Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Scientists hoist by their own petard


Now, as we all know, there is a pressing problem that we have—all this carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is warming the planet and we are all going to fry unless we severely reduce our output of said gas.
Unfortunately, nearly all of the effective ways of generating the energy that makes our world go round emit CO2 to a large extent; but, so severe is the problem, our politicians have responded to the urging of the scientific experts and put in place a number of measures to make carbon emission—and thus energy generation—much more expensive.
Now, do remember that this is all climate scientists because, of course, there is a "consensus" on the climate change topic. And almost all other scientists have urged us to listen to the climate scientists because they know what they are talking about and we laymen—even those who have a rather more specialist knowledge of statistical analysis or computer model programming—have no idea at all.
So, basically, we can say that the vast majority of the world's scientists back urgent action on carbon emissions: energy must be made much more expensive. Oh, wait, we didn't mean for us!

World-class research into future sources of green energy is under threat in Britain from an environmental tax designed to boost energy efficiency and drive down carbon emissions, scientists claim.
Some facilities must find hundreds of thousands of pounds to settle green tax bills, putting jobs and research at risk.

Altogether now... Aaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahaha! Aaaaahahahaha! Ah-ha! Ha!
Wait—let me catch my breath.
Aaaaaaaaaahaahahahahahahahaa! Aaaaaahahaha.
Right. I... Aaaaahahaha. Ha.
OK, no, really, I'm sorry. I haven't laughed that much since Chris Huhne admitted that he drove a car.
Anyway, so, what are these scientists going to do? Could it be that they are going to cough up gladly, pointing out that this is precisely the outcome that they wanted? Ah, no.
The unexpected impact of the government's carbon reduction commitment (CRC) scheme is so severe that scientists and research funders have lobbied ministers for an exemption to reduce the bills.

No, absolutely not.
Yes, it might seem counter-intuitive that government-funded initiatives should have to pay government taxes (in the same way that it might seem odd that government-funded jobs need to pay taxes) but there are, as Timmy points out, a couple of good reasons for this.
  1. It would be a subsidy. And we want subsidies to be out in the open. We want to be able to add up what whatever rule or regulation, tax or charge, actually costs us. So we don’t want any hidden subsidies at all. This applies to everything: council house rents should be full market rents, even if that means everyone gets housing benefit. We can then look at the benefit bill and see how much housing the poor costs us. Trains and farmers should pay full whack on fuel duty, even if that means we then have to send them a cheque to compensate. We want to be able to see, exactly, what their subsidy is.
  2. We absolutely do not want things run by politicians and bureaucrats to be free of the rules politicians and bureuacrats impose upon the rest of us. It’s our only hope of reducing the complexities, that they have to struggle with their impositions as we do. Note the screams from MPs as their expenses are doled out in the same manner the dole is doled out. Quite bloody right too.

But it is very entertaining, nonetheless, to listen to the various sob stories highlitedby the Grauniad article...
Among the worst hit is the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, a facility for research into almost limitless carbon-free energy. The lab faces an estimated £400,000 payment next year, raising the spectre of job losses and operational cuts. "Considering our research is aimed at producing zero-carbon energy, it seems ironic and perverse to clobber us with an extra bill," a senior scientist at the lab said. "We have to use electricity to run the machine and there is no way of getting around that."

And that is different from other businesses how, exactly?
Oh, by the way, you're flogging a dead horse: you may have the largest fusion reactor in Europe but if it actually generated, you know, any electricity then you could offset the costs, eh? But it doesn't.
Another Oxfordshire laboratory, the Diamond synchrotron light source, expects a £300,000 bill under the CRC. A spokesman said the lab hoped to offset the bill by investing in better climate control and motion-sensitive lighting.

Well, that's what the government is telling private businesses to do—why should it not apply to these scientist types?
At the Daresbury laboratory in Cheshire, the CRC bill will worsen financial woes that have forced managers to draft redundancy packages and consider cutting back on equipment. "Science is already struggling here and now we are being charged an additional premium to go about our everyday business while working to address the government's own stated grand challenges in science for the 21st century.," said Lee Jones, an accelerator physicist at the laboratory.

Well, we are all doing that, Lee: after all, some of us have to try to "address the government's own stated grand challenges" for GDP growth over the next five years—also in the face of rising costs and taxes.
So, with all due respect, o science types, you can take your exemption and stuff it up your pontificating arseholes.

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