It is up to all of us to stand up and be counted and voice our concerns when we feel the ‘establishment’ is getting it wrong. A good example is the attitude of the police last week who appeared to bend over backwards to reassure and condone the actions of the not so useful ‘idiots’ who were blocking the M25, causing accidents, delays including flights, to those going about their legitimate business.
Natural gas and electricity markets were already surging in Europe when a fresh catalyst emerged - the wind in the stormy North Sea stopped blowing.
The sudden slowdown in wind-driven electricity production off the coast of the UK in recent weeks, whipped through regional energy markets. Gas and coal-fired electricity plants were called to make up the shortfall from wind, and Russia has not helped by reducing supplies to Europe.
The heavy reliance on wind power, coupled with a shortage of natural gas, has led to a hike in energy prices across Europe, although the price shock is most acute in the UK which has leaned more heavily towards wind farms to eradicate net carbon emissions by 2050.
This episode highlights the precarious state the energy markets face as we head into the long winter. “It took a lot of people by surprise”, said Stefan Konstantinov, senior energy economist at data ICIS, of the leap in costs. “If this were to happen in winter when we’ve got significantly higher demand, then that presents a real issue for system stability.”
At their peak, UK electricity prices more than doubled at the start of September and were almost seven times as high as at the same point in 2020. Power markets also jumped in France, the Netherlands and Germany.
Next day prices rocketed to £285 a megawatt hour here, when wind speed dropped, according to ICIS. That is equivalent to £395 a megawatt hour and marked a record on figures going back to 1999!
Recently we were informed that there was a ‘bug’ crisis. People were reporting that their car windscreens and headlights were no longer covered with dead flies as they used to be. This apparently proved that we are heading towards bug Armageddon.
I would suggest that the pen pushers who went on to blame the farmers, spend a few nights out in the countryside where they will see a plague of bugs – all sorts. As we work into the increasingly dark evenings combining the beans and sowing next year’s crops, the air is thick with bugs including crane flies, moths, gnats, fireflies, and grasshoppers, many trying to enter tractor cabs, it has rarely been so intense.
During daylight hundreds of swallows circle overhead and swoop gorging themselves on this veritable feast of airborne tasty morsels.
Perhaps the bugs like us prefer the countryside, or maybe it is because motorway traffic runs at 50 MPH nowadays, giving the bugs time to avoid windscreens and headlights, unlike days gone by when we travelled at over and above 100 MPH!
As the debate about the shortage of HGV drivers continues, perhaps TV channels could air films which highlight the attractions of being a truck driver. In the past truckers were seen as heroes, highlighted by movies such as Smokey and the Bandit, Big Rig, Black Dog, Hell Driver and Convoy, and the TV series B.J and the Bear. Perhaps if they were treated with more respect, received better pay and facilities along their routes, there would not be a shortage.