Technology will solve the climate change problem said George W Bush and Tony Blair slavishly echoed his words. President Hopeanchange went one further, Technology, said The Obamessiah, will solve the climate change problem AND lead us out of the recession, said Obama, the soaring rhetoric, having soared, falling somewhat short of making any sense as usual.
Obamas position is particularly bizarre. So far the mans political success, rather than resting on any great achievement at lower levels or perceived success in holding any of the offices of state rests solely on the fact that he is not George W. Bush. And yet Barry cant come up with any better policy.
Like Bush though, Obama has has little Sir Echo in the current British Prime Minister who shows every sign of a pathetic need for a pat on the head from his American boss than even Blair did.
From the empty words of politicians has been born a new industry, catastrophe capitalism, the business of making money out of the fear and panic raised by political hyperbole.
So what of these wonderful technologies? So far we have seen proposals for a carbon capture system that will generate more carbon in manufacture and recycling than it can ever capture, a method of generating clean power that will use more dirty energy that it can ever generate clean energy, a landscape covered with windmills that do not generate any electricity when the wind does not blow (anyone notice how still the air has been on many occasions during the cold weather?) or when the wind blows too strongly. Fortunately with the exception of wind turbines these technologies are still on the drawing board and will probably stay there.
Now however we learn of a technology so gobsmackingly stupid and utterly useless it will probably get made, its inventors will trouser £££ billions in taxpayers money and disappear into darkest Monaco or somewhere and scrap metal dealers will get slightly less rich but still rich.
V2G or Vehicle to Grid (dont you just know it is going to be crap by that txt spk acronym?) is a propulsion system to power electric cars that will make money for its owners goes the hype. Heres how it works. We will buy electric cars powered by V2G systems, charge them up overnight on cheap rate electricity and during peak rate hours discharge the batteries back into the grid.
And what happens when you want to drive you car. The best electric cars have a range of about 100 miles at best, considerably less if driven around town or in commuting conditions. That is not very far. It might just get me up to visit my Dear Old Mum and back so long as traffic was free flowing in both directions on the M6 (yeah right, dream on!) but fatsally could not do it without a recharge even in ideal conditions. Poor Mum. Still as she whiled away the lonely hours in the solitary confinement of her flat she could console herself with the knowledge that her offspring loved their planet if not their parent.
Just to show how profoundly the people pushing this technology have failed to think it through properly, were we all to start using overnight cheap rate electricity to charge our 30 million cars, how long do we imagine it would be before overnight cheap rate became overnight peak rate.
If developing new technologies is our best hope for beating climate change and reversing the economic slowdown and this is the best technologists can come up with you had better get ready for a long recession and a lot more freak weather.
UPDATED 11 Feb 2009, 14:49
Climate Change scientist Vicky Pope writes a level headed complaint (Scientists must rein in misleading climate change claims) about the kind of scientist who sensationalises the risks of climate change to gain celebrity or financial advantage. I wonder what she would think of ideas like the one above.
FOOTNOTE: If you search V2G you will find a lot of enthusiastic burbling from geeks on science and technology blogs. Look at the comment threads though, were Planet Earth dwellers show a lot more scepticism. Of all the electric cars so far proposed from the Sinclair C5 clunk-alike G-Wiz to the Expensive and decorative but for practical purposes useless Tesla Volt, the only one that shows any real potential as a practical vehicle for people wjho live normal lives is the Honda Insight 2 a new generation of electric car (the Insight 1 was an ordinary hybrid).
In the interests of balance here is one of the less hysterical V2G reviews from a technology blog
Updated 15 April 2009: Will the new GM Segway P.U.M.A electric scooter be a bigger joke than the Sinclair C5?
93 months and counting. Are the magic bullet technologies claimed by the nerdosphere anything more that optimistic pitches for research grants that will distract us from the serious problems of climate change?
Some new technologies are promising though, e-book readers such as Amazon’s Kindle and others for example look as if, once prices come down they have a real future.