The law of unintended consequences

I don’t often apologise to the government of the People’s Republic of China but I confess I have been somewhat sceptical about their sincerity when it comes to cutting carbon emissions. But apparently they are trying. The government laid down strict limits on the amount of energy that could be used in various provinces. But when lockdown ended, there were a lot of orders to fulfil and a big backlog to clear. So in a lot of places they went gung-ho to get production back on track. After all, the lackeys of the imperialist running dogs needed their cheap clothes and trainers. They were obviously worried we might have to go naked into the coming winter. But their self-sacrifice was for nothing.  It appears that twenty of the thirty provinces and regions in China massively increased their energy consumption.

The National Development and Reform Commission which monitors these things is cracking down. Local officials will be held responsible (now that is an enlightened attitude that could do with spreading) and in some places plants have been ordered to close. A lot of other plants are working at a lot lower throughput, using less energy.

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-strike-harder-against-regions-that-fail-curb-energy-use-2021-09-16/

This sort of thing knocks on through the world economy in two ways. On a facebook group I sort of follow, somebody posted a photo of empty shelves in a shop selling the spray paints that he uses for his craft work. He is from Michigan. The people joining in the discussion came from around the English speaking world and the EU. All had noticed the same shortage. But then the paints probably came from the same factory.

Given that the Chinese aren’t selling, they’re also cutting back on their buying. German exports to China have fallen. China was Germany’s second largest market (after the EU) so this is serious. Fortunately for the Germans, sales to the USA increased, making the USA Germany’s second largest market. The cynic wonders whether this change will knock-on into foreign policy. Watch out for the new chancellor saying something positive about the importance of NATO?

There is another knock-on as well. The drive for greener energy means that the Chinese are moving away from coal, so they’ve been shifting to gas. Apparently, “Chinese state media quoted Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday as saying the country will secure its energy and power supplies following a series of blackouts and shortages that have forced a large number of companies to restrict output.”

https://www.ft.com/content/73c5aeb7-3d55-4405-97d5-ff44057855cc

It seems that word has come down from above that state-owned energy companies are to secure supplies for this winter at all costs. So if you’re worried about the cost of your gas central heating, the price of gas isn’t going to fall at any point in the near future.

But this web of interconnectivity links us all. Chatham House is doing some interesting work.

https://www.chathamhouse.org/about-us/our-departments/environment-and-society-programme/chokepoints-and-vulnerabilities-global

A lot of our food not only travels a long way, but passes through a lot of choke points where it could be seriously delayed. Whilst our grain might not pass through the Suez Canal or the Bosporus, should something block them for any length of time, the countries who do rely on that grain are going to be scrabbling round trying to ensure they don’t go hungry. They’re going to be in the market, bidding the price up to ensure people don’t starve. It’s not going to be pretty.

But then the World Bank said

https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/agriculture/brief/food-security-and-covid-19

“Global food security relies increasingly on international trade. Production of grain is highly concentrated in just a handful of regions – principally the US Midwest, the Black Sea region, and Brazil.

Together, these breadbaskets supply the majority of the world’s wheat, maize and soybean and, crucially, provide the principal source of staple food supply in the most food-insecure countries of the Middle East, North Africa and East Africa.”

Things are getting fragile. Unfortunately it seems that when faced with covid, received wisdom meant the governments just switched the economy off and switched it back on again. It might work with a computer, but it takes a world economy a lot longer to boot up that even windows 10. Not only that but it looks as if it’s going to reboot in a subtly different format.

I think it’s probably time for people to adopt a more global view and realise that the problems are not caused by the political party they dislike in the country where they happen to live.

♥♥♥♥

There again, what do I know? Speak to the experts

Look what the cat brought in

As an ebook from everybody but Amazon

https://books2read.com/u/md7XEX

And from Amazon, should they even get round to linking to wordpress

But here is is using the old classic block system https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B092TV6X9S/

As a reviewer commented, “Another gentle and entertaining read about the pros and cons of Farming, ably assisted by Sal the collie dog and Billy the feral farm cat.
As always, I’m amazed Farmers make enough money to keep their farms and families going, given the ‘guidance’ given by the ‘experts’ in government and the Civil Service…

As a reviewer commented, “Another gentle and entertaining read about the pros and cons of Farming, ably assisted by Sal the collie dog and Billy the feral farm cat.
As always, I’m amazed Farmers make enough money to keep their farms and families going, given the ‘guidance’ given by the ‘experts’ in government and the Civil Service…”

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13 thoughts on “The law of unintended consequences

  1. Cathy Cade October 11, 2021 at 8:50 am Reply

    “I think it’s probably time for people to adopt a more global view and realise that the problems are not caused by the political party they dislike in the country where they happen to live.”
    Amen to that.
    (Except that won’t happen. When powerless, it’s easier to lash out at the nearest available target than to think.)

    • jwebster2 October 11, 2021 at 8:55 am Reply

      It’s not just the powerless, it’s those who were in power last who want to use it as a stick to beat their political opponents with. Which is pretty mendacious given that they aspire to be the government and you’d hope they knew better.

  2. Cathy Cade October 11, 2021 at 9:24 am Reply

    But then you expect that from politicians…

    • jwebster2 October 11, 2021 at 10:30 am Reply

      The problem is, politicians have people who actually believe what they say ;-(

  3. Widdershins October 12, 2021 at 3:02 am Reply

    I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll have to look far closer to home for food security in the coming decades.

  4. rootsandroutes2012 October 12, 2021 at 4:23 am Reply

    So it’s Amazon that’s messing up your WordPress site. There’s customer care for you 😦

    • jwebster2 October 12, 2021 at 6:19 am Reply

      Trouble is it’s between Amazon and wordpress and it seems to be something in the wordpress block system that they use to create the blogs. Amazon isn’t talking to it. Others have the problem

      I’ve put a link in using the old classic block system and that works fine as a link without attempting to pull over a pretty picture from amazon

  5. M T McGuire October 12, 2021 at 6:53 am Reply

    One example. As I understand it, there is a big paper crisis on at the moment and that, while exacerbated by covid, is actually caused by the fact the Suez canal was blocked for a couple of months. A lot of the stuff that goes into paper didn’t get to the mills in China, a lot of the the paper that has already been made is sitting queuing to get through the Suez canal in the backlog of traffic. So that massive boat that got stuck is having a huge knock on effect. Ways this has popped up well one of them is a shortage of cremation urns.

    Because of Covid there is urn shortage already – more deaths and cremations than are expected usually. A big run on them. As a result people are turning to the eco-friendly cardboard ones. There are now very few of these about because the paper crisis has hit the card from which these urns are made. Not enough new ones are coming into the country and demand is outstripping supply. If the design you want is out of stock delivery time is up to 2 months.

    I do think that when it comes to transport sending all the truckers home was unhelpful but at the same time the even more helpful solution would have been to pay truckers and decent wage in the first place. That makes prices go up and occasionally we might not be able to have something we want instantly. It is perfectly possible to cope when that happens but we might have forgotten how.

  6. Jack Eason October 13, 2021 at 4:27 am Reply

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    …and now for something completely different!!!!!

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