A small news item caught my attention today. It was about yet another Hollywood celeb pontificating on climate change, urging us to act immediately or else we will all perish. Why it is that these Hollywood elites think they are so qualified to speak on difficult scientific and economic questions is beyond me. Although I often suspect they are acting out of all the guilt they carry for making so much money while contributing so little to society.
The annual income of some of these megastars must be equal to that of Botswana’s GDP. Yet the rich and famous are known for little more than being rich and famous. So they have to prove that they are worthy of existence by hopping on to the latest trendy cause. And the hippest campaign to get excited about lately is of course climate change. The trouble is, the solutions they are pushing will cost them nothing, but will cost us ordinary poor slobs plenty.
Here is how the news item goes: “Oscar-winning actress and environmental campaigner Cate Blanchett today urged some of the world’s biggest business leaders to act now on carbon emissions to save the planet. Speaking at the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Blanchett – who won her best gong for The Aviator, the biopic of air travel pioneer Howard Hughes – said the low carbon economies of the future had to come into being right now.”
She is quoted as saying, “Australia’s best climate scientists have been warning us that we’ll face many more catastrophic fire days in southeast Australia unless the world acts to dramatically cut greenhouse pollution.” So there you have it – more bushfires in Victoria if Europeans and Americans don’t rush to reduce their carbon footprint.
Someone who takes a slightly different view of these matters is Christopher Booker of the British Telegraph. He has recently written about how action on climate change may do little good for the climate, but will massively impact on our economies. He begins this way:
“One measure of the fantasy world now inhabited by our sad MPs was the mindless way that they nodded through, last October, by 463 votes to three, by far the most expensive piece of legislation ever to go through Parliament. This was the Climate Change Act, obliging the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to reduce Britain’s ‘carbon emissions’ by 2050 to 20 per cent of what they were in 1990 – a target achievable only by shutting down most of the economy.
“Such is the zombie state of our MPs that they agreed to this lunatic measure without the Government giving any idea of what this might cost. Only one, Peter Lilley, raised this question, and it was he who, last month, alerted me to the fact that the minister, Ed Miliband, had at last slipped out a figure on his website (without bothering to tell Parliament). The Government’s estimate was £404 billion, or £18 billion a year, or £760 per household every year for four decades.”
He continues, “Such figures, produced by a computer model, are, of course, meaningless. But one of the mysteries of our time is how impossible it is to interest people in the mind-boggling sums cited by governments all over the world as the cost of the measures they wish to see taken to ‘stop climate change’.”
Unlike Blanchett, others with a more stable head on their shoulders have looked at the very real costs of taking these reckless actions. Booker explains, “Last week I dined with Professor Bob Carter, a distinguished Australian paleoclimatologist, who has been trying to alert politicians in Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand to the scarcely believable cost of these proposals. He gave me a paper he presented to a committee of New Zealand MPs. China and India, as the price of their participating in the UN’s planned ‘Kyoto Two’ deal to be agreed in Copenhagen next December, are demanding that developed countries, including Britain, should pay them 1 per cent of their GDP, totalling up to more than $300 billion every year.
“Africa is putting in for a further $267 billion a year. South American countries are demanding hundreds of billions more. In the US, the latest costing of President Obama’s ‘cap and trade’ Bill is $1.9 trillion, a yearly cost to each US family of $4,500.
“Meanwhile, as Mr Obama’s Nobel Prize-winning Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu, babbles on the BBC’s Today programme about how the world’s energy needs can be met by wind and solar power (for which, he assured us, we would need to cover only 5 per cent of the planet’s deserts with solar panels), a study shows that for every job created in Spain’s ‘alternative energy industry’ since 2000, 2.2 others have been lost. (Mr Obama talks about creating ‘five million green jobs’ in the US.)”
And various green panaceas often turn out to be quite the opposite: “Last week the BBC and various newspapers excitably greeted the opening by Alex Salmond of Whitelee, ‘Europe’s largest onshore wind farm’, 140 giant 2.3 megawatt turbines covering 30 square miles of moorland south-east of Glasgow. It was happily reported that these would ‘generate’ 322MW of electricity, ‘enough to power every home in Glasgow’. They won’t, of course, do anything of the kind. Due to the vagaries of the wind, this colossal enterprise will produce only 80MW on average, a quarter of its capacity and barely enough to keep half Glasgow’s lights on.
“It really is time people stopped recycling the thoroughly bogus propaganda claims of the wind industry in this way. Any journalist who still falls for these lies by confusing turbines’ ‘capacity’ with their actual output is either thoroughly stupid or dishonest. The truth is that the 80MW average output of ‘Europe’s largest wind farm’ is only a fraction of that of any conventional power station, at twice the cost. For this derisory amount of power, the hidden subsidy to Whitelee over its 25-year life will, on current figures, be £1 billion, paid by all of us through our electricity bills.”
He concludes, “Truly, our world has gone off its head, and no one seems to notice – not least those wretched MPs who allow all this to happen without having the faintest idea what is going on.”
Quite right. But hey, if it makes some Hollywood celeb feel good to push us all into economic oblivion, simply to assuage her conscience, then I guess we shouldn’t complain too much. It’s just that most of us might have to sell our DVD collections – including those featuring Blanchett – in order to get a bit of money to buy some food and clothing. Why is it that these stars and politicians always seem so reckless with other people’s money?