Question Time. BBC One, 10.35 Thu, 17 Nov 2011
Against a more newsworthy day’s backdrop of the biggest strikes in 30 years and my own Senior Lecturer – a former journalist at the News of the World – being arrested in connection with the Leveson phonehacking enquiry (later bailed until March), I have a deadline. I should’ve written this a week ago but I’m shit and lazy and I think I might be losing it, again.
All we had to do was prepare a three minute talk on one of the subjects discussed in the above episode of Question Time. There were plenty to choose from:
- The one million 16-24 year olds that are now unemployed. (Make ’em join the armed services, teach ’em some farkin discipline. The conscientious objectors can look after the old, infirm and disabled – at gunpoint, so they behave.)
- Bankers tax? (£700 Billion bail out? By my drunken maths that’s £10K for every man woman and child in the UK. We could’ve bought Greece for that AND cut our carbon emissions by never flying home from holiday.)
- As the strongest economy, Germany is able to dictate policy to us. (It’s better this way – remember what happened the last time the Reichstag burnt?)
- Syria. Why no Libyan style intervention? (Iran.)
I chose: Why is our Government pushing up our energy bills by giving subsidies (£50 for every £100 worth of energy produced) to windfarms which are proven to be uneconomic?
I’ve been drinking vodka since 2pm but I promise that whatever turns up here come sleepy time I will read out in class tomorrow. As regular readers may already have ascertained, I am something of a manic depressive, and of late I have found myself at a low ebb.
Remember the recycling business? Well I’m still going to write that article but thus far not one person has shown an interest in even so much as a few words of an interview. Yeah, Bruce Wayne was a nut-job but at least he got shit done.
In my notes for this assignment I have underlined ‘what I think’ so be aware that aside from the facts and figures, this is presented as my own opinion, one of several, not the correct one (which it so obviously is, motherfuckers.)
Good Morning, class.
A couple of years ago, peeking from behind a pillow, I watched a documentary about renewable energy; in it a group of stuck-up, elitist snobs were giving it the hoo-ha against the prospect of having their horizon litered with wind-turbines. Their chief argument – other than that the structures were a ghastly invasion of the view out of their windows – was that they were noisy.
Noisy? If you think the sound of a wind turbine a mile from your home is loud then just wait and see how it compares to the sound of 2.2 billion children dying of starvation.
If you’re not angry, then you damn well should be.
I once spent almost three months sleeping in a tent in Denmark some 300m from a wind turbine – a huge one – yet the biggest problem that summer was waking up each morning to find my damp cocoon covered in fat slugs. Aside from the low whoomph of the blades that you scarcely noticed after your first proper hangover of the season, I didn’t register a peep out of the windmill.
The cost of building that turbine, which was on private land, was subsidised by the state and would be repaid with electricity fed back onto the grid. It seemed very simple, nobody was up in arms about these monstrosities ruining their beautiful unspoiled landscape. It was plain common sense, and good business practice.
Over here though, things appear to be a little more complicated.
Even the most steadfast and awful among our betters realise that climate change is a very real threat that, if not directly caused by our industrial civilisation, is certainly exacerbated by it. The term ‘Carbon Footprint’ has entered our national conciousness and most people realise that changes need to be made, and pretty quick-smart.
The trouble with a political system that runs in stretches of – at the most – five years, is that it becomes very difficult to win votes with the difficult choices that are needed to be made to secure the endurance of our species in the way to which its western counterpart has become accustomed.
Politicians want votes and the electorate are human beings with immediate needs; this is a system – like our current methods of industry, agriculture and finance – which simply does not suit our 21st century planet.
Forget for a second the redundancy of borders and jingoism and the fact that faith is more a hindrance than a help – like a drunk who brought a knife to a gunfight; humans are still addicted to coal and oil and gas. We’re determined and desperate to find new ways to frack it out of our rock, despite the risks that I should link to here – like Deepwater Horizon and shale drilling – but I’m not going to; fuck you, read a newspaper.
Many still see nuclear fision as the answer to all our energy problems (there is some very exiting new research into breaking down nuclear waste into less harmful/harmless elements) but, again, these are all visions of a very limited scope: pretty much, ‘Fuck it, our children’s children will deal with it and by then either Jesus or robots can fix it.’
Well, with all due respect, fuck Jesus and fuck robots; this is our home and we all need to make a difference now.
Nuclear fusion works mind-bogglingly well in our star and others but as far as getting out more than we put in it’s a technology decades away and it has been so since the ’50s. So, as with other forms of non-polluting, renewable energy, the wind industry needs to be kick-started. It is said that subsidies to renewable energy top £1 Billion per year, an amount forced onto the consumer that adds almost £14 a year to bills.
But seriously, 27p per household, per week, as a viable and proven alternative to a reliance on dwindling domestic fossil fuels and the presently quite abundant amounts we have to kill and maim children to get our hands on? Is it really so hard to buy one less lottery ticket every month?
In addition to these fuel price increases – which, let’s not forget, are also caused by the fluctuating price of oil and not just horrid noisy blots on the landscape – it is said that subsidising wind farms is easy cash in the pockets of wealthy land owners; but that is a problem with the politics and not the technology.
To break with tradition, I’m going to post a link here; it describes how power companies are paid to turn off their turbines because the grid cannot use the energy they are producing; not quite the consensus of the baying Question Time audience. I would argue that if the public are misinformed or mistaken then, ultimately, it is our fault as journalists.
My three minutes must be up. To conclude I would say spare your concern not for us fortunate lot but for those trapped in real energy poverty; the poorest people living closest to the oceans, which, when they rise will cause death and displacement on a massive scale. Then we may get to find out what the people of Britain hate the sight of the most, 100m+ monoliths cutting through the sky or families of ragged migrants, searching the British Isles for a human soul.