A fortnight ago Boris Johnson must have appealed to God’s mercy.
“Lord,” said Johnson genuflecting, “I’m going to pledge in the Commons that wind farms will power every British home within a decade.
“But can thou please help me out, in the name of political correctness and therefore my political career? I beseech thee, oh Lord, to keep the wind nice and strong in perpetuity for, as thou knowest, with no wind those bloo… sorry, those glorious turbines won’t keep turning. And, cripes, Lord, if they don’t turn, thy chosen country, Britain, will freeze in the dark.
“More important, Lord, I, thy intermittently faithful servant, shall be reviled in all eternity. So please, please do this little thing for me, Lord, and I’ll let thy bishops mouth any old rubbish without ever contradicting them.”
To be fair to our devout PM, he kept his end of the bargain: Number 10 didn’t reject the bishops’ petition containing helpful advice on foreign policy, and nor did it tell them to mind their own business, which is far from being in order.
But the deity was blatantly in default. In fact, during that conversation He had told Johnson not to keep his hopes up high.
“I’ll do what I can, my son,” said God. “But behold, my stock in trade is keeping the winds down, not up. Remember my Scripture? ‘And he arose, and he rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind eased, and there was a great calm’.”
Yet Johnson didn’t heed that fair warning. The next day he stood up and shouted at his fellow MPs (even though some of them aren’t fellows, I hasten to add): “You heard me right. Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands.”
I didn’t realise that household appliances are capable of feeling guilt, as Mr Johnson’s locution implied, but there we have it. Alas, all those contraptions immediately headed for trouble, for God Almighty was as good as his word.
A few days after the PM made his momentous promise, “the breezes that blow around these islands” were rebuked by God, and there was great calm – that is, everywhere but at National Grid’s good offices.
The utility company, responsible for keeping the country warm and light, screamed bloody murder in its customary bureaucratese: “Unusually low wind output coinciding with a number of generator outages means the cushion of spare capacity we operate the system with has been reduced. We’re exploring measures & actions to make sure there is enough generation available to increase our buffer of capacity.”
Allow me to translate. Because there was no wind to speak of, National Grid had to dip into the emergency reserves supplied by traditional sources, those that don’t depend as immediately on God’s benevolence.
However, what happens a few years down the road if God plays the same trick again and Britain has no traditional energy sources to fall back on? Let’s not forget that by that time the grid will also have to accommodate several more million electric cars, all thirsty for their fair share of clean, guiltless juice.
That possibility doesn’t bear thinking about and, to give Mr Johnson his due, he doesn’t think about it. Instead he thinks that by the time that cataclysmic blackout arrives, he’ll have finished his political career on his own terms. He’ll be raking in millions by tossing off memoirs and articles, speaking at boozy fundraisers, sitting on countless boards and taking bungs for introducing foreign gangsters to his successors.
And if a Dark Age arrives in Britain, he’ll happily up sticks and retreat to a country that’s not quite so advanced in its march towards progress. France could be good, what with Mr Johnson already fluent in her language. As to the rest of us, it’s sauve qui peut.
My quarrel isn’t really with the PM. He’s the usual garden variety spiv washed into Downing Street by the wave of universal, and increasingly illiterate, suffrage. What does sadden me no end is a society totalitarian in its thought, if not quite yet in its methods.
Being a literate sort, Mr Johnson has doubtless read a few serious books (such as Heaven and Earth by Ian Plimer) that debunk, reams of data in hand, the hysteria about anthropogenic global warming for the scam it is.
Hence he knows that man’s actions play an infinitesimal role, if any, in climate changes, compared to the impact of solar activity and a myriad other factors studied by, inter alia, astronomy, geology, solar physics, astrophysics, palaeontology, tectonics, oceanography, geochemistry and volcanology.
He must be aware that for 80 per cent of its history the Earth has been warmer than it is now, and that ecological catastrophes have only ever been caused by periods of cooling rather than warming. Of course he is. But for our peerless leaders, it’s the denial of knowledge that is power.
Given the progress in information technology, and the concomitant regress in public intelligence, new orthodoxies take months, rather than centuries, to hatch. But they are none the less intractable for it: obey them or else.
No deviation, heresy or apostasy is allowed; no flexibility is built in. New, fake, orthodoxies are chiselled in stone for ever, or at least until next month, when new ones arrive. No public official can possibly come across as a global warming denier and still hope to keep his job.
And keeping their jobs, or getting better ones, has become the sole purpose of governance in Britain. So we’re going to revert to the days before the Industrial Revolution, when energy was only produced by wind, water or muscle.
That’s the thing about modernity: it’s a snake devouring its own tail. First it fraudulently holds up technological progress as its principal redeeming feature; second, it destroys that progress when it comes in conflict with some zig or zag of its ideological pieties.
So let’s wait for a new Don Quixote, who’ll attack those wind farms on his trusted Rocinante, if with better result. That’s our only hope.