• We got a taste of net zero… and spat it out
  • Energy defines your standard of living and net zero constrains both
  • Could an honest cost estimate of net zero survive politics?

Politicians and activists enamoured with net zero made a very big mistake. They began to transition our energy system away from fossil fuels before providing a viable replacement source of power. The result has alerted the public to the threat and consequences of the energy transition.

As part of the research for my upcoming book Threat Zero: The Dark Side of Going Green and How Smart Investors Can Profit, I interviewed eight experts on why the energy transition will fail and how to profit from it.

Yesterday, I shared Mark Mills’ thoughts on the “Energy Transition Delusion”. Today, we hear from energy blogging sensation Doomberg. It has warned about what would happen when the public realised that, in the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer who should’ve provided the cost analysis, politicians have been “systemically dishonest” about the cost of net zero:

Nick Hubble:

You sort of touched on so many of the topics I want to dig into. The first one then is the idea of your quality of living and your standard of living is determined by how much excess energy you have – how much energy you have to waste.

That sounds bizarre and I was confused by it until you explained it quite well, but the easiest way to think about it for me is a recent example where the UK had a series of food shortages in specific foods over winter, which was related to the fact that the growers didn’t have the gas at cheap prices over the course of the winter and so as a result there was this gap in the food supply. So that’s a really good example of the connection between the fact that we can’t normally grow food, these particular types of food, I think it was cucumbers and tomatoes, during the winter unless we have this excess energy, this energy to waste in the sense that we’re using it to do something that’s really just almost like a splurge on ourselves, on our standard of living.

There’s this very direct connection between how much energy we have and how we can live and therefore if we’re trying to constrain how much energy we have to use via for example net zero that implies a lower standard of living almost by definition correct?


It absolutely does. And the best way to demonstrate this, of course, is to ponder what life was like before the advent of fossil fuels. You ate what food was available during harvest. You stored what you could by pickling or salting meat and so on. You burned wood locally because you needed to heat your home and your dwelling during the winter. And as a consequence, of course, homes were much smaller and lives were much simpler.

It is only the advent of fossil fuels that has allowed us to live the modern life that we’ve become accustomed to. Now, one of the big sleight of hands in the net zero movement is the public is being led to believe that we can transition away from fossil fuels without compromise and without any sacrifices on the part of the populace. And the reason why they’re being led to believe that is because, if they were told the truth, it would be a wildly unpopular platform. And no politician could get elected to office with that.

And so one of the things we’ve tried to do at Doomberg, and one of the phrases that we’ve popularised is, “In the battle between platitudes and physics, physics is undefeated”. I mean, ultimately, you show me a closed system and I’ll show you where the price is going to be paid. It has to be paid. The physics will not be denied.

We can decide collectively that we want to reorient our economy around the following equation: the total amount of standard of living we can create divided by our carbon emissions. But we shouldn’t ignore the numerator in that equation. We can decide collectively that we want to minimise our carbon emissions. But that must come at the expense of somebody’s standard of living. And we should be upfront about it. We should be honest about it. We should have an adult conversation about it, where we measure the trade-offs.

One of our expressions that we borrowed from a famous author whose name escapes me right now is “There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.” And so this fantasy talk that we’re we can somehow reinvent our economy and basically go backwards down the energy density ladder without consequence or recourse, and the only reason why we’re not is because of the evil fossil fuel companies who are profiteering… it’s just silliness. It’s absurd.

Now look, we can agree or disagree on the potential alarmist calamity that climate change represents. But you cannot ignore that if you’re going push net zero at the speed with which people are being led to believe it is possible, there will be social upheaval because ultimately the path between, you know, on the path from abundance to starvation is riot. People won’t put up with a sudden forced drop of their standard of living by the authorities. They just won’t.

Now that the public has got a taste of what net zero means, politicians will be hard-pressed to pitch it to them democratically.

But don’t think they’ll give up. They are, after all, trying to save the planet.

The real question is how you can prepare. More on that, and Doomberg’s interview, soon.

Until next time,

Nick Hubble
Editor, Fortune & Freedom