There are widespread calls for the UK government not to abandon a trailblazing tidal power project, but this energy source is no green panacea
By Hans van Haren
The fate of a pioneering £1.3 billion proposal to build a tidal power lagoon on the UK coast at Swansea hangs in the balance. Green energy supporters around the world have championed it as a trailblazer for a massive untapped source of dependable, renewable energy, calling on the UK government to commit to it.
However, tidal energy is not the saviour many people imagine it to be. The oceans have always created the impression of infinite potential, for example in terms of food resources and waste disposal …
BY NOW, it is just a question of which heart-rending image you choose. There is the hawksbill turtle struggling to free itself from a plastic bag. The sea of polystyrene trash floating over a Caribbean nature reserve. Or the sperm whale washed ashore in Spain, its stomach filled with plastic waste.
Since the introduction of mass-produced plastics in the early 20th century, humanity has produced an estimated 8300 million tonnes of the stuff. Around three-quarters has been thrown away, and 80 per cent of that has drifted into the environment or gone into landfill. Eight million tonnes a year end up in the ocean – 5 trillion pieces and counting.
It is an environmental catastrophe and a human one, too, as some people in parts of the developing world live ankle-deep in filthy, non-biodegrading plastic trash. The long-term health implications for all of us remain uncertain, as ingested plastic works its way up the food chain.
Everyone agrees something must be done. From banning plastic straws to rebooting recycling systems to harnessing plastic-munching bacteria, there is no shortage of touted solutions. It is less clear what would work best. But fixing the plastic waste crisis is going to take some seriously joined-up thinking. If we make the wrong decisions now, we risk making the problem worse.
If plastics didn’t exist, we would have to invent them. Generally made of oil-derived polymers, they can be hung with different chemical groups and spiced up with additives to give them wildly differing properties such as hardness, strength, density and heat-resistance. This makes them just the thing for everything from colourful, durable kids’ toys …
The UN has today announced that a three-degree rise in temperatures around the world will, eventually, solve everything. For a start, experts have announced that Kevin Spacey can’t swim and he, therefore, will perish . The studios that house the BBC’s ‘The Week’ are in London and will soon be underwater and consequently Harriet Harman will never be able to tell a joke again.
As the sea will soon be encroaching as far in as Durham and HMP Frankland, prisoner officers will just have to dump the bodies of inmates like Ian Huntley out the window for a suitable burial. Fishermen will also see their incomes skyrocket as all of the extra water will mean more fish inland and, without EU quotas after Brexit, fish will also have to pay council tax and monies raised will go directly to the fishing industry.
Cutbacks within the armed services are also likely to be negated by most UK residents evolving gills and webbed hands over a period of time and this kind of direct manpower is highly likely to mean that nuclear submarines and the Royal Navy become obsolete as the defence of the realm falls to an elite regional army of trident-wielding mermen, mermaids and transmen or transmaids or, as they prefer to be called, dolphins.
Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, both leading voices for positivity and looking on the bright side of things, especially when they are actually shite – have welcomed the UN’s report. The government and opposition have also agreed that the cold water that will lap around the testicles of male MPs should cool their ardour and resolve the matters of sexual misconduct at Westminster. The Lib Dems have expressed concern, though, that as Vince Cable has extended his life-expectancy mostly through a process of stuffing himself with sawdust, he is likely to become severely waterlogged and the Lib Dems are probably going to have to turn to a leader made completely out of cork.