Thursday, 1 August 2013

Thoughts on Fracking and National Self Sufficiency.

' a country as deindustrialised as the UK, ministers will always go weak-kneed about grand projects and new technologies. But the lingering effects of the crash have pushed their thinking into the realms of the neurotic, as government has been seized by a mixture of fear, profiteering zeal and metropolitan arrogance.'
So writes John Harris who thinks that the Conservatives have lost touch with rural Tory Britain and the shires. It is as if he thinks fracking for oil and gas in Britain would not be supported by a Labour government he is deluded. Energy security is far too important to be reduced to partisan political polemics.

Unfortunately, many in Britain are just not getting it: Britain is both overpopulated and overdependent upon oil and gas from far off dangerous places. Energy security is national security and any government is going to be desperate not only to please energy corporations but also to harness domestic resources.

Few seem to grasp the contradictions here. The Iraq War of 2003 was essentially a war intended to gain control over Iraqi oil. Set against peaking North Sea oil in 1999 and the road haulier strike against high petrol prices in 2000 ( a popular cause ), it was Tony Blair who was convinced that the invasion would improve energy security.

So the Conservative government's obsession with pushing for fracking follows on from developments in the US where energy security is being pursued due to oil lobbying and the hunger for profits but also due to fears that China is gaining inroads to oil concessions in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.

Meanwhile, the British left and radical Greens are often living in some parallel universe where it is only sinister elites that are driving environmental destruction and wars. True, elites are making the decisions with less accountability but they are doing so in order to preserve the profligate lifestyles of the many.

High octane consumerism is a fact of life in Britain. Few politicians of any political stripe wanting election are going to tell the electors that fracking is a price to be paid because Britain wants to avoid being dragged into resource wars if possible. Nor that Britons should use less energy, especially petrol.

Britain has increasingly built an entire lifestyle and infrastructure around the use of the car. It was New Labour that sought to increase Britain's population by encouraging mass migration to tap 'human resources' from elsewhere so as keep business costs low and not have to retrain native workers.

Devoted to an obsessive model of economic growth via consumerism, fracking is one way of reducing the price of energy and boost consumer spending. In a country with a meagre productive base and rentier economy, fracking will go ahead and would under any government

The only real alternative is to advocate a changed lifestyle in which energy conservation was promoted more and people were encouraged to use less energy and have fewer children. As well as a commitment to curtailing immigration to a minimum. Otherwise, energy security through fracking will be seen as a panacea.

This is the harsh reality.

The British public tend to be living in a fantasy land where they can have everything-beautiful unspoilt countryside and no military meddling in far off lands and high levels of consumption and energy use, the right to cheap flights and holidays, incessant use of the car and out of season vegetables from abroad.

The evidence is that it is British consumers are responsible for a lot of energy wastage. They top the European table for for that. Educating the public is something governments have shied away from because of the idea of supposed 'individualism' and moaning about the 'nanny state'.

As regards food security, there is still a lot of fridge wastage. There should be a revival of the sort of public information adverts on TV that there were in the 1970s about domestic fires and so on to make people aware of the need for proper fridge management. In 2007 there was 6,700,000 tonnes of domestic food waste.

Supermarkets also waste a colossal amount of food. Not only that, 20-30% of the harvest in the supply chain to supermarkets is wasted because the vegetables or fruit do not meet aesthetic standards. Getting used to strangely shaped vegetables and fruit can overcome that.

The public also needs to be educated about the benefits and safety of genetically modified ( GM ) crops and the increased yields it can bring. Faddish green nonsense about a 'return to nature' and eating only organic vegetables is a waste of valuable land that could be used to better purpose.

British needs to adapt as quickly as possible to the new realities of the impact of global warming, overpopulation and overconsumption in order to be ready to be able to move towards greater self sufficiency and to be able to protect itself from dangers and survive the 21st century as best it can.

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