Friday 18 March 2016

(a) Surrounded by Idiots (b) Weekend Reading

A common complaint about standards of discourse in public life is that politicians & civil servants know nothing (I may even have said this myself), ditto journalists - and yet it is they who push to the front and dominate the field.  Where are the expert voices?

Well.  In my part of the universe one of the most prominent professional bodies is the Energy Institute, some of whose work is excellent.  It has just published the first results of its 'Energy Barometer', obtained by exhaustive polling of a 'college' of 850, selected to be representative of its 21,000 members.  One of the questions they answered was this:
In the UK, which technologies have the greatest potential to make a cost-effective contribution to decarbonisation, without subsidies, by 2030? (select up to 4) [my underlining]
And coming in at #2, with 42% of these sages voting for it, is   ...  Nuclear!  

Nuclear?  Without subsidies, by 2030?  And these are 'professional' people!  With jobs in the energy industry, and votes in elections, and things like that.  We may be thankful they didn't make it #1 (which was of course energy efficiency, at least they got that right).  Universal suffrage?  It's over-rated.

ANYHOW:  here's some weekend reading for you.  Don't be put off by the title ('Despair Fatigue') or the leftie breast-beating of the first third.  It gets round to addressing some of the serious themes we knock around in these parts - what's the reality of the UK economy; do we and can we survive on the back of the London 'financal services' industry; prospects for a genuine uprising of the disenchanted under Corbyn etc etc - all the big stuff. 
"... in many ways Britain [still] resembles an imperial economy: while it does export machinery, pharmaceuticals, plastics, petrol, and a whole variety of high-quality artisanal products, in sheer material terms it takes in far, far more than it sends out. So we must ask a simple question: Why do other countries continue to send their things to Britain? How is it that the island manages to take in so much more from the rest of the world than it gives them in return?"
Kinda germane to the whole Brexit thing, no?  Read on.  And as the frogs limber up to hurl their money at Hinkley Point ... Allez les rosbifs! - England for the Grand Slam!



Electro-Kevin said...

"Why do other countries continue to send their things to Britain? How is it that the island manages to take in so much more from the rest of the world than it gives them in return?"

Because we're still good for credit, apparently.

It's all predicated on the basis that our houses are worth more than we owe. But in order for this to hold true we must be able to sell all our housing stock, at the same time, without a house price collapse happening.

Either the market is too stupid to see this deception (which I doubt) or the myth over our solvency is being promulgated by creditors in order to give them time to:

- extract what they can from us
- absolve themselves of our unsupportable debt

It will not go on forever.

roym said...

After seeing England chase down 230 in the cricket today, even I am starting to believe we will see an English grand slam in Paris.

Electro-Kevin said...

Roym - I rather missed the point, didn't I ?

estwdjhn said...

Within the premise of the question, what else could possibly be no2?

We can't build much more hydro, and all the other green stuff also requires massive subsidies too as well as having a dubious record for actually keeping the lights on.

hovis said...

"Nuclear? Without subsidies, by 2030? "
Well that did make me chuckle - a no.2 in every sense...but of course we must remember it's never a subsidy if you agree with it ... (or you are a slow learner.)

As I have said before the nuclear industry is simply the bastard child of the weapons industry and only ever exists because of huge subsidy and also implicit guarantee of clean up gven by Govt (talking of which how is Fukishima getting on?).

andrew said...

I am sure that you will post on IDS soon.

However, look deeper, it seem to me that the most effective opposition to the Govt
... is the Conservative party backed up by the house of lords.

IDS provided a more coherent and incisive criticism of Austerity than the Lab front bench has.

rwendland said...

hovis, your "how is Fukishima getting on?" intrigued me on what the current cost estimate is - I'd lost track. Looking around, it seems in the order of $300 billion (see below). Does anyone have any idea what the 2007 banking crisis cost the UK? Be interesting to know which cost more.

Calculation: The FT says the cost to Japanese taxpayers is $100bn. There will be large costs beyond what taxpayers pay, some TEPCO spending and losses to TEPCO shareholders, increased electricity prices, and knock on costs to Japanese industry from electricity shortage - say another $100bn. All 54 Japanese nuclear reactors were shutdown, and I think only a handful will ever restart, and even those will have lost 5-10 years of their working lives. Say $2bn average per reactor in lost future generation value, so around another $100bn. So in the order of $300bn in total, using back-on-envelope standard of calculation.