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Save the planet: Stop the Greens

Climate change is a serious problem, but the solutions are a joke

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In that day job with weird metals recently I've had a couple of questions about those thorium reactors. One was from a very senior indeed venture capital type who was wondering why no one was seriously researching them? Or making plans to build them? My response was that there are, in India and Russia at least, serious people doing exactly that, but here in Europe there was a lot of political opposition to the very idea.

OK, why? Well, umm, however strange this might sound, there really are a lot of people, or perhaps just a few very vocal people, who think that more energy, in and of itself, would be a bad idea. If thorium (or space based solar, or fast breeder, or fusion) ever really worked on an industrial scale it would blow apart their ideal of that William Morris style Arts and Crafts society. Thus they don't even want people investigating such systems, let alone proving that they will work.

The other question was from a journalist on these subjects who asked, well, if thorium does work, where will it all come from? To which the answer is in the beginning at least, from the same ores we dig up to make the magnets that make the windmills work. Rare earths extraction is always polluted by thorium and what to do with that is a right pain. But those Indians doing their reactor research might solve that. For a third conversation was with one of the grand-daddies of the UK rare earths industry. Their thorium no longer gets sent off for disposal. They're stocking it until someone needs it to fill a reactor.

But despite being, to a limited extent, an insider in some of these markets, I really cannot understand why we're doing what we are doing on a public policy level. I just don't get why we're pumping tens, possibly hundreds, of billions into technologies like windmills, which we know won't work, to solar which doesn't need subsidies any more, but not willing to put money into other interesting things which might work, like thorium just as one example.

Unless, of course, I'm right in that what we should do about this problem has been hijacked by those who don't in fact want to solve this single, particular, problem of requiring low carbon energy generation but who want to use this agreed upon problem as a means of imposing their vision of the desirable lifestyle upon the rest of us. And so we go with solutions which won't in fact work because they desire that the problem not be solved, but that we should accord with their instructions upon how society should be.

Which is all rather depressing really: rather the end of the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution.

Another, even more depressing, way of putting it is that the greatest barrier to our being able to solve climate change is in fact the Green movement. For they won't let us do what might actually solve it, they insist that we pursue course of action which simply never will work, like those bloody windmills. ®

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