The heated debate on energy policy and anthropogenic climate change is fundamentally about numbers. But actual numbers are rarely mentioned and, instead, we are inundated with innumerate codswallop.
Tree huggers dole out advice on how every little helps and exhort us to switch off our mobile phone chargers when not in use. The fact that mobile phone chargers form a miniscule portion our energy consumption is conveniently left unstated.
If everyone does a little, we will achieve only a little.
Campaigners mislead too. Those who want to promote renewables for example, say “offshore wind could power all UK homes”, then they say “new nuclear stations will do little to tackle climate change” because 10 new stations would “reduce emissions only by about 4%.” Amidst the ruckus, the sleight of hand goes unnoticed, where the playing field is craftily switched half-way from powering all UK homes to reducing emissions. The truth is that 10 nuclear power stations would generate exactly the same amount of electrical power as the windmills whirring about merrily all over the country. Powering homes accounts for just 4% of UK emissions and, thus, it follows that the carbon dividend can’t exceed that regardless of the technology used.
So in a climate where people don’t understand the numbers, newspapers, special interest groups, companies and politicians can get away with murder. And boy are they!
It is high time that we drop the rhetoric and focus on action. Over the next few weeks, I will be studying the UK energy sector in a bid to answer the following questions with numbers and logic:
- How much energy could each energy source deliver?
- At what economic and social cost?
- With what risks?
If you’d like to help, please get in touch at hello [at] animeshm [dot] com.