Technocracy

Spiked On Climate: The UK Solution Cannot Be Technocracy

The UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is run by Technocrats bent on social engineering while using faulty science to gain leverage over society. In that humans are carbon-based life forms, it is logically impossible to be zero-carbon without wiping out humanity. ⁃ TN Editor

Ask people what the UK’s biggest housing problems are, and most will tell you, rightly, that there aren’t enough homes, and that prices and rents are far too high. But UK policymakers are preoccupied by something else and have been for a long time: that our homes contribute to, and are at risk from, global warming.

So it was that a non-departmental public body, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), announced last week that ‘UK homes are not fit for the future’, and that tough new building standards and enforcement will be necessary. Most shocking of all, the CCC said ‘no new homes should be connected to the gas grid’, and that gas central heating and plumbing should therefore be phased out.

Saving the planet, and homes, from the ravages of climate change is a good idea. But the CCC’s claims are questionable. As I reported here during last Summer’s heatwave, the CCC, like many climate alarmists, has a tendency to exaggerate risk and lose historical perspective. In truth, homes are actually better protected from the slightly warmer, slightly wetter and slightly windier weather that scientists predict might be our future than they were even a generation ago.

The CCC argues that UK emissions-reduction targets cannot be met ‘without near complete decarbonisation of the housing stock’. Gas boilers should therefore be banned in new (and then older) homes, because ‘energy use in homes accounts for about 14 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions’. In their place will be more energy-efficient systems, such as ground- and air-source heat pumps, and greater levels of insulation.

The problem with this is that if economic alternatives to gas-fired central heating and hot water existed, there would be no need for standards and their enforcement. But they don’t exist. Zero-carbon homes are the stuff of Grand Designs – a nice idea, but more a fashion accessory for the wealthy than a design principle that will improve lives. Lower-cost experiments with low-carbon construction have resulted in complaints of homes becoming too hot in the summer; having poor ventilation and, therefore, damp and mould; and of requiring their inhabitants to sacrifice comfort. Most notably, and most tragically, the incautious application of energy-efficiency standards as dictated by remote technocrats – rather than consumers, according to their own needs – contributed to the Grenfell disaster.

All of which should provoke debate about the UK’s climate-change policy. UK political parties all make the same bland promises to ‘tackle climate change’, but the devil is in the platitudes. That is to say, they rarely explain costs or consequences. It seems clear that climate-change and energy policies have not been constructed in the voter’s interest, and certainly without his or her consent. And the climate establishment’s contempt runs deep. Ten years ago, I interviewed CCC member Julia King (aka Baroness Brown of Cambridge), after a public talk on UK climate policy. She told me that the problem for politicians is that the population is ‘extremely selfish’, and the main objective of the CCC was ‘behaviour change’. There has been no public debate about the principles underpinning the shift to a lower carbon economy – including banning gas boilers – because members of the climate-change establishment do not believe they are answerable to the public.

The CCC was established by the Climate Change Act (2008) to give ‘independent advice’ to parliament on what its climate targets should be and how they can be achieved. But this act was passed at one of the lowest points in UK democracy, in which a cross-party consensus on climate change, and the endless spawning of quangos, epitomised the lack of political diversity and accountability in Westminster. Accordingly, far from being ‘independent’, the CCC was populated by crony capitalists and green zealots. The result has been a single-minded body that has ignored criticism and dodged debate because, like all unaccountable, undemocratic technocracies, it can.

For people with the means to afford ever-increasing energy bills and higher-cost transport, the CCC’s latest wheeze may seem trivial. But a proposed ban on gas boilers is merely one part of a broader technocratic project that further disempowers the public. So, regardless of whether you think climate change is the huge problem the CCC claims it is, the solution to it cannot be technocracy.

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Update: Gene-Editing Researchers Convicted In China

Three years in prison is barely a slap on the hand in China, but three researchers who performed gene-editing experiments on embryos are busted for practicing medicine without a license. Alas, Technocracy marches on. ⁃ TN Editor
 

A Chinese scientist who set off an ethical debate with claims that he had made the world’s first genetically edited babies was sentenced on Dec. 30 to three years in prison because of his research, state media said.

He Jiankui, who was convicted of practicing medicine without a license, was also fined 3 million yuan ($430,000) by a court in the southern city of Shenzhen, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported. Two other researchers involved in the project received lesser sentences and fines.

The verdict said the three defendants had not obtained qualification as doctors, pursued fame and profits, deliberately violated Chinese regulations on scientific research and crossed an ethical line in both scientific research and medicine, according to Xinhua. It also said they had fabricated ethical review documents.

The court stated the researchers were involved in the births of three gene-edited babies to two women, confirming reports of a third baby. It stated all three researchers pleaded guilty during the trial, which Xinhua reported was closed to the public because of privacy concerns.

He, the lead researcher, shocked the scientific world when he announced in November 2018 that he had altered the embryos of twin girls who were born that month. He described his work in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press.

The announcement sparked a global debate over the ethics of gene editing. He said he had used a tool called CRISPR to try to disable a gene that allows the AIDS virus to enter a cell, in a bid to give the girls the ability to resist the infection. The identity of the girls has not been released, and it isn’t clear if the experiment succeeded.

The CRISPR tool has been tested elsewhere in adults to treat diseases, but many in the scientific community denounced He’s work as medically unnecessary and unethical, because any genetic changes could be passed down to future generations. The United States forbids editing embryos except for lab research.

He, who is known as “JK,” told the AP in 2018 that he felt a strong responsibility to make an example, and that society would decide whether to allow the practice to go forward. He disappeared from public view shortly after he announced his research at a conference in Hong Kong 13 months ago, apparently detained by authorities, initially in an apartment in Shenzhen, a city in Guangdong province that borders Hong Kong.

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For Consumers, First 5G Rollout Doesn’t Live Up To The Hype

For consumers, 5G will quickly lose its luster but 5G was never about end-users in the first place. Its real value is to light up the Internet of Things (IoT) that will enable command-and-control over entire cities. ⁃ TN Editor

When Apple stock closed last year at an all time high after doubling from its January 2019 lows, there were many confused looks among the trader community: after all any attempts to justify the move through the company’s future earnings – which haven’t budged in the past year – would only provoke laughter.

Instead, there were two other explanations being suggested: the company’s record stock buybacks, which helped to drastically expand AAPL’s PE multiple, and the looming “paradigm shift” that is 5G and Apple’s launch of 5G-compatible phones.

Well, for those who bet the farm on the latter, there may be a slight problem, because while 5G has yet to be made available in most countries, one nation has already had a 5G offering for 8 months: South Korea, and early adopters here have been anything but excited about the “5G revolution.”

when 5G services were launched there in April, Jang Dong-gil was among the first wave of South Koreans to sign up. Now eight months in, Jang, a 30-year-old tech company worker, has a chilling review for the next-generation technology: 5G hasn’t lived up to the hype.

“I don’t feel the difference,” Jang, who has been using a 5G-enabled Samsung handset, told the WSJ. In fact, on many days he switches off his 5G service altogether because his connection often drops as his phone pingpongs between 5G and the existing 4G LTE network.

With the rest of the world eagerly awaiting its own 5G rollout, all eyes were on South Korea,  which for most of 2019 was home to the vast majority of the world’s 5G users, offering the broadest lessons in what the next-generation network has to offer. Yet where any hope that Apple’s will merely jump to a $2 billion (or higher) valuation could crash and burn is that although it is still early in the global rollout, 5G service in South Korea has proved more of a future promise than a technological breakthrough.

Of course, it’s not just phones: 5G launched during the past year promising to help power a future of autonomous “everything”: from cars, to virtual reality and telesurgery, thanks to its theoretical speeds of up to 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks. In fact, the next-generation network’s potential has been at the forefront of the technological war between the US and China, setting off a technological arms race – and associated trade war – between Beijing and Washington, which has pressured allies to avoid adopting equipment made by China’s Huawei over national-security and other concerns.

For better or worse, it is now seen – if only symbolically – that the company, and the nation, behind the infrastructure that allows global adoption of 5G will be the world’s next technological superpower. As such, many countries are scrambling to deploy the superfast network, hoping homegrown companies can enjoy an early advantage providing new, popular services like those from Uber, Instagram and Netflix that flourished during the 4G era. Currently, few, if any, 5G apps have emerged that would justify an upgrade by consumers.

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