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Go Freeze in the Dark

Environmentalist control freaks don't care.

By Kermit Frosch  |  December 31, 2010

Some while back, we asked a question of environmentalists: "Must We Freeze in the Dark?"  The point was that over-regulation and greenery has made it all but impossible to build the new power generating plants required for modern life.

Our assumption was that, sooner or later, power failures and shortages will become sufficiently widespread that a furious public will demand more capacity, to hell with Bambi.

Not Cynical Enough

A look across the pond, though, makes us worry about excessive optimism.  England, as with most of Europe, has been trapped in an icy grip for weeks now; the travel nightmares are what anyone but New York's Mayor Bloomberg would expect.

Alas, environmentalism run amok has destroyed the Englishman's refuge of his own castle, as the Daily Mail reports:

Five years ago, New Labour heralded them as the modern, clean and green way to heat your house. As a result, today there are already eight million ‘condensing boilers’ in homes across Britain. In fact, since 2005 it is illegal to fit any other kind... However, the recent cold snap has revealed a major problem with them. Tens of thousands of people found themselves shivering as their shiny new boilers cut out without warning.

A contented environmentalist.

In an effort to improve efficiency and Save The Planet, England's nanny-state outlawed old-style central heating boilers and required newfangled ones that recycle waste heat.  In principle, this is a good idea on every level; more efficient heating means lower energy bills.

In practice, it turns out that there were very good reasons people weren't beating down the door to buy these cost-saving devices before the government made them do it.  Not only are the wonderful efficient boilers vastly more complicated and thus far more expensive to repair; not only do they corrode and clog, leading to a far shorter service life than the old sort; but they freeze up and die when it's cold.

One might suppose that an essential feature of any heating system is that it produce actual warmth when the weather doesn't.  In the world of the British environmental regulator, apparently not.

The result? Tens of thousands of emergency calls for service, at vast expense and peril to life and limb, considering the impassable roads and frigid temperatures.  What of the extra pollution from the service trucks and ambulance calls?  What of the dire inconvenience to the citizenry?  All of no consequence before the Great God of Global Warming!

At least they have electric power as a backup?  Not necessarily:

Over the past three weeks, with demand for power at record levels because of the freezing weather, there have been days when the contribution of our forests of wind turbines has been precisely nothing.

It gets better. As the temperature has plummeted, the turbines have had to be heated to prevent them seizing up. Consequently, they have been consuming more electricity than they generate[emphasis added]

A source of renewable power that actually consumes more power than it generates?  Only in a government-mandated green Utopia!

Of course, there's always Minnesota's option: don't bother heating them and let them fail.  That's not even addressing the direct threat to humans, to say nothing of birds.

So we see free-born Englishmen shivering by their cold radiators, the direct victims of perverse government action by their supposed representative servants.  Will there be action?  Tar and feathers?  Nooses from lampposts?

Doesn't look like it.  Unless we are made of sterner stuff than our English cousins, apparently Americans, too, can indeed be made to freeze in the dark.