Friday, January 08, 2010

A View From The Ice Road

The A322

Last evening Tyler drove the treacherous Ice Road across the frozen wastes where Berkshire used to meet Surrey*. And as he gingerly crawled along, he listened to some buffoon on the radio explaining why two arctic winters in a row do not mean the global warming hippies have got it all wrong.

True, the £200m pa tax-funded Department of Climate Propaganda Met Office has once again made a complete horlicks of its winter weather prediction (predicting only a one-in-seven chance of a cold winter). And true, they use this same much hyped "expertise" to predict global apocalypse by 2100. But somehow - in some way Tyler couldn't quite fathom - it's much easier to make predictions covering 100 years than those covering 100 days.

Later on Newsnight, official warmist spokesperson Susan Watts explained that the public are pretty dim. And that makes it very difficult to convey the Met Office's outstanding reliability on millennial climate change in the face of their screaming unreliability on forecasting the weather. If only we could all be as bright as her, we 'd understand that climate change is not the same as the weather.

Sadly, because we're so dim, we're instead left wondering why we've got an expensive Met Office that can't do the stuff we need it to do, but can produce reams of global warming guff none of us ever asked for.

But of course, it isn't just the Met Office where the weather/climate priorities are expensively arse about face. Despite the fact that our councils can't even afford to stock up on road grit, Miliband Jnr today announced the Commissars' latest money inferno - a £75bn programme to build another 6,400 offshore wind turbines to save the planet.

Except, post the Copenhagen fiasco, they seem to have dropped the bit about saving the planet - these days it's all about saving the election  economy:
"Our policies in support of offshore wind energy have already put us ahead of every other country in the world... The offshore wind industry is at the heart of the UK economy’s shift to low carbon and could be worth £75 billion and support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020... We did it before with oil and gas in the North Sea and we’ll do it again for offshore wind."
Now if you think you've heard this kind of thing before, you have - back in the glorious 1970s, when it was known as... er, "picking winners". And it cost us many tens of billions with virtually no payback (see this blog).

So against those £75bn windmills, how much have we spent on grit for our death trap skating rink roads? (which IIRC never got this bad in the 70s, even though at that point the climate hippies were telling us the world was freezing to death).

The local councils' version of the story is summarised here. Councils are responsible for gritting the vast majority of our 250,000 miles of roads (only motorways and a few A roads are covered by the Highways Agency). And they say they have treated "the equivalent of 1.7 million miles of road" (although words like "equivalent" always make Tyler suspicious). They reckon it's cost them £12.2m - about £7 per mile.

Unfortunately they are now virtually out of salt supplies, which with more snow promised sounds like a Grade 1 disaster.

Some very obvious points:
  • Against the wholesale danger and disruption now being caused by our ice roads, £12.2m is a vanishingly small sum. It stacks up against the £600m per day the chaos is estimated to be costing UK businesses.
  • £12.2m is less than 0.007% of total local authority spending this year. It compares to the £450m pa the TPA discovered councils spend on publicity (see this blog).
  • Refocusing the Met Office on weather forecasting and cutting its budget by £100m pa would fund an eightfold increase in council supplies of salt and grit
So next time you're stuck in a snowdrift listening to some arrogant buffoon telling you that it wouldn't make financial sense for warming Britain to spend more on gritting, feel free to put your fist through the radio.

*Footnote: The ancient and proud county of Berkshire now exists in name only - after 12 centuries it was abolished by the Commissars in 1998.

PS I know we've made this point many times, but it is important we remember it. Every single Labour government we have ever had has ended in disaster. Usually, it's a straightforward financial and economic meltdown of the kind you expect from socialism. But it can't be coincidence that the abiding image of Labour's last go at government is of wintry streets lined with rotting rubbish - and ours now hasn't been collected since well before Xmas.

PPS I know what you're thinking - Tyler must have made some mistake - surely local councils have spent more than £12.2m on gritting. But I promise you that's the official number from the Local Government Association. Here's the full quote:

"An LGA analysis of council gritting activity over the last three weeks, since the cold snap started, estimated that:
  • The equivalent of 1.7 million miles of road have been gritted by council gritting teams
  • 200,000 tonnes of salt have been spread on the road
  • £12.2m has been spent treating the roads
  • 4,000 council staff have been involved in gritting operations around the clock"

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