Why is it so easy to whip up opposition in this country to almost any economic development?
In Germany (having foolishly decided to close their nuclear fleet) they are busy building or refurbishing some 25 coal-fired power stations — and coal is currently one of the cheapest technologies for generating electricity. That’s despite their green pretensions. And not just Germany. In Japan, too, they will rely more on coal. Meantime China and India are building coal capacity as fast as they can. No chance for emissions reduction, if you care about that.
Yet we in Britain seem paralysed on the energy front. Interminable delays on new nuclear capacity. Gas-fired power stations being mothballed. Old coal power plants being closed (because of the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive). And no one dares to mention coal, because the green lobby has such a grip on the public imagination, and around the throats of politicians.
In 2008, a British court ruled, for heaven’s sake, that fear of climate change was a just cause to commit criminal damage, and acquitted six Greenpeace protesters at Kingsnorth. The plan to build Kingsnorth was abandoned, with consequent damage to our energy infrastructure and to local job prospects. Now, as Ofgem has warned, there’s a growing danger of power shortages and blackouts — which we in UKIP have been predicting for some time.
But coal is just one example. Then there’s GM crops. We’ve been eating GM food one way or another for twenty years, with no evidence of harm, yet the press still demonise it as “Frankenstein Food”. The irony is that we’re all of us, you and me, “Genetically Modified Organisms”, because evolution itself is nothing but genetic modification. Apparently these Luddites think that if we use the old-fashioned methods of hybridisation, on a rather random trial-and-error basis, that’s better than doing it under controlled conditions in the laboratory.
Activists criticise Monsanto for creating GM seeds which require farmers to buy new seeds each season. Yet when the EU spends our money in North Korea to create (by conventional hybridisation) new strains that require new seeds every year, we all applaud. I wrote about this recently.
The world’s population, currently around 7 billion, is likely to reach ten or eleven billion by 2050 (before declining). To have any hope of feeding these people, we need all the benefits of new technology. To ignore GM is beyond irresponsible — it is a crime against humanity, and will condemn millions to starvation.
Currently, of course, we are seeing a new front for public resistance, based on false fears and poisonous propaganda. Fracking has been going on in the States for several decades (and in Germany, as it happens). Yet very diverse interest groups are mounting a mendacious campaign against it. On the one hand, green NGOs. On the other (odd bedfellows) we have Gazprom, terrified of losing a lucrative export market. We know from experience that this propaganda is simply wrong. No mineral extraction technology can be totally safe, but fracking is arguably safer than most. It does not contaminate water supplies. It does not cause earthquakes. At worst you get minor tremors, as you do with coal mining. Those areas of England that lost their coal industry should be demanding fracking — it offers all the benefits of mining but with far fewer downsides.
It’s worth reading Allister Heath’s recent piece in the Telegraph, where he sketches the benefits that shale gas has brought to America. It’s expected to create 1.7 million jobs by 2020, adding £450 bn to US GDP. These are massive numbers which we can’t afford to ignore. Shale gas has sparked a manufacturing renaissance in the US, with jobs and businesses coming home from China and elsewhere — “On-shoring” as it’s called. As Heath puts it: “Britain needs to embrace shale gas and stop obsessing with costly renewable energy that is crippling industry”.
Of course we in Britain have a problem in that we have a higher population density than the USA, so we need to drill with great sensitivity, and we need engagement with local communities. But we have a countervailing advantage: the Bowland Shale, at least, is reportedly substantially thicker than the Marcellus Shale in the USA, which should allow more gas per well, and fewer wells.
But why is it that we in Britain have this huge issue of public engagement, whether with coal, with GM, or with shale gas? To a large extent it’s the malign influence of green NGOs like Friends of the Earth, who have a wholly disproportionate impact on public debate. And although their manifestos don’t say so, green NGOs are there to block progress and prosperity. They hate industry and capitalism and growth. They’re about embracing poverty. And — bitter irony — you and I are financing them through our taxes and through the European Commission. We are paying them to damage our future, to deny jobs to our children and grandchildren, to ensure that future generations are poorer than our own, and to allow the West to decline while Asia and South America forge ahead.
Time to recognise these people for what they are. The enemy within. The Fifth Column. The Trojan Horse. After all, F.O.E. spells “foe”.