A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Carbon claptrap attains new heights of madness.....

I always knew that the fundamental nonsense of 'global warming' would, in the end, be demonstrated by political attempts "to do something about it", rather than by any science or logic. This is not, perhaps, unsurprising, because 'global warming', as a religion, has morphed into the classic grand narrative - a Barthesian myth or Latourian hybrid - the latest to replace those diasastrous grand narratives of the 20th century, like Marxism and Fascism.

But even I couldn't have guessed at the absolute inanity of the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS). For once, The Gloomiad has it all: 'Power tool' (The Guardian, May 17):
"The EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS), the cornerstone of its campaign to assume global leadership in combating climate change by reducing greenhouse gases, is in tatters.

This week, the European commission confirmed that companies operating more than 9000 industrial plants had emitted 66m tonnes less carbon dioxide (CO2) than allowed in 2005. The news prompted charges that the commission had been hoodwinked by energy groups into granting grossly over-generous pollution permits.

To add insult to injury, the scheme is proving a recipe for windfall profits. Faced with evidence that Germany, Europe's biggest polluter, had undershot its target by 21m tonnes, the Berlin government accused the four biggest power producers - Eon, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW - of profiteering from the ETS at the expense of consumers. The environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said these four and others had thereby stoked up their earnings by between €6bn (£4.1bn) and €8bn....."

Well! There's a surprise, and can you just credit the naivety of The Groaniad's sub?
"European energy groups involved in carbon trading are manipulating the scheme for profit, not principle"

"Oh me, Oh my!" Of course, they are. As I blogged on Monday ('Protean capitalism 'sequesters' carbon as only it can'), what you are witnessing is protean capitalism, yet again, gobbling up a temporarily inconvenient grand narrative, only to transform it into opportunities for further profit-making. And why not, if people are so mad as to fall for such loopy schemes and ideas?

Where energy generation is concerned, enterprises and entrepreneurs will chase the money while marketing whatever PC Green rubbish is deemed necessary to get at it. And, aren't they great at re-cycling the claptrap, from 'sustainability' to 'carbon footprints', from 'organic meat' to 'food miles'? If you demand it, they'll supply it, but at a price, and especially so when governments hand out tax-payers money as if there were indeed no tomorrow. "G & Ts all round the Board Room, Samantha."

Meanwhile, thank goodness, in Australia and Canada, there appears to be a somewhat more realistic, and less undergraduate, approach to the whole caboodle:
"Canada is a country that although it's inside Kyoto is now 35 per cent over its target. So it realises, as do Australia and China, India and the US that there are very serious issues that we need practical, technological breakthroughs to solve the dual issue of ensuring we have an expanding economy but with massively reduced greenhouse gas signature."

"The Canadian economy has been expanding rapidly, and the reality is that until you get a technological breakthrough, such as carbon capture and storage or some other major technological breakthrough, then the sort of ambitious targets that we've been setting aren't going to be achieved." (Ian Campbell, Australian Environment Minister, speaking on ABC's The World Today, broadcast lunchtime, May 18.)

Sadly, back in Euroland and Toy Town, The Guardian, like Larry the Lamb, sums up Mr. Mayor's shambles perfectly:
"This sorry mess, unlikely to be cleared up by the European court of justice, can be seen as yet another example of the EU's inability to put its vaulting ambitions into practice. The ETS was supposed to be €3.4bn cheaper than alternative methods of meeting its ambitious Kyoto targets; instead it is costing consumers untold billions in windfall profits and dividends for power producers and their over-fed shareholders."

So watch this space: I predict that it will be the fatuousness of the politics and the economics which will, in the end, do for the 'global warming' myth - and, the sooner the better.

Philip, "Oh! Mr. Mayor, Sir!" No more bleating, Stotty. It's coffee time to ease the daily grind.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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