IN his 1945 short story The Waveries, the American science fiction writer Fredric Brown tells how an invisible cloud of aliens composed of radio waves envelop the Earth and start feeding on electricity.
Every scrap of power, from the spark in spark plugs to the output of power stations and even lightning, is sucked up by the invaders. Eventually, all devices that use electricity are useless and society is thrown back to the age of steam, coal fires, oil and gas lamps, and horse power.
‘If you want to invest,’ a character tells a friend as the crisis develops, ‘buy horses. Particularly brood mares. A brood mare is going to be worth a thousand times her weight in platinum.’
So there you have it – some sound financial advice that’s relevant right now. Because if Boris Johnson’s latest crazed scheme to cut Britain’s carbon emissions goes ahead, cars will be the preserve of the well-off and we plebs had better prepare to saddle up.
With unbelievable disregard for reality, the Prime Minister is committing Britain to a legally binding target of reducing carbon emissions by 78 per cent from 1990 levels by 2035. Further billions of pounds will be poured into so-called renewable energy, such as wind turbines, sending the cost of electricity ever higher.
It’s a madcap plan that, according to one estimate, will mean we’ll have to spend £10,000 switching our homes to ‘green’ heating, drink just three teaspoons of milk a day, eat meat twice a week at the most and fly no more than once a year.
With sales of diesel and petrol-engined vehicles banned from 2030, only fully electric models will be allowed. They’ll almost certainly be unaffordable for many, with a new battery car in the UK currently costing £40,000 on average.
Electricity will be scarcer and harder to afford. The hundreds of years of technological progress that have enhanced our personal freedom (lockdowns excepted) and brought unprecedented comfort and convenience to everyday living will be eroded.
As Ross Clark says in the Daily Mail: this is all about Johnson being able ‘to cosy up to President Joe Biden, another green enthusiast, who is expected to announce new US targets at the G7 summit in Cornwall.
‘Even better, in November at COP26 (the UN climate change conference) in Glasgow, Johnson can pose as the world’s front-runner on tackling climate change.’
Clark asks: ‘Has Johnson really thought through the implications for Britain? And does he really care? Isn’t this just cynical virtue signalling? Because by the time the impact on our lives has become clear and the bill lands on the doormats of voters, he’ll be long gone.’
Well, yes, it is just virtue signalling. And Johnson doesn’t care. Why should he? Even if he’s no longer Prime Minister, he’ll be able to afford an electric limousine, and the better-off will be swishing along in their expensive batteries on wheels. As for the rest of us, the only option may be a horse, or even Shanks’s pony.