Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Buncefield fuel depot explosion doesn't matter

Accidents will happen.

Sure it's awful. All those carcinogens in the air and water supply. All that pollution, damage and disruption.

But hey, it's fine. We won't grumble. We can manage. The plant managers did their best.

That's been the general reaction to the explosion from locals and government.

"I didn't give the plant a moment's thought - anyway, one accident in 30 years isn't too bad", said one man living half a mile away who'd been sent to hospital with glass in his eye.

Now, just do a little thought experiment. If this explosion had been due to a terrorist attack, what would the reaction have been like?

"We need more security!" "New laws!" "They tried to completely destroy our way of life!" "Striking at the heart of the British infrastructure and economy!"

So it's gratifying to hear a more objective voice of reason.

Step forward Professor Rob Thring, head of the University's Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering. Professor Thring said the explosion and reactions to it: "have shown that we are like drug addicts, hooked on petroleum".

Which is exactly what the Low Carbon Kid thinks.

Addicts are always in denial about the negative aspects of their addiction.

I knew one once who carried on injecting even when he had to have his leg amputated. I know a cancer sufferer who keeps smoking; she's already lost one breast.

Vast clouds of noxious smoke burning for days? Square miles of devastation? Bring it all on! We can take it.

By the way, Prof Thring wants us to develop fuel cells rapidly if we want to continue using motor vehicles. His Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cells use hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air to produce electricity.

He believes petrol prices should be increased and the extra revenue ploughed into fuel cell research.

Professor Thring said: "If we can all use motor vehicles so freely, without any thought for cost, then clearly fuel is too cheap and there is no incentive for us to consider alternative energy sources."

Dream on, professor. It'll never be too expensive until it runs out. £5 litre? Never mind I'll just sell my body -- and the kids.