Russia’s main gas-company, Gazprom, was unable to meet demand last weekend as blizzards swept across Europe, and over three hundred people died. Did anyone even think of deploying our wind turbines to make good the energy shortfall from Russia?
Of course not. We all know that windmills are a self-indulgent and sanctimonious luxury whose purpose is to make us feel good. Had Europe genuinely depended on green energy on Friday, by Sunday thousands would be dead from frostbite and exposure, and the EU would have suffered an economic body blow to match that of Japan’s tsunami a year ago. No electricity means no water, no trams, no trains, no airports, no traffic lights, no phone systems, no sewerage, no factories, no service stations, no office lifts, no central heating and even no hospitals, once their generators run out of fuel.
Modern cities are incredibly fragile organisms, which tremble on the edge of disaster the entire time. During a severe blizzard, it is electricity alone that prevents a midwinter urban holocaust. We saw what adverse weather can do, when 15,000 people died in the heatwave that hit France in August 2003. But those deaths were spread over a month. Last weekend’s weather, without energy, could have caused many tens of thousands of deaths over a couple of days.
Why does the entire green spectrum, which now incorporates most conventional parties across Europe, deny the most obvious of truths? To play lethal games with our energy systems in order to honour the whimsical god of climate change is as intelligent and scientific as the Aztec sacrifice of their young. Actually, it is far more frivolous, because at least the Aztecs knew how many people they were sacrificing: no one has the least idea of the loss of life that might result from the EU embracing "green" energy policies.
Frau Merkel has announced that Germany is going to phase out nuclear power, simply because of the Japanese tsunami. Well, that is like basing water-collection policies in Rhineland-Westphalia on the monsoon cycle of Borneo. As I was saying last week, the Germans have a powerfully emotional attachment to everything that is "green", and an energy policy based on renewables will usually win German hearts. But it will not protect the owners of those hearts from frostbite and death due to exposure, for wind can often be not so much a Renewable as an Unusable, and also an Unpredictable, an Unstorable, and – normally when it’s very cold – an Unmovable.
The seriousness of this is hard to exaggerate. The temperature in the Baltic countries last weekend was -33 degrees Celsius. The Eurasian landmass from Calais to Naples to Siberia was an icefield in which hundreds of millions of people were trapped. Without coal, oil and nuclear energy, mass deaths of the old and the young would have occurred on the first night. Three nights on of such conditions, and even the physically fit would have been dying of exposure, as the temperature inside dwellings fell and began to match that of the outside, an inverse image of what happened during the French heatwave 10 years ago, when there was no escape from the heat.