Tuesday, 2 November 2010

42% Better? Not For Me it Isn't

Today Friends of the Earth Scotland issued a press release publicising their latest research.  In their opinion meeting our climate targets could 'increase employment, cut health-care costs and reduce social exclusion'.  The report is entitled '42% Better'.

I'd like to comment briefly on a few bits of their report because it does disappoint me the lengths to which these pro-environmental campaigners will go to substantiate the biggest scam in recent times.

I sincerely believe that we need to reduce pollution all over the world. As a person who respects the soil and the environment but not to a hysterical degree, I compost and send the my excess leaves off to the council in a bin along with those garden prunings which I know will take a couple of decades to reduce to a decent composition.  But I'm not longer allowed to have get rid of my leaves by burning them. ( Now therein lies another story - perhaps for tomorrow).

I'm told to divide cooked food into my 'garden surplus' (the stuff you shouldn't even considering composing) into a separate bin destined for recyling is a lie.  In my area all bins, with the exception of paper bins, all go into the same landfilll. I don't use my paper bin because I don't buy newspapers and I shred everything I receive by post,   That, I think in my naviety, thinks protects my identity.

Yet some of the biggest and wealthiest countries are ignoring my efforts I think that's a waste of time.  I appreciate the question of pollution but I don't think Scotland is going to rescue the rest of the world by introducing extreme measures or rescue Scotland.  I won't go into statistics (they're boring and you can spend days trying to find sensible numbers)  but I will name a couple of countries who have no regard for this emissions scam. China and India have increased their carbon emissions and continue to do so even although we plough billions of our hard earned money into them through the  Yet our wee island's governments feel we must continue down the road, (oops they don't like the word roads the FoE), of ensuring any good living citizen in this country who works/has worked for years will be financially broke.

The report, '42% Better', identifies extra jobs in energy efficiency and public transport, health care savings arising from reduced obesity, improved mental health and reduced respiratory disease, and social inclusion gains from reductions in fuel poverty amongst the many non-environmental benefits of a strong climate policy. Even in the limited case studies examined, the estimated value of the health benefits alone exceeds £2bn.

Have you ever heard such nonsense?  Let me give you another quote from Duncan McLaren, CE of FoE Scotland.

"The report focuses on policy measures in the parts of our economy unaffected by the European Union's emissions trading scheme: such as housing, transport and agriculture."

So we're not dancing to the EU's emissions trading scheme which currently excludes housing, transport and agriculture.

In this next quote I have highlighted what I consider are pure spin (to be polite) points in bold.

For example, improving and insulating the homes of those in fuel poverty in Scotland, could avoid an estimated 180,000 cases of anxiety and depression each year, and cut days lost to work and school as a result of respiratory illnesses by up to 25%. The increased levels of fitness resulting from raising cycling rates to Danish levels could save over 1,600 lives a year, and help cut obesity rates in Scotland in half, especially if supported by the widespread adoption of low-carbon, low-meat diets.

Let me start by saying how will improving and insulating homes of many of us in  fuel poverty 'eliminate 180,000 cases of anxiety and depressions each year?  I qualify for the term 'fuel poverty' but because I claim no other benefits I'm refused help.  By dipping into my small savings I can pay my bills - for now.  Do these people really think that by improving homes with insulation will reduce anxiety and depression?  They haven't spoken to anyone in my age group who would tell them that our anxiety - which may lead to depression - is cause by the knowledge that we utility users know we will have to cough up more and more of our pension(s) to fund this great scam.

days lost to work and school as a result of respiratory illnesses by up to 25%.

How can these people make that statement defeats me.  It's brainwashing.  There is no scientific evidence that this will happen.  In fact, since the ban on smoking in pubs and public places came into our legislative process.   Even worse is the propaganda pushed out by statistics yet this blogger has been diligent enough to analyse the figures.  Please do look.

There's nothing more I could desire than Scotland manufacture (and invented) products which could be sold world wide in connection with reducing polutution. I have no objection to driving a low emissions car yet I do have objections a driving 'a electric car.  One of those things wouldn't get me to and back from the shops in Dundee or Perth and I can't see plugs lining my route home.  Just for those of you who have been courageous enough to read this far, I run a car which costs me £30 a year in tax.  It can cope with four passengers comfortably over a couple of hours trip and I still get around 55 to the gallon.  It's diesel.  The emissions are low.  Would I want to do 1000 miles in a day in it?  Naw.  I'd have to have an ambulance waiting at my destination because it's not a 'comfort' car, it's a utility one.  That's all I need.

We still produce the best engineers in the world, (albeit with a couple of them in the US), yet our engineers are moving to other countries to work and then import their excellent products to us.  What does that say about Scotland or the UK.

Of course there are short-term benefits from this scam, there always are from scams. The jobs will be short-term.  How many windmills can we produce? A lot less than ships which have been essential to the civilised work for centuries.

It's hard to find the details of how often these windmills would need replaced, yet the expense of erecting and maintaining them is vast.  Maintaining windmills won't last forever.  We will always require boats/ships/fishermen/engineers/care workers.  I could give an endless list of a coherent society and well balanced society.  However this week it was announced by one major utility company they intend to raise the cost of domestic rate by just less than 10%. That's only the beginning, believe me.  No government will argue with the multiples.  We were sold out years ago when our basic utilities were privatised.  But then, those of us who still believe in common sense in fuel tariffs and support those of our older generation who hadn't planned for such extreme bills, but are want to have a standard of living which doesn't require other taxpayers to subsidise, aren't taken in by the FoE.

The answer from our politicians will be the same as David Cameron gave yesterday about giving our military's independence to France.  "I can't do anything".  We pay them for doing nothing.  Remember that on polling day.

source: Friends of the Earth Scotland


Joe Public said...

Oh where to begin?

Do they take into account the jobs lost because employers have to waste money on such 'energy conservation measures' that they can't afford to invest for example in wealth producing equipment/processes.

Take the Oct 2010 Building Regulations for example:

A factory owner wishes to increase production & employment, so decides to (say) build an extension on his factory.

Prior to 1/10/10 that was a straightforward business decision.

For all new proposals after 1/10/10, besides the cost of the extension he has to add 10% of ITS capital cost & spend it on his existing factory on 'energy conservation' measures. [i.e. at a stroke, his cost has increased +10%]

He might already have a newish, well-insulated factory, with energy efficient heating etc.

So, he still HAS to spend that extra money on items which give diminishing returns, such as photo-voltaic generation. That has a payback-period of 25 - 40 years.

So, he takes the pragmatic view, f@ck-it, I'll make do with the space I've got.

Result - fewer jobs; and, it'll also decimate the building industry.

Anonymous said...

Rent seekers

subrosa said...

Joe, you give one example of how this scam is fleecing those of us who work hard and pay our taxes. It wont' affect those who don't pay taxes of course but it will affect those who strive to pay their domestic utility bills. And they say the poor won't be affected? How dare they.

subrosa said...

Superior analysist. Rent seekers? Legal blackmailers I think.

Anonymous said...

Subrosa, your essay ranges far and wide.
Let us take one example - the windmills.
I wonder how it came to pass that government could be duped into believing that windmills are capable of producing electricity in the quantities required? Is it not precisely because they could not that power stations were invented? The easiest and most cost effective way to produce electricity is with rapidly spinning magnets in an electric field - the faster the magnet spins, the greater the electricity produced. Thus, it is not a question of having lots of slowly spinning magnets which produces the greatest amount of electricity - it is THE SPEED at which the magnets spin which produces the greatest amount of electricity. For example (in the simplest possible way!), supposing that a magnet is spinning in an electric field at 1 metre per second, and thereby produces 1 amp of electric current, then spinning the magnet at 2 meters per second will produce 4 amps of current, and spinning the magnet at 4 meters per second produces 16 amps, and spinning it at 8 m p s produces 64 amps and spinning at 16 mps produces 256 amps. In other words, the amount of electricity produced is as THE SQUARE of the speed. That is why we have such huge power stations - the objective being to spin magnets as fast as is possible.

Transfer this 'squaring' argument to windmills. It easy to see that, in order to produce the same amount of electricity as a power station, and assuming that windmills can only 'spin' at a limited speed, YOU CONSTANTLY NEED TO SQUARE THE NUMBER OF WINDMILLS TO PRODUCE THE SAME EFFECT as a power station.
I do not know how you are with maths, but I am sure that have a 'gut feeling' understanding what that means.
I wonder how the government are going to deal with the fact that the wind does not blow all the time? I suspect that they have in mind some huge grid spread over the whole of the EU. I suspect that they are not telling us because they reckon that the majority of the people are too stupid and uneducated to understand - and they may be right. . But it cannot go on for ever, can it? Oddly enough, I think that 'gut feelings' will educate the people sooner or later, and that they will understand.

In the meantime, we have to put up with the bleatings of political and global warming enthusiasts about green jobs. What they do not mention, as you have pointed out, is THE COST of these green jobs to all of us - which will reflect itself in the price of electricity and gas and petrol, etc. Of course, it is also true that the more we spend on those things, the less we have to spend on other things.

I do not know what the answer is. I just have this 'gut feeling' that the politicians are playing with short-term fire.

I hope all that makes sense.

JRB said...

The Friends of the Earth Scotland should be embarrassed and ashamed to call their document “42%Better” a piece of research.
Its overt bias and outlandish, and at times unsubstantiated, claims removes it from ever being considered a piece of research.

To give but one, of many, exorbitant and spurious assertions by the FoE -

The FoE claims on asthma are based upon a blatant and gross misrepresentation of a sound piece of medical research by Somerville et al, from the Department of Public Health Medicine, Cornwall
In the research paper Somerville et al, in their closing remarks, clearly say of their research -
..... Lack of a comparison group means that effects of age, season and biased reporting cannot be eliminated. .More work is needed to substantiate these results.

But the FoE choose to ignore the papers closing remarks and without foundation use the content to substantiate their spurious claims on asthma purely to suite their own ends.

This, as has been discussed before, is bad science – very bad science – and calls into disrepute the entire work of the FoE.

subrosa said...

Yes it does junican and I apologise for the fact it turned into a rant. I try to avoid writing rants.

Ah yes I understand the science. You've reminded me of a wonderful teacher at school describing exactly that. I'm ok with maths. One of my favourite subjects in days gone by.

No it can't go on forever but the windmills will continue to be built until suddenly people realise that the country is awash with them but their electricity bills are still rising. The scam will only be halted when the people say so. The scammers won't stop will they?

It all makes perfect sense to me. Many thanks for your contribution junican.

subrosa said...

Morning John. I was hoping you'd have a look at their actual 'report'. I couldn't bring myself to do so last night and stuck to the press release.

I'm sure your findings will not surprise many. After all FotE are what I consider eco-loons who disregard the rules.

I'm off to find the Somerville paper.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

This is a prime example of bad science being hyped to suit a marketing agenda.

Your queries based on 'common sense' are all valid Rosa.

Junicans formula is correct up to a point. That point is reached when the power required and to increase the spin goes beyond the point of practical and technical capability.

Conversely you can gear up the rate or of production when an irresistible force (Wind or tide) meets a highly moveable object (wind vane or tidal turbine)

That said the shortcomings of windfarms are pretty obvious to anyone other than the politicians backing kudos over sense but if I were in charge of the cheque book, Orkney would have a direct link to the mainland that incorporated a tidal barrage.

In the meantime I would update the conventional powers boilers within the existing structures. This makes sense logistically (they already have the infrastructure) and strategically since they can be fuelled from domestic sources.

But the significant point is, no matter how cheap or efficient the production of utilities are they will still scam their customers. Your example of the 10% price hike is the classic example. They blamed it on an increase in market price, which is downright deceitful when, in fact, they are a major player in that market.

But hay, keep confusing the bewildered herd it helps breed gullibility.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Yep. Fake science, every rent-seeker's bestest ally. Nice deconstruction, Rosie.

Joe Public said...

SR 23:14 last night:

"......It wont' affect those who don't pay taxes ...."

But it will. It reduces their opportunities for employment; and, it adds to the cost of producing goods & services, and consequently their selling price.

That clause is buried deep in the new Building Regs. It's true implications were either not fully realised by the politicians or blissfully ignored.

It can be argued that it affects everyone (albeit to a very small extent).

[The rule applies only to premises (inc schools & hospitals) of over 1,000 sq m floor area.]

Anonymous said...

Here is another point which may, at first glance, seem to be silly.

Everyone assumes that the power of the wind is inexhaustible. But is that true? At first sight, it would seem to be so, but let us assume that there are thousands and thousands of these windmills stretched along out shores. The energy in the wind MUST be transferred to the vanes of the windmills. Now, although the energy of the wind is enormous, one has to think of THE HEIGHT ABOVE THE GROUND at which this energy is manifest. Thus, at the level at which these windmills operate, it is not unreasonable to say that the energy can be absorbed to the extent that there is no wind at ground level (by 'at ground level', I mean at the level where windmills exist). Further back, behind the line of windmills, there may be little or no wind. Extend this thought to windmills on the continent, and it could possible be that an awful lot of windmills are becalmed because the energy has already been extracted. In other words, in the region of many windmills, the wind might be just eddying slowly in their vicinity. Before saying, "What nonsense", think about how ice skating teams and cycling teams 'slipstream' behind one another. What I say may be nonsense, but has anyone checked? Think also about how timber wave and tide breakers in the sea at seaside resorts manage to diminish the strength of waves - and that is despite the undoubted power of the energy of the sea. Interesting, do you not think?

Another horrible thought is the way in which politicians legislate for the long term while they themselves are short term. By the time the shit hits the fan, most of the politicians will be ancient history.

God - it is terrifying.

Anonymous said...

Oh, by the way, when I said that your essay ranges far and wide, I did not mean that it was a rant! Everything that you said was perfectly reasonable!

subrosa said...

Wasn't there talk of doing that some years ago RA? I must see if I can find it somewhere. Orkney would be delighted I'm sure.

Of course the coming increase is a scam but we're held to ransom. Either pay it or freeze.

subrosa said...

Thanks Dick. It's a bit lengthy but I'm so angry people actually support the likes of FotE when they publish nonsense like this.

subrosa said...

Aye Joe, I apologise for not thinking through my last reply. 'Green' jobs won't last forever. Once the country is awash with windmills there will only be maintenance staff required.

I didn't realise further legislation had been put onto businesses. What are politicians playing at? Surely they know that this kind of legislation is exactly the type that deters folk from considering setting up here.

subrosa said...

Auch you're too kind junican but thanks. I don't often rant but in this case it was justified I think.

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