The other day Michael Deacon wrote in the Telegraph about Just Stop Oil’s antics and likened them to a cult. He was right in every way, but his analysis didn’t quite go far enough.
As a writer I have long indulged the conceit that I am a sort of historian. This has left me with a lifelong sense that I am a voyeur at a car crash, a passive witness to an endless cascade of confusion, stupidity and brutality, punctuated by moments of brilliance and invention, that defines our existence.
There is a long history of cults stretching back over thousands of years. A common, but not ubiquitous, feature is the notion that the world is about to end, usually as a punishment for human misdemeanours, and sometimes accompanied conveniently by a date. When the date passes and the world fails to end, the cult is obliged to reinvent itself or disappear. Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion are not so foolish as to name the day our evil way of life will destroy the planet, though they are obsessed with the five minutes to midnight idea. The day the Earth catches fire is depicted as being merely imminent. Both organisations predicate their ideologies on the basis that this will be as a consequence of humanity’s failure to take action to avert the crisis.
With this devastating prospect, the gloves of course are off. With such a catastrophe looming, any action they take is legitimate, however crass (such as throwing soup over a painting) or stupid (like hanging off a bridge). Underpinning all this is the defining feature of the incipient totalitarian state: an intolerance of diversity of thought. Everyone must be coerced into their way of thinking, their views must be those held by the entire population, and any action is justified to force that to happen.
One only need look at some of Extinction Rebellion’s ramblings to see the truth about them. They profess to want ‘direct democracy’, a vision in which they will not stop until their ‘demands are met’. This flagrant abuse of the word ‘democracy’ is as lost on them as it was under former totalitarian regimes.
The underlying foundation is the reactionary fantasy of some pre-industrial utopia where everyone lived a life of sustainable sanctity, all the while overlooking the crippling effects of starvation and disease and being subject to – guess what? – the vagaries of the climate.
Net Zero Bombshell: The World Does Not Have Enough Lithium and Cobalt to Replace All Batteries Every 10 Years – Finnish Government Report
Influential elites are either in denial about the horrifying costs and consequences of Net Zero – witness last Wednesday’s substantial vote against fracking British gas in the House of Commons – or busy scooping up the almost unlimited amounts of money currently on offer for promoting pseudoscience climate scares and investing in impracticable green technologies. Until the lights start to go out and heating fails, they are unlikely to pay much attention to a recent 1,000 page alternative energy investigation undertaken for a Finnish Government agency by Associate Professor Simon Michaux. Referring to the U.K.’s 2050 Net Zero target, Michaux states there is “simply not enough time, nor resources to do this by the current target”.
To cite just one example of how un-costed Net Zero is, Michaux notes that “in theory” there are enough global reserves of nickel and lithium if they are exclusively used to produce batteries for electric vehicles. But there is not enough cobalt, and more will need to be discovered. It gets much worse. All the new batteries have a useful working life of only 8-10 years, so replacements will need to be regularly produced. “This is unlikely to be practical, which suggests the whole EV battery solution may need to be re-thought and a new solution is developed that is not so mineral intensive,” he says.
All of these problems occur in finding a mass of lithium for ion batteries weighting 286.6 million tonnes. But a “power buffer” of another 2.5 billion tonnes of batteries is also required to provide a four-week back-up for intermittent wind and solar electricity power. Of course, this is simply not available from global mineral reserves, but, states Michaux, it is not clear how the buffer could be delivered with an alternative system.
Michaux sounds a clear warning message. Current expectations are that global industrial businesses will replace a complex industrial energy ecosystem that took more than a century to build. It was built with the support of the highest calorifically dense source of energy the world has ever known (oil), in cheap abundant quantities, with easily available credit and seemingly unlimited mineral resources. The replacement, he notes, needs to be done when there is comparatively very expensive energy, a fragile finance system saturated in debt and not enough minerals. Most challenging of all, it has to be done within a few decades. Based on his copious calculations, the author is of the opinion that it will not go fully “as planned”.