Greta’s Laws of Irreplaceable Utility.

Actually these were going to be Billothewisp’s laws of Irreplaceable Utility. 

But as little Greta Thunberg has gone to such lengths of personal privation on her two week crossing to the USA to prove these laws I just had to give her the credit.

Of course young Greta (and her puppet masters) had no deliberate intention of proving these laws. But she has done such an amazing job she just has to get the credit.

So what are Greta’s Laws of Irreplaceable Utility?

Here dear reader, we will address the three laws one by one.

Law One:

Usage of a particular technology only dominates when that technology is far more utilitarian (i.e. quicker/better) than the competing technology it replaces.

Young Greta’s proof here is stunning. I stand in awe.

It took her two weeks to sail to the USA. If she had flown it would have taken her eight hours. That is an amazing 42:1 improvement.

Remember this was pitting a state of the art racing yacht with minimal concessions to humanity – no toilet (except a bucket) not enough bunks, crew of six, two passengers and no beer against a Jumbo jet also with a crew of six, 250 passengers, reclining seats, eight toilets (no buckets) and lots of gin and beer.

However you like to cut it, except for a publicity stunt (and maybe a holiday adventure), sailing the Atlantic as a viable method to get to the USA is a no-hoper.

True: People did do it in the past.

But that was because they had to. 

Relatively few ever did sail to the USA and even fewer ever sailed back. All that sailing stopped when they invented passenger airliners.

Even today flying the Atlantic in (say) a 1950’s Bristol Britannia airliner (like this beauty below) would be far more utilitarian (i.e. quicker and better) than sailing it in the latest state of the art yacht.

Bristol Britannia on maiden flight to USA 1958
Courtesy Wikipedia and RuthAS

Law Two:

The level of utilitarian advantage to humanity of a particular technology is directly proportional to how much cheaper it is than the technology it replaces.

I would bet that the cost of sailing, crewing and maintaining a high performance yacht for two weeks while it crosses the Atlantic is much about the same as fuelling and crewing a Jumbo jet for a single eight hour crossing.

Again young Greta plays a blinder here.

The Yacht: Two passengers. Six crew.
The Jumbo: 250 passengers and six crew.

That is a 125:1 advantage for the later technology.

Both the sailing yacht and the Jumbo (I would guess) will have a useful life of about twenty years.

Assuming the Jumbo takes one day for a return journey and the yacht four weeks and both run for ten months of the year (the rest being soaked up by maintenance) that means a Jumbo will do 6000 crossings in twenty years to a yachts 200. 

A diesel engined ocean liner could manage about 500.

Clearly and obviously:  The later the technology, the more effective it is.

Law Three

The unitised level of pollution of utilitarian advantage is directly proportional to its age.

A candle wastes about 60 Watts of as heat to produce 12.5 Lumens.. A 60 Watt incandescent bulb produces 860 Lumens while six LED lamps each consuming about 10Watts (i.e. 60 Watts total) produce a blinding 5200 Lumens.

Guess which is the newest technology.

However much you improve your candle or even your incandescent bulb it simply cannot compete with the new kid on the block – LED lights. The same applies for yachts and air liners.

Supposedly Greta’s one way crossing was Carbon free. Sadly that is simply laughable. So dream on.

The replacement crew (to sail the yacht back) have all flown out to take her over. I imagine also that the six crew that sailed young Greta to the USA will also all fly back. That’s twelve flights.

For individual crew members, grandstanding on the political stage is not an option. They have to live in the real world – and to do so entails using the latest, most cost effective and least polluting technology available.

How young Greta gets back is also of interest but as yet unannounced.

It is at this point worth remembering that whatever the level of vilification of air transport, when calculated on a per capita per mile basis it is in fact pretty damn economic.

We all know Greta could have really done it with zero emissions. That would have meant that Greta would have stayed at home and used a telecommunication link. Yet another aspect of high technology.

But how can your minders get you to promote their agenda when you are not there in person to press the flesh? How can you personally chastise all those bad people who have never been on a racing yacht and had to share a bucket for a toilet for two weeks?

And that is the rub.

Whatever the cost, for this event, even little Greta Thunberg had to go to the USA in person.

Just like Mrs Smith from down the road has to go to America to see her new Grandson. 

Or a surgeon has to go to a conference to find out and share information about new life saving techniques.

Or like the other millions upon millions of journeys to and from the USA every year that are as important if not more so than that of a child-star political puppet.

Unlike Greta they cannot afford to lose two weeks. Nor can they afford to pay for a racing yacht, six crew and a strong plastic bucket.

So if Greta’s Laws prove one thing it is this:

High technology is our friend - and the planets friend.

Going backwards is not an option.


p.s. As a side issue, I do have to ask: What happened to the contents of the bucket after use? It wasn’t just thrown into the ocean I hope! You know raw sewage, pristine oceans and all that.

Fiddling while the Forests Burn.

It appears from this NYT article that most of the fires in the Amazon basin are actually on land that has already been cleared. They are mostly the equivalent of the now abandoned UK practice of stubble burning, or using fire to clear the land of the previous years residue before re-planting.

NYT image. red is fire, yellow is farmland, green is rain forest.

True, (regarding air pollution in particular) using fire to clear farm land of crop residue to make it ready it for new planting is not good. But it is not the same as catastrophic slash and burn of virgin rain forest. Poor farmers, scraping a living, have little else to fall back on than fire to clear land for the next crop.

Meanwhile the wild fires in the Congo rage. Especially wildfires in virgin rain forest. (See Here) It appears the Glitterati and their fellow travellers find them somewhat less engaging.

Yet if this were some form of pyromaniacal competition then today the Amazon wild fires are an also-ran.

But compared to what has been going on with the Indonesian Peat fires over the last ten years both the latest Amazonian and Congo fires almost pale into insignificance. (I first blogged about them in 2013 Here)

Not heard of the Indonesian Peat fires?

I am unsurprised. In fact I can only remember one UK news report on the Peat fires way back about six years ago when the smoke closed an airport in Malaysia.

The Indonesian peat fires are dying down now. Today they are at about 20% of their peak in 2015.

At their peak (2015) the Indonesian Peat fires were dumping more emissions into the atmosphere (for no practical gain at all) than all sources from the entire European Union. These Peat fires peaked out at 11.9MT of CO2 per day whereas the EU only manages a mere 8.9MT a day.

For a significant period in 2015 the peat fires produced even more Carbon Dioxide that the entire USA economy! Let alone the EU.

So how does this ugly Indonesian record compare with the fires in the Amazon? It looks like the Amazonian fires are producing around about one megaton of Carbon Dioxide a day. (See Here)

In other words the virtually unreported Indonesian Peat fires were (in 2015) an order of magnitude (over 10x) as bad as the hysterically reported Amazonian fires.

Even today with the peat fires down to a mere 20% of their 2015 peak they pump double the Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere compared to the Amazon fires.

Yet the western media along with European leaders are silent about them. I wonder why. Is it the wild fires they don’t like? Or Mr Bolsonaro? Or maybe the EU-Mercosur trade deal?

Of course you may argue that it is not all about emissions. After all burning peat is in essence burning dead matter, burning rain forest is burning living oxygen producing vegetation.

That is true. So lets look at how much rain forest is actually being cleared in the Amazon. Here’s a graph showing annual deforestation in Brazil over the last thirty years.

 True the loss of rain-forest has up-ticked. But it is nowhere near the value in 2004.

So, while the Western elites may think Mr Bolsonaro, (the President of Brazil) is a very bad man, clearly his ability to level the rain forest is positively third division stuff compared to his much loved predecessors.

I suppose some criticism of Brazil would be reasonable if it was not for the rank hypocrisy of the European leaders issuing it. 

In 2017 Germany produced 8.7% of its electricity from biomass or 47.4 TWh.

From this document we can work out that 47.4 TWh from wood requires about 100 million tonnes of green wood which equates to levelling 25 million acres of forest.

Two tonnes of green wood contains about 500Kg of carbon. One tonne of green wood equates when burnt, to approximately one tonne of Carbon Dioxide.

So over a year the Germans are pumping into the atmosphere about 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by burning wood for electricity alone. All this while they are decommissioning perfectly fine, safe and carbon free nuclear plant.

So far I’ve not even looked at German biomass burning for heat.

But in Germany biomass is the least of it.

Germany with its fatuous Energiewende fashion statement is in fact addicted to lignite – the dirtiest form of coal. They have destroyed over 50 villages and displaced over 40,000 people just so they can rip out forests and agricultural land to get at the filthy stuff. (See Here)

This is not just a German problem. All over Europe forests are being decimated, people up-rooted and bio-diversity wrecked. Read this report and weep (Here)

So when it comes to slash and burn perhaps sanctimonious Europeans should look in a mirror before vilifying poor farmers in Brazil.

The Brazilians are not the ones decommissioning nuclear plant while burning wood and lignite in its place.

They are not the ones destroying ancient forests and demolishing churches simply to get at the dirtiest fuel known to man.

If the European elites want to help stop the wild fires, maybe gaining a little sympathy for the dirt poor farmers in Brazil would be a good place to start.

As well as putting their own house in order.

Extinction Rebellion, the BBC and a Deadly Embrace

A Little Historical Background (skip this if you like)

In 1957 a world renowned Social Scientist named Leon Festinger  studied an end-of-the-world cult to see what would happen when their end-date came and went.

He was particularly interested in what would happen after their prophesy failed ( a disconfirmation as he called it). Surprisingly the disconfirmation did not destroy the cults belief but rather the cult tended to re-direct and reinforce it with some pseudo-rationalisation as to why the disconfirmation occurred.

Before the end-date the cult was utterly convinced that the end-of-the-world was at hand. The primary members fed off each others belief in a bizarre social embrace which annihilated
any prospect of disbelief and locked them into the cult. While the leading members were middle aged, the "foot soldiers" were almost exclusively young. Most were teenagers.

Intelligence did not appear to be a criteria in cult membership. The cult included a PhD Astro-physicist, one of the leaders was a qualified medical doctor and another was a degree qualified electrical engineer.

Yet their cult belief was laughable. They believed that the world was going to end in a flood and that they (as the chosen) would be picked up by flying saucer.  As the end-date approached they saw every calamity affecting the world (in that year there were severe earthquakes in Iran) as proof of their belief.

When the end-date came and went, the cult were presented with the painful truth that their mutually inflated prophesy had failed. Festinger later on defined this state as one of "Cognitive Dissonance" . Instead of what most people would expect to happen (i.e cult members would realise their error and move on) the cult leaders pseudo-rationalised that the disconfirmation was due to their commitment. In fact in their view the cult had saved the world from certain annihilation.

Preposterous as it was, this pseudo-rationalisation drove the cults proselytising into over-drive. The press lapped it up.

The editorial policy for almost all newspapers was (then as now) to boost circulation.

The stories of a world about to end, governmental conspiracy and a "higher calling" boosted circulation and so played directly to the newspaper's editorial policy. The fact that the cult was based on an absurd premise was irrelevant.

The editorial policy came first.

So, what has it got to do with Extinction Rebellion and the BBC?

Unfortunately, in my opinion, quite a lot.

I hate to use  25 minutes of your time but if you have a chance please watch at least a few minutes of this video of one of the founders of Extinction Rebellion in an interview on BBCs Hard Talk. (starts one minute in)

Notice the end-of-days style prophesies with "6 billion dying from wars/starvation".  Notice the impending "social collapse", how "nobody was listening". Then we have the "lying elites" and "lying experts". It could be Festinger's flying saucer fanatics talking. And of course, like Festinger's cult, only Extinction Rebellion have the answer.

So what about the BBC?

Watch the interview. While it is perfectly reasonable for a public service broadcaster to interview fanatics, the interviewer allows the Extinction Rebellion founder to get away with just about any hair brained statement he cared to mention.

He continually refers to "the science" though what he quotes is out-and-out dark fantasy and bore no relation to anything from the IPCC let alone from any other reputable scientific source. Nobody asks what science he is referring to. Let alone requesting verification.

Unchallenged, he repeated several times that 6 billion would die. At one point early on he predicts mass starvation within ten years. No scientific references were given or sought. Each time the BBC presenter nodded it through.

When the interviewer does briefly corner him the Extinction Rebellion founder then declares the interviewer was not "emotionally" connecting to the problem. (Whatever that means.) Again this ludicrous assertion is given a free pass.

The BBC interviewer appears to be solely interested in the disruption this group causes and how it may threaten the established order. The only scientific query the  presenter focused on was their crazy concept of making the UK "carbon free" by 2025. (Even the journalist finds this risible)

Other than this, in a quite shocking dereliction of journalistic enquiry the journalist simply fails to challenge the pseudo-science spouted out by this individual. Particularly, nowhere is the reduction of the planets population to just one billion by starvation and war in 60 years questioned.

I worry that this dereliction is in fact driven by BBC policy rather than simple editorial incompetence. I got the continual impression that the journalist was trying at every opportunity to align with the Extinction Rebellion founder. The scientific basis for the absurd claims went totally unchallenged. The silence implied agreement. It was in effect a discussion between two like minds. It was just one of them was more extreme than the other.

Like Festingers cult, where journalistic integrity came a distant second to editorial policy, I suspect the BBC deliberately ditched the hard (and vital) questions. To them it is better to flatter the crazies. Just as long as they more or less align with the BBC editorial policy on Climate Change.

While all cults are potentially dangerous this abomination called Extinction Rebellion makes Festingers flying saucer fools look positively benign. The social embrace from Extinction Rebellion (especially to the very young) is far more sinister, destructive and totalitarian in nature.

I fear that one day soon the followers of Extinction Rebellion may well find the "cause" has turned from a call to civil disobedience into a crushing deadly embrace that could easily cost them (and many others) their lives.

While Climate Change may well be a problem, it is NOT an end-of-days problem.

It is wholly irresponsible of an organisation like the BBC to sit back and give unchallenged airspace to (any) organisation that presents pseudo-science as fact. Even if the pseudo-science is more palatable to the BBC than asking the hard and verifiable questions.

We need a public broadcaster that is prepared to ask the hard questions. Even if the BBC themselves do not like the answers, and even if the questions go against BBC editorial policy.

Otherwise we simply have a propaganda channel.

Extinction Rebellion: When Prophesy Fails

[quote from Factfulness by Hans Rosling page 229]

"We need to create Fear!" That's what Al Gore said to me [Hans Rosling] at the start of our first conversation about how to teach climate change.


Hans Rosling declined Al Gore's invitation.

(By the way if you want a really excellent view on what is really happening to the world read Factfulness by Hans Rosling it is HERE)

But not everyone has the same scruples as Hans Rosling.

Unable to galvanise people to their cause by rational discourse many politicised proponents of "doing something" about Global warming/Climate Change/Climate Emergency have done exactly what Al Gore suggested to Hans Rosling.

They have deliberately gone out of their way to create a climate of fear. As an example today in the UK every out-of-the-ordinary weather event is somehow blamed on Global Warming.

Even when a reservoir Dam gets badly damaged by a ten year event (see here) it is somehow blamed on Global Warming rather than substandard maintenance.

I have to ask: SHOULDN'T a dam withstand a ten year event intact? Global warming or no global warming?

But all this fear mongering gathers like puss in a sceptic wound and now we have the inevitable result: Extinction Rebellion.

Extinction Rebellion is one of the more alarming cults to emerge in recent years.

The invisible controllers behind the organisation appear to target children. These children are then used in much the same way as African War lords use child soldiers or Drug dealers use child runners. To ensure loyalty to the cause they feed them panicky end-of-days predictions along with a sense of grievance about a "lost" future "stolen" by selfish seniors.

Let us look at the central prophesy promoted by Extinction Rebellion and their camp followers.

So, do we have only 18 months to "Save the Planet"?

The statement appears to have coalesced in this BBC article .

To be fair this 18 months is not actually a hard deadline where we all drop dead at the end of it. It is a deadline where "something has to be done".

That something appears to involve a lot of rich and powerful folk descending in Lear Jets on a few resorts and making some fatuous political statements.

So it is perhaps one of the easier prophesies to achieve. It is also one that can be successfully used to draw away from the failed climate prophesies of the last twenty years.

Take this statement from the above BBC article:

But today, observers recognise that the decisive, political steps to enable the cuts in carbon to take place will have to happen before the end of next year. 

So, who are these "observers"?
What are these "political steps"?
Who finally makes the call in 18 months time as to whether the planet is saved?

This all seems somewhat less clear.

What is clear is that (short of a Global recession) Carbon emissions are not going to stop rising in the  next 18 months, let alone decrease.

China and India who together make up the bulk of coal users in the world are not going to stop improving the lives of their peoples. Nor should they.

So should the West then do the "decent" thing and abandon their peoples to poverty?
Should we revert to some pre-industrial idyll? (that never existed) and do all this to prevent (so the theory states) a rise of more than 1.5 degC over the next century?

Personally I don't do poverty.

Even the IPCC doesn't do poverty. Their more sober predictions amount to a reduction in the rate of increase of the world's prosperity NOT a decline.

Really we need to put the risk from Global warming into perspective. According to the IPCC it may impact the rate of improvement in the world economy but it will not stop that improvement. Let alone reverse it.

Carbon emission reductions or not, the world is not going to collapse into some form of dystopian ecological catastrophe. Whatever the likes of Extinction Rebellion get their child soldiers to say.

The only way it may collapse into a nightmare of increasing poverty, reduced opportunity and blighted futures is if we allow the True believers and their disciples to call the tune.

So what should we do about Global Warming??

All the progress that has been made over the last two centuries has hinged around cheap effective energy. What has been shown time and time again is that if energy supply is not long-term cheap and 24/7 effective, it is not worthwhile.

While the effects of Global Warming may be bad, they would pale into insignificance if we allowed the billions recently lifted out of dollar-a-day poverty by cheap and plentiful energy to slide back down into it again.

Yet there are viable alternatives to coal and oil (aka: gas and nuclear) that will (and do) reduce emissions without pushing people into poverty. But sadly they are not fashionable or extreme enough for the likes of Extinction Rebellion.

Whatever we do, we must not throw two centuries of progress down the toilet simply to appease a cult.

Today I read that some elements with Extinction Rebellion are going on what they laughably call a baby strike. In other words they will not be having any children.

That is of course their choice. Personally I would consider their choice a wise one bearing in mind their lack of stability.

But worryingly this nihilism is only one step away from the next cult fantasy: The ultimate sacrifice.

Like all cults, the the young and gullible are the foot soldiers. Frightened little girls and boys swept up into an apocalyptic cult by the "fear" as prescribed by Al Gore.

If we keep appeasing the zealots running this cult then one day we will find we have another Jonestown or Heavens Gate to deal with. An avoidable tragedy where the victims will be kids. Kids who will have been in a perverse way, scared to death.

For them there really will be no future.