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.


Anonymous said...

Hi BilloTheWisp, exactly who pays your bills? I understand that climate change may not be effecting you directly, yet. But it is having a dramatic effect on others, just ask the people of the Bahamas. Yes, you could say this is just another example of a dramatic uncharacteristic weather event, but you may not have noticed but there has been rather a lot of these 'uncharacteristic' weather events over the last decade. Let's just hope your particular neck of the wild woods doesn't get hit by a tornado or tsunami, it would be a shame if your house was destroyed by an uncharacteristic event.
A concerned citizen of the world

BilloTheWisp said...

Dear Anonymous,

I pay my own bills. And no. Climate change is not affecting me directly. In fact is not seriously affecting the vast majority of the population of the planet and never will. That of course does not mean we should not do something about it. But that something has to be viable and less destructive than the problem it seeks to solve.

Currently the latest IPCC reprt suggests that AGW at 2.0% and even 4.0% will reduce the worlds GDP growth rate. Notice that it reduces the improvement. It does not force a decline.

What would force a decline would be a wholesale abandonment of the very technologies that have allowed us to reduce global poverty (aka $1 a day) to 800 million (and falling) and allowed the average world life expectancy to rise to 70.

You personally have no right to crash that progress and so return billions back to poverty and early death simply so you can follow a fashionable death cult.

If you want to know what is really going on in the world (aka hard data from a real and undisputed expert - not 16 year old child and her minders) I'd suggest you read

Factfulness by the the late Hans Rosling.
Its here.

There's no denialism or refutaion of AGW but here by Rosling but a lot of hard and eye opening facts regarding the progress we have made and how AGW may affect it. It is a book that has been lauded by just about everyone in the scientific community.

But sadly I don't expect you do facts.

But one day you will find the fashion statement doomstering will run out of time.

Thats because the world is not going to give up air transport let alone any other of the hair brained sacrifices you require.

The "end of the world" will have to be postoponed.

I wonder what excuse you will make it when it occurs.