Back in a Bit

Chip fat

There’s two established reasons not to run your car on cooking oil: it’s a legal requirement to pay tax on vehicle fuel, and cooking oil is for cooking.

When stories like this turn up in the press, people invariably start bleating about “the environment”. Will someone please think of “the environment”. Fingers get pointed, usually at the Government, and all because finger-pointing is a lot easier than facing up to the real issues.

Running a car on cooking oil is DUMB. Very nearly as dumb as running them on fossil fuels. This point is best illustrated at the back of any fast-food restaurant, where you’ll find great clouds of foul-smelling grey smoke being pumped away from the fryers. Yeah, petrol stinks, but cooking oil stinks too. If we all started putting chip fat in our cars the country would still stink, it’d still be an astoundingly inefficient method of energy production, we’d still be producing carbon-dioxide, the green-house effect would continue to melt the ice-caps, and we’re still just as likely to end up either fleeing the advancing sea-level or floating out into the north sea. The government aren’t stupid—they know that if you’ve got cooking oil in your tank, it’s there because you are dodging the tax—not because you went to Woodstock.

The reality is harsh. If you give a shit about the environment, don’t use a combustion engine. Sell your car and walk.

People love the idea of running cars on electricity. At the present time, I argue that running a car on a battery is also DUMB—this simply delegates the responsibility to someone else. Just because the smoke is coming out of someone else’s exhaust pipe doesn’t leave us any better off. CO2 is still produced, we’re still floating out to sea.

If you give a shit about the environment, sell your car and walk.

Then people start talking about nuclear power. Our love-hate relationship with the reactor is likely to rumble on beyond the end of our children’s lives. Those who know me know that I spit feathers at the mention of fucking nuclear power. After a while they’ll try and hit me with their best shot: “But Mo, it’s cheap!”. Okay, yes, nuclear power is relatively cheap and efficient, and its production doesn’t emit CO2. Except it’s not cheap—the costs are just not as obvious.

British Energy, the company formed by privatisation to run the UK’s nuclear power stations is in serious financial difficulty. The result of them going under is we have a whole stack of highly dangerous radioactive material with nobody tending to it. The Government understands the true dangers involved (far better than we do) and is obviously not going to let this happen. So, who’s going to stump up the hundreds of millions of pounds to keep British Energy afloat? The Great British Taxpayer! Oh, and who do you think is going to pay out the hundreds (possibly thousands or even tens of thousands) of millions to decommission of the reactors when they reach the end of their life? That’s right—The Great British Taxpayer again! It is this that will ultimately make nuclear energy production far, far more expensive than any other power generation scheme ever conceived.

Solar panels are dodgy and expensive, wind farms are noisy and ugly, hydro kills fish and tidal dams are just hopeless. So what’s the answer? Well, we need to create a cheap, efficient, sustainable and safe fuel supply. But, while we’re there, what if we could also generate employment, produce free heating and hot water for homes and businesses, tackle the existing CO2 problem, reduce pollution from waste, encourage wildlife, and generally make the planet more beautiful? Sounds alright to me.

The best news of all is that the technology already exists. This is no pipedream—there are physically and economically viable options open to us—the problem is we’re not yet open to them. If you’re interested in learning more, write me an email and I’ll write some more on the subject.

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