Some brands are toxic. It doesn’t matter what is being sold, if it carries a toxic brand label, it will not sell. As evidence I offer you the News of the World, the conservative party in Scotland, and finally the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).
The naming of the GWPF is misleading: it implies that they hold meaningful opinions about Global Warming. But they have no more valuable opinions about Global Warming than the Flat Earth Society have on the diameter of the Earth: they are simply in denial that carbon emissions could even conceivably affect climate. They are not climate-change skeptics: that would be an insult to climate-change skeptics. One of their less ludicrous previous publications has advocated the widespread adoption of shale gas extraction across the UK, a technology known to pollute water supplies, cause Earthquakes, and emit just as much carbon dioxide as conventional gas extraction! They advertise this as ‘greener’ than wind power!
Their latest output is the Myth of Green Jobs, predictably publicised by Andrew Orlowski on The Register. Summarising, the report says that renewable electricity is more capital intensive and more expensive that fossil fuel generated electricity. And if we spend money on renewable energy, then we can’t spend it on other things, and that this will harm business and jobs. In itself, I don’t doubt a word of the report, and it has many sensible things to say: such as advocating that we compare different strategies for reducing carbon emissions by evaluating the cost per ton of reduced emissions. However, because the report is published under the GWPF brand we can have no doubt about the intention of the author: to undermine any response to possible negative consequences of carbon emissions.
Most people agree that we don’t fully understand the consequences of carbon emissions. But most people would also agree that there are substantial reasons to be concerned. From the standpoint of a Global Warming Denier, doing anything to respond to this potential threat is damaging economically. Why? Because as far as they are concerned it is money down the drain. However, from a more rational standpoint, doing something makes perfect sense – even if that something is not optimal. We are using resources now to begin to develop a response to things which might happen.
The GWPF would not accept that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. But it is. Historically businesses used to pollute rivers and objected to restrictions on their emissions on the grounds that not polluting would be uneconomic. This kind of behaviour is now viewed as not just unacceptable, but immoral. Now, we all pay for the clearing up of this mess by an effective ‘green tax’ on all the chemicals we use: these goods cost more than they otherwise would but our rivers are healthier than they have been for generations. Similarly, the GWPF say that higher electricity prices are bad for businesses – and they are. But if we believe collectively that it is unacceptable to pollute our shared atmosphere in order to get cheap electricity, then this is a price worth paying.
One can argue about whether the government are doing the right things with regard to energy policy. But the aim of GWPF is not to engage in such a discussion. It has only one policy which is simply:
Cheap energy – no matter what the cost.
I think this is an immoral and – literally – toxic stance.