“I have a dream”

Shropshire’s Ironbridge.  An early achievement of the Industrial Revolution.  1780

Shropshire’s Ironbridge. An early achievement of the Industrial Revolution. 1780

Or rather, I’ve had a dream.  Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again.  No no.  Scrub that.  Wrong story.  That was Daphne du Maurier in “Rebecca”. 

Last night I had a dream that I woke up in 1800.  The Industrial Revolution is in full swing, and the demand for coal to fuel iron and steel production, and industry, is growing fast.  It’s nearly ninety years since Newcomen designed his steam engine, but only around thirty since James Watt improved it out of sight and made it a practical power source for factories and later for steam trains.  Stevenson’s Rocket came in 1829.

It was back in 1709 that Abraham Darby first smelted iron with coal (it had been smelted with wood of charcoal for nearly 3000 years), and 1780 when his grandson built the famous Ironbridge in Shropshire.

New mines are being dug in many parts of England.  In my dream I find myself close by a new mining site, and rather to my surprise I spot a motley group of demonstrators carrying banners, “No mining here”.  “Mining causes subsidence and earthquakes”.  “Mining causes pneumoconiosis”.

I seem to recognise one of the faces at the forefront of the crowd, before they are cleared away, rather roughly, by the local constabulary.  Yes! Sure enough, it’s Caroline Lucas MP.  You might think she has enough opportunity to argue her case in the House of Commons.  But no.  She has to take to the streets, and to civil disobedience.

Yet in 1800, she has a powerful case against coal.  She doesn’t know it yet, but hundreds of thousands will die in the industry (at one stage up to 10,000 miners a year were estimated to be dying in China alone).  Many others will suffer from debilitating diseases, notably pneumoconiosis, which will shorten their lives.  Pit ponies will lead miserable lives in the darkness and go blind from coal dust (horses working in salt mines, on the other hand, generally lived healthier lives).  Millions of men will spend their working lives in the darkness and the dust.

Mining would cause subsidence and earth tremors.  Large tracts of land would be despoiled with industrial workings and pithead gear and slag tips — even larger tracts of land by open-cast operations.  The air of our cities would be made foul by the smoke belched out from the factories.  The “pea-soupers” made London a misery as recently as 1952 until finally the Clean Air Acts came in.  The lives of millions of ordinary citizens, as well as miners, were blighted and abbreviated by lung diseases associated with smog.

So back in 1800, Caroline Lucas would have had a very powerful case indeed against coal.  Yet on balance, and given the huge increases in wealth and living standards it entailed, few would wish that the Industrial Revolution hadn’t happened.  Yes of course, if we’d known then what we know now, we’d have done it differently, and better (and probably smothered it at birth with over-regulation).  But all in all, it was worth it.

(Disclaimer: Please note, I’m not knocking coal.  It still has an important part to play in our energy mix, and these days we can source it and burn it much more cleanly).

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could find a new technology that offered all the benefits of coal, without the downsides?  We can, and we have.  Shale gas doesn’t require workers to spend their lives underground.  It is far less visually intrusive and disruptive than coal mining — or wind farms.  It may cause slight earth tremors, but less than coal mining.  Properly regulated (as it will be in the UK) it doesn’t pose any risk to water supplies (it happens at great depth, way below the aquifers).  It doesn’t release gas into the water supply.  And it naturally burns much cleaner than coal.

No energy extraction technology is 100% safe.  But shale gas is arguably safer than the others.

Wind farms on the other hand are a non-solution to a non-problem, but gas is a real and vital part of our energy mix, and there are huge advantages in sourcing it locally rather than from expensive foreign sources like Russia.

So yes.  I have a dream.  I have a dream of a Britain where the lights stay on, where energy is affordable and fuel poverty forgotten.  Where British industry stays competitive.  Where new jobs are created not only in the gas industry, but in all those other industries that depend on energy.  Where Treasury revenues are boosted by the wealth beneath our feet.  Where our balance of payments is transformed by indigenous gas.  Where our children and grandchildren can look forward to prosperity we dared not hope for ten years ago.  That’s what UKIP wants.  And it’s what Caroline Lucas wants to stop.

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16 Responses to “I have a dream”

  1. There are 2 energy industries to which this parable applies. For at least 40 years the nuclear industry has been suppressed or loaded down with unnecessary costs – if the 2% reduction in western annual growth can be blamed on that, & I think it can our gdp is now about 40% of what it would have been without the Luddites.

    Whether shale has the same potential as nuclear is open to question but at least 90% of the cost of nuclear is state regulatory parasitism.

    Part of a general principle – that we can’t say how much government banning/regulating costs because we cannot know the maximum growth foregone but we can say that the minimum cost of regulation, which entirely destroys without benefit, is going to be at least twice the cost of taxation, which also has the advantage that much of the wealth taken in taxation continues to exist.

  2. Adrian Hey says:

    Yes, we do live in strange times indeed. It almost seems like some sections of our society (and government!) are actively trying to destroy our economy. On the one hand they pleased to see around 100 billion of precious capital frittered away on utterly useless (not to mention environmentally destructive) “renewable” energy sources. On the other hand they also want to kill an environmentally benign self financing industry that really could be an economic life saver for UK PLC stone dead.

    The real productive and competitive economy struggles under the tax & debt burden (and now energy costs too) imposed by an obscenely bloated state and at the same time that obscenely bloated state helps finance the pseudo charities and pressure groups that are actively campaigning destroy the only sustainable source of finance that the bloated state really has (the aforementioned real productive and competitive economy). Worse still, rather than fight this insanity the “useful idiots” in parliament seem more than willing to acquiesce in or even actively encourage and support all this nonsense (even the traditionally sensible Tories it seems).

  3. Joseph T Croft says:

    Caroline Lucas just wants to justify her job , that’s her main objective , she wants to be seen rallying for the cause , Australia exports tons of coal to China , and other countries , and as I am visiting Australia soon , I have been watching the exchange rate , and the Australian is getting stronger by the week ,

  4. landskapsregeringen says:

    The factory finally provided some level of economic freedom for women, thus freeing them from the control of some man. This point is usually overlooked by lefties/feminists.

  5. Anne says:

    Your dream will only come true Roger, when our elected Politicians in our Houses of Parliament earn their pay and VAST EXPENSES when they can Govern this Country according to its long standing, (and for now ignored) Common Law Constitution. Yes, it is still “there”, just ignored-for now. This is why I have suggested that the 2015 General Election is used as the referendum we have been denied, and, AS WE KNOW ALL THREE MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES WANT TO REMAIN IN THE EU-FOREVER, only vote for those organisations that want out of the EU-forever.

    It should also be remembered by all, that our own Constitution forbids us to encourage in any way, for, “”…all usurped and foreign power and authority…may forever be clearly extinguished, and never used or obeyed in this realm. …no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate…shall at any time after the last day of this session of Parliament, use, enjoy or exercise any manner of power, jurisdiction, superiority, authority, preeminence or privilege…within this realm, but that henceforth the same shall be clearly abolished out of this realm, for ever.” We went to war twice to prevent exactly what is happening at present. Our taxes contribute towards the £billions given to the EU to do the job we pay our own Politicians to do. If we are successful in the 2015 REFERENDUM that is called our General Election-you may well be out of a job Roger. Why not put yourself forward for a true British Member of Parliament? I, for one would vote for you.

    • Richard111 says:

      Thank you for this Anne. I will keep a copy of your post for some research. I have never looked into our Common Law Constitution.

      • Steve Foley says:

        You’ll be hard pressed for the UK does not have a written Constitution. France has, as does they USA, and I personally think that this and a proper Bill of Rights stating clearly every Citizen’s Rights and Duties would be a good idea. I also support a Codified System of Law available for all to read and reference.

  6. Mike Stallard says:

    Yesterday my wife came out with a big moan about how her joints were aching in the cold wet weather of England. She said she was dreading the winter. (We are in our 70s). She said she was going to try and “keep the heating on”.
    For some years I have been warning about the lights going out and the heating becoming too expensive. But I shut my gob at that point.

  7. Bellevue says:

    But Roger, arent the EU trying to stop all fracking by issuing so many regulations that it will never happen?
    Further details in great depth from Richard North at Eureferendum blog. I do hope you read it…..

  8. Chris says:

    The green supporters such as Caroline Lucas, will not be happy until Great Britain is powered by wind farms and solar panels. People will be transported by horse and cart, and homes will be lit at night with candles.

    Industry will be gone, due to the lack of and cost of energy. People will living the lives of the country before industrialisation.

    Remember, the eco loons are a very small part of the population. The squeeky wheel should not always get the oil.

    • But we are now 10 years behind the USA because the Conservative & Labour led governments prevented the industry developing. Perhaps we may look forward to the Tories adopted most other UKIP policies – 10 years late.

      I was intrigued by one part of what he said – that he would “never” support an industry that despoils the countryside. Does this presage a welcome U-turn on windmills too?

  9. Steve Foley says:

    In my adopted country, France, they took a sensible and pragmatic attitude towards Nuclear Power and now they SELL electricity to the UK. Not that the French don’t do “Green” , They DO and take it quite seriously but again using common sense not dogmatism.

    • edmh says:

      If it really mattered, and it doesn’t, never forget that France, with ~80% nuclear electricity generation, has the lowest CO2 emissions / head in the western world and that emissions / head in France were exceeded by China for its whole 1.3 billion population in 2009.

      France’s CO2 emissions / head are only 12% above the whole world average. And their is no likelihood that the lights will go out.

      So much for a worthwhile, longterm energy policy.

      Makes Germany’s nuclear closure policy look pathetic.

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