May 31, 2011

LAST NIGHT, a reader asked me if Frank Herbert’s Bureau of Sabotage was behind the Weinergate incident. I replied that with politicians, it’s mostly self-sabotage, making BuSab superfluous.

This observation is true from a policy standpoint too, and here’s the latest example: Environmental tax threatens green energy research in UK: Carbon reduction commitment (CRC) scheme has ‘perverse effect’ of threatening zero-carbon energy research.

World-class research into future sources of green energy is under threat in Britain from an environmental tax designed to boost energy efficiency and drive down carbon emissions, scientists claim.

Some facilities must find hundreds of thousands of pounds to settle green tax bills, putting jobs and research at risk.

The unexpected impact of the government’s carbon reduction commitment (CRC) scheme is so severe that scientists and research funders have lobbied ministers for an exemption to reduce the bills.

Among the worst hit is the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, a facility for research into almost limitless carbon-free energy. The lab faces an estimated £400,000 payment next year, raising the spectre of job losses and operational cuts. “Considering our research is aimed at producing zero-carbon energy, it seems ironic and perverse to clobber us with an extra bill,” a senior scientist at the lab said. “We have to use electricity to run the machine and there is no way of getting around that.”

Perverse, indeed. All part of the Knowledge Problem, of course.