just reach out their hand and smite these upstart governments? Well that would be because they are not all powerful and have to operate within the markets created by governments.
the point is that supermarkets are over. We cannot have such long supply lines between us and our food. Not any more. The very model of the supermarket is unsustainable, what with the packaging, food miles and destruction of British farming.
I very much doubt it, some people (like me) will choose to buy form small retailers and the Co-Op. Others will choose to buy from a supermarket since it is convenient to get everything in one place. Nothing is going to change that, the supermarkets may change their suppliers in response to the market but they ain't going away. Which is a good thing since the ruthless competition between them keeps food cheap for everybody. And here he drifts into more anti-captialist claptrap.
Solutions need to come from people themselves.
you mean small business startups to provide clean energy at economical prices? No that would actually work, my mistake.
But once set up, local autonomous groups need to be supported by technology transfers from state to community level.
that is they must take the government issue equipment, even if it is unsuitable, uneconomical, or simply unwanted. Because the State says that they must. No reason to let the market reduce the prices and increase the efficiency of the devices then let people decide what is best. No, the State knows best. You must do as the State commands. If the energy commissar says that your hilltop cottage is the perfect place for a tidal powerplant then that is how it must be. Shifting the burden over to specialist companies that can do it more efficiently is apparently not an option but since the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine all the time he is willing to allow some power grids, so long as they don't grow to big:
back in the 1920s the London boroughs of Wandsworth and Battersea had their own electricity-generating grid for their residents.
Yes they did, as did most towns and cities. There is a building on the road through Newton Abbot to Torquay that proudly boasts on it's brickwork that that was why it was built. Independently owned and run set up as the market for electricity demanded. They don't exist now of course. Having all been nationalised into a single State monopoly which ran them so badly that they then had to be denationalised into the eeeevil energy corporations.
So long as energy corporations exist, however, they will fight tooth and nail to stop whole postal districts seceding from the national grid.
You mean they will drop their prices and increase their use of renewables to keep their customers? And this is a bad thing?
We have lived in an era of cheap, abundant energy. There never has and never will again be consumption like we have known.
Wrong! Nukes are here and can provide vast amounts of energy. Waste is not a problem, you just have to store it for a few thousand years before it is no more radioactive than the ore it was mined from. Humans can already build structures that last that long, within a couple hours drive of where I now type there are many examples of structures that demonstrate this. And we have got better at building in the millennia since they where constructed.

Nor do we have to rely on Fission, Fusion is coming. Iter is about to be built and Demo is scheduled for 2030, and fusion will provide far more energy than we will ever need. Even if there is no technological progress beyond Iter and Demo the fusion fuel in our oceans is more than enough for the next thousand years. Mining it from the gas giants would provide more energy than we are likely to ever need. Enough energy to take us well beyond even the death of the Sun. But Mr Newman does not seem to realise this, nor does he realise what his vision of self sufficiency would require, since subsistence farming simply cannot support the current levels of population. Millions will need to die if he gets his way, but being a Socialist I guess that is unlikely to trouble him. There is a better way. Progress happens, technology will save us. All of us. We haven't reached the end of the road, the ingenuity of the human mind means that we have barely even started.


Post a Comment

<< Home