Let me explain the analogy, which I first introduced to a nauseated world in a Spectator column penned in bile in the aftermath the Eton Grocer’s spectacular general election non-victory. Here’s the relevant passage:
Quite the most absurd piece of recrimination I’ve heard so far from the Cameroons, though, is the notion that the real people to blame for all this are those 900,000 or so folk who voted UKIP, as well as all those rabid head-banging types like James Delingpole who were so unhelpful in pointing out the flaws in Project Cameron’s splendid policies. If only we’d held our noses and accepted that the Cameroons, for all their flaws, were our last hope of restoring Conservatism to power in Britain, then Dave might be in position right now to effect Real Change.
This is what I call the Dog S**t Yoghurt Fallacy. Suppose your preferred brand of fruit yoghurt manufacturer has been losing sales of late and has decided, after doing a bit of market research, that it may be necessary to alter the formula slightly. What at least some of the punters are clamouring for these days, it seems, is not chunks of fruit in their yoghurt but bits of dog poo instead.
“But that’s revolting!” you tell the manager of your preferred yoghurt brand. “Fruit goes way better in yoghurt than dog poo does.” “Look, you know that and I know that, but trust me we’ve crunched the numbers, done the research and it’s the only way. If we don’t put some dog poo in our yoghurt, then people will say we haven’t moved with the times. We’ll be forever stuck in the boring, fuddy duddy age of strawberry, and raspberry and apricot. But under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the public have acquired a real taste for excrement. If we don’t give it to them – we’ll only need a little bit, I promise – then we’ll probably go out of business.”
“No you won’t!” you reply. “There are loads of us who still like fruit yoghurt. And still loads more who’d buy it if you made it even fruitier. Your analysis is barmy.” “Well I’m sorry sir, but our marketing expert Mister Hilton assures us there’s no other way. Surely, you won’t object to just the inclusion of a tiny hint of merde de chien to save our brand from total ruin?”
Call me weird, call me stubborn. But I prefer my yoghurt to taste of fruit, real fruit and nothing but fruit.
As you see, I was talking mainly about the death of the Conservative party. But the analogy applies just as well to the Coalition’s energy policy, as supervised by the appalling Chris Huhne with the full encouragement of the no less appalling David Cameron.
In this case, the fruit element of the yoghurt would be nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is good. It’s what we need, both for energy security and to fill our looming energy gap. Only a total nutcase could possibly be opposed to nuclear energy, as my colleague Louise Gray has been demonstrating with her ring-round of the asylums:
But Mike Childs, head of climate change at Friends of the Earth, insisted the expansion of nuclear power could not go ahead without some form of public subsidy because of the massive costs of construction.
“It is not obvious to see how nuclear will be affordable without some form of public subsidy because the costs keep rising of building nuclear and getting rid of the waste,” he said.
“The only way nuclear will get built is if they [the Coalition] renege on their promise not to subsidise it.”
What, and the supposed green alternative to nuclear – wind power – doesn’t require massive public subsidy on an even greater scale? Pull the other one, Childs. According to Booker, who unlike some has actually been bothered to do the maths, our economically suicidal attempts to meet the EU renewables target are going to add £880 a year to our energy bills.
Which brings us to the poo element in the yoghurt: renewable energy and decarbonisation. There are many within the Coalition and indeed in the country at large who take what they imagine is a ’sophisticated’ line on Climate Change. As to whether or not it’s a serious threat and to what degree it is or isn’t “man made” they don’t much care. What motivates them is a vague sense that some climate change action is better than no climate change action, that it’s probably quite useful to keep the Caroline Lucas fringe onside, and that there might be some green jobs in it for someone somewhere. In other words: “Let’s just put a few lumps of dog poo in the yoghurt, just in case. No harm done if it turns out to have been unnecessary, eh?”
Er, no actually. In the name of the “precautionary principle” on Climate Change, quite enormous amounts of harm are being done. Richard North gives an example of this in his scathing dismissal of Chris Huhne’s new carbon capture project, which will cost the taxpayer £1 billion to no purpose whatsoever:
Whichever way you look at it, £1 billion is a lot of money. That is £1,000,000,000.00, and it is our money – more money than you and I will ever see, or ever dream of earning. It is a sum of money that would buy 150,000 hip replacement operations. It would pay the energy bills for two million pensioners for a full year, or pay the university fees for 600,000 students. More specifically, and of some personal interest, it would pay for 100,000 life-saving heart operations.
Yet the ****wit pictured is going to take that amount of money from us to play around stripping plant food from coal-fired electricity generation and bury it deep in a hole in the ground.
This man, therefore, will – indirectly – be responsible for many deaths, lost in “opportunity costs”. The money frittered away on this moronic enterprise cannot be spent on life-saving functions. And we do not have the money to spare. If we waste this money, it is not available for anything else. People will die because of this action.
And what about this:
[Huhne] is set to give the go ahead to a new generation of eight nuclear power stations, alongside an expansion of renewable energy and the creation of up to 44,000 wind turbines.
Anyone care to hazard how much environmental damage is going to be done to our countryside by 44,000 – count ‘em – wind turbanes? How many birds – and protected bats (H/T Ian Smith)- are going to be liquidised? How many views spoiled? How many householders impoverished?
Oh and let’s dispense once and for all with the idea that renewables bring any economic benefits. The green experiment has already been attempted in Spain and Germany and has failed dismally. Why? Because renewables only make economic sense if they are subsidised by the taxpayer – which means of course that they make no economic sense at all.
Spain stands as a lesson to other aspiring green-energy nations, including China and the U.S., by showing how difficult it is to build an alternative energy industry even with billions of euros in subsidies, says Ramon de la Sota, a private investor in Spanish photovoltaic panels and a former General Electric Co. executive.
“The government totally overshot with the tariff,” de la Sota says. “Now they have a huge bill to pay — but where’s the technology, where’s the know-how, where’s the value?”
Next year, German households are in for a big price shock: the renewable energies levy, which every household in Germany has to pay as part of their electricity bills, will increase by over 70 per cent to 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour. This was announced by the German network operator on Friday. For an average household this will mean additional costs of around 10 € a month, according to the Federal Environment Ministry.
An end to the price spiral, which is caused by the subsidies for green electricity, is not in sight. Holger Krawinkel, energy expert of the Federation of Consumer Organizations, expects a further rise of the so-called EEG surcharge in the medium term. “It will rise by more than 5 cents in coming years in any case”, Krawinkel predicted in an interview with the news agency DAPD. The reason: The federal government has failed to cut subsidies for solar energy fast and strong enough. Moreover, the impending boom in offshore wind energy is not even included in the green energy levy.
And all because a few plausible charlatans have been able to persuade an awful lot of influential people over the years that plant food is a deadly poison. Thanks Bert Bolin! Thanks Stephen Schneider! Thanks James Hansen! Thanks Al Gore! Rest assured that one day – and let’s hope sooner rather than later – your names will live in infamy for all eternity.