Surrealist politics from UK Conservative Party leader David Cameron:
The issue we’re discussing today, and the subject of the policy document we’re publishing, is decentralised energy – again an issue on which Greenpeace has a distinguished campaigning track record.
But decentralised energy is just one component of a much bigger issue: man-made climate change and our response to it.
And our plans for a decentralised energy revolution in our country are just one component of our vision for Britain’s future.
So before outlining the plans we’re publishing today, I’d like to place them in the context of the big picture: our vision for the country, and the fight against climate change…
Decentralised energy provides a clear example of how this virtuous circle can work.
By enabling people to generate their own electricity, we are literally giving them more power over their own lives.
This really is power to the people.
Once people start generating their own electricity, they will become far more conscious of the way in which they use it – they will become more responsible about energy use and their own environmental impact.
And the overall effect of these changes will be to make Britain greener – to help reduce our carbon emissions and thereby contribute to a safer country and a safer world…
Our plans will help create a mass market for micro-generation.
The current framework inhibits innovation.
Today, anyone wanting government help to install micro-generators has to grapple with pages of regulations.
We need clear and simple rules to make it easier for households to generate electricity.
Supermarkets and other commercial enterprises with premises could also become generators and suppliers.
Schools, hospitals and community groups too.
This is not a pipe dream: it is tomorrow’s world.
Speaking of pipe dreams,
Magritte’s apparent contradiction in “The Treachery of Images” is not a contradiction if we take the view that the image is just an image, not the object it represents. Magritte’s pictures depicted ‘juxtaposed’ objects and statements in reality-defying configurations to reveal the superior reality of forgotten or repressed thoughts, unconstrained by the tyranny of false reason and morality. Cameron’s approach to policy making is little different, albeit unintentional. Indeed, it is not a pipe dream, because Cameron was not smoking a pipe as he uttered the words. He delivered the speech (we must assume) sober, sane, and after having thought about it. That makes it much, much worse. He was, nonetheless, as high as a bat on something which caused him to believe that the reality which governs power generation, distribution and use is somehow negotiable. As even George Monbiot observes, “Small Is Useless“:
Last year, the environmental architect Bill Dunster, who designed the famous BedZed zero-carbon development outside London, published a brochure claiming that “up to half of your annual electric needs can be met by a near silent micro wind turbine”. The turbine he specified has a diameter of 1.75 metres. A few months later Building for a Future magazine, which supports renewable energy, published an analysis of micro wind machines. At 4 metres per second – a high average wind speed for most parts of the UK – a 1.75 metre turbine produces about 5% of a household’s annual electricity. To provide the 50% Bill Dunster advertises, you would need a machine 4 metres in diameter. The lateral thrust it exerted would rip your house to bits.
Micro-generation cannot produce the energy demands of even the most basic of contemporary lifestyles, let alone feed electricity into the grid. Cameron is running with this policy because he is more interested in demonstrating that he’s in tune with the anxieties that people suffer in today’s chaotic world than in developing an energy policy fit for the 21st century. In this way, he is more like an artist seeking to prove that he has captured an understanding of contemporary experience than he is a politician. And he’s not even any good at that. Because people are actually far more discriminating and sophisticated than Cameron, his new friends Greenpeace, and for that matter everyone else on the green bandwagon, give them credit for. Which is why they end up trying to make environmentalism cool rather than persuading us with careful argument. A case in point (and continuing with the pipes theme) is Greenpeace’s viral marketing campaign that they like to think will convince ‘lads’ (UK vernacular for young men whose thoughts are dominated by beer, football, scantily-clad women, and disregard for seriousness) to reduce their CO2 emissions:
Greenpeace and Cameron may not wish to claim that the sun shines out of their back pipes, but that doesn’t stop them speaking out of them. In fact, Cameron is the arse through which Greenpeace speak.