Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Concoursing

Surprisingly I couldn’t get anyone to go join me at this year’s Salon Privé. It’s not a ‘must-do' but I didn’t expect a flat ‘no’ across the board. Daddy and Judith are in Italy, my school chums are everywhere but London, and even my ex, Patrick, is in New York watching tennis. So it will just be me and my Gemma Chan squiggle dress.

I’m hoping the tone will not be dour given the likely end of the fuel-powered car. It’s early days but with California promising to ban this planet-killing transport, the world is likely to follow. And follow they should. I was an early adopter having purchased a Tesla car and solar panels well before Elon Musk bailed on California. As to blaming cars for the demise of our planet… Daddy and I have gone round and round on this subject. He likes to remind me that Britain was once a peninsula of continental Europe until the Channel was flooded by rising sea levels about 8,000 years ago—well before cars. But as I’ve explained to him—we can’t just ignore the science, no matter what history says.

This way to the egress, Boris.

I budgeted two hours drive to Blenheim which should be sufficient except for traffic getting out of London due to all the stupid bike lanes. Of course I’m not saying that bicycling is stupid, only putting so many lanes in an already-congested city has just made for more traffic. And stalled traffic means more CO2. Plus no one is really using the lanes anyway. So was it any wonder Boris got caught cycling outside of his own proscribed covid-zone? It was also his bright idea that bikes become ‘as commonplace as black cabs and red buses’. I mean, really! No one would get anywhere.

It took me a while to find the non-preferential parking, which meant a ten-minute walk to the main entrance on one’s choice of grass or gravel. UGH! Obviously some man with wide feet and a love for sensible shoes had managed this. Making a quick trip to the ladies' I sorted myself out, but I overheard complaints about people having taken the train to Hanborough where there was no taxi rank. Seriously? It was the car event of the season and everyone was walking way more than they wished.

Making my way to the gallery I met an American who introduced himself as ‘Ken’. I was hoping he’d be a candidate to talk about making cars carbon-neutral but he seemed only to want to talk about his ’54 Corvette mule car that he’d shipped over. Oh how he went on about this particular 'vette—and his other 250 cars. I had half a mind to ask if he, like Prince Charles, had any that ran on leftover wine and cheese but thought better of it. My guess of course, was no because he mentioned if you’re lucky you’ll see flames come out of the back end. FLAMES! Not exactly carbon-neutral. I tried easing into a meaningful conversation but it was no use. He didn’t know who I was, he didn’t know who my clients were, and he was impressed by shooting flames.

By contrast the next person I met was Bill Ford, of the Model-T Fords. The Fords didn’t pre-date the Churchills but at an event like this he was no less impressive. Also he knew who I was, and announced that he, too, was an environmentalist. Why had I spent so much time talking to Mr Fire-Butt? Bill had grown up with many thinking his family the enemy. To a lesser degree I had carried the guilt of a father who was the top geophysical engineer in the oil industry. Talk about kismet! I was sure we’d partner in some way to move toward carbon neutrality in the automotive industry. This was exciting. I quickly dazzled him with the work I’d done, and my near-encyclopaedic knowledge of the issue at hand. He didn’t interrupt so I continued on explaining my position and the path we needed to take in order to avoid extinction.

Don't blame me, Greenies.

He led me into the Aviva Pavilion and excused himself briefly. I texted my father to tell him the good news. Daddy texted back ‘Hold your horses’.

What?? ‘THIS IS DIVINE PROVIDENCE!’ I texted back.

‘I doubt it’. Was his response. ‘I’m not saying you can’t find common ground and achieve your end but talk to him about something YOU know. Like traffic jams. And how Boris has it all wrong. Tell him that four billion clean cars is still four billion cars on the road. Tell him that restrictions on movement in the name of global warming is not the answer’.

What? OMG NO! Daddy had it all wrong. When Bill came back I told him I owned one of the first Teslas. Bill beamed and said ‘Then you understand! Clean cars alone are not the solution’.

‘Uhhhhh…correct!’ I said. ‘Four billion clean cars is still four billion cars’.

‘YES!’ He roared.

‘And…restrictions on movement in the name of global warming is not the answer’.

‘THANK YOU!’ He said. ‘You know, the freedom to move about the country is by far the greatest thing my grandfather, Henry, created. I aim to preserve that, so obviously I’m against banning cars, and we both agree that more bikes and more smart cars is just—more. Unfortunately some are trying to ban the very thing my grandfather created—the freedom to move about the country. If we allow this next they’ll be rationing energy. Yet global gridlock will stifle productivity. Maybe we need underground roads.

‘Correct’. I said again, baffled.

'Would you be interested in partnering with me on an interconnected system of intelligent transport?'

’‘I would indeed’, I said. And that is all I said. Because clearly I could not have said it better myself. Wait 'til I tell Daddy...

THE COLUMN: Invasion of the Body-and-Soul Snatchers

Elon Musk, after me the foremost scourge of Twitter, is much in the news these days. Not only for his high-stakes poker game against the unworthy likes of Parag Agrawal—an Indian immigrant with a bad attitude toward the First Amendment, doing the job (with a handsome pay package) that Americans just won't do—but for his direct challenge to the Wokerati whose private preserve Twitter, Disney, Netflix, and just about every other aspect of the culture have become. Naturally, the eccentric multi-billionaire immediately came "under fire," as the gun-shy media likes to say, for past sins real or imagined, and immediately turned the tables on his accuser in a way that even Bill Clinton never dared to do.

But as we've all learned over the past several decades, truth is irrelevant to the Leftist project, whose two-step program for fundamental transformation goes like this. First, posit a counter-factual. Second, act on it as if it were true while browbeating the bejesus out of your opponents. Lately, it doesn't matter how counter-factual or, indeed, utterly ridiculous it is: men can get pregnant, police should be defunded, and the "right" to an abortion can be found in the Constitution. The Hive Mind pushes these precepts and many more, and if you don't agree, then the only explanation is that you're some sort of racist or bigot, now the dirtiest words in the English language. There is no longer any such thing as dispassion, and the time for debate, disagreement, and rational discussion is over. Get with the program, comrade.

Run! It's Dave Chappelle!

This is what happens when everything—sex, race, sports, politics, music, culture, pancake mix, butter, baby formula, religion, the nation-state, your Aunt Hilda—becomes political. Musk has, correctly, described such conformity as the "woke mind virus." Such a state of affairs is in fact the end-state of "progressive" cultural-Marxist thinking, which has substituted the permanent imposition of political correctness in place of what economic Marxism had initially anticipated, which in the words of Friedrich Engels was the "withering away" of the State itself. 

The first act by virtue of which the State really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society – the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society – this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a State. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The State is not ‘abolished.’ It dies out.

Wrong again, Freddy! What the Marxists discovered after they sandbagged the first, anti-Tsarist Russian Revolution and replaced it with their own, is that the State and its coerced minions in private enterprise come in very handy if you're a power-mad atheist bent on cultural destruction and your own supreme power. It took 75 years of Soviet communist rule, the blunt-force application of a central-European anti-capitalist philosophy promulgated by a malevolent hobo and his rich benefactor, for the Russian people to learn the partial error of their ways. In the meantime, the State never died out.

The "withering away" of the State is in fact the last thing the Left wants, especially as the Great Reset dawns in Davos. Oh, the nation-state can go once they have captured its armed forces; after all, such outmoded concepts as a "nation" only encourage such nasty concepts as nationalism, which must be stamped out by any means necessary. The communist Left didn't win its prolonged struggle with its former ally, National Socialist Germany, to countenance allegiance to something at once both higher and baser than the abstract ideal of International Socialism. That the version the Left is currently trying to impose upon us looks much more like the fascism of the Nazis than the communism of Stalin is left unremarked. But hey—omelets and eggs.

Which brings us back to Wokism -- now, amazingly, suffering a series of defeats as the Zeitgeist turns. In Florida, the thrashing of the Walt Disney Company by Gov. Ron DeSantis—the next GOP candidate for president, if the Republicans have any sense— vividly demonstrated how far the force of will, painfully applied, and an absolute refusal to accept their literally insane premises can go toward reversing the course of degenerate political correctness. DeSantis has shown that one arrogant corporation's "progressivism" is another man's sexual perversion, and that decent folks draw the line at the grooming of their defenseless children by those who can't reproduce any other way, whether by the House of Mouse or proselytizing operatives working within the taxpayer-supported public-school systems. The withering State is not so much fun when it's punching back, is it?

The quick rout of the Ministry of Truth under its nasty Gauleiterin, Nina Jankowicz, was also an encouraging sign, although technically the "Disinformation Governance Board" is only "suspended" pending an assessment by two of the most dedicated statists in recent history, Michael Chertoff and Jamie Gorelick. Naturally, the lickspittle media is furious: "The fate of the board is yet more proof that efforts to combat even clearly threatening disinformation will always be ripe targets for the purveyors of disinformation, and officials should have better anticipated and handled this obvious dynamic," huffed the once-respected Columbia Journalism Review, echoing the anti-freedom sentiments of Walter Lippmann in his 1922 treatise, Public Opinion.

Careful! It might be Nina Jankowicz!

Even more fun has been the collapse of Netflix, a company that is living proof of Erick Hoffer's maxim that "every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket." What started as a way to make movies available to everybody for a small subscription price turned into a market-cornering monstrosity and ultimately into the woke "Streaming Service," which sought to replace the studios as the principal financier and greenlighter of motion pictures. It borrowed a fortune, produced next to nothing of value, drove good scripts out of the market, and has damn near destroyed the picture business by replacing professionalism with aspirationalism.

Faced with a subscriber exodus, a shareholders' lawsuit, and a loss of some $200 billion in market capitalization, and finally paying the financial penalty for trying to force endless remakes of Moonlight and other woke sermons down everyone's throat, Netflix has suddenly had an attitude adjustment: 

More significantly, the document adds a new directive for employees to act with fiscal responsibility — a change that comes as Netflix in Q1 saw its first decline in subscribers in more than a decade. The updated Netflix Culture memo also includes a new section called “Artistic Expression,” explaining that the streamer will not “censor specific artists or voices” even if employees consider the content “harmful,” and bluntly states, “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

And then there's Nancy Pelosi and her effective excommunication from the Catholic Church. Who says there's no good news? Would that Robinette—just banned from entering Russia— could be next. 

Still, in the aftermath of the Great Covid Panic of 2019-22, the American economy continues to crater. Soaring gas prices at the pump, occasioned by Biden's cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline and all the anti-energy policies that have since followed, are only the most outward manifestation of the rot at the heart of the American experiment. Not just content with your body, the spirit-sapping demons unleashed by the Frankfurt School hunger for your soul as well. They want their passionate desire to kill children in the womb to remain uncensured by society and have not only protested but threatened violent riots should the Supreme Court stick to its convictions and overturn the moral enormity of Roe v. Wade this term. 

Just close your eyes and everything will be all right.

The stock market also recently has had one of its worst weeks ever, and polls show most Americans have utterly lost confidence in the Biden administration. Even worse, Biden's crack foreign-policy team is now encouraging historically neutral Finland to join a superfluous and outmoded NATO and thus fall under the alliance's Article 5 provision of "collective defense" should the Finns, as they often do, get into a spat with the bear next door. For those scoring at home, this is essentially how World War One started, but who reads history any more?

To add insult to injury, the country and its nursing moms are suffering through an absolutely predictable, government-created shortage of baby formula, apparently on the moral principle that if you can kill babies in the womb right up to the moment of birth, you might as well go the extra mile and starve them to death after they're born. In a reversal of the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift, airmen from the Ramstein Air Base in Germany have shipped over pallets of Nestle Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula: Operation Fly Formula.

The formula shortage will eventually ease. But something else will take its place. The litany of potential disasters under Joe Biden is endless, each baleful new development replicating like the pod people of Don Siegel's classic 1956 film, sucking the life out of human beings and institutions, absorbing mind and memory, and leaving nothing but husks behind. They never stop, they never sleep, they never quit.

You wanted "malaise," America? You "voted" for it—and you got it

By the way, have you heard about monkeypox? Not a worry for you, you say? After all, "most initial cases of monkeypox have been among gay or bisexual men who have had sex with other males." Silly fellow. The Disinformation Governance Board, currently disguised as a giant watermelon, would like a word with you. As Kevin McCarthy (the actor, not the politician) warns at the end of Body Snatchers: "You're next!

Especially Sleazy Government: Musk Cries Scam on 'ESG'

MarketWatch reports that an S&P ‘ESG’ index has dumped electric car manufacturer Tesla from its ranks. In response, Tesla founder Musk tweeted his view that the ESG label is a “scam.” Musk is of course correct. ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. It is a political ranking system posing as a credit rating system, which creates various “scores” based on a variety of fashionable political factors. ESG is designed to strangle disfavored industries from access to the capital markets. Musk put this succinctly in a follow-on Tweet:

 The ESG ratings industry is rife with conflicts. Utah state treasurer recently wrote a letter to ratings agency S&P, described by energy policy expert Mike McKenna as “no doubt prefatory to eventual litigation… [and] signed by the governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general and the entire congressional delegation.” The letter took S&P to task for publishing ESG credit indicators as part of its credit ratings for states and state subdivisions and its “plans to publish ESG credit indicators to "augment’ its credit ratings”:

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Whatever the branding campaign surrounding it, ESG is itself reckless. It causes the reduction of available finance to firms that provide essential goods and services. Denial of those goods and services is likely to prove perverse if little consideration is given to the adverse consequences and the means of mitigating them.

Even as the Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing to impose the mother of all ESG scams on public companies, evidence is mounting that ESG is utterly insincere, and that the lobby has created an ESG bubble, which bubble may be popping. Consider several recent warnings:

[W]ith pressure to invest into the “clean energy” asset class comes the risk that capital is misallocated, as investors prioritise urgent societal imperatives and optics over pure business nous and discipline. This [reflects an] approach of “demonstration investments” to back environmental causes… a new market doctrine that “everything renewable is great and everything fossil-fuel-related is awful.” — Dambisa Moyo, “Lack of investment rigour risks creating ESG bubble.”
Financial Times, October 19, 2021

I show that the performance of ESG investments is strongly driven by price-pressure arising from flows towards sustainable funds, causing high realized returns that do not reflect high expected returns…. Under the absence of flow-driven price pressure, the aggregate ESG industry would have strongly underperformed the market from 2016 to 2021. Furthermore, the positive alpha of a long-short ESG taste portfolio becomes significantly negative. — Philippe van der Beck, Philippe, Flow-Driven ESG Returns (September 23, 2021). Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 21-71,

Musk might be thankful to have Tesla untethered from the ESG label. It seems a certainty that bad times lie ahead for “ESG” investments, with harmful knock-on effects elsewhere in the market. This will all be due in part to ESG swimming, quacking and doing other things like a scam. Whatever prompted Elon Musk to express his opinion, he will be proved right.

Bugs: They're What's for Dinner

A billowing concern of some on the left is the exhalation of CO2 and the expelling of methane by cows. The Klimate Kult is concerned by the effect of cow burps and farts on the oft-disproved “greenhouse” effect and the warming of the planet. Keep in mind that even if the planet is warming (and no uncorrupted global temperature data supports this), scientists are looking for a planet about five degrees C warmer than earth for future human habitation because a warmer planet has more food, less extreme weather and is a better home for humanity.

The solution to cow flatulence by some, including Bill Gates, the owner of more privately-owned farmland in the United States than anyone else, is for us to eat insects instead of food. Let’s say we replace food with bugs. To appease the Klimate Kult. To pretend against all evidence that Anthropogenic Global Warming exists. To signal our virtue to the universe. How many insects would we need to eat to replace beef... real food?

We would need to slaughter around 363,000 crickets to get the same number of calories that comes from one slaughtered cow. But we slaughter 1.5 billion cows every single year, meaning that to get the same number of calories that we get from all the cows we slaughter would mean around 550 trillion crickets would need to be slaughtered instead.

[I]t would be basically impossible to quantify how many insects would need to be killed to replace the other 70 billion land animals, and around 1.2 trillion marine animals, that are currently killed for animal products every single year.

But there's a problem. Something of which many are unaware, evidently, is that insects feel pain. Those same folks asking (demanding?) we reduce the human population of the planet to save it, are worried about the moral considerations of killing bugs. Oh, the humanity:

[I]n the case of crickets, they have been shown to react to receiving morphine, staying in a box that was getting progressively hotter for a longer period than the crickets who were not given morphine. After five days of being given morphine, they even started exhibiting signs of addiction when they were no longer given the opiate.

So whilst scientific knowledge on insect sentience is still in its early days, what we already know about these animals makes their lives morally valuable, and makes creating a system that would end up slaughtering an entirely incomprehensible number of them, a serious moral concern that we are ethically obligated to avoid.

Hmm… And how do we feed and water 550,000,000,000,000 crickets? And house them in such a way that they are healthy and that they successfully reproduce? And care for their pupae? And dispose of the waste of half-a-quadrillion crickets? How many concrete (which releases CO2) buildings would need to be built for housing and nurseries and abattoirs for these bugs? What would be the impact to waterways of this huge amount of concentrated waste?

Bon Appétit!

What would be the electrical cost of maintaining an insect habitat for hundreds of trillions of insects? Would the carbon footprint of these huge bugatoriums be larger than that of the food they are “replacing?” Does anyone know? It’s vanishingly rare for the left to do a cost-benefit calculation on their various emotional cults.

How would we consume these trillions of bugs?

Now, you can order insect protein bars and cricket flour on Amazon. For those with a sweet tooth, there are cricket flour chocolate chip cookies.

The beef industry in America, calf-to-table, employs about 900,000 Americans, is the 47th-largest industry in the U.S., producing $30.2 billion of fresh beef, $4.8 billion of ground beef, $11.6 billion of sirloin steak, at a growth rate of 3.2 percent annually in 2022.

As someone who has worked in the birthing of calves, who has herded, roped, cut, thrown and branded calves and yearlings, has milked cows and slaughtered beeves, I have a bias toward steaks and burgers. The iconic American cowboy never will be replaced in the mind of a boy or girl, or on a Hollywood screen, by a cricket wrangler. And, no, that independent lifestyle that much of the world admires and which those who have tried it find hard to give up, cannot be replaced by cricket ranches. But mine will be deemed an emotional and adolescent response to a global crisis…. that does not exist.

Will Bill Gates and his pals at the WEF get their tyrannical way, destroying the beef industry? Here’s an interesting thought: Elon Musk just offered a significant portion, 16 percent, of his billions to change an industry. Makes one think of Bill Gates and his desire for us to eat insects and fake meat.

Did somebody say "fake meat"?

In America in January of 2019, we had about 94,000,000 cattle. The average price In April, 2022, for a 750-lb steer was $1,150. Assuming about one-third of those 94 million cows are three-year-old, 750-lb steers, Gates could buy the entire 2022 American beef production for $35 billion, or about 27 percent of his wealth, leaving himself a paltry $100 billion to live on. If he also bought the entire crop of yearlings and 2-year-olds at half that price, he would spend a total of $61 billion, just under half of his wealth of $132 billion.

This is a future desired by Gates and his WEF cronies. Making us eat fake meat and insects instead of food. For no reason other than they can, we’d have no more beef.

Bill Gates Says He Will Force You to Eat Fake Meat

Bill Gates states that rich countries should give up all beef in favor of synthetic fake meat, a transition that can be supported by changing people's behaviors or enacting regulations to shift demand.

Think about that.

"... or enacting regulations" to make us eat bugs....

Then ask yourself this: Who or what is going to stop him?

Elon Musk Talks Some Sense

So THIS is a bit of a shocker, coming from the founder and CEO of the world's largest manufacturer of electric cars:

Musk is, in fact, absolutely right, as anyone who pays any attention to this topic can see. Oil is the life's blood of the modern world, and there is no way that so-called "sustainable energy" can replace it any time soon. But one wonders what his motivation is in saying so, especially when the current environmentalist line is that the war in Ukraine's knock-on effects on oil and gas prices demonstrates definitively that, in the words of Jen Psaki, "we need to reduce our dependence on oil in general and we need to look at other" sources of energy. You'd think Musk would be doubling down on his bread and butter, alternate energy sources.

It would be tempting to take this as a signal that he's planning on running for president, except that as a naturalized (that is, not natural-born) U.S. citizen, he is ineligible. It is also possible that he's just honestly saying what he thinks, something which has gotten him in trouble with the Karens who police prominent public pronouncements in the past. But one intriguing possibility is that he's looking to get off the ship before anyone can admit that it has hit an iceberg, projecting that the market for luxury electric cars will become increasingly limited in the next few years, as inflation lingers, the war in Ukraine drags on, and the economy tightens.

Whatever the case may be, his observation is both accurate and welcome. Hopefully other members of our ruling class listen.

Coming to Our Senses, Slowly

In my article last Friday I defined the most important issue of the day as follows: “how energy policy can be intelligently designed to enable us to provide cheap and reliable energy to the populations of Western countries while reducing our reliance on oil and gas from Russia in the aftermath of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”

My guess that this claim is also the opinion of a comfortable majority in most Western countries. Others might argue that securing an early and just peace in (and for) Ukraine is more important. Greta Thunberg would probably counter-claim that reaching Net-Zero by yesterday should be our lodestar. But the shock to the system delivered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has converted people to the necessity of getting energy policy right for strategic and economic reasons as much as for environmental ones.

Confirmation of this was not long in coming. Almost simultaneously with The Pipeline’s publication, the Epoch Times  reporting from Capitol Hill on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, quoted its chairman, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as saying that “the recent action taken by Democratic commissioners [on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] served to elevate environmental considerations above American energy reliability, security, and independence.”

Manchin in the middle.

Manchin remarks were noteworthy on several grounds. He was attacking his own party’s appointees on the regulatory commission. He was challenging what has been until now the Green orthodoxy that grips both the Democrats and elite opinion generally. And since he is both the “swing vote” in a narrowly divided U.S. Senate and chairman of the committee wielding “oversight” authority of energy regulation, he has more practical power to change how that regulatory power is exercised than any other government official except the President of the United States—and perhaps more than him as well. To remove any doubt about the impact of the Russo-Ukraine war on his reasoning, Manchin went on:

To deny or put up barriers to natural gas projects and the benefits they provide, while Putin is actively and effectively using energy as an economic and political weapon against our allies, is just beyond the pale.

He wasn’t alone either. Another committee member, Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), said that FERC’s new policies would “make it next to impossible to build any new natural gas infrastructure or upgrade our existing facilities in the United States.” In fact, as sometimes happens when a lone voice challenges a sacred orthodoxy, the floodgates holding back skepticism open and a torrent of disbelief pours through them. Over the next few days, the following voices joined Manchin’s to swell a chorus of legislators and public notables singing such old favorites as “I got the Net-Zero Blues” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” Elon Musk tweeted out:

Hate to say it, but we need to increase oil and gas output immediately. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.

And you can’t say that Musk, the poet of the electric car, is a mere tool of the fossil fuel lobby. In fact, he’s an example of what’s called the Cantuar Gambit: “If the Archbishop of Canterbury says that he believes in God, well he’s simply doing his job. But if he says he doesn’t believe in God, he must be onto something really big.” Elon’s clearly onto something big.

Man of the hour, person of the year.

Dissent spread quickly to Canada where the only announced contender for the vacant post of Tory Party leader, Pierre Poilievre, gave a truly Canadian patriotic response: “Elon, it should be Canadian oil and gas—the most ethical and environmentally sound in the world.”

In London a war broke out within the pin-striped establishment. Lord (David) Frost—the Cabinet Minister who helped Boris to push through Brexit and then resigned over the leftwards drift of government policy—sent out this cheeky tweet: “The former head of the Foreign Office tweeted this week that the crisis “will severely weaken international capacity and will to take urgent steps needed to address climate change”. Let’s hope he’s right. For now, we need to focus on energy security and cost.

In Whitehall’s corridors of power, them’s fighting words.

Next door in Parliament—which voted for the Climate Change Act in 2008 by 646 to five votes, thus making Net-Zero targets binding on the government as well as the citizenry—forty Tory MPs have now formed a Net-Zero watch group, and many more are arguing for various changes in energy policy such as an end to the ban on fracking and a switch to more nuclear power stations. Boris is due to announce a new U.K. energy strategy later this week, but the inside dope is that it has been neutered by civil servants who see themselves as Guardians of the Green Galaxy.

Outside Parliament, the formidable Nigel Farage, tanned, rested, and relaxed six years after his Brexit triumph, is returning to electoral politics according to a recent tweet: “I am launching a new campaign to kill off Boris Johnson’s ruinous green agenda. We demand a referendum on Net Zero.” The Farage tweet ends somewhat ingloriously with the injunction: “Read all about it in the Mail on Sunday.” All the same, it’s a great deal more than a newspaper ad.

Comeback of the decade?

Vladimir Putin has burst the dam that held back the fears of people everywhere across Europe and the West that the costs of climate change policy were rising out of sight even before the invasion of Ukraine added new costs to rebuild Europe’s and NATO’s defenses.

Minds are now changing in the most surprising of places. Both the German and Belgian governments are having second thoughts about their abandonment of nuclear power. European energy independence—regarded as a strategic irrelevance since 1989, is now back on the agenda. Even coal is likely to survive much longer, thanks in part to Merkel’s closing down of nuclear energy, which forced the Germans to make up shortfalls by using the least green fossil fuel—but one that is found in abundance in their native land.

All that stands in their way is the Green Blob of bureaucracy with its devious tactics of ignoring what their political masters want and distorting what the law plainly says (until they interpret it.) A Tory MP in the U.K. complains that civil servants refuse to obey ministers if they propose policies that run counter to the “legally binding” Climate Change Act. Joe Manchin’s ally in the FERC case, commissioner James Danley, points out that the purpose of the National Gas Act “as the Supreme Court has held, is to ‘encourage the orderly development of plentiful supplies of natural gas at reasonable prices," whereas the new FERC regulations do exactly the opposite. And since the principals are increasingly alert to their agents’ tricks, this battle will be fought out in government after government on both sides of the Pond.

Read all about it here.

A Tesla Goes Boom

A play in three acts:

Act One -- A man in Finland named Tuomas Katainen bought himself a 2013 Tesla Model S for tens of thousands of dollars.

Act Two -- He drove the car for awhile until it broke down. He brought it to the mechanic and, after a month of working on it, they told him the battery pack was dead. So he called Tesla about a replacement, and was told that, since it was out of warranty, a new battery pack would cost him $22,000.

Act Three -- He briefly considered paying up, but in the end he decided on a more sensible course -- he gathered a bunch of his buddies, went out into the woods, and blew the car up with a bunch of dynamite: 30 kg (or more than 66 lbs) of dynamite, to be exact, and with an Elon Musk dummy strapped into the driver seat.

Check out this video for the fun (I've set it to start a few moments before the blast):

While enjoying an post-explosion cigarette, Mr. Katainen was asked if he'd ever had this much fun actually driving the Tesla. "No," he replied, "No, I never enjoyed [myself] this much [in the] Tesla." Spoken like a true man.

Anyway, enjoy, and remember -- don't make Tuomas Katainen's mistake. Stick with internal combustion engines. That is, unless you've got 60 lbs of dynamite laying around and just want to have yourself some expensive fun.

Electric Vehicle Fires: Nearly Impossible to Extinguish

Here's something you won't hear much about in the mainstream media -- America's firefighters are struggle to develop procedures for dealing with electric vehicles that have crashed and burst into flame. "The problem," explains Jazz Shaw, "is that despite not having a tank full of gasoline, electric cars burn longer and more fiercely than automobiles with internal combustion engines." Why is that?

Damaged banks of lithium-ion batteries contain a lot of residual energy and can keep driving up the temperature (and reigniting everything around them) for many hours. There is currently no official training for how to deal with these fires. Tesla’s own first responder’s guide only advises firefighters to “use lots of water.”

"Lots" seems like an understatement. Shaw reports that back in April it took eight fireman seven hours to get a burning Tesla under control outside of Houston, and they used roughly 28,000 gallons of water to do it, "more than the [entire] department normally uses in an entire month." And that bit about EV batteries "reigniting" is no joke either -- one veteran fireman likened them to a trick birthday candle, the kind that light up again every time they're extinguished.

So, EVs burn like crazy, they require a massive increase in mining for raw materials like lithium and cobalt which are extremely damaging to a variety of ecosystems, and, since they run on electricity which is mostly generated by fossil fuels, they aren't meaningfully reducing carbon emissions anyway.

Why are nations across the world moving towards mandating them again?

The Automobile of Tomorrow -- and Always Will Be?

Yesterday was “Battery Day,” the long-awaited moment when Elon Musk was to reveal Tesla’s breakthrough in battery technology that would make the electric car a real economic rival to the internal combustion engine. It was therefore a significant moment not only in the evolution of electric cars but also in the development of policy by governments and international agencies towards a switch from fossil fuels to cleaner and renewable sources of energy.

There’s an obvious link between these two trends. Petrol is the fossil fuel that provides the energy for the internal combustion engine that still powers the overwhelming majority of automobiles on the world’s roads. If it’s gradually replaced by electricity as the fuel powering cars, then one major source of demand for the world’s oil companies will shrink very substantially. And where automobiles go, other forms of energy consumption are likely to follow, notably home heating.

That at least is the intention of most Western governments. Britain’s Tory government, for instance, has decreed that the sale of petrol-driven automobiles will be prohibited by 2035. Ministers are considering bringing forward the date to 2030. There are pressures to speed up the transition from MPs in all parties—notably from a 100-strong group of moderate “One Nation” Tories. And this policy has received support from some unexpected backers, notably the company formerly known as British Petroleum, which, under its new CEO, Bernard Looney, has adopted an almost missionary stance in promoting an ambitious Green agenda.

Quick off the mark, but what about the long haul?

As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard also pointed out in a fascinating analysis of the future trends in the energy market, Looney intends to free his company “from the fossilised grip of his predecessors. Not content to declare a rhetorical Net-Zero target by 2050 -- who doesn’t these days? -- he has called for the U.K. to pull forward its ban on the sale of diesel and petrol cars to as early as 2030. “We’re up for it,” he says.

Mr. Looney is not quite the revolutionary he seems, of course. As Evans-Pritchard points out in the same article, BP is also “doubling down on liquefied natural gas” which is another fossil fuel.  And placing a large bet on the proposition that “natural gas with carbon capture” will become a far larger part of the energy market once the technology for carbon capture and storage has broken out of the laboratory. And having his research department look closely at the coming prospects for hydrogen as a fuel for everything from aircraft to home heating (at least as I read between Evans-Pritchard’s eloquent lines on that last point.)

Even with these qualifications,  the push for electric cars and the switch from oil go hand in powerful hand. Are there any reasons for caution on the side of the skeptical investor? Though most investors have not been very skeptical until now, I think there are.

To begin with, there is likely to be some consumer resistance to electric cars for the reasons that were first outlined by Thomas Edison to Henry Ford in 1894 when evaluating the latter’s petrol-fueled Quadricycle:

"Electric cars must be kept near to power stations. The storage battery is too heavy. Steam cars won't do, either, for they have to have a boiler and a fire. Your car is self-contained—carries its own power plant—no fire, no boiler, no smoke, and no steam. You have the thing. Keep at it."

Both men changed their minds about electric cars subsequently, and Ford embarked on developing one, but in the end abandoned the attempt. That said, some of Edison’s complaints about electric cars are echoed by drivers today. There’s still debate over whether they’re too slow—with admirers saying they’re actually quicker off the mark than conventional autos and detractors responding that quicker is not faster once they’re actually off the mark.

Genius at work, 1899.

Some of these deficiencies will doubtless be remedied by what is a self-consciously innovative industry, but whatever the reasons, polls suggest that consumers are for the moment nervous. A nationwide survey by the U.K.'s automotive trade body (admittedly an interested source), quoted by the Telegraph, found that 44 percent of motorists don't think they'll be ready to run a battery vehicle in 2035. Many say they can't see themselves ever owning one. So it’s not surprising that according to the same report, industry insiders now want, as so often, better government incentives for consumers to purchase electric cars. And when the politicians are talking of bringing the ban on selling petrol- and diesel-based vehicles from 2035 to 2030, the producers are talking of pushing it forward to later than 2035.

The second basis for caution is that as another Telegraph report points out, the minerals needed for the production of car batteries--nickel, cobalt, and lithium—face a number of market obstacles. They’re scarce, difficult to mine or refine, located in countries with bad environmental records, dangerously volatile (lithium), and all in all their supply looks to be falling behind demand.

“Their growing scarcity is a problem that is weighing heavy on not just Musk, but the entire electric car industry,” writes the Telegraph. “Demand for nickel is expected to increase six-fold by 2030, and supply isn't keeping up.” When that happens, prices rise. And the price of electric cars, though becoming more competitive, is higher than other cars and so already a negative market factor.

The third consideration is that electricity doesn’t grow on trees—that is, not until they’re cut down, transported, and fed into power stations. Or as the intellectually lively former Tory MEP, Daniel Hannan, tweeted earlier this week: “I am often struck, in discussions about energy, by how many people talk of electricity as if it were a source of power rather than a medium. Your phone is probably coal-powered.”

So in order to replace disgraceful gas-guzzling, carbon-emitting conventional automobiles with vehicles powered by “clean” electricity, we have to generate much more electricity and make it available to drivers across the country via EV (or electric vehicle) charging points. That means more coal, gas, oil, or timber being fed into the power stations.

What also flows from this reality is that electric cars, however expensive in themselves, will be the cause of much larger costs in the form of a nationwide network of EV (for electric vehicle) charging points, not only as now in public places but in future in people’s homes as well.

In The Hidden Costs of Net Zero, Mike Travers, a distinguished engineer, estimates that the cost of installing EV charging points alone will be a considerable one—something on the order of £31 billion. (At present the U.K. has just five percent of the target number of public devices promised for the end of the decade.)

He goes on to estimate the impact not only of switching to electric cars but also of wider policies of decarbonizing, for instance, home heating, and concludes that the extra demand for electricity would overwhelm the existing system of electricity distribution and require massive infrastructure repair and development at a total bill of £410 billion, an average of £15,000 per household.

Even if we assume, as we must, that the second-order costs of electric vehicles alone would be much lower, these are such staggering figures that we look naturally look for alternatives to current policies, and that takes us down the route of innovation.

As Evans-Pritchard noted above, the titans are doing so. BP’s policies include both banking that carbon capture will give natural gas a longer life expectancy as a respectable energy source and, in the longer term, developing the potential of hydrogen as a versatile fuel, presumably by overcoming its dangerous volatility as tragically seen in the destruction of the Hindenberg.

The problem with innovation is that while it can be depended upon in general, it’s not a reliable solution in particular. Carbon capture is far from a sure thing. If it does ever emerge from the laboratory, however, its benefits need not be confined to natural gas. In principle at least it might make all fossil fuels clean or cleaner—gas, oil, and even coal. Given that these fuels have far lower prices than the accumulated costs of the electricity that powers the Tesla, that would revive their market appeal. The same would be even truer for a new clean fuel emerging from a safe hydrogen.

These rivals to the electric car would have looked smaller yesterday if Elon Musk had unveiled a battery that enables EVs to travel further, faster, and with shorter refueling times at a price that competes with conventional autos and perhaps with other innovation-based cars and that can plausibly claim to leap over the obstacles listed above.

Did he do so?

He said he did. He promised a new battery that would enable Tesla to market EVs at $25,000, a fifty per cent cut from the present $50,000. That would be a game-changer. But industrial history is littered with the bones of true innovators who were over-taken in the final stretch.

We’ll see.