Oh California what are you doing to me? I don’t like that I’m getting caught in what is obviously a war between Elon Musk and Governor Newsom, and in the meantime our planet suffers.
Truth be told, I’ve been away from my home in Los Angeles for a bit. Okay, pretty much since the beginning of the pandemic, but they’ve not made it easy for me. In early 2020 there was the confusion of different quarantine rules for different counties (some of them forced and scary), but mostly it was the very unpleasant phone call to Los Angeles County who said, ‘It will be up to the officer’ so I decided not to leave the airport terminal and hopped a plane to Hawaii.
But today I’m finding that owning (and neglecting) my Tesla is kind of a lot of work. In the first few months when I couldn’t get back to the States anyway I shut off notifications on my phone. Yes, I know that was dumb but who needs to be reminded that you are helpless and failing on a daily basis? And in two month’s time my car ran completely dry. So even when I got someone to go there, it was in ‘hibernation', and he couldn’t even open the door.
The second attempt to ‘wake up’ the vehicle required the combined efforts of my housekeeper, a neighbour’s ‘guy’, and the mobile Tesla person. This too was a flop because my housekeeper ditched me despite having cashed four months-worth of checks to look after things. It’s possible she was mad because I refused to pay her in cash ‘like the other ladies’ but I can’t afford to break the law, and I really do think $25/hour in cash is extortion for unskilled labour. Which reminds me to get the number of a housekeeper from one of my friends who moved to Florida.
Nonetheless, I texted my father for advice and he wrote back: ‘Sorry J, in a meeting, try Steven Henkes’.
Who is Steven Henkes? I called daddy’s secretary who assured me she had no such person in his contacts and promised to ask him the minute he was free. Five minutes later she sent an email titled ‘Steven Henkes’. With the note: ’Might this help?’ Attached was a BBC piece detailing Henkes’ dismissal from Tesla and his filed complaint that Tesla solar panels were known to catch fire, and that the company had failed to notify the public or shareholders. UGH.
The only reason I’m on this tack today is because a lot has happened separate from general electric-vehicle anxiety. Planet-friendly was always going to be my choice even if it meant a few hiccups, but I didn’t bargain on the war between Elon Musk and Herr Newsom. First, there was the issue of asking us not to charge our cars, which didn’t sit well with anyone. It was one thing to ask us to run laundry and dishwashing machines in the evening, well after our housekeepers had gone home, but then the request not to even charge our cars due to drain on California’s power grid, was seen a shot across the bow.
I for one didn’t see this coming. Even with California’s commitment to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035 it became apparent to everyone that California didn’t value the business or personal tax revenues of the richest man in the world. And so Musk moved his Tesla headquarters out of California and into Texas, citing ‘overtaxation’. Musk even said California was no longer the land of opportunity that it once was. I would have wanted to work on his messaging but I didn’t need my father’s input to tell me he was telling the truth; suddenly, 2035 was looking further away than ever.
I really didn’t think he'd do it because it meant so much upheaval, billions of dollars in taxes just to leave, and he risked upsetting his largest customer base, but customers get pretty testy when there’s no product to buy. And what was the man to do when on top of its draconian taxes, California was determined to win the Covid standoff?
Then last week California proposed new net metering rules to include a ‘grid access’ fee, in addition to the fees we already pay, which will add $50-$80/month to the electric bill. If they go ahead with it, (and what do they have to lose at this point?) it will be the highest solar fee anywhere in the country, including states hostile to renewable energy. AND they propose to change the rules for customers who have already signed contracts and purchased a solar system.
My phone rang… it was my father calling me back—‘How may I be of service?’ he asked.
‘Well… I don’t want you to denigrate my choice to buy an electronic car, but…’
‘OK. Excellent choice then.’
UGH! ‘Daddy,’ I began, ‘I just need advice on keeping my car.’
‘I see. Well…excellent choice to purchase, bad choice to keep. Is that helpful?’
‘No. Not helpful! I just don’t know what to do because I will need a car when I return to California.’
‘Which you haven’t wanted to do for nearly two years now.’
‘But I will return.’
‘… As you keep saying. But may I remind you, that house… which your mother and I were happy to buy for you… is entirely set up for that very car. I believe you told us it was an investment, by which I assume you meant a good investment. But as I recall the powerwall was $10,000, the solar panels were $30,000 and I calculated seventeen years to recoup this investment, or more like twenty-five when you calculate the decline of energy from the panels over the years. But that was assuming you were allowed to charge your car, and that they didn’t renege on the original agreement that categorically violates basic principles of fairness.’
Of course I wanted to scream, but I decided to just keep quiet until he said something else.
‘So as I understand your question, you want to know what to do with a car, for which a house was designed, in a land you no longer wish to remain. Is that putting too fine a point on it?’
‘I expect to return.’ I insisted, calmly.
Now he was silent. It was a standoff. I didn’t want to talk and he knew it.
'Jennifer, I can’t advise you. You alone know what is going to work for you, and since you’ve been living everywhere but there for the last two years, I see no reason to rush to a decision.’
Wow. He really wasn’t going to help.
‘Sweetheart, take your time. Everyone has been finessed into this green push. Even your beloved California had to pay neighbouring states to take their excess solar lest they blow out their own power grid. Germany can’t afford to convert electricity to methane, France spent $33 billion on a solar farce, and even my own petroleum industry spent a billion on advertising and lobbying for climate-related ventures. And speaking of lobbying, think about whether or not you need to keep a base of operations there just to impress your tree-hugging clients’.
My industry is not a farce. And I wanted to say this to him but I was afraid I couldn’t make a good point just now. And why did he have to be so nice when he really did tell me so? As I’d decided against the train, I rented a car and will have plenty of time to think about it all as I drive to the Cotswolds.
Boris Johnson, who has dominated British politics since the middle of 2019, is now facing a possible ejection from office and the end of his political career for the sin of attending parties at Number Ten Downing Street during the period that his government was enforcing anti-Covid regulations that forbade ordinary citizens from attending not only parties but also funerals, marriages, and the bedsides of dying family members. This scandal, inevitably named party-gate, has aroused extraordinary public anger against Johnson because it crystallizes the widespread public feeling after two years of Covid lockdowns that “there’s one law for Them [i.e., the political class] and another law for Us."
That’s an especially damaging charge against him because until recently Boris was seen by a large slice of the British public, especially blue-collar Tories and Brexit supporters, as their defender against a remote and corrupt establishment. Not to mention that the charge comes at a time when Boris is losing popularity more generally because several groups in the broad conservative coalition oppose his other policies.
I dealt with his plight which is a serious one—and how he might succeed in keeping his job—in a recent article in National Review Online:
The odd truth is that although he helped to put together an election-winning coalition, he is now alienating all the major Tory factions one after another by his various policies: Thatcherites by his reckless over spending and abandonment of tax cuts; patriotic Tories by failing to counter the deracinated ideas of Wokeness conquering so many British institutions; younger and less affluent Tories by not tackling the unavailability of affordable housing effectively; small savers and investors by allowing inflation to revive; cautious pragmatic Tories by “big government” projects on an almost Napoleonic scale such as Net-Zero; even Brexiteers by the long-drawn-out negotiations over the Northern Ireland protocol; and much else. (My emphasis).
That’s a formidable list of disasters, but the one that will spring out at The Pipeline readers is the reference to Net-Zero and more broadly to Boris’s passionate embrace of a radical, expensive, and life-altering program of left-wing environmentalism and global redistribution. He was the impresario of the COP26 U.N. conference at Glasgow that was meant to entrench Net-Zero as a legally-binding international obligation on the West. It failed in that, but he probably hopes to revive that campaign as soon as he can. Should global “lukewarmers” (i.e., those who think, like The Pipeline, that the costs of climate alarmist policies are heavier than the costs of climate change) want therefore to see Boris brought down over party-gate on the grounds that Net-Zero would perish with him?
That’s a serious question because the fall of Boris would be a major international sensation and some of the commentary on it would cite Net-Zero as a contributory factor in his demise. Having made two recent visits to London, however, I would argue the opposite case on four grounds:
To sum up, a world in which the Government is urging voters to travel by bus, cut down on foreign vacations, eat less meat, and accept colder homes in the winter while ministers and CEOs travel by official cars and private planes to pleasant climates where they discuss the sacrifices that must be made to realize Net-Zero looks awfully like a world in which “there’s one law for Them and another law for Us.” Boris is acutely vulnerable to—and so most anxious to avoid—that suspicion at present.
My conclusion therefore is that climate realists should not be too keen on seeing Boris ousted any time soon. The argument is moving in our direction and Boris is losing the authority and perhaps the desire to halt or reverse that.
I took an extra long shower, after a very hard workout and two glasses of champagne, to keep me from calling my client and screaming like a crazy person. Truth be told he deserves to be yelled at. We have a planet to save and we act like it can just wait. For the third time in two years, Davos is being cancelled as if we have no resource or ability to get it managed. Produced by the WEF, it is the pet project of the world’s most facile and capable billionaires turned eco-warriors, and yet here we are—crouching behind a closed door as if scheduling a conference is a Sisyphean task.
Trust me I could do it. Singlehandedly. Not to mention the people who are sitting in air-conditioned cubicles for this express purpose. I understand Switzerland wants no part of us, having locked down tighter than a drum, but surely there are dedicated folks who arrange software conferences and wedding fairs. Where might they be? Las Vegas? Orlando? I just can’t sit idly by while our planet heats up and our oceans fill with covid masks and PCR tests.
Don’t think me callous for turning on lovely Davos so readily. Some of the best parties and fondest memories have happened there over the years. But THE POINT was to save the planet, and it just can’t wait for zero-Covid. But oh how I’m going to miss seeing the jets from every conceivable country lined up—like united soldiers in service of winning the war on climate change. Last year only a literal handful of us went… those of us with meetings that couldn’t be rescheduled or ski holidays that had already been booked. The promise was, that we would do the work in Singapore eight months later, but that got cancelled too.
But first things first. Calm down sufficient to have a sane conversation with my client, and then propose other options. Probably not a good idea to sound like mean mommy even if he could use a spanking now and again. If only St Barts or Lyford could accommodate us all, half of us are already there.
After ordering sandwiches and a large pot of tea to clear my head, I came up with the conclusion that I needed some new blood—someone else to help me poke a stick at the bottoms of these eco-snorers. Enter the swashbuckling young eco-warrior currently embracing vivariums and eco-conscious social media whom I had hoped to connect with in Davos anyway. I decided to reach out to him and propose a partnership to produce a sophisticated, and effective eco-summit. This could work. I’d have him—the debonair young CFO— to help with scope, but the overseeing would require someone like me, with the vast connections, maturity, and experience to chart the course. Wiping some butter from my fingers I rang…
‘Yes, Jennifer.’ Daddy answered.
‘I need your help with a brilliant endeavour I’ve in mind—and alternative to Davos.’ I said.
‘An alternative? Would that be one in which you don’t blame mankind for the natural course of things?’
‘No, not that. One in which we don’t reschedule. One that actually happens.’
‘So you’re talking virtual?’
‘NO! I’m talking the States.’
‘… where you haven’t wanted to live since Covid began.’
‘Well…yes’. I said. ‘But that’s—California. I was thinking more like… Florida.’
‘I see. So you propose to ring up Klaus Schwab and suggest…The Magic Kingdom.’
‘NO, Daddy. Forget him! What has he done? Preside over three cancellations while both the planet and my blood boil? No! I was thinking of the young man you were talking to at Balnagown—he was planning a biosphere II.’
‘Ah yes. Because the first one was such a success.’
‘Daddy! Forget that!’
‘I can’t possibly forget. The first attempt was an unmitigated disaster and he now plans to re-stage this debacle—in outer space.’
‘What’s wrong with that? The idea is to build a fully recycling ecological system.’
‘Which we couldn’t even manage on earth. Sweetheart, you may not remember that cock-up that dominated every news programme, in painstaking and sanctimonious detail, but scientists had to open the thing up and go in—several times. Early on they ran out of food. Then it was the air, and then the water, and two of the scientists, I mean brave heroes, had a near meltdown. Eventually they had to let the poor folks out and scrap the whole lot. It was an unqualified disaster. No— a manmade disaster. Which just proved that our planet is indeed the place to be.’
‘Fair enough, but he’s done other things.’ I huffed.
‘Like drop out of school at sixteen.’
‘Like start a whole company that sold electronics and phone chargers.’
‘…That were manufactured in China, sweetheart, I’m not sure he’s your poster boy. And he was particularly proud of an LSD trip that he said retooled his mind, of which I have no doubt.’
‘Right.’ I said, taking a breath.
‘You see Jenny, it’s not just the absurdity of building a biosphere on another planet, his actual plan was space as a teaching tool—that if we could engineer a way to live in space, we could use those same systems to navigate more responsibly on this planet. Surely you must see the idiocy of trying to engineer a way to live in a place where we don’t know how to live, in order to live where we already know how to live.’
Of course he had me with that. I took a gulp of water, and steadied myself. ‘Daddy, listen, I am determined not to let another year go by where we don’t actually DO something about this planet.’
‘OK, I’m sorry, baby. Let’s figure this out. He had some success with locally sourced food, am I right?’
‘No. Total failure. ,You’re thinking of my friend, Sheherazade. Hers was a success. But then she quit it, and married Zac Goldsmith. And then they divorced, and he ran for mayor, and then she dated that Mexican movie director who won all the awards, and then she dumped him and he lost every nomination the next year doing that film you called the dog poop movie.’
‘Right. So, what about a totally green conference? One where you do it virtually and no one increases his carbon footprint.’
‘That’s the worst idea you have ever had.’
‘I’m glad you think so. I just never know how far you green-niks are willing to take things. Listen, why don’t you finish up there, come home, get dressed and we can all go to the New Year’s party together. We could share a cab… it’s very green.’
‘Daddy, he’s an OIL BILLIONAIRE! I’m not saying I don’t want to go… I’m just saying it’s silly to be talking about green.’
"I’m so glad you think so.’
Look out world—I’ve had it! Here I am saving the planet and for what? You’re wrecking absolutely everything and what you’ve done to travel is nothing short of criminal. Nothing has degraded more spectacularly from what it once was, to what it is today.
Let’s start with check-in. Long gone is Heathrow’s welcoming British Airways First Class (or Concorde) building, and even in the states… no outdoor checking of bags. Why? Because Covid. Did they really think we were safer from airborne germs inside than out? Of course they didn’t, but like all the lies that followed… we swallowed the lie and grumbled it’s just two weeks. In addition, they kept saying things like ‘We’re all in this together’ when we most certainly are not.
What is actually happening, is I am paying for the people who used to check bags to sit home. And I am now taking my own bag from my driver and dragging it to the first-class counter that isn’t even first anymore. And in places where outside (open-air) bag-check exists—it’s now a new crop of untrained employees that charge a fee as they stare at their screens for an eternity. It’s unbearable. Faster now to take myself inside, and wait in the ever-growing line. Long, long gone are the days Daddy could place twenty quid in the hand of the porter who would whisk all of our bags to the mouth of the plane. I find myself echoing his sentiment—please just take my money and get on with it!
Forget the security lines… that is just pure insanity where I must take clean items and place them on filthy, germ-laden trays as the agents paw everything else with their filthy gloves. It’s always a calculated risk to ask them to change their gloves but when they unnecessarily breach something that is now contaminated, I say just throw it out.
Today however, I had a ‘salad’ problem. Salad refers to cords of any kind. I think we got this from the Germans who started calling it a ‘cord salad’ and then it became simply ‘salad’. But I didn’t have a tangle of cords, I just had the one that I’d popped in at the last minute—the extension for my MacBook. SERIOUSLY? I hear myself scream as my bag makes the little jog to the right of the conveyor belt for an additional filthy-gloved inspection. With pure evil in her eyes, the security matron claims victory holding up my cord as though she’s caught me with a brick of cocaine.
'I’m supposed to take out cords??’ I ask. More than a little annoyed.
‘Well yes, when you hide them behind chocolate.’
I say nothing. If she can clearly see it’s a cord and see it’s a bar of chocolate (which by the way is not a rule!) what are we really talking about? She’s a cow and she’s loving it. Just prior to that I had the ever-fun waistband swipe. Boys don’t know this but if you wear tights, for some reason this elastic waistband baffles every security person in the land. What could it possibly be? they must gasp.
Is it so very different than the elastic-waisted pyjamas that have become such popular travel wear? Somehow this very sheer elastic is more scary than the elastic on men’s briefs and scarier still than the thick cotton waistband of those people in their cargo pants with millions of metal snaps and flapping pockets and likely clumps of disgusting laundry lint.
And for this invasion, I really MUST insist that they change their gloves. You are not thrusting that filthy and disgusting glove both into my clothes and onto my abdomen. EVEN IF you claim you just changed your gloves — which anyone can see is a lie. I don’t know why they try to get away with it. We see them standing there, complaining, patting previous people down, complaining more, touching their face and hair and belt buckles and trays and then they just look you straight in the face and lie saying—‘I just changed them!’ Except you didn’t. And for asking them to change their gloves…oh, they will make you suffer. But one is discriminated against for wearing a dress, trust me. It’s nearly every time.
Glamorous enough for you yet? Of course, my client doesn’t see this when I arrive, he just sees unflappable me, flying commercial to decrease my carbon footprint while he… well never mind what he does.
But there’s another indignity. I must now purchase both a newspaper and a bottle of water, because these items are likewise gone from the planes. Remember all of those people who died from newspaper Covid? Well neither do I but apparently newspapers on the plane cause Covid. But newspapers for purchase—no Covid. So they got rid of newspapers and the PDB (pre-departure beverage) while we were all doing our part and littering the planet with empty vials of hand sanitiser and disposable gloves and masks and wipes.
I stroll past the shops… Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, Bulgari… all closed. Even the porridge bar. Only Boots and Duty-Free are safe from the dreaded Covid. The line at Boots is madness as I grab my paper and 99p water and head to the BA Lounge… one of the few that is open according to my app. But when I arrive—it too is shuttered. I scroll through my various lounge apps which only last night told me that several were open but this too is a lie. I call the Emerald Hotline and they confirm… no lounges—NONE are open. Which explains why the BA horse is lacking his seasonal wreath and the estimated walk to the gate is showing 00.
There will be no pot of tea, no fruit, no curry, no glass of champagne, no Victoria Sponge and certainly no shower for those people transiting from afar. WHY? Because everyone has used Covid as the iron-clad excuse to cut services. I was two inches from every manner of person in the security line, but in an environment where I could relax, wash my hands, and restore my health and sanity, and for which I’ve already paid…. I am blocked. I hate these people.
I look down at the terminal of humanity happily sucking down sugar-laden coffee drinks and pastries and lowering their immune systems with each gulp and I wonder if we are too stupid to live. I pull my mask off and sit down on the floor next to horsey. Even he knows it’s cleaner on this floor where no one has walked in months than in the taped-off seats below.
Downing my morning vitamins I look at my mobile to decide how long I will stay here until I head to my gate. This has nothing to do with health, and here I am, debilitated.
In many ways the Cop26 conference resembles the poison cup scene in the 1987 movie Princess Bride. In the setup two full wine goblets are presented to the hero and villain, one containing normal vintage but the other laced with “iocaine powder," an undetectable but thoroughly deadly poison. Knowing this, neither wants to be the first to drink, at least without figuring out which cup is spiked.
At Cop26 the nations are presented with a cup said to be full of planet-saving potion that will be wonderful for you in the long run but there is a chance -- nobody knows how big a chance -- that your economy might die of fuel scarcity in the meantime. The participants are hesitant to go first unless they are compensated for the risk.
"African nations and a group called the Like-Minded Developing Countries, which includes China, India and Indonesia" want at least $1.3 trillion to go first. But the Western countries are unwilling to ante up, having been unable to reach an earlier $100 billion target to begin with and being broke to boot. “We’re not feeling particularly capable now,” said one European official. “It’s really not the right time.”
In fact there could hardly be a worse time. The climate change conference is being held and pledges elicited to cut back on petroleum products just when the entire globe is reeling from a desperate 'fossil fuel' shortage that is causing inflation and hardship everywhere, even in the West. It's worst in the Third World.
“It’s humiliating,” said Ms. Matos, 41. “Sometimes I just want to cry… I buy gas to cook and then I can’t afford food, or if I buy food then I don’t have money to buy soap.” She said she can’t even afford the butcher shop’s leftover bags of bones.
But European politicians are also wary. "In France, the People the Climate Summit Forgot" are seething, writes the NYT. "Three years ago, Montargis became a center of the Yellow Vest social uprising, an angry protest movement over an increase in gasoline taxes... The uprising was rooted in a class divide that exposed the resentment of many working-class people, whose livelihoods are threatened by the clean-energy transition, against the metropolitan elites, especially in Paris, who can afford electric cars and can bicycle to work, unlike those in the countryside."
Nor were optics improved by "the global elite arriving at Glasgow via 400 private jets... [which] created such a shortage of parking slots that some were obliged to fly the extra 50-70km to Prestwick and Edinburgh just to park."
The result, as with the movie poison goblet scene, has been an eyeball to eyeball standoff that has slowed Cop26 to a near-halt. "UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on leaders and delegates to just "get on and do it" as the COP26 climate talks appear to have stalled," says CNN. That sounds like an exhortation to suicide. Left-wing Greek politician Yanis Varoufakis actually concludes that COP26 is doomed, and the hollow promise of ‘net zero’ is to blame.
Whoever is to blame the next move in the drama is probably up to the engineers rather than the politicians. They are working to create safe, modular nuclear power stations that can further produce bottled hydrogen fuel for reasons not necessarily driven by the U.N. model. Freed from the Cop26 scheme engineers can innovate on the basis of utility, cost and local measurable salubriousness -- that is, on merits -- without reference to some political mandate. They might get nukes not windmills in this calculus but they will get something that works.
Only engineers and entrepreneurs, not ideological activists, can provide an escape from the Cop26 poison cup trap that's making everyone poorer and solving nothing. Don't drink it unless you've developed an immunity to energy poverty poisoning.
Have you heard the big news? Superman is now LGBT! Or, is that LGBTQ? Or perhaps, as Justin Trudeau would say, 2SLGBTQQIA+. Whatever the case may be, he's out and he's proud. But more importantly for our purposes, he's gotten really into Greta Thunberg:
Jon Kent's Superman will fight climate change in support of #climatestrike, #fridaysforfuture, and this week's #schoolstrike4climate in an upcoming issue of his ongoing series. https://t.co/cjR8kqQ6XW pic.twitter.com/5SZ0tmDNOc
— Screen Rant (@screenrant) October 15, 2021
I love the guy holding the "There's no Planet B" sign. Didn't Superman himself flee his home planet to come to Earth, gaining super powers in the process? Seems like emigrating to Krypton B worked out pretty well for him.
From the story:
Since becoming Superman, [Clark's son] Jon Kent has battled real-life issues in the DC Universe. Thus far, he's fought wildfires caused by climate change, stopped a school shooting from happening, and has protested refugees being deported.... Jon Kent joining the fight against climate change shows that he gets what being Superman truly means: inspiring and making the world a better place in the process.
Sounds about as exciting as an afternoon watching CNN, and roughly as fanciful. This should really help 10-year-olds escape the drudgery of their mask enforced school days and the impending cancellation of Christmas due to a virus that barely effects them.
In other news, Ford Motor Company is attempting their own Green reinvention, as they launch an electric version of their F-150 pickup, the F-150 Lightning. Year in and year out, the F-150 outsells its competitors due to their superior product and name recognition. As Car and Driver mentioned in their write-up on the best selling cars of 2019, Ram, Chevrolet, and GMC have each significantly redesigned their truck offerings, but the F-150, with hardly a change, still beats them out easily.
So why go electric? Well, it's largely an attempt to chase status and good publicity, and the hope that greenbacks will follow. As Kevin Williamson explains in his write-up on the F-150 Lightning, entitled 'Here Come the Electric Rednecks,'
If you want to know who is really packing the heat on the great American scene A.D. 2021, consider that Elon Musk could, on a good day, personally buy the Ford Motor Company three times over, even though Ford sells about twelve times as many vehicles a year as Tesla, which still loses money on its automobile business — its profits in the first quarter of 2021 came from Bitcoin investments and from selling emissions credits.
That is, Ford generates real money and Tesla imaginary money. These days the latter is preferable to the former. How long that will last, however, is anyone's guess, especially as the entire automotive industry is struggling under the global chip shortage which has stalled production and shocked the market worldwide.
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth II has now officially joined her fellow elderly monarch and religious leader Pope Francis in naming the "environmental crisis" as our most pressing political concern. The Queen, of course, rarely speaks about contentious topics, but this time she seems to have decided that there is no harm in being publicly on the side of the great and the good. And her move in this direction seems to be responsible for at least some healing, specifically that of the troubled royal family. Environmentalism is reportedly helping bring them together, from her accused sex-trafficker son to her brainless celebrity-hound grandson.
Still, with Britain being roiled by an ongoing energy crisis which is at least partly caused by the environmentalist enthusiasms of her ruling class, one wonders whether this was a prudent course of action by Her Majesty. It might not be long before her subjects come to believe that, like her uncle Edward, she'd chosen the wrong side.
So what do all of these things have in common? They are examples of venerable institutions bending over backwards to gain the approval of the environmentalist movement, and risking the good will of those who have kept them going for so long. Moreover, they're doing so at a time when the Green movement seems to be in real danger. The global energy crisis has environmentalism struggling to keep it's own head above water, but they're acting like it is their life preserver.
At the same time, they are instances of the cultural revolution, which completed its long march through western academia decades ago, colonizing a new host, like some parasitic bacteria. The revolution, which can produce nothing of it's own, is attempting to live off of the cultural capital of its newest targets. Once it's sucked them dry, of course, it will move on, leaving an empty husk in its wake, as it has with education. Before long, kids will stop buying comic books, Americans in rural areas will stop seeing F-150s as an identity marker, Catholics will become (more) alienated from the Church, and patriotic Britons won't go out of their way to speak up for the Queen, and certainly not her heir.
My advice to whoever is making decisions about the future of these institutions: Beware.
No sooner had I sold the idea to buy an airport, build a hub, and provide a huge cash infusion to a beloved estate, than my client decided he needed to come in and see what his money had bought. I tried explaining that as yet, there was nothing to actually SEE but he wouldn’t be put off, and informed me of his arrival. I also had no luck pointing out there was well… no helipad here and no one would welcome his simply dropping in. Or that the deal hinged on our promise to invest in, rather than detract from, the land. I said it all but I’m pretty sure he hung up before I got to any of it.
Not good. I texted that I would pull out every stop to try to get permission for him to land at the airport but he texted back simply ‘House.’ Surely he didn’t mean…oh Lord, he did mean. Extra not good.
I hadn’t seen anyone at Burghley House all day, but I didn’t think I could count on them just not turning up. I rang the estate agent to ask for a recommendation of an hotel in the event he planned to stay the night but in truth, I was just buying cover. I knew all the best hotel options, and the less desirable, and everything in between having come here for years with my parents for the annual horse trials. I thought having a reservation might go a long way toward explaining if anyone returned to find me with a group of strangers in a house that isn’t open to the public. My own invitation to stay had been an accommodation because I had been an Olympic equestrienne and had become somewhat known to them throughout the years. And thankfully I’d secured a whopping endowment so they really couldn’t kick. But it’s just not the position one wants to be in when claiming commitment to the land and preservationist pursuits. I wanted to call Daddy but he’d already said, give that Green Baron an inch and he’ll take a mile.
I had no idea how to calculate the Baron's flying time but I googled “distance as the crow flies” and it was a hit. Go figure. I ran about as fast as I could round the back to try to figure out where he could land and do the least damage. Logically the area that is used for parking during events would work but I had no way of knowing if his pilot had ever been here and the grass had entirely grown back during the last two years of Covid lockdowns so it wouldn’t be easy to spot.
This was hopeless. What was I? A flag boy? He wasn’t going to land where I chose any more than he was going to land at an airport. I turned in a circle as one does when one is lost and when I stopped I was surrounded by half a dozen Special Branch cars and more officers walking toward me carrying guns.
My phone rang and I gladly took it holding up the universal just a minute boys, sign. Turns out Prince Charles… as in H.R.H Prince Charles was coming as well. But of course he was. They knew each other from the World Economic Forum in Davos. Of all the nights for me to not be hosting a bug party. When the Special Branch Police handed my phone back to me, I texted Daddy saying, ‘Be available by text. IMPORTANT!!!’ and also sent him a surreptitious picture I’d snapped showing an officer from the waist down.
We were off to carbon-loaded start. My boss arriving by helicopter, H.R.H in his Aston Martin and more than a dozen police vehicles to ensure the Prince’s safety even though no one (including me) knew he was coming. He immediately started on about how his 51-year-old car ran on wine and cheese and I wondered if he thought me a fool. When I first embraced the care of our planet the promise I made myself was to be informed, not getting behind organisations like Greenpeace who take money from the worst offenders and then give them a free pass—or worse yet, a commendation. And of course my plan was not to be flying private to an event where I would then talk about saving the planet.
What I knew about biofuels is they are only ever a very small percentage of corn, or in this case “wine and cheese”, and the best we could hope for is 15 percent biofuels to 85 percent petroleum. And even then, it was a substantial blow to efficiency so it was really not worth contributing to global hunger by making the poorest compete for expensive corn now sold for fuel. Clever angle though… instead of depriving the lowliest of their corn HRH Charles could claim to be depriving the elites of their excess wine and cheese.
I texted my father to see if there had been any update on the matter and his response was: ‘Think of the pigs, Jenny. Their food of choice is corn!’
‘Fuel, daddy. FUEL! Any updates on efficiency?’
‘Oh absolutely. The entire method is flawed. It assumes that carbon pollution from biofuels is eventually absorbed, but energy crops were responsible for additional plant growth that absorbed only 37 per cent of biofuel pollution, leaving most of it in the atmosphere, where it traps heat. So it's making the problem worse. That is your big concern isn’t it? A toasty planet?’
‘So it’s definitive?’ I asked.
‘No of course not. That study was done in the U.S. They will claim that conditions are altogether different in Europe, even though you all like to bang on about one ecosphere.’
‘Mummy would be so disappointed to hear our little girl is confronting the Prince about taking corn from the mouths of peasants… it’s just so bourgeois.’
‘Ugh daddy. NOT HELPING!’ I texted back.
‘Flatter the old chap, tell him Bravo! Burning up wine and cheese—way to really stick it to the French!’
I stopped texting and rang him. ‘Yes, Jennifer.’ He answered and I spoke: ‘Daddy!’ I said half-whispering. 'I’m certainly NOT going to confront him, I just don’t want to argue in favour of something if I’m wrong.’
‘Well there you have it,' he said. ‘Let your Green Baron say all the wrong things. Then you can fix it later and bill him in the process. It’s all very capitalistic in the end. You just take credit for securing the money for the land… that was all you and there’s no argument against it.’
So I was a capitalist now? I slumped against a wall not knowing what to ask next.
‘Darling, ring me back if you need but according to the news someone bloody fool's just landed a helicopter in Thorpe Wood Nature Preserve.’
I’m back in Jolly old England as I’m meant to be setting up a mega-conference for the client that Daddy has mockingly dubbed ‘The Green Baron’. ‘Baron’ because we’ve reached tera-cap status and ‘green’ because we are working to be carbon neutral by 2040. He thinks it’s all rather hilarious. Daddy is indeed proud of me for landing such a client, but also reminded me that the company’s carbon footprint just breached 60 million metric tonnes.
Travel from the states back to the UK was a bit of a mess and I don’t think I should make it known—but with all the inspection of my vaccine status, and latest PCR tests, the customs agent didn’t even crack open my passport. My sad, dark blue post-Brexit booklet just lay under his nose until he scooped up the lot of it and handed it back to me. And so many questions as to whether I had a headache or had felt ill in any way... I really felt I should have been given a lolly as my doctor used to do. The most ridiculous bit is they won’t give you a seat until you are cleared by the medical inquest. So while I can feel sure that no one on the plane has a headache—a valid visa cannot be assured. And it all feels very much like school… being told at the last minute where I am to sit. It’s not such a big deal when one has her own pod but for the people on the other side of the curtain… well, boo.
The flight was pleasant enough but once we landed—the party was over. Heathrow is not nearly as empty as it was a year ago and the line for people who were transiting was madness. And what was the point? They were already in the building. I had weighed the prospect of taking the train to Peterborough but decided not to bill for the four hours it would take by rail versus under two in a town car. Hard to know which gesture my client would appreciate though.
And just like that, I was back in the glorious England of my childhood. I’m well-familiar with Burghley House, having come here so many times as a girl with my parents to watch the annual Burghley House Horse Trials, and then much later as a competitor. The house itself is probably the finest example of an Elizabethan prodigy house but this is the first time I’ve actually stayed here. It’s not open for guests and my previous forays had been as part of a tour, or as a party guest in connection with the horse trials and my Olympic participation.
It was here, on the grounds of the estate that I learned to be truly brave and attacking in competition. It is the world’s greatest five- star equestrian event and the ultimate goal for every rider in the world. But as a Briton, one genuinely feels they are fighting for queen and country. Sadly this year, and last, queen and country shut us down for the dreaded Covid, which never made any sense to me as it’s an outdoor event and the horses are regularly treated with Ivremectin. A colossal loss of revenue for all involved, but now an opportunity for us.
Right off it became clear that nearby lodging was going to pose some logistical complexities. Specifically loads of buses and private cars to ferry people to the various events, and that was after we’d all made our way from London. I could feel the green meter ticking but I was determined to make this work and reminded myself that it would provide less impact and congestion than the annual event. Especially given we wouldn’t be bringing in horses. OK, granted the non-horse bit was entirely lame but I did feel the need to craft arguments in support of our green conscience. And with that I began to second-guess my suggestion of Burghley House in the first place. The property, however, was doing all it could to sell me on the idea so I could in turn sell it to my boss. What I needed was an inducement. Or divine inspiration.
I walked down the corridor to stare up at Verrio’s Mouth of Hell and then onto his masterpiece… Heaven, which was both magnificent and grotesque. The fat-bottomed gods and goddesses, while magnificent, gave no clues except to seemingly say, please don’t bring a bunch of loud Americans to fix their gaze upon every bare baroque breast and penis. Noticing a lion that had been clubbed to death, I went back to my room to ring my father.
He greeted me with, ‘Congratulations!’
‘Thank you Daddy’ I said, ‘but you knew I landed this job months ago.’
‘Indeed, but since then you’ve eclipsed both big tobacco and big oil in lobbying expenditure—nearly doubled actually.’
‘Well that is big news.’ I said, steeling myself for what was coming next. ‘Listen, Daddy, I’m here in Burghley House…’
‘OUR Burghley House?’
‘Yes, one and the same, and I’m trying to find a way to bring a huge event here without… well, you know.’
‘Why not invite that sickly little Swede? You could call the event…HOW DARE YOU!’
‘I’m serious, Daddy! I feel awful. I’m nearly in tears. I walked the grounds and I honestly don’t want to bring one more human to this celestial place.’
‘Then ask your boss to write them a check for £100M… if you’re serious that is. That should offset your carbon guilt.’
‘A hundred million quid?? He’d never…’
‘Ah but he will. Because soon enough he will have his eye on Cambridge City Airport, which is slated to close to build several thousand homes. Which of course is madness because more homes would mean more goods needed, thus creating a need for an even larger shipping hub. And if he hasn’t realised this, you should suggest it to him—along with your carbon guilt money.’
I was gobsmacked. He had solved my problem— but had he?
‘Listen, Jennifer—I have to figure out what your mother’s got up to but we’ll be home later,’ he said and rang off.
I now felt guiltier than ever. But I was a genius… stuff the homes somewhere, and build a mega-hub—which clearly we need. And a whopping check for the estate. Best not call it carbon guilt money though...
From the Wall Street Journal:
Natural gas and electricity markets were already surging in Europe when a fresh catalyst emerged: The wind in the stormy North Sea stopped blowing. The sudden slowdown in wind-driven electricity production off the coast of the U.K. in recent weeks whipsawed through regional energy markets. Gas and coal-fired electricity plants were called in to make up the shortfall from wind. Natural-gas prices, already boosted by the pandemic recovery and a lack of fuel in storage caverns and tanks, hit all-time highs. Thermal coal, long shunned for its carbon emissions, has emerged from a long price slump as utilities are forced to turn on backup power sources.
The episode underscored the precarious state the region’s energy markets face heading into the long European winter. The electricity price shock was most acute in the U.K., which has leaned on wind farms to eradicate net carbon emissions by 2050. Prices for carbon credits, which electricity producers need to burn fossil fuels, are at records, too... At their peak, U.K. electricity prices had more than doubled in September and were almost seven times as high as at the same point in 2020. Power markets also jumped in France, the Netherlands and Germany.
So the transition to so-called renewable energy has really been raking European energy markets over the coals. Literally, in fact, as coal-fired power plants are having to increase production to meet energy demands. And it's making Russia into a one nation OPEC, the only country in the region with an excess of natural gas which will happily export it.... for some significant diplomatic concessions.
Quite the bind the E.U. finds itself in. Perhaps they might consider changing course, accepting that shutting down their natural gas and nuclear power plants, not to mention banning fracking, is a mistake?
Doesn't sound like it! Reuters --
Record high power prices in European Union countries show the bloc must wean itself off fossil fuels and speed up the transition to green energy, the EU's top climate change official said on Tuesday.
That official -- first vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, who has appeared in these pages before, always singing the same one-note tune -- argues that, in fact, it is because they haven't transitioned quickly enough that things are so bad! "Had we had the Green Deal five years earlier, we would not be in this position because then we would have less dependence on fossil fuels and on natural gas," he said.
Never mind that the transition itself helped create the shortage by causing a shortage of the fuels that, for the foreseeable future, the continent continues to run on. That, and the fact that the wind doesn't always blow and the sun sometimes fails to shine.
Anyway, you heard it from Frans first -- renewable energy causes problems that can only be solved by... more renewable energy. Is there anything it can't do?