Climate change is real. There is no climate change scientist who believes otherwise – the only debate is just how fast it’s happening, and then it’s between scarily fast and very scarily fast. The only people who think it isn’t happening are a handful of vocal Americans. But then they also think that the Egyptians used the pyramids as grain stores, despite them not being hollow, and the Egyptians having actually written down what they were for at the time – so you can’t really take anything that sort of person believes seriously.
Governments, even ours, care about this. The reason is that having a large chunk of your country flooded, while another part turns arid and unable to support farming is generally considered to be bad for the economy. If you think a couple of banks having a bit less money caused problems, you can imagine what the impact of London flooding will be – which is what will happen if we have a 2 degree increase in global temperatures (we just hit 1 degree this year, so half way there). So governments around the world care a lot about this, and have committed themselves to reduce climate emissions, with the penalty of large fines if they do not. So, you can imagine that the UK government will be very keen to ensure that we don’t a) all have to move out of London (and Exeter, Bristol, East Anglia, and just about anywhere else low down) to somewhere that isn’t under water, and b) get fined huge amounts of money. The first would be very bad for the economy, and the second wouldn’t particularly help with the deficit either.
Well, if you thought that the government was making sure that neither of those things happened, you’d be very wrong. The UK government has been heavily cutting back on renewable energy, while ploughing our money in to fracking, gas and nuclear (nuclear is actually green, so that’s not evil I’m afraid). And Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, has admitted in secret documents that the government has no credible plan to reach our renewable energy targets – which is not surprising given the hatchet job she has so successfully performed on the industry. Mwhahaha.
There can’t be anyone who hasn’t heard of pig-gate. In an acknowledged act of revenge, Lord Ashcroft published salacious gossip about David Cameron porking some pork. Is it evil? No, of course not. If it happened, the pig was dead anyway, and no-one was harmed in any way (other than perhaps Cameron). Was it true? No-one really cares, because it’s funny and is exactly the sort of thing that people could imagine him doing. And he has been pretty unpleasant about laying in to people like Corbyn, so he deserves to take some grief for a change.
But what is more illuminating is the way Cameron has tried to deny it ever happened without actually denying it.
Yesterday when reporters confronted Cameron yet again about the story, he said “a very specific denial was made a week ago and I’ve nothing to add to that”. But a week ago all he said was that he would “not dignify the allegations with a response”. Cameron was hoping that reporters and the public would think that he was denying that it ever happened by claiming to have already made a denial, when in fact he has denied nothing at all. It’s a classic evil trick designed to fool everyone, and judging by some of the headlines, the lazier reporters were taken in. Mwhahaha;
This trick might be simply part of a fake denial of a personal embarrassment that doesn’t impact Cameron’s ability to run the country. But it’s exactly the same evil trick as is used every day by the government. They claimed to have been “the greenest government ever”, but have killed the renewables industry. They claim that austerity is helping the economy and therefore the country, despite sustained evidence that millions of the poorest people are worse off than ever. They claimed to not want to take taxes just to give them back to the same people in benefits, but then only cut the benefits. But just like with the pig, if they keep repeating the claims, eventually someone will believe them.
When the VW pollution story broke, I thought “what a marvellous piece of evil. If only our government could be that evil”*. All cars have to undergo tests to make sure that they don’t release excessive amounts of pollution – primarily because that pollution actually kills people. 50,000 people a year die early due to air pollution. VW were cheating by detecting when cars were being tested, and only turning on the anti-pollution systems fully when the cars were in a test situation. The rest of the time they are spewing out 40 times the legal limit of nitrous oxides. Pure evil on a massive scale.
But this blog isn’t tracking corporate evil. It’s about making sure the UK government is sufficiently evil. So how did they manage to get in on the evil here? Well, it seems that the UK government was actually lobbying the EU to allow car manufacturers to be allowed to use outdated inefficient testing techniques. For example, they allow a fresh fully charged battery before each test, which prevents the alternator from being used to charge the battery. They also allow car manufacturers to fine tune the weight of the vehicle to game the testing system. The result is unrealistic test figures. The only beneficiary of such lobbying is the car industry, and the people it hurts are the thousands of ordinary people who die prematurely every single year. Mwhahaha.
The UK government is not alone in this. Germany actually lobbied for emissions tests to be carried out while the car is rolling down hill. Perhaps, in some Escheresque way, Germany roads all go only downhill? They also lobbied for car manufacturers to be able to knock an arbitrary 4% off the emissions readings. All in all, the testing cheats that our governments fought for have been thought to underestimate CO2 by 14%. That’s definitely evil.
*Disclaimer – I own a diesel VW, and my second thought was, “what on earth is that going to do the resale price of my car?”
Air pollution in the UK is nasty. Not China nasty, but still not brilliant. Well, actually perhaps it’s China nasty given that it took Oxford Street in London from the 1st January to 4th January to breach the EU annual emissions levels. At least the Chinese have the good sense not to publish true figures for us to compare though – something our government should learn from.
An estimated 50,000 people in the UK die prematurely due to air pollution, and in addition to the tragic loss of life, that costs the NHS tens of billions of pounds a year. Air pollution in the UK is so bad that the Supreme Court told the government that it had to do something about it. So what did they do? They avoided any action, and passed the buck. Worse actually – they made local councils responsible for cleaning up air pollution and they did so without giving them any new authority or money to do so. Mwhahaha.
Local council funding has been slashed. There has been a 40% reduction in their money from central government, and Council Tax has been largely frozen – resulting in a 19% cut overall. And there are more budget cuts to come for them. At the moment councils are trying to decide whether to stop housing children who have been taken in to care, or to leave disabled people lying in their own filth for days on end. Staff have been pared back to a minimum, and essential services have been cut. And despite all of that, the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said that the councils also need to take on legal responsibility for air pollution levels, with no new budget or power to do so.
Capitalism is great, and while most companies waste their time being not-evil, there are always a few companies who embrace their evil side and will do anything imaginable to make money. Some great examples are slave traders, companies who deal in blood diamonds, the bankers who conspired to fix the Libor. In fact, history shows that some companies would happily kill people if there is a profit in it. In fact the latter is surprisingly common, and all too often government acts as the brake on the evil deeds that companies will do. For example, despite being falsely blamed for everything from banning conkers to forbidding candy-floss with a stick, they have actually cut employee deaths by 87% since 1974.
One of the worst offenders for stopping corporations from being evil are the anti-pollution laws. For example, even though pollution is thought to be the cause of 29,000 early deaths a year, it’s not as bad as the great smog of 1952, which killed a huge number of Londoners. Fortunately our government is redressing the balance, and is helping corporations to again make money at the expense of killing the general populace. The UK government is lobbying the EU to allow a relaxation in the pollution regulations.
In particular, they want a relaxation in the nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions. Sulphur dioxide turns in to sulphuric acid in the air, and is what killed so many people in the great smog. Nitrogen dioxide causes respiratory problems, and can kill – and the UK already has the highest proportion of NO2 violations in Europe already. Both of them also result in huge increases in costs for the NHS too. So why does the government want to allow more of this pollution? Because they are being lobbied by the coal industry, with misinformation about job losses and damage to the economy. In reality, there are only about 3000 coal miners in the UK (who can be retrained) and the losses will mainly be suffered by the owners of the opencast coal mines. To protect those few, the government will kill and hurt a great many people. Mwahaha.