back to article It's non-stop fun in Zero Carbon Britain, 2030

A hundred years ago, the socialist utopians had a vision of what they called "a world without want". The Zero Carbon Trust published its vision of Britain in 2030 earlier this month, and it's one where people's "wants" will substantially increase. Particularly anyone wanting, say, a lamb chop with rosemary and garlic, or a …

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  3. Zolkó

    peak-oil coming with or without Orlowski

    It's not because it's uncomfortable that we won't have to do it anyway. By the end of this century, we Humans will have to live without fossil energies, only using renewable ones. So it's better to get prepared, and true, iPhones don't help.

    You're probably right that marketing managers, stress-advisers, credit-default-swap merchants, and other useless jobs will disappear. Will we be missing them ?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: peak-oil panic unnecessary

      There's a error in your logic. Do you want to bet that we won't be able to synthesize hydrocarbons in a hundred years time? We can synthesize crude already.

      http://www.ls9.com/

      The Peak Panic Movement is an ascetic political program, largely comprised of the same Malthusians, bedwetters, DIY types etc that "need" irreversible climate change.

      What they dread most is a seamless tradition to synthesized hydrocarbons - especially one so smooth nobody notices. Because after that, nobody will want to go whittling with them.

      1. Graham Marsden
        WTF?

        "We can synthesize crude already"...

        ... but what that site *doesn't* say is how much biomass or energy is used to create that synthetic crude. Will it be self-sustaining? Will it require turning more and more of the planet's ecosystem over to growing the biomass needed?

        Perhaps Andrew Orlowski could take time out from making ridiculous ad hominem attacks and address the errors in his logic?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fischer Tropsch

          You can make hydrocarbon fuel from energy, water and a bit of carbon.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer%E2%80%93Tropsch_process

          The Krauts used it back when they were trying to kill everyone.

          Who needs self sustaining? It only has to sustain itself until the next trick is discovered. Although it probably is depending on the price of the resulting fuel.

        2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: "We can synthesize crude already"...

          " Will it be self-sustaining? Will it require turning more and more of the planet's ecosystem over to growing the biomass needed?"

          You're still thinking like an uneducated medieval labourer - in terms of "natural" limits terms of "natural resources" (Praise Gaia!) You need to think in terms of available energy and how well we can harness it, and turn it into useful things.

          Now we may or may not be doomed - but we're certainly doomed if we follow you. We wouldn't be here today if our ancestors had. Simple, really.

        3. breakfast
          Flame

          Well no...

          If we can synthesise crude - and it's far from impossible that we will be able to in future - the important equation is the ratio of energy in to energy out. Crude oil pumped out of the ground has is about 1 barrel in to 7 out. Nothing else comes close to that and the simple economics mean that unless synthetic crude does it will be much more expensive. The Peak Oil claim is not that oil will run out, it is that supply cannot keep rising to match demand and consequently the price of oil will rise to the point that it is uneconomical.

          I'm sure Tim Worstall could find a free market explanation for why supply and demand are outdated communist notions, but it seems coherent with my understanding of the world.

          Biomass-derived crude, like the people grasping at abiotic oil generation or even biofuels to a significant extent, is a convenient blinker to save on having to worry about something that is out of our control. A lot of people seem happy with those.

          Monbiot, cheerful fellow that he is, suggests that Peak Oil will simply result in people switching to much more harmful coal-derived fuels.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Boffin

            @The JonB

            "You can make hydrocarbon fuel from energy, water and a bit of carbon."

            The bit of carbon you refer to is commonly called a coal mine. That's also usually called a fossil fuel.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              *sigh*

              Coal is not the only carbon.

          2. mmiied

            no

            "1 barrel in 7 out" I bet if you look that ios tearms of kwh in and kwh out you get better with a nuclure plant and cedrtainley will with some of the future tech nucler.

            I would be prepered to bet if we bit the bullet and went for a full on nucler stratergy we could easley out produce our current socirys energy needs but we would then have the problem of converting it inot the form we want

            in short as peek oil aporces pepol will convert things to other forms of energy use (we are allready seeing that with the rise albit it slow of the electric car). or things like man made oil (using nucleur power as a feed) will become econopmicley viable the laws of supply and demand in operation

            1. Hermes Conran
              Grenade

              were you pissed when you typed this?

              Or is it the first time you've used a keyboard?

            2. A J Stiles
              Boffin

              *sigh*

              Although I freely admit to having no idea what a "barrel" of oil is (it all smacks of "units" back in the days when the GPO ran the phones), I believe it is not an unreasonable assumption that it would represent a certain number of litres of oil; and therefore, since the enthalpy of oxidation of crude oil is close to a constant, a reasonably fixed amount of kWh.

              Therefore, 1 barrel in : 7 barrels out would be 1 kWh in : 7 kWh out.

              Of course if everybody just used SI units exclusively then this would not be a problem.

          3. red death
            FAIL

            Medieval labourer and blinkers...

            "You're still thinking like an uneducated medieval labourer - in terms of "natural" limits terms of "natural resources" (Praise Gaia!) You need to think in terms of available energy and how well we can harness it, and turn it into useful things."

            Ironic that you insult others for being stuck in the past, yet you argue for the status quo and some as yet to be discovered silver bullet. Stick your head in the sand and hope everything will be OK! Don't worry technology will save us etc. It will but perhaps not in the way you mean...

            Of course there are natural limits to resources and energy conversion - it is called the basic laws of physics.

            1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

              Re: Medieval superstitions

              No, I merely argue for the continuation of scientific and technological development. The same stuff that got us here.

              For some unnamed superstitious justification, you aren't able to see it.

              "Of course there are natural limits to resources and energy conversion - it is called the basic laws of physics."

              Um. Why do you think anyone would dispute that? The same basic laws of physics were used to oppose the introduction of all kinds of technology. Bedwetting is nothing new.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                I fear that

                We could all live much better if we could have more nukes, but we will be forced to live in missery because some people would rather live like that than have them. Or more likely they are the nimbys who have an OK life, and know they can keep it, and afford more expensive energy/food/water etc as they get old and die, and leave the rest of us to live in small cold boxes. The same people who opose every building project, be it houses, wind farms, nukes, roads etc.

              2. red death

                Make your mind up

                So where has the current strand of R&D taken us? Mostly into energy efficiency measures to reduce consumption.

                Why? Because there isn't a great amount more you can do to improve energy conversion efficiencies of our current power generation. You really are bashing at the limits imposed by thermodynamics - you can't really get more efficient than CCGT plants, well you can using CHP but that costs lots of money and needs a total re-think on housing and planning etc.

                One post you say you don't dispute that there are natural limits, in another you ciriticise people for thinking "in terms of "natural" limits terms of "natural resources" (Praise Gaia!)" - perhaps you could make your mind up...

                Nothing superstitious or bedwetting about any of that...

              3. bennett_1357
                FAIL

                @ "Bedwetting is nothing new."

                Neither is ignorance!

                "No, I merely argue for the continuation of scientific and technological development. The same stuff that got us here."

                Whilst science and technology got us part of the way "here", I'd hazzard a guess that humanity stumbling upon 2 trillion barrels of a certain black gooey substance probably had more to do with it........

                1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

                  Re: @ "Bedwetting is nothing new."

                  bennett_1357: "Whilst science and technology got us part of the way "here", I'd hazzard a guess that humanity stumbling upon 2 trillion barrels of a certain black gooey substance probably had more to do with it........"

                  See my other post.

          4. Graham Marsden
            Boffin

            Re: "We can synthesize crude already"...

            "You need to think in terms of available energy and how well we can harness it, and turn it into useful things."

            Please, Andrew, tell us the difference between *available* energy and *usable* energy. (Hint: An atomic bomb produces LOTS of energy, but exactly how much of that is usable?)

            It's all very well posting clever pictures of "this is how much energy we use and this is how much is available", but it doesn't say how much energy we will have to *expend* in order to get that, does it?

            "Now we may or may not be doomed - but we're certainly doomed if we follow you. We wouldn't be here today if our ancestors had. Simple, really."

            Oh dear, Andrew, another personal attack, one of many you use when you have no way of countering an argument that you don't like.

            You keep making comments about "bedwetting" (do you really think they add anything to the validity of your points?) yet you keep reaching for your security blanket of "we'll be able to sort this all out eventually" and pulling it over your head in the hope that it will make the nasty bogeyman of increasing usage versus limited production go away and stop scaring you.

            What my argument actually is (as opposed to your Straw Man caricature of it) is that we, as a species, are using more and more energy and at some point we *WILL* reach a point at which demand will exceed supply.

            Now hopefully, yes, we will come up with a new technology that will solve the problem but until then, how about we just start acting a little more sensibly and try to use the energy that we produce in a more *efficient* manner to put off that crisis point a bit?

            Is that too hard to accept as a reasonable argument without resorting to personal attacks?

          5. Josh Fisher

            re: Fischer Tropsch

            Here is a link to rather interesting research on synthetic photosynthesis being conducted at the University of Cincinnati in the States, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl100550k?cookieSet=1&journalCode=nalefd

            As to Utopian social issues, has anyone ever actually read Sir Thomas More's "Of the Best State of a Republic, and of the New Island Utopia"? This 16th century tripe that coined the term manages the "wonderful" society by dividing the people into two classes, those who enjoy the benefits of the wonderfulness, and those slaves who provide it for them. So, indeed we may be heading for Utopia if the Greens get their way. The author points out that if the livestock are cut to 20%, then one would have to be a wealthy Lord to afford meat. Well, that would indeed be a Utopian society. The Lords live luxuriously in an ideal World with no carbon-based problems, and that wonderful World is provided to them by the happily sacrificing slaves. Yes, a wonderful world it would be.......for the Lords.

      2. red death

        Synthetic hydrocarbons

        We have been able to syntheise hydrocarbons for 80+ years - look up the Fischer Tropsch process, but you need lots of energy to do it. So the question is where does the energy come from? It is all very well knocking climate change, greens etc, but unless we find a way to change the laws of thermodynamics (particularly the first!) then we either have to find new ways of converting energy into useful forms or reduce energy consumption.

        IIRC you are a great critic of freetards - well in a sense what you are doing is promoting a freetard approach to the environment ie the idea that we can continue as things are with no cost to the environment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Where does the energy come from?

          Very simple - the same nuclear reactors that should be supplying all of our carbon free electricity.

          1. red death
            Stop

            And where does the fuel come from...

            Not so simple - if all the world switches to nuclear where does the uranium come from? Yes, we can switch to plutonium/thorium and fast breeder reactors, recycle more fuel, but then we have to sort out the technology, proliferation issues (for U and Pu), decommissioning, cost etc.

            Don't get me wrong I am in favour of nuclear, but it is not the simple answer!

            Like everything there is a "cost"...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Zealots

        Your point seems to be that zealots are idiots. Thing is, you're a bit of a zealot yourself, Orlowski.

        I notice you still haven't summoned up the courage to publicly dissect actual scientific papers, preferring bizarre conferences that deduce difficult decisions are best made by ... the uninformed masses? Are you fucking serious? Tell you what, let's put the masses in charge of your pension, your salary, your marriage, your anything. No?

        Anyways, I'm off round yours with a knife. Don't worry, by the time I've arrived, I bet they'll have invented the knife-proof face. Hey they can do it in vests already(*).

        (*) Nota Bene: a startup and a few bits of paper do not a product make. When that purported fuel goes into mass production, then and only then we can treat it is an economically viable synthesised hydrocarbon.

      4. scatter

        EROEI?

        Might just get in the way of your grand energy plans.

      5. bennett_1357
        FAIL

        I don't see any mention of the ability to synthesize crude

        Appears to be a fermentation process producing a hydrocarbon petrol substitute and not "crude" as such......

    2. Luther Blissett

      Fischer Tropsch - the Gaia way

      Gaia has the conditions to do Fisher Tropsch at pretty much no economic cost to us. As the oil just keeps on gushing and gushing and gushing out of Deepwater Horizon and spoiling the locals' mint julups (among a lot of other things), I am find it harder harder and harder to believe it all originally came from a few molluscs, crustaceans and assorted gymnopedies. If that is true, then praise be to God and pass the kool-aid. Otherwise we should be convinced of the abiotic origin of oil. (Hint: it's in the isotopes).

  4. dogged
    Thumb Up

    How much of a grant can you get for a solar panel, then?

    I might have to save up for one.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    What's the point?

    I do my bit, my recycling, try to avoid the car for piddly little journeys, ride my push bike when I need to go a little further.

    Let's face it Greenies, the world is fsck'd OK? We are a nasty, greedy, self-obsessed species with nothing but selfish needs and desires. Driven by 'Greed for the Green", we will never stop our lust for land and money, it's all that had driven us and it will continue to do so. One day, if we can get our heads out of our arses for 2 mins we might lift off this planet and head out into the wild black yonder, but give it 2 weeks on an alien world and it will be covered in litter and 48,000 Strabucks and Maccy Ds!

    When people in my office can't even be arsed to turn off the screens and hibernate PCs at the end of day, what hope have we got?

    I shall carry on trying to do my little bit for the environment, but somehow saving a few plastic bottle from being buried in a landfill will not save this doomed planet! Best thing to do? Get you cameras out and snap away, at least you might be able to show your grand kids what green grass and semi-clean seas and lakes used to look like!

    I'm off down the pub before they insist on stopping beer production to save the sodding termites!

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: What's the point?

      "Get you cameras out and snap away, at least you might be able to show your grand kids what green grass and semi-clean seas and lakes used to look like!"

      Silly lad, you're wetting the cot again.

      There's lots of green where there used to be deserts. As agricultural productivity goes up, there's more "green space" than ever.

      1. Ross 7

        Re:

        "There's lots of green where there used to be deserts. As agricultural productivity goes up, there's more "green space" than ever."

        Whoa, whoa, whoa - what?! I generally agree with the vast majority of your IP stuff, but you don't appear to have as good a grasp when it comes to energy. That "green space" you're referring to comes at the expense of other types of land. Often forest (rain or otherwise). If you think they just turn desert into high production arable land by spilling seeds on it you need to think again. Such things require **** loads of water and nitrates, both of which require energy and lots of it.

        It also has issues with variation. 5000 hectares of single crop doesn't actually count as green space you know?

        Energy IS an issue. Carbon too (but not for the climate change reason - because we burnt all of the easy (i.e. cheap) to reach stuff). Prices will rise. A lot. Ppl will suddenly realise that 'leccy and gas on tap isn't a right, it's something the rich can afford to pay for.

        Your argument that the Germans built 5 coal fired stations to support the wind farms is ridiculous. 5?! Really? Do you have any clue how many coal fired stations we have here in the UK, and how much bigger Germanys energy requirement is than ours? 5 stations are gonna generate 10,000MW tops. Now go Google Germanys peak energy usage.

        If they can reduce the total number of carbon using stations to 5 max at any given point by using wind power then they've performed a miracle 'cause that's nowt.

        I know bashing the climate change lot is funny (and easy to boot) but I would genuinely ask that you go speak with a variety of ppl about energy, land usage and economy before you write anything else on the subject. It's a ****ing HUUUUUUUUUGE area and putting your fingers in your ears and saying that we have enough oil to continue as we are for ever 'cause some idiot forged some temp data with tree rings ain't helping anyone.

        There are plenty of things to write about, but this ain't one of 'em.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re:

          The proposition is that "resources" are contingent on cheap abundant energy, and you seem to be in agreement.

          This might help put things in perspective:

          http://regmedia.co.uk/2009/10/29/global_energy.jpg

          Now we'd better get busy tapping into that.

          Most energy "experts" havea finger in the pie - you do realise that?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Sad picture, really

            Too bad that everything *but* solar is of the use once, lose forever kind. That's totaling what, maybe fifty times the current world use? A hundred? Not counting future increases, and we already know they *must* go up or we suffer lack-of-growth and oh the pain. But apart from that I find it a bit of an affront to use up all those resources and hand our children a spoiled earth core to lovingly care for.

            The only real solution, long term, is find some high-efficiency way (>>50%) of taking that solar energy and making it of use. And to my mind the most straight-forward way of doing that would be to find non-earth area to catch solar radiation on, meaning we go out to space. This because once you have the basic setup, there's quite a lot more space you can fill with solar panes or what-have-you than we have room on earth: ``It scales better.''

            So, by that logic, the direct enabler is a way to go up the well on the cheap, the vaunted space elevator or something, and better direct solar converter tech (in space). But since it requires a concerted effort and brings rather high up-front cost (though it can perhaps be done in a way less wasteful of money than nasa and all its faults), it's never going to happen. There's always a short-term cheaper cop-out.

            And that's the complaint, innit? We're all trying to push our own little agenda, whether we make sense or not. Quick quick, world peace!

  6. Aron
    Megaphone

    What they did not reveal

    To generate the wealth needed to feed its progressive citizens, Britons would be paid carbon credits along with their wages with the credits being stored on an identity card which would double as a carbon rations card. Each citizen would be alloted a fixed number of carbon credits monthly which would be reduced every time a purchase is made (or any form of consumption occurs including travel, eating, etc). No form of consumption will be possible without using the ration card.

    Once a person runs out of carbon credits they will be required to either work more to earn more or purchase them. To put it simply, the more productive you are and the more you share what little wealth you have with the rest of society, the more you will be punished and have to pay for it.

    That's what the report didn't want to say. But there's more. Without much of an economy to pay its citizens wages in the first place, where will income come from? To this end, every nation will be required to take part in carbon trading. Nations which do not take part will have sanctions and penalties imposed on them.

    As a result of carbon trading, Britain's low carbon and low production economy will be selling credits to the tune of billions of pounds worth to emerging economies who will need to purchase credits if they want their economies to grow. Britain and other powerful nations would thus be stealing from the poorer off who want a chance to grow, but can only do so with the use of cheap carbon intensive methods.

    This revenue stream will effectively pay for a vast welfare system in Britain turning our once productive people into lay-abouts living on bare minimum incomes. To the Greens, Neo-Marxists and their new alliances with Islamist clerics and activists (see the Respect Part for more) this would mean shunning consumerism and returning to a simpler life involving local farming, cleaning streets, animal care, praying, and generally following a shariah-like religious system introduced slowly and subtly via the backdoor.

    Once that happens, everything else falls into place quickly in just a couple of generations to turn a democracy into a theocracy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      you what ?

      So you want to put the world on the carbon standard ????

      There are so many things wrong with your idea that its impossible to list them all. All I can say is you are an idiot.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Yes, but

      This will be a theocracy where no other God will be permitted. Greens are not very tolerant.

      It's Earth-worship all the way, baby!

  7. scrubber
    Flame

    Think of the children...

    The public turned all green and organic (which is far from green) when times were good, as soon as they have to tighten their belts it's back to me, me, me.

    Which is fine by me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Organic

      Can be green. It depends on how you do it, and depends on what you call green. If you just talk about water and energy, then no, it is not "more green" than anything else, but if you look at the whole cycle, then biodiversity, low fertaliser etc is a good thing.

      As for going off organic now times are hard, not everyone has done that.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Organic

        Only as a starvation diet.

  8. GrumpyJoe

    One Big Con

    'nuff said.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    free money is a business unto itself

    My biz partners and I decided last year that we were going to change our business model to take advantage of the green mania. We remade our marketing literature and began cynical grabbing for climate handout dollars. It's working well but we all feel very sheepish about it. We don't worry about the actual manufacturing of product anymore, we monitor the handouts and measure the impact.

    We are the unmentioned third group. We're not free riders. We are specifically and exclusively making money off of federal regulatory flim flam and gov't handouts. No posing about it. Money is falling from the sky, don't be too proud to scoop it up. This is not fraud or larceny, it's free money.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Hartwell Paper

    This is basically what the Hartwell group decided aswell. Personally I'm for fixing the damage rather than preventing it from happening. Terraforming over regressing to some ultra primative hippy lifestyle.

  11. Thomas Gray

    Maybe the Steampunks have the right idea?

    Victorian levels of inventiveness, with a 21st century flavour.

    This all reminds me of a BNFL (remember them?) video I showed to a Physics class once, in which the future was either bright and rosy (and nuclear powered), or populated by dirty-haired hippies living in teepees and playing recorders for fun.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Poor analogy

      Steampunk isn't inventiveness, it's the opposite: retro nostalgia.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Human Nature

    The problem with most idealists is that they don't believe in human nature. For example Marxism sounds like a great idea until you realise it's supposed to apply to human beings.

    This lot clearly don't even begin to get the fact that a government that tried to impose such a regime would find itself out on it's ear in no time. Lets be fair, any cabinet trying to impose even part of this would be on the receiving end of a backbench revolt, it wouldn't even need to go to the electorate. But hey, that doesn't worry idealists. Idealists are always right behind the idea of a dictatorship. Not that they'd call it a dictatorship of course, but people just don't know what's good for them so the idealists want to impose it on them and as soon as you do that you have a dictatorship.

    The socialist utopians did have some nice ideas, but they never realised then that the majority of people are quite happy with their narrow minds and treading the same groove every week. Whether it's work, pub, sleep, etc. occasionally footy and once a year a holiday in the sun or something a little more inspiring the majority of people have few aspirations and don't want to broaden their minds. In that the socialist utopians also failled to understand human nature. There are still plenty of people around who believe that the proletariat would love to be force fed a cultural diet, but most of them don't want that, what they really want is to be paid more and work shorter hours so that they can enjoy the life which the idealists don't want them to lead.

    I always thought Blair was something of an idealist, although his ideals may have been a little strange. At times it appeared that he was genuinely distressed that people didn't want what he was pushing and it was clear at times that he thought he should be allowed to impose his rules on the rest of us. I honestly don't believe he wanted to be a dictator, or saw himself in that role, but that he really thought he knew what was best for us and wanted to save us from ourselves. OK so he wasn't a socialist utopian by any means, but he had some characteristics in common with them.

  13. CockKnocker
    Flame

    Hooray!!!!

    For green facism, right im off to punch a badger in the face and burn a tree, take that hippies!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    "Hitch a lift from a passing horse"

    Except, of course, there won't be any horses. Since they're livestock.

  15. hplasm Silver badge
    FAIL

    One measurement for everything?

    The Environmentalist- you can use them as fuel, or eat them or knock them about with sticks for entertainment, and when it gets dark, light them up in a big wicker man.

  16. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    The idea ... will astound

    "The idea of creating one great Unit of Measurement - of all human activity - and using it as a brutal political proxy, will astound people for decades to come."

    Really? This has been the dark green manifesto since Future Shock and probably before that. It's the main reason why environmental issues have never emerged from the "cranky" niche in politics. Idiots like these are the greatest single threat to our environment and have caused untold damage to our planet over the past few decades. The environment they seek to protect would be far better served if they just recycled themselves.

  17. Richard Jukes

    Not my problem...

    It is not my problem and I am past caring! Im getting myself a little canal boat, pellet gun, fishing rods and Im sure I'll be fine somehow..

    They have been saying the end of the world has been coming for many years, but now it really is - and the culprit is the chap staring back at you in the mirror.

  18. SteveK

    Not quite right

    You won't be able to 'hitch a lift from a passing horse' because there won't be any, as part of the reduction of livestock.

    And as for stick-whittling by candlestick... you really think they'll allow nasty carbon-emitting flames? Surely a 1W bulb, powered by either solar power or bicycle generator?

    Steve.

  19. Jolyon Ralph
    Happy

    Livestock at 20% of current levels

    Easy. Breed animals that are at least 5 times the size of current ones.

    Elephantburger anyone?

  20. Tom 15
    Grenade

    Well...

    Well I think we all acknowledge that, on the whole, we eat too much meat, especially too much low grade, cheap meat just to bulk out recipes. We'd be a lot better of reducing meat consumption to once or twice a week for, say, a roast or steak, etc and going veggie for the rest.

    Not only would it make the average meal in Britain healthier and probably tastier/more interesting it would massively reduce our carbon output and help pay farmers better.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Well...

      "Well I think we all acknowledge that, on the whole, we eat too much meat"

      Who's "we"?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      so your a veggie ?

      nothing wrong with eating meat. Cows convert food stuffs we cant digest to food we can.

      Go eat grass for awhile and see if you live.

  21. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    When the cure is worse than the disease.

    So, Do we take the Zero Carbon Trust's advise and kick *ourselves* back to the stone-age, or wait to see if Global Warming does it for us?

    The first is certain, the second is, at worst, probable.

    I suppose the ideal "greenie" solution would be for the entire Human Race to commit collective harakiri, leaving the planet to more worthy creatures, but I imagine they'd reject that idea because of the greenhouse gasses given off by our decomposing bodies.

    1. red death

      Hyperbole and bluster...

      "So, Do we take the Zero Carbon Trust's advise and kick *ourselves* back to the stone-age, or wait to see if Global Warming does it for us?

      The first is certain, the second is, at worst, probable."

      Why are changes to our lifestyles seen as going back to the stone age? That is just weak hyperbole.

      Inevitably changes mean new technologies are developed (how else do the changes that Andrew thinks will happen wrt energy and fuels come from?) and that means jobs (just different jobs to now).

      As an example, recycling wothwhile materials is a labour intensive operation compared to landfilling, and reduces energy consumption.

  22. xenny

    infinite resources ?

    "Persuade themselves.... that resources are finite" I'm no hair shirt environmentalist, but I'm pretty sure resources are finite, otherwise you'd be tripping over them all the time.

  23. Ian Wilson

    Cirucular Reasoning

    Related to this post was an outrageous comment by someone on Radio 4's Today programme, about the fact that proportion of energy that was from renewable sources is decreasing.

    She said "44% of that reduction was due to Hydroelectic power, and the reason for that was because there was less water in the rivers, and the reason for that was Global Warming". No actual evidence, no actual justification, just throw it out there and hope no-one notices.

    I can't remember what she was from, but it was something like the UK Renewable Energy society. Basically a group with a vested interest in spreading fear and alarm in the hope of getting more cash.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      @xenny

      "but I'm pretty sure resources are finite, otherwise you'd be tripping over them all the time."

      In an *absolute* sense they are.

      But where do you draw the boundary? Stone age man was "resource limited" by what he/she/they could carry.

      Similar constraints have existed ever since, but the ring has kept getting bigger.

      While the UK continues to use landfill as its preferred method of rubbish disposal, does not get at least a 1/4 of its natural gas needs from aerobic digestion and gets *none* of its electricity from the wave and tide resources around its coastline is nowhere *near* close to making *full* use of the (renewable) resources it has.

      As a species, tell me we have an energy "crisis" when we capture at *least* 10% of *all* sunlight coming from the sun.

    2. Anonymous John

      Re Cirucular (sic) Reasoning

      There is also this.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/10445344.stm

      "Residents on the Isle of Eigg have been trying to use household appliances less after a lack of rain affected its hydro power schemes."

      Renewables aren't always renewable.

    3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: infinite resources ?

      No, *physical* resources are finite, but *economic* resources are just "stuff we use", and contingent on other things.

      The environmentalists' semantic trick is to confuse the two meanings. If you look out of the window, you can see who's been right so far.

      The argument that "resources are finite" - ie, when we chop down all the trees, and run out of peat to burn, we're fucked - stopped being true several hundred years ago.

  24. Pete 2

    Meanwhile

    ... the rest of the world will look on with a mixture of amazement and pity as one small country in the north atlantic turns itself into the new North Korea.

    We'll still get all the problems associated with climate change (if it turns out that's what's actually causing them) since no other country will follow suite. However just like every other religious zealot, these people will be blind to the suffering they cause their victims while pursuing their idealogically pure charge off the economic cliff.

  25. Philip Nicholls Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Greenies ...

    ..fall at the first hurdle.

    Don't drive, Ride your bike to work. Ok - where did the steel and other metals used to make your conveyance come from? The rubber tyres - from next door's allotment where he cultivates rubber trees? Forget about lubricating your bicycle chain, except maybe with dock leaves.

    And how was the tarmac road on which you ride built? By hand exclusively - obviously because mining and transportation of ores and steel mills is eco-toxic.

    Point made. So how about the greenies who wrote the paper? How the kcuf do you build wind farms without ALL the trappings (ALL!) of modern carbon-unfriendly technology? No computers mind you to control the functioning. Processing of silicon is verboten.

    What a crock of.

    Make hay while....

  26. Gene Poole
    Alien

    I for one

    welcome our new zero-carbon overlords.

  27. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Troll

    There's no harm in the UK trying it out

    So long as the rest of us get to fly over in jetpacks pointing and laughing!

  28. Scott 19
    Alien

    The Greens

    Thought they had a way of getting all the worlds population pushing the same way to bring peace so we could all sit round a camp fire and have a nice sing song.

    'Sorry love the world don't work like that'

    It's going to take a global disaster for that, meteor strike/Elephant Flu, trying to tell the world we need to stop progress ain't going to work, even the people here in the west still live in glorified DIY Caves with running water. When every man, women and child is clothed, fed and housed then we can talk.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    "s agricultural productivity goes up,"

    Agricultural productivity increases have largely been due to energy-intensive stuff like mechanisation and checmical fertilisers. They have energy and hydrocarbons as inputs. Back to peak oil again...

    whether Andrew likes it or not, if the planet's population burns more energy each year than it can replace each year, that is unsustainable. Let's see Andrew argue against that one.

    Of course most of the people on the planet are already living near-sustainable lives.

    There's one group that stands way out from the rest though.

    Hello America, can you hear me?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: "s agricultural productivity goes up,"

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/02/20/optimum_population_report/

      Happy to help. We've addressed neo-Malthusianism so often we hardly need to do it again. It's been wrong for 200 years, and is self-evidently wrong now. Human fertility isn't a problem - except in that we may not have enough people. Either way the population will never exceed 9 billion, and feeding everyone can be done with current technology.

      Population fascism is simply an excuse for creepy people with homicidal tendencies to vent on internet message boards. But hey, it's the Internet! Anyone can pretend to be Pol Pot.

      "if the planet's population burns more energy each year than it can replace each year, that is unsustainable"

      Well... that would earn you a fail in school, even in a very understanding school for slow children. That was also Malthus mistake: the population doesn't need to "replace" energy, by making sure poo turns to fertiliser, or more trees are planted. You're correct that prosperity depends on our ability to harness energy, which we can then turn into something useful. We're only scratching the surface of how we can do this.

      1. Steven Jones

        The blind optimist

        I think you may well be right that the human population won't exceed 9bn (current estimate is 6.8bn). However, the way that rebalancing of population will happen is going to be extraordinarily unpleasant and it's very probably that human beings will suddenly find they are not very much in control of their destiny. In any case, I don't think a world stuffed to the gills with people displacing other life forms is a particularly nice place to be. Whatever else is happening, the loss of habitat to other species is massive as we take ever more land for our own purposes. Population and consumption pressure means that is inevitable. There are models of existence which could support more people at the expense of cramming us into ever tighter spaces whilst we use more of the rest of the planet for our own purposes, but frankly I rather like Cotswold villages, a sense of wilderness and an altogether gentler footprint on the land.

        As to resources. Well I am a Malthusian, at least insofar as physical resources are concerned, and the ultimate ability to feed ourselves. The question is just where the limits are. We currently manage to support our population levels and lifestyle through the incredibly rapid way we are exploiting fossil resources laid down over tens of millions of years. It's certainly the case that hydrocarbons and other feed sources can be assembled from base materials (with sufficient energy you can make hydrocarbons from CO2 and water), but there is absolutely no law of physics that says it can ever be economically cost-effective. Maybe it can, but we've been working at civilian nuclear research since the 1950s and have relatively little to show for it. We have to keep working at it, and maybe we can find another approach, but the challenges are huge, and there's no reason why any solution has to be cost effective. Many have likened this to containing part of the Sun, but that's not the half of it. The Sun generates a tiny 0.3W per cubic metre (human beings at rest beat that by a factor of about 5,000:1; the core of a practicable nuclear reactor will need to beat it by about half-a-million to one).

        I know there are people who have never grown out of schoolboy sci-fi fantasies (and I remember the attraction myself), but there were those that took views of future society beyond techno-wizardry. Absolutely no trend goes on for ever and the technology trend will, one day or another, run to it's end. Nobody can know where that end is (save that it will be long before the theoretical limits of many physical laws), but end it will.

        I am in support of technological fixes and not making life worse for the sake of it. I know that a lot of the greens have no sense of practicality and that there romanticised solutions just simply can't work with the number of people we have. However, equally I'm not blind to the changes that we have wrought on the planet and that very many of these are not for the better (just look at Ikea warehouses). We are struggling with the consequences of our own success - we are seeing it in apparently mundane areas like the social consequences of extended life spans, the impact of ever more medical intervention.

        nb. rather that more people on the planet, I'd rather live in a world with one of those (broken) sci-fi promises of a robot slave or two to do all the mundane work and rather fewer people. A world with 10 billion people isn't 10 times happier than one with one billion.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Happy

          @Steve Jones

          "I know there are people who have never grown out of schoolboy sci-fi fantasies (and I remember the attraction myself), but there were those that took views of future society beyond techno-wizardry. "

          British SF has a *long* tradition of depressing dystopian visions from HG Welles (The Time Machine, The Island of Dr Moreau) to 1984.

          "Absolutely no trend goes on for ever and the technology trend will, one day or another, run to it's end. "

          Why? Technological improvement and research into basic science has been going strong since at *least* 1500. If you mean that the inertia due to the large investments made by some corporations will slow down progress that is an issue of markets and economics, not the underlying technology.

          Nobody can know where that end is

          Sorry to be repetitive but *why* must it.

          (save that it will be long before the theoretical limits of many physical laws), but end it will.

          3 assertions in a row. Again aside from you feeling rather depressed about something could you actually put some *evidence* as to *why* technology will stop advancing before it reaches the limits of physical law.

          I can conceive of *many* developments that could be made which do not violate physical law but are *far* in advance of today's state of the art. Why should there be this artificial brake on developments if there is a market and people can see a way at least to the first *step* leading toward such a product.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Pint

            The "n" in the "w"...

            Is of course, government.

            Left more or less to themselves, ordinary folk will inevitably innovate... They will do this for many reasons, profit, fun, novelty and necessity being just a few. The nature of people is that we like to do things.

            Government has got different ideas though, we are just about to be invited (forced?) to work for more of our lives before we can get a bit of rest (retirement). The government hasn't really explained why this is important, well they have, they have come right out with it, we just haven't noticed. We are being asked to do this in order to pay their wages and pensions, before we can get ours. These are the wonks that spend their whole time, not making things or doing things, they make a living by saying things and they charge us a bloody fortune for their fantastic (stuff of fantasy) outpourings.

            The current myth is that only government can get us out of the mess we are in... Actually, I am not sure that we are in a mess, this may well be another government myth generated in justification of their importance.

            Climate change would be a thing of the past if we cut government back to the barest minimum, we could keep our wages (or our time) and instead spend it on inventing better ways of managing our resources.

          2. Steven Jones

            Trends etc.

            The trend argument is an observation in general and one bound up with physical constraints at the other end (I’d make a case that the trend to increased entropy in the universe would go on for ever for all practical purposes – even Flanders & Swann knew about that). On the observational point, then I see many arguments made by pundits, so who should know better, based on simple extrapolations over a period of time. This has often been used by pundits, economists and the like to justify all sorts of conclusions for the future whether that's increases in obesity, population, average speed of travel, the price up any number of commodities, crime rates - the list goes on. Some of these have already stopped or subject to a series of reverses. The blind following of trends is a variation of those scary newspaper articles founded on the observations of that often dismal discipline called epidemiology that too often crosses the line between science and propaganda. Too often these trends and correlations are not founded on robust causal models.

            However, on the pure physical constraints line, then there are some technologies which will undoubtedly hit limits, simply because of known physical constraints. For instance there are fundamental limits on the amount of usable chemical energy that can be stored in a given mass.

            If you want some evidence of where we may already have hit the practical limits of some areas of technology, we might look at the speed of personal transport. From the early part of the 19th century there were regular increases in the maximum speed at which human beings could be transported around (or even outside) the world. However, that progress as, so to speak, came to a halt in the 1960s. Indeed, there has been something of a reduction in this maximum for most of us as later, more fuel efficient, passenger jets are actually notably slower than their 1960s counterparts. Arguably, in this area of technology at least, it is the constraints of chemical energy storage which provides the ultimate limits with economics providing the practical ones.

            A more fundamental issue is the issue of the ability of society to manage the huge diversity of technological expertise and knowledge to maintain our highly evolved and interconnected world. Almost by its nature, knowledge and expertise has to be fragmented and involve ever more specialisation. There has been some fascinating work on the robustness (or rather lack of it) in modern society due to the dependency on very small numbers of highly specialised individuals (another trend which reaches an absolute limit with specialist groups of one). Ever more human intellectual capital is being put into the human institutions required to deal with this complexity of society.

            Now I’m well aware that many will point to new technologies (as yet unknown) to resolve some of these issues. Maybe somebody will remind me of Lord Kelvin’s “proof” that the Earth couldn’t be more than a few million years old. Perhaps somebody could harness nuclear power in small, portable units for transport, but I rather think we won’t see those nuclear powered aircraft of which those in the 1950s dreamed, rather as we won’t see electricity “too cheap to meter”. Perhaps artificial intelligence will arrive to deal with the issue of managing all this exponentially accumulating knowledge that we have to deal with. But that’s a lot of faith.

            Finally, to deal with this medieval mindset jibe that occurred earlier in this comment section. Well, the idea of perennial growth and human dominion over nature is a much older one. Indeed, the ideas are common within all the Abrahamic religions, and whatever Prince Charles or the soggier end of the Anglican Church might say, it is that religious, faith driven approach that leads to the unenlightened destruction of our own environment (see Jacob Bronowski’s masterly exposition on the Christmas Island statues for that). Worshipping at the altar of technology isn’t much different and is, in its way, as unenlightened as those of the medieval church.

            Nb. I'm well aware of the alternative SF viewpoint, which is why I referred to it. HG Wells I know very well (and I feel a vague connection as he went to an early incarnation of my old college). However, I would spread my net rather wider to include JG Ballard, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, John Wyndham, Doris Lessing and several others who have speculated on the state of some future society.

            1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

              Re: Prejudices etc.

              Brave New World was a satire on HG Wells' and his friends' authoritarianism, specifically Men Like Gods and The Open Conspiracy. Since the environmentalists are cut from the same cloth, and have adopted the same values and methods, it still reads well today.

              "it is that religious, faith driven approach that leads to the unenlightened destruction of our own environment"

              That tells me two things, you're very selective with your theology, and you have a deep prejudice against human beings and their welfare. The faiths that preceded the Enlightenment (or Moses) may have Worshipped the Earth Goddess, but they certainly weren't kind to humans, and put a very low value on life. We were sacrificing children to hold up bridges in those days.

              While we don't seal children in bridges any more, we do decree that millions must suffer and die unnecessarily to save nature, cases usually advanced on an emotional rather than rational basis. The DDT ban is a good example of your pagan philosophy put into practice.

              I am surprised how many people use the straw man "worshipping at the altar of technology" (at least two in this thread), when discussing the simple prosaic steps needed to harness energy for good.

              By the way, you have your islands mixed up. "Christmas" island is not "Easter" island. But I suppose they're all the same to a Pagan ;-)

              1. Steven Jones

                Islands, pagans and stuff...

                I did indeed get my Easter and Christmas Islands mixed up which was just a slip on my part, and Bronowski remains worth watching (and the nearest I have to a heor). I assume you are referring to the denizens of those Islands as pagan rather than me (I go for the more atheistic end of agnostic). I'm most certainly post Enlightment (and I don't view Old Testament biblical creed as anything more than tribal self justification with its approval of slavery, collective punishment and malevolent and selective god. In that I mention Abrahamic religions, it's simply that I'm rather more familiar with the history having had a conventional Anglican upbringing. After a lot more investigation into the history then it becomes evident that much of the teachings are self-serving to those in power with a few nods to the realities of the environment at the time. At a time where mortality was high and power, patronage and survival was dependent on high fertility, then this made sense. At a time where technology means the vast majority of children born can expect to live out a full lifespan, this makes no sense at all. Indeed, rather than being a misanthropic policy, this is a recognition oif the value of individuals. In that sense, an enlightened self-interest of our own impact on the environment is the precise opposite of hating humanity.

                As for Brave New World, it may indeed be written in response to Men Like Gods, but HG Wells was a complex man (with some deeply misanthropic ways of his own) and had plenty of novels on the downside of technology and development on human nature such as The Time Machine and The World Set Free. Whatever his personal weaknesses, he was no single dimensioned individual.

                I rather see Brave New World taking aim primarily at the Utilitarians as espoused by the likes of Peter Singer. That particular philosophy can lead to some very bad places. One of those was Eugenics, which HG Wells (and many on the authoritarian left as well as right) promoted in the early and mid part of the 20th century. Indeed several countries now deemed to be liberal practiced forms of it. Canada and Sweden had sterilisation laws aimed at those considered mentally deficient albeit with pretence of being voluntary in the latter's case. They were by now means alone.

                "Worshipping at the altar of technology" is a cliché of course, and it's not aimed at those who do recognise and admire real progress and human enlightenment. However, it is very pointedly aimed at those who think that technological progress will always provide a solution. For instance, I have read on this very site the need for ubiquitous and very cheap power. Should that ever become possible in essentially unlimited amounts, then I would fear for the consequence. Such power in the hands of the reckless would be disastrous. If, as the author of this column appears to believe, amateur meddling with collective knowledge is such a destructive thing, imagine what would happen if the real power of mass destruction could be made easily available.

                I'll point this back to Bronowski again - his seminal work, the Ascent of Man, was a personal essay on enlightened progress. However, it was most certainly not a view of knowledge and technology that omitted the human dimension and it did, in its most powerful episode, explicitly recognise the limits of what is knowable. He showed what disaster befalls when men aspire to the certainties of gods, and one such certainty is surely that technology will always achieve for us whatever we desire.

        2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: So we just ... stop inventing anything?

          Steve -

          [Maltusian because] "... insofar as physical resources are concerned, and the ultimate ability to feed ourselves"

          I think characterising progress as "blind optimism" is a sign of the mental hole ecologists have dug for themselves. They're pessimistic to begin with, and because use a circular logic, they're trapped going round and round:

          Pessimism --> Resources we need are running out --> We can't get any more resources --> Help! We're doomed --> Lower resource consumption means we postpone Doomsday a little longer --> Destination: Malthusianism / The Village of Yurts --> WE can't overcome resource constraints --> Wherein grows more pessimism. Rinse and repeat.

          So it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, too. The poor luvvies are being irrational. We stopped being dependent upon "finite physical resources" to feed ourselves a long time ago. Without Haber Bosch, we wouldn't have got past the 30s or 40s.

          Nobody promised it would be easy, certainly not me. But you have to convince me we suddenly lose our capacity for scientific invention, or getting these out to people prepared to pay for them. I just don't see it.

          1. bennett_1357
            FAIL

            Are you for real?

            Seriously, are you typing this from your cell in the looney bin??!

            "We stopped being dependent upon "finite physical resources" to feed ourselves a long time ago"

            I actually had to re-read that around ten times to believe it? You do realise that THE ONLY reason we can feed current global population levels is due to intensive farming processes made possible by oil and natural gas?

            The vast majority of the worlds agricultural soils are so nutrient deficient that they can only be farmed with a massive input of chemical fertilisers. Chemicals which owe their very existence to oil and natural gas.

            You're avin a laugh son, when did they start letting your ilk play on the internet?

            1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

              Re: Are you for real?

              Educate yourself on the Haber Bosch, and its importance; it had nothing to do with oil.

              Borlaug's Green Revolution had nothing to do with oil, either - but the systematic application of intelligence and scientific methods to selective breeding.

              Malawi's Green Revolution has a little to do with fertilizers, and a lot more to do with improved cultivation techniques such as irrigation, crop rotation and improved strains of wheat.

              Statements such as yours on potential land yield are simply false.

              To sum up, you're poorly educated and refuse to study the things about you claim to be knowledgeable. Spare us the encore.

  30. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Unworthy polemic

    Dear Andrew,

    I find many of your articles on the media industry well-researched and incisive and have certainly made me rethink my position. Maybe it's own my blinkers but I find this piece of opinion anything but.

    It is all too easy to find and pillory the idiots in the debate. But it is just sloppy technique to employ the same black & white techniques of the idiots to criticise them. To ignore the depth of the debate.

    For example the following two statements.

    "The policies of carbon mitigation are now unsellable - they mean political suicide. In an election year it makes all the difference: Obama wisely won't touch it, the only Republican behind climate change has turned turtle, and it helped cost the Australian PM his job."

    The Economist, not exactly known for sandal-wearing, has repeatedly come out in favour of a change in energy policy in general and carbon tax in particular. Most recently in suggestions for the UK's budget: http://www.economist.com/node/16377180?story_id=16377180

    The same paper also sees Kevin Rudd's troubles largely down to his decision not to pursue environmental legislation. Something that his successor, Julia Gillard, seems keen to change:

    http://www.economist.com/node/16438749

    Not that The Economist is right. I am just quoting differing opinions, although the difference in interpretation of Kevin Rudd' resignation is striking.

    In your response to another comment you suggest that synthesising hydrocarbons as a rebuttal to the idea of running out of fossil fuels. Again, this is just sloppy: synthesised are by definition not fossil. As long as we have the energy required for the processes, and in the sun we have a convenient source, we can synthesise as many hydrocarbons as we wish. Indeed this is now a central tenet of renewables.

    Many "green" ideas are questionable if not downright loony. Critique and debate are to be welcomed and polemic shown the door.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Unworthy polemic

      The Economist really hasn't done itself any favours recently. The idea that Rudd fell because Australians really, really want his "Super Tax" and he didn't bring it in quickly enough, is pretty far-fetched. It's more likely people started to do the sums. Carbon and consumption taxes are electoral suicide everywhere else, so we're asked to believe that in Australia it's the reverse. We'll see how well Gillard does with the ETS.

      "synthesised [fuels] are by definition not fossil"

      Yes, obviously. My point is that the transition to synthetics will not require us to live in yurts, or whittle, as the Peakers want. It will probably be so seamless nobody notices. I don't disagree that at some point conventional oil will become too expensive, but creating compatible replacements is really not a great challenge.

      1. Graham Marsden
        FAIL

        Your point...

        "My point is that the transition to synthetics will not require us to live in yurts, or whittle, as the Peakers want"

        ... is a ridiculous Straw Man argument.

        You might like to look it up on http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/straw-man.html and, at the same time, look at some of the (many) other fallacies ("bedwetting" = Ad Hominem) that you've managed to use in place of actual reasoned debate.

        Do you really think that that sort of thing adds any credibility to your arguments?

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Your point...

          >> "My point is that the transition to synthetics will not require us to live in yurts, or whittle, as the Peakers want" ... is a ridiculous Straw Man argument.<<

          A Straw Man is a point somebody didn't make. This may be a comic exaggeration, but it's an accurate description of society sketched out by the Zero Carbon Britain report. So, let's see. It's ...

          a) based on reasonable observation of the past 200 years of technological and industrial progress - prosperity increased enormously, with all the benefits that brought about. And,

          b) NEF and other activists (eg Transition Towns) want a society based on lower prosperity, decreased mobility, less leisure time, etc. They have do have form, advocating that poverty means happiness*. This is clearly explained in the ZCT report. Do read it.

          c) These groups put the political program first (achieving the vision), then cast around looking for evidence to justify it. This is the circular thinking I described earlier in this thread.

          I don't think any of this is in dispute. You're too busy being offended, though, Graham. It saves you actually engaging with the arguments.

          * http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/08/nef_happiness/

          1. Graham Marsden
            Thumb Down

            Ah, the movable goalposts are out of storage...

            [ad hominem snipped - Andrew]

            So let me try again, Andrew: Please will you answer the following regarding the creation of synthetic crude:

            How much biomass or energy is used to create that synthetic crude?

            Will it be self-sustaining?

            Will it require turning more and more of the planet's ecosystem over to growing the biomass needed?

            And please don't try to fob off the questions with "don't you worry your pretty little head, we'll come up with some clever technology sometime to deal with it" nonsense this time.

            As I said in another post "Now hopefully, yes, we will come up with a new technology that will solve the problem but until then, how about we just start acting a little more sensibly and try to use the energy that we produce in a more *efficient* manner to put off that crisis point a bit?"

            Again I ask "Is that too hard to accept as a reasonable argument without resorting to personal attacks?"

            How about some answers, Andrew?

            1. Graham Marsden
              WTF?

              [ad hominem snipped - Andrew]

              You what? Andrew Orlowski is now not only moderating posts in response to his articles (can you say "conflict of interest"?!) he is also *EDITING OUT* bits that he doesn't like.

              It seems that it is ok for HIM to call people names, but when the boot is on the other foot he can't take it.

              Talk about an abuse of power!

              1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

                Re: [ad hominem snipped - Andrew]

                My dear Graham, nobody has attacked you personally. I have characterised a viewpoint and made fun of it. This is the same as a personal attack. When people get emotionally attached to a cause - Apple fanbois are the classic example - and the cause is criticised, they construe as a personal attack on themselves. Everything is about them personally.

                Ssee here:

                http://forums.theregister.co.uk/post/802992

                We don't publish attacks on staff - it's really, really simple. If you hadn't begun with your post with an attack, then no moderator intervention would have been necessary. So the post wouldn't have got through at all. I thought 75 per cent of your post was worth publishing. I should have expected you would complain either way, but really - do you act like this when you're in a new pub? I'm pretty sure not.

            2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

              Re: Ah, the movable goalposts are out of storage...

            3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

              Energy priorities & Synthetic hydrocarbons

              It seems like you're conflating two issues here - the need to make energy conservation the top priority, and technical questions about synthetic hydrocarbons.

              gm:

              As I said in another post "Now hopefully, yes, we will come up with a new technology that will solve the problem but until then, how about we just start acting a little more sensibly and try to use the energy that we produce in a more *efficient* manner to put off that crisis point a bit?"

              This doesn't make sense. The 'crisis' does not occur if we have a range of options of cheap abundant energy. Therefore, the priority is to ensure we have a range of cheap abundant energy. Yes? Good.

              This means R&D in all kinds of interesting areas: geothermal, fusion, conventional nuclear, solar, synthetics,

              gm:

              How much biomass or energy is used to create that synthetic crude?

              Will it be self-sustaining?

              Will it require turning more and more of the planet's ecosystem over to growing the biomass needed?

              Very strange questions. The first is something that observational science will be able to answer, expect the ratio to go up as more research is done. The second is ambiguous, so I don't understand what you're getting at. The third doesn't make sense - the biomass is there already, it is not being harnessed. As I wrote earlier, you need to think in terms of energy not "resources".

              But overall, the argument that we mustn't try anything new doesn't work any more - it's one of the reasons I wrote the piece, and why enthusiasm for apocalyptic-style environmentalism is waning.

  31. Geoff 25
    Paris Hilton

    Just wondering

    What are the greenhouse gas emissions of 60 million people on a mostly vegetarian diet?

    Mmmmmm beans :-)

  32. breakfast
    IT Angle

    A slow problem

    A while back people got shouted at a lot for challenging the idea that the earth moved within space and was not the centre the universe, and yet it moved. Now they get shouted at for suggesting that releasing chemicals that provably cause atmospheric warming into the atmosphere will cause warming, and yet the atmosphere warms.

    In both cases the religious view that allowed life to go on as normal was being challenged by empirical science and the scientific view was unacceptable because religion is the filter that most of us carry, one way or another, between our minds and the world. Eventually the science becomes undeniable and the religion has to shift a little to accept it.

    I hope that science solves this whole energy problem, because I really don't see that society will and certainly politics can't. I hope and fear that ITER will work out - hope that the research there will enable clean, cheap energy so that we can have the energy rich future utopia that I think we would all like to see, fear that if a project based in France ends up saving our civilisation we will never hear the last of it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      sooo

      greenie loons are the same as those who dragged us out of the dark ages ?

      The greenie loons are the nutter who want us back in the dark ages.

    2. A J Stiles
      FAIL

      Greenhouse gas emissions

      Probably a lot less than the greenhouse gas emissions of enough animals to feed 60 million people on a mostly m**t-based diet.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    "that would earn you a fail in school"

    OK, genuine question, for all the rest of us out here who are disciples of the Church of the Subgenius and don't give a monkeys about Malthus but can work the arithmetic involved if we've got a global 4000 ton pile of coal that has taken eons to accumulate, and we use 100 tons a year without replacing any of it... (Hint: afaict, basic arithmetic says we run out after 40 years, ie it's unsustainable).

    Exactly how is it sustainable (on a *global* basis) if the world uses more resources (primarily, but not exclusively, energy) than it has inputs. The only meaningful input we have is solar energy. For everything else, we are self contained for the foreseeable future and must rely on what we already have; minerals from the moon is great for fiction but not so great for the market.

    We can convert energy from one form to another (usually at less than 100% efficiency) but any fule doth know that energy cannot be created, and creating matter is quite tricky too.

    1. Aron
      Headmaster

      the future

      It was only a few generations ago that naysayers complained about a lack of resources and knew nothing about oil or nuclear. In the future when we're getting energy out of wormholes or fusion or smashing particles together or even from other dimension, our successors will be laughing at us....if they aren't in a green hell that has forced them to live without being able to think or invent anymore.

    2. mmiied

      re:

      "Exactly how is it sustainable"

      it is not but it dose not have to be the histroy of man kind since he started using tools has been one of using one resorce till he finds a better one we started with fallen wood and then we learnt to chop down trees, we learnt how to dig up coal and then to mine it in deap mines we learnt how to use gas and oil , harnes wind sola and water as power sorces and redcently we have started to undertsnad how to use the power of internuclur forces as a energy sorce as long as we keep looking forward we will find new sorces of energy if we stop and start looking backwards we will und up living in caves scavign fallen wood again and dressing in amail hides

    3. Steve 151

      As Einstein pointed out about a century ago...

      E=MC^2

      (Energy = Mass x speed of light^2)

      All we need to do is keep figuring out ways to initiate the reaction that converts M to lots and lots of E.

      Nuclear fission works great, nuclear fusion will probably work better - who knows what comes after that...

      We are at the very beginning of an age of wonder and plenty, and green weenies want to derail the whole thing.

      Because they are stupid.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    re bourgeois environmentalist revisionism...

    Am I the only person who finds the sheer concentration of ideologically-blinkered BS in a typical Andrew Orlowski article reminiscent of being trapped in a polytechnic lift with a Marxist-Leninist in the 1970s?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: re bourgeois environmentalist revisionism...

      No, it's just you.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    10% of *all* sunlight coming from the sun.

    "we have an energy "crisis" when we capture at *least* 10% of *all* sunlight coming from the sun."

    Good thinking, but...

    How much of the Earth's surface is available for capturing solar energy? Some of it you can get indirectly, via tidal or hydroelectric or whatever but the efficiency must surely be poor.

    Concentrating solar does quite nicely wrt efficiently (see recent Desertec discussion) but does need a fair amount of land in places with lots of sunshine.

    So what is the Earth's total current energy consumption (annualised or whatever), and the current incident solar energy (annualised or whatever)?

    How much are we consuming in fossil fuels (probably the same as the total energy consumption, give or take a little bit)?

    Do the numbers, does it add up, or can the fossil-fuel-fired party continue forever like Andrew and his American neighbours seems to think it can? If not, nuclear is only a short term fix, if it is a fix at all.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      FAIL

      AC@17:13

      You assume I would confine energy collection to the surface of the Earth.

      Didn't your parents teach you what happens when you assume things?

      Just the sort of over constrained incrementalist approach there has been far too much of.

      Once again. Think about the system *boundary*.

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: 10% of *all* sunlight coming from the sun.

      >> can the fossil-fuel-fired party continue forever like Andrew and his American neighbours <<

      Straw Man: addressing an argument the person never made. Once again, if this was school, that would earn you a fail. You'll see in my earlier posts, I'm addressing a "post oil" energy situation and describing what we need to get there.

      But you're now on the right lines. There's a lot of energy there to be captured. You need to factor in nuclear and geothermal too.

    3. MacroRodent Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: sunlight etc

      Some time ago, Scientific American had an article about the feasibility of getting all America's energy needs from solar, wind and the like. Seemed quite doable without assuming any fancy new tech, just a great deal of plain old engineering and construction (you have to put those desert areas to good use). The numbers did add up.

      Given this, there really is no reason to predict any dystopias.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Babies?

    "Single males are overly represented in this group: they can DIY everything they need,"

    I can think of something single males can't do, even with DIY.

    1. mmiied

      if your wife left you

      just have to "do ti your self" nuf nuf

  37. heyrick Silver badge

    Obsession

    Tell me, people, where is this obsession with meat every day? It wasn't like this fifty-odd years ago, and look at the enviro-damage being caused in the name of raising billions of pigs and cattle. Somewhere along the way our sometimes-meat diets changed to plenty-of-meat diets.

    That said, a lot of this is unworkable. If it was to be implemented, it will be "expected" of the poor and low wagers, while those with big paycheques will carry on like before.

    Hell, America, as a nation, has been resisting the enviro-friendly treaties. Ones that even *China* have come onboard for. Who's going to be seen as "the big polluter" now? Maybe Dubyah WAS telling the truth after all?

    Oh, and this isn't one of my typically scattered random thoughts. It is a question of how much pain would Britain, as a nation, endure, before it realises that it is really very small and all of its efforts will count for nothing if it, alone, is attempting to be zero carbon. What would be the point?

    .

    Bootnote: Love the entry into this topic - deleted, deleted, deleted... :-)

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Obsession

      > Bootnote: Love the entry into this topic - deleted, deleted, deleted... :-)

      I can repost them if you really want, but they're the typically emotional and nasty stuff you get from eco warriors. One was an ad hom, the other a list of ways of killing people.

      I think reality is gradually creeping up on them. When the argument is slipping away, that's what happens.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No, I like the entry too

        Though you do have a tendency to play the man instead of the issue too, so I don't find your reasons why you've deleted them all that excusable. It'd be much better even just to have a large list of elevator pitches with which to refute arguments you disagree with and fill one in every time you want to call someone a bedwetter or idiot or whatever the latest in insults is. Though fresh argument would still be preferred over canned argument.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: No, I like the entry too

          There's a difference between making fun of a point of view and attacking a person, you blur the two. Calling a fearful, suspicious, anti-technology worldview "bedwetting" is fair comment. Calling someone an idiot isn't.

          The problem with some topics (eg Apple, over the years) is that some people take every criticism of an argument personally. The sign of a mature person who can weight several opposing ideas at once.

          Global warming and environmental stories do attract far more personal abuse, threats and bullying than any other topic. Zealots view it as a moral issue, not a practical problem to be solved, so people who oppose them are immoral, and fair game for abuse and bullying.

          There's no reason why we should change our policy on abusive posts if they contain no rational argument. On other sites I've noticed moderators simply snip out the abuse and if there is a point, let the argument stand. I tried that here yesterday - guess what happened?

          Your argument would be stronger if you didn't insist on total anonymity, but you deserve an explanation

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            If that is the case...

            ... then the basic problem is starting out with this ``making fun of'', and perhaps not bothering with the rebuttal at all. Which would be besides the point anyway because for some people it no longer matters; failing to be much funny at all here also means failing to make a point and thus losing the argument.

            Great for building up a ``controversial'' reputation and attracting dissent regardless of rationality, not so great for moving a discussion along. If we're talking about the strength of arguments, those that can stand on their own merits and don't lean on non-universal ideas of ``fun'' tend to carry more.

            Neither this nor the previous comment except its title was much about el reg's moderation policy. Though I dislike moderation in general I have few comments that ended up rejected or deleted though I've attracted my share of downvotes. I think el reg is doing reasonably well with the ``rationality'' filter, and as long as that stays the case and it doesn't become a ``morality'' filter, well, it's still a filter but corporate entities do need to cover their arse. And yes, though not my preferred method, moderation does help with the readable.

            Thing is, calling a crank a crank in his face is a bit akin to cranking the crank up to eleven. Can't complain about the amounts of crank you're liberating then. Or, as the Germans put it:

            Wenn man mit einem Narren streitet, solle man darauf achten, dass dieser nicht dasselbe tut

  38. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    post-apocalyptic

    Back in the 70s the post-apocalyptic types in the US were not tree-huggers. They tended to be well-stocked with weapons and rations.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big Greenie Is Watching YOU!

    "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever. "

    George Orwell

  40. Jean-Luc Silver badge
    Pint

    Good article, even if I don't agree.

    I am a confused puppy myself - free marketer, tinged with a engineer's opinion that laws of physics do matter. I don't find Greens pleasant bedfellows, far from, but I tentatively believe that global warming might end up being a Very Big Deal (TM). I wish it didn't so I could go back to flying off to Hawaii, which I have all but given up.

    What I find annoying is that environmental debate is left to either left-leaning academics/public servants or to hair shirt self-flagellating yahoos. Just because changing our lifestyle is inconvenient doesn't mean that we won't have to do it. But as long as clever folks don't articulate things like nuclear energy, carbon taxes rather than handouts, more capitalism rather than government nannying, the plans will all end up being made by folks like PETA.

    And, yes, for now the electorate would not touch this stuff with a 10' pole. But enough of a mess later on might force a rethink. What we will need then is sensible policies that _can_ be sold to voters, not silly mankind-is-a-pox-on-the-world thinking.

    Here's hoping that it's all caused by sunspot activity levels ;-)

    p.s. Mac Kay is actually pretty clever and hardly Malthusian, unless you don't know what a Malthusian is. I just disagree with his insistence that nuke-based solutions should work for 500 years or so -100 years should do to get to fusion.

  41. David Ramsay

    I don't CARE

    I have worked for the last 45 odd years - I don't care, I demand and expect to live a comfortable retirement. The greens can go Fuck themselves.

    I will demand my rights and expect them regardless of whether the country or World can afford them, AKA I will take what I want regardless.

    Comments welcome - there will be 15 million in Britain alone waiting to hear what you have to say

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Nice of the Zero IQ Carbon (Un)trust

    to volunteer isn't it. Volunteer to be first against the wall when the revolution comes... next thursday OK for everyone?

    A quango that desperately needs culling ..with extreme prejudice! Fascist morons.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    "confine energy collection to the surface of the Earth."

    Did I assume that collection would be confined to the surface of the earth?

    Not exactly. I made an engineering cost-effectiveness back-of-envelope judgement that solar sails (or whatever they're called) collecting solar energy outside the earth's atmosphere and beaming it back to where we currently need the power (where we live, on the earth's surface) are not going to be practical or affordable in engineering/physics/economics terms, in part because the currently proposed mechanisms for transmitting energy from them to the surface of the earth (visible light or microwaves?) were somewhat impractical last time I checked.

    Obviously another possibility would be deep-core drilling but deep drilling's out of fashion this month.

    If those weren't the particular mechanisms you were thinking of, other examples would be most welcome, but as far as I can currently see they mostly need to be outside the Earth's atmosphere and therefore need an extremely high performance energy transmission mechanism. By no means impossible, but whether it's cost effective either in $$$ or in Energy Return on Energy Invested would be an analysis some people might like to see.

    I'd be genuinely happy to be corrected, especially if you have definitive references with Mackay-style numbers for GW and $$$, rather than uncosted Arthur-Clarke-style SF visions. As (hopefully) would Andrew and his fellow travellers.

    "Think about the system *boundary*."

    What exactly are you trying to say here? Surely for all practical purposes for the foreseeable future, the boundary in thermodynamics or energy economics terms is not far above the Earth's surface, which might as well be *on* the Earth's surface (again, correction welcome).

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      AC@00:03

      "Did I assume that collection would be confined to the surface of the earth?"

      Yes. Give the relative sizes of the projected area of the Earth and the sphere of light at the Earths orbit which the projected area could catch a moments thought would have told you *most* of the collection would be done by free orbiting collectors.

      My actual *point* was that with present efforts to make use of existing energy and material resources (The continued use of landfill for wast disposal. The complete failure to use *any* of the UK coast for tidal or wave power generation *despite* it being one of the best place in Europe for them. The complete failure to generate *any* of the UK's natural gas needs by anaerobe digestion) have been *so* limited and ineffectual that (certainly in the UK's but world wide) until *full* use has been made of *available* resources we don't need to look at free flying collectors.

      People would be better off working out *how* to make full use of those resources before spouting the "We're all doooomed " mantra.

      In energy and resource terms the gulf between what is used, what *could* be used readily (but no one seems bothered to use) and reasonable attainable limits (A measurable fraction of the Sun's output and a reasonable fraction of the mass of the Solar System) is so *vast* (not just between the first 2 and the last but also *between* the first 2) that we should stop worrying there is not *enough* but work out how to *use* what is available.

      A *realistic* system boundary *is* the Solar System. If you doubt this picture what would happen if there were no Sun and if all the *waste* heat stayed in the Earth atmosphere.

      No Sun leave Earth's atmosphere a sea of Liquid Nitrogen and Oxygen a few hundred metres deep. Without somewhere to dump the waste heat produced by *all* Human activity this planet would be a molten soup. In reality it's radiated into space at night and drives a little of the atmosphere to escape velocity to leave the Earth entirely.

      For numbers on Space Solar the 1977 NASA study measured an 87% conversion efficiency from electricity to microwave energy and the same back again at about 1Kw/Kg of the cheapest converter technology, when Silicon solar cells could manage c17% conversion (2010 state of the art is c17% thin film, 43% rigid crystal). Sunlight above the atmosphere is 44% stronger than sunlight on Earthat c1300W/m^2. Current solar array work by the USAF give an array specific energy of 100Kw per Kg and last but not least you might like to look up "Solaren" who are the contractors to Pacific Gas & Electric to deliver 200MW of electricity from a space solar array by 2016. PG&E are not a charity.At anywhere about 800Km the array works 24 hours a day (no Earth shadow)

      What am I saying. Believe what you want. We are *far* from exhausting the possibilities for improvements in meeting our energy and resource needs.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Blake's 7?

    Off to Cygnus Alpha with me then.

  45. windywoo
    Jobs Horns

    Why do you even believe technological progress is necessary?

    We got by with fairly low tech for centuries, but all of a sudden in the past couple of centuries humans seems to believe that they need their cars and TVs and mobile phones to live a fulfilling life. Were humans miserable before the industrial revolution?

    I enjoy my internet access and a warm comfortable home but I don't believe in any way that they are rights. I don't understand this sense of entitlement you seem to feel. If anything our technological progress just increases our desires, makes us more material, more distant from each other. As other nations get caught up in this do you really think that there is a technological solution for all the species we make extinct as we turn their habitats to our use? Will we bring them back from DNA traces? When we re-introduce them will we get the balance right?

    Even if we assume that technological progress is a human drive, does it really to have to be at such a pace? Why is it necessary for a TV or phone to be outdated only 6 months after you bought it? The pace of our technological progress is being governed by the tech companies desire for profit and greedy consumers who can't be content with what they have. Or those always seeking advantage over others. Is this your idea of Utopia?

    Why is it that the cleaner technologies can't move at such a pace? Why do I still breathe petrol fumes whenever I walk down the road? Even if oil were an unlimited resource it is still a dirty one. Whether you believe in global warming or not surely you can see the effects right in front of you? Economic arguments are weak. Economic arguments are always based on the self interest of individuals and companies who want to hold on to their material wealth. Economics are largely based on human values and humans can change their values if they want to. They just don't want to.

    There is no such thing as human nature. Humans can choose their nature. It is not some sort of written rule that humans are greedy, they simply choose to be greedy. Equally they can choose not to be greedy, but that course is harder so it is not often picked.

    1. Aron
      Headmaster

      Fixing more trollop

      "I enjoy my internet access and a warm comfortable home but I don't believe in any way that they are rights."

      If they weren't a right we could demand then you're saying it is OK to take them away from people.

      "Were humans miserable before the industrial revolution?"

      Yes, they were pretty ill, died easily and they committed genocide quite often for very minor things that today are in abundance and available to many.

      "Why is it necessary for a TV or phone to be outdated only 6 months after you bought it?"

      If you want to use a Nokia 3310 you can still do so. Just don't cry about how you might also need to carry an mp3 player, video player, newspaper, laptop, photos in your wallet, etc

      The more powerful a device becomes the less you need to carry around, and that is not only efficiency at work but also good for the environment.

      "Even if oil were an unlimited resource it is still a dirty one."

      Dirty only if not processed to the best standards, which we have not achieved yet in the meager time we have used oil for fuel.

      And technically speaking oil is unlimited as the planet continues to produce it under our feet all the time. We can't live without it as nearly all products are developed using petro-chemicals.

      "Why do I still breathe petrol fumes whenever I walk down the road?"

      The so-called harmful chemicals in petrol fumes are measured in the billionths parts of air and in real world terms would only harm your health if you were extremely weak or stuck your mouth on an exhaust pipe. Some are beneficial - CO2 feeds plants and Nitric Oxide is a vasodilator which improves your blood circulation. It is used by athletes in higher amounts to improves sports performance.

      "It is not some sort of written rule that humans are greedy, they simply choose to be greedy. Equally they can choose not to be greedy"

      If you have no self-interest then you're not interested in survival, by your own hard work at least. A person who gives up on their self-interest is a person who has given up their rights, even their life, to the authority of either a make-believe being, a megalomaniac political ideology, or the state.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Need?

        "If you want to use a Nokia 3310 you can still do so. Just don't cry about how you might also need to carry an mp3 player, video player, newspaper, laptop, photos in your wallet, etc

        The more powerful a device becomes the less you need to carry around, and that is not only efficiency at work but also good for the environment."

        I by no means agree with the greens on carbon, but I wonder if I'm even the same species as people like you. You use the word need in such a bizarre way it puzzles me. Why on earth does anybody "NEED to carry an mp3 player" or whatever. Nobody NEEDS an mp3 player. You don't NEED any of those things, you just want them.

        People who think they NEED so many of the trappings of modern human existence actually need a reality check. Unfortunately so many of the worlds governments have signed up to the idea of a consumption driven economy being the best way to prosperity and over the years people have become convinced that they need the newest and best of everything. You don't need it and you never did, it's just become convinced that you do. The funny thing is that people who subscribe to this theory are very seldom really happy. Yes they are happy for a short while when they get a new gadget, but the rest of their time is spent being unhappy because they no longer have the newest and best. Happy people generally lead a simple life. Of course you can't enforce this way of thinking on people. It's taken a very long time to impose the current thinking on most of the populace and if we start now we might be able to convince people that they will be happy living a simpler life we might manage it by the end of the century.

        To give you a simple example I have a friend who is constantly upgrading his bicycles. On his latest carbon (ahem) fibre confection he has spent around £7000 when you include the upgrades he has added in the last year. He just has to have the latest and best. He's seldom happy. His time on a 25 hasn't improved over the last few years, but at the end of every trial he's always telling us he would be faster if only he had the latest wheelset or whatever. I on the other hand have a bike from 1993 which I was given, I have spent very little on parts - just consumables and a saddle really. I'm perectly happy with the bike. My 25 time two years ago was slower than my friend by over a minute. Recently I have ridden over a minute quicker than him. I suspect my times have improved because I focus on my own performance rather than the bike. My friend is becoming even less happy because he's constantly looking for upgrades that will let him beat me, rather than concentrating on his own performance.

        1. Aron
          Go

          My answer

          "I by no means agree with the greens on carbon, but I wonder if I'm even the same species as people like you. You use the word need in such a bizarre way it puzzles me. Why on earth does anybody "NEED to carry an mp3 player" or whatever. Nobody NEEDS an mp3 player. You don't NEED any of those things, you just want them."

          You are correct, there's no chance we could be the same species. Your specie is clearly blind as I had written, "you MIGHT also need to carry an mp3 player, video player, newspaper, laptop, photos in your wallet, etc"

          And some people do NEED these things. Ask a few musicians or fans who feel their lives are enhanced by the presence of music. Clearly you feel they don't NEED these things and should shut up and pray five times a day or something equally useless, backwards and green.

          So my tip. Next time you want to spit at someone try not to aim to high. It only lands back in your face and we see what kind of person you are.

        2. Jean-Luc Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Why do you care?

          So he spends unreasonable amounts of cash on a bike. Does it pollute that much? Do the MP3s pollute that much? No, they probably don't, when compared to Ryan Air and the like spewing tons of CO2 for a few quids so the lads can go guzzle beers on the Spanish coastline.

          That's one thing no one seems to really get. It doesn't matter much if it is touchy-feely tree-huggy. Or if it is Gordon Gekko capitalism at its worst. What will ultimately matter is CO2 emissions, rather than good intentions. My neighbor wants to regulate suburban commuting here in Canada, but flies the whole family down to Mexico every winter ;-) Give us carbon taxes, rather than self-righteousness.

          Still... if he can't beat your 93 bike with his 7 big ones... not so hot.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Plastering your trollop over it, you mean.

        `` "I enjoy my internet access and a warm comfortable home but I don't believe in any way that they are rights."

        If they weren't a right we could demand then you're saying it is OK to take them away from people.''

        Plenty of people do not, in fact, have access to internet, comfy homes, or even much income at all. Yet, you say they're rights. Pensions and benefits are a right in that sense, and yet they're being taken away because nobody is around to pay for them. Clearly, that logic is flawed. I think we need to stop thinking that way.

        What we have is incredibly privileged lives to the point that we can not now and likely not ever extend that ``right'' to everyone on the planet. Or at least not the same and incredibly wasteful way the Americans have it and as vociferously as you demand to keep it.

        We could try and fix some of that through technology, but be prepares that some things must change before we can scale up further. As noted, we're currently scaling down as important components are *breaking* down. That's right, our precious rights are taking themselves away.

        ``Yes, they were pretty ill, died easily and they committed genocide quite often for very minor things that today are in abundance and available to many.''

        A point, though nowadays ``we'' just do UAV strikes on fuel trucks, killing indiscriminately over the internet. Saves washing out the blood from *your* uniform, to be sure, but still.

        The medical improvements are welcome, of course, but we still have a contingent of people bringing the ``good news'' to where it wasn't before, incidentally also bringing other ``good news'', and, reducing child mortality but, uhm, not child birth rates--rates that are high exactly to counter high mortality. So you get an explosion of people that do to the land exactly what rabbits or locusts do to the land when their population explodes. Yes, you could argue hunger crises are caused by missionaries.

        My point? Mostly that with greater power (better tools, knowledge, etc.) comes greater responsibility. You did it, you fix it. Or, rather, we did it, we fix it. We're still in this together.

        Yes, we might possibly find ways to ``fix'' our use of oil, though at this rate it looks like it's going to be too little, too late, and worse, it's by no means certain we will. I don't think you quite grasp the time scales involved, but you're welcome to back your assertion up by some numbers. We've been busy burning up the oil for a hundred years or so, coal a bit longer, and forming that stuff cost what, couple million years? couple billion? I forget. I think the rates aren't as optimistic as you pooh-pooh them to be.

        ``The so-called harmful chemicals in petrol fumes are measured in the billionths parts of air and in real world terms would only harm your health if you were extremely weak or stuck your mouth on an exhaust pipe.''

        This is a bit of a canard and a nasty one at that. Cities with permanent smog covers, anyone? And that's not just the soot-black east German ones before they got around to cleaning them up.

        ``If you have no self-interest then you're not interested in survival, by your own hard work at least. A person who gives up on their self-interest is a person who has given up their rights, even their life, to the authority of either a make-believe being, a megalomaniac political ideology, or the state.''

        Of course! If we don't keep up the race to see who can out-consume each other, we lose our basic human rights! Why didn't we think of that sooner?!? *facepalm*

        The self-interest you advocate is that of the American Individualist Consumer, with a God^WCorporation Given Right To Consume. Which incidentally is good for everyone else's bottom line, though you might need a second or third job to pay for it all. That's certainly not the only definition of self-interest. Another would be to have enough of the right things to get by, raise happy kids, and leave them a lush green earth to frolic and raise kids in. I'm sure that, if not you plenty others here, could come up with alternative definitions of self-interest.

        For the record, I'm still using a nokia 6310 someone gave me years ago. Getting a replacement battery (which is, arguably, a consumable) is proving to be a bit of bother, and there's some things that its firmware could do better but won't ever be fixed.

        Still, the new backup (a cheap samsung with a solar panel in the back) replacing a 6210 that only does single-band these days was a bit of a disappointment. It's new, shiny, has a colour screen and a find-the-keyhole LED, but has deliberately been cripled (no putting appointments in the calendar and a few other things), has clearly more bugs in the firmware --glaringly, many of those visibly increase energy use--, and, uhm, no updates.

        I *so* want a phone that a) has all the hardware interfaces I care for and b) comes with an open-source OS plus open-source toolchain so that I can fix this kind of flaw myself. Might take me a year or more to get around to it, but I'll get to it eventually, or someone else will. Oh, and c) be as sturdy and long-lasting as or better than a 6310.

        Come that time I'll happily spend another six to ten years using the same hardware. If enough people do that, there'll be a reasonable market for ``consumables'' too. This is more important to me than whether it's the latest model, most of which seem to be roughly the same to me anyway. But then, I'm not a connaiseur of ``fashion phones''.

  46. Mips
    Jobs Halo

    Sustainable lifestyle?

    This report comes as no surprise, I have been saying the same for the last 20years. The following is true:

    This island cannot produce sufficient food to support the population even if every square metre is producing vegetables. We cannot support animals: so no meat.

    In this country life without artificial energy is impossible.

    We cannot produce sufficient energy from renewables to supply even 20% of what we use now; we have to cut back hard on what we use and for the remainder we have to go nuclear.

    Here is the IT angle: electronics take far too much of what we use, that reduction to 20% goes for electrics as well. So get busy guys.

    Because all energy will be delivered by electricity, the electrical distribution system will have to be about three time the size it is now. So expect to see pylons everywhere.

    Because of the switch to electricity expect to see the completion of about two nuclear power stations per year FOR EVER.

    This is a pragmatic view and factors in that we will not be rescued by technology. I think you will recognise that this is close to what will happen. The only question when?

    I always though that when I died I would leave a better world for my kids. Not going to happen is it?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Sustainable lifestyle?

      OK, I'll call you out on this one. You're a public sector consultant and repeating "sustainability" claptrap is one of your selling points. So you have a vested interest here. You really ought to declare it, but I'm declaring it on your behalf, since it illustrates my point about people repeating garbage not for ideological reasons, but because of the financial incentives.

      "I always though that when I died I would leave a better world for my kids. Not going to happen is it?"

      Yes it is. Search the entries above for "wetting" and "cot" and circular logic. Since you didn't read the article, so I wouldn't expect you to read the comments either.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Mips

      "I always though that when I died I would leave a better world for my kids."

      Why?

      " Not going to happen is it?"

      Why not ?

  47. Hugh Jorgen
    Welcome

    What the Greens fail to address......

    ...is how the hell am I going to keep my Taser charged up? I mean, it's going to need a lot of power because I'm planning to redistribute a small portion of it's power to every green liberal do gooder I meet.

    I for one welcome our environmentally minded green overlo**KERFOOKINZAP** **sizzle**

  48. Hugh Jorgen
    Paris Hilton

    If oil is so evil.....

    Why are the government taxing the hell out of huge V8 engine gas guzzlers? We're using up all the oil as quickly as possible so it stops being an evil issue for everyone. How's about a little 'thanks' every now and again?

    Paris...I'll bet she knows what a V8 is..... :)

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    the "We're all doooomed " mantra (John Smith 19 10:10)

    Thanks for taking the trouble to reply, in depth, with figures.

    I like the "outside the box thinking". Without imagination, we are all doomed.

    Other than that, was I one of the ones who had said "we're all doomed" ? I hadn't intended to be. I might well have intended to say "modern aspirational north American lifestyles are doomed". Do you see the difference? I guess it depends if you consider "we" to be El Reg readers or the human race in general, or some similar distinction.

    "landfill for waste disposal"

    You're suggesting incineration (and power generation) instead? Birmingham used to do that, then refuse collection was privatised and now it doesn't happen. I happen to know that some woodchip from city council tree work is used for power generation. In effing London (of course, it gets there by truck not train and the trucks come back empty). Such is progress under the dead hand of Andrew's darling market.

    I'm aware of natural gas from landfill too; an ex-colleague used to live in Loscoe before it blew up (look it up). It's technically possible but currently economically uninteresting.

    I'm aware of a biogas (anaerobic digestion) proposal on Anglesey. Wylfa (2GW or so?) nuclear is about to close. There might or might not be a nuclear replacement, one day, if fingers ever get pulled out. The biogas proposal was to be fed by animal waste (by road again) from a wide area, but from memory generated only a few 100kw. Barely viable? In searching for details of that proposal, which I couldn't quickly find, I note the sole biogas advert on G**gle is from an outfit that can't even understand the difference between kW (power), kWh (energy), and kW/h (mostly daft, but that's the one in their ad).

    "The complete failure to use *any* of the UK coast for tidal or wave power generation *despite* it being one of the best place in Europe for them."

    Yes we should have done a lot more with that rather than waste it on the eventually-bankrupt BNFL. Again, see technically possible, economically uninteresting. Cambridge's Professor Mackay has a free downloadable book http://www.withouthotair.com/ with lots of numbers in it, highly recommended reading. Wave power is chapter 12, tidal power is chapter 14; I'd get it wrong if I tried to summarise, but although we should have spent less on nuclear subsidies and more on wave/tidal R+D in the last 30 years or more it wouldn't anything like have sorted us out (and as you note, there are plenty of places with less access to wave/tidal power than the UK). What's the severn barrage, 2GW or so at best? Need a bit more than that from somewhere; Mackay lists most of the options currently viewed as practical.

    I probably sound negative but I'm trying to sound realistic. Technically possible but economically uninteresting applies to a lot of things. Joined up thinking would help but the stovepipe-driven "market" which brought us the insane post-privatisation "dash for gas" won't help joined up thinking. Fix that first.

    ps

    I do apologise for confusing Arthur C Clarke with Asimov in my earlier post. Space based solar power comes from Asimov in 1941, and is still a few years in the future... a lot closer than fusion will be though.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: the "We're all doooomed " mantra (John Smith 19 10:10)

      Please refrain from attributing views to people that they don't hold. If your argument is so weak you need to make stuff up, maybe you need a new argument. The dash for gas was indeed ludicrous, and if you think I'm a market fundamentalist, you *really* haven't been paying attention - or are hoping ad homs don't get noticed.

      "Such is progress under the dead hand of Andrew's darling market."

      Well, your prejudices are pretty clear here. Markets are good at a couple of things, though, and one of them is pricing. Which you ought to be quite pleased about, because it means the difficulty of extracting conventional fuel is reflecting in the price.

      Your own views on energy policy are quite inconsistent. You're in favour of subsidies, but only for things you approve of, a priori. MacKay fell into the same trap. Unfortunately this is not how policy decisions should be made, nor how they will be made. We'll evaluate investments on the basis of their likely return. In brutal terms, how much Gw will we get from a particular energy technology, for how much. Nuclear needs subsidies, but the paybacks are proven, and there's lots of very advanced and effective new technology available.

      Shocking, isn't it, that energy policy is driven by rational cost/benefit calculations, rather than Anon on a Message Board :-)

      "although we should have spent less on nuclear subsidies and more on wave/tidal R+D in the last 30 years or more"

      I can hear a Frenchman laughing his socks off. Go and ask them what a rotten decision they made.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      AC@07:38

      "Other than that, was I one of the ones who had said "we're all doomed" ?"

      Specifically no. it is a theme that has been cropping up on this thread which I personally am opposed to.

      My recurring theme with the ideas I mentioned is to point out that this apocalyptic view is a product of *economics*, *not* technology.

      Economics gave us the sort of closed box thinking that produced "The Limits to Growth" in the 1970's with its apocalyptic vision of the future. BTW does any remember *when* they predicted the date for the planetary FUBAR? I think it was 10-15 years ago.

      Economics produced the UK electricity market designed to kill the UK coal industry and make anything but a gas fired gas turbine power station uneconomic.

      OTOH Economics will also see the US launch the world's first solar power satellite in 2016.

      Economics and markets are the product of human minds. Most energy markets are *highly* regulated (in some ways) and very far from free. If the set of rules in use at present don't give the sort of long term outcomes people want perhaps they should change the market?

      "Cambridge's Professor Mackay has a free downloadable book http://www.withouthotair.com/ with lots of numbers in it, highly recommended reading."

      Agreed.

      BTWThe anaerobic digestion thing came from a report commissioned by Centrica and reported by El reg. they say 50% of current gas demand, but I suggested a much more conservative 25%. Relevant because it would be Carbon *neutral*, use existing infrastructure and operate 24/7. they are obviously talking about digesters located around meat processing plants, fruit and veg markets etc.

      IIRC UK Generating capacity is roughly 70GW of which 20-25% is nuclear and most of that is going obsolete. I don't think the UK can avoid building some nuclear stations, but I do think they could turn out to need fewer than they think.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "oil is unlimited as the planet continues to produce it under our feet all the time"

    The planet may be continuing to produce oil, it may not, but what happens if the rate it's being used is greater than the rate it's being produced?

    Answer: It runs out. It is not unlimited. Numbers matter, as do demonstrable facts. Where are the facts and numbers to support your claim?

    The rest is just as poorly thought out too.

    1. Aron

      answered

      "The planet may be continuing to produce oil, it may not, but what happens if the rate it's being used is greater than the rate it's being produced? Answer: It runs out"

      Pointless question and answer as nobody knows at what rate or in what quantities Gaia produces oil for us. But if you want to get close to an answer, take all the living organisms that died today, calculate the total amount of mass which would sink through the layers of Earth to form oil, multiply it by 365 for the days of the year, then multiply it by the number of years ever since organic life first appeared on the planet, then subtract the amount of oil used by humanity, then realise that ther rate of oil production should be increasing over time as we have more living and dying species today (in total numbers, not in diversity) than ever before due to industrialisation, domestication and farming.

      I await a scientific answer without activist diatribe and vitriol.

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