Tag Archives: pollution

The backstory behind the war on cars in the UK

On May 20th, 2019, I gave a talk to the Libertarian Alliance about the damaging political policies being imposed on car drivers in the UK, and the history behind them. Normally, these talks are recorded on video. But on this occasion, an unfortunate combination of circumstances prevented a recording. As this subject is a topical one – and becoming more so by the day – I thought it appropriate to create a “transcript” of the talk, re-constructed from my notes.


On April 8th, 2019, London mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) went live in the Congestion Charge area in central London. It now costs the driver £12.50 a day, on top of the congestion charge, to drive in this zone a diesel car built before September 2015, or a petrol car built before 2006. This is an outrageous amount; and it also has to be paid at week-ends! This scheme is planned to be extended to all of the area inside North and South Circular Roads in October 2021. And after that, who knows?

Beyond this, there is talk of charging drivers of diesel cars to enter any of 35 or so cities around the UK. Some cities, like Southampton, have decided not to do this. Others, like Birmingham, are pressing on. Meanwhile, on May 9th the Times began a campaign claiming that “air pollution on the streets is poisoning 2.6 million schoolchildren,” and that this is due to “clogged roads”.

And yet, a recent (May 2nd) Sky News poll showed that more than 50 per cent of a random sample of people in the UK were “unwilling to significantly reduce the amount they drive, fly and eat meat,” either to combat climate change or to protect the environment in a more general sense. This is evidence of a huge disconnect between the political classes and the people!

There is a long backstory behind all this, which not many people seem to be aware of. In the last two years, I’ve managed to pull a lot of this backstory together. So, tonight I’ll bring it out into the open for you. In the process, I’ll identify what I call the Ten Deadly Dishonesties. These are attitudes and ploys that anti-car and other green campaigners have used, many of them more than once, in the course of their political machinations. Read more


Why Libertarians Should Read Mises – Part Two

Why Libertarians Should Read Mises

Part Two

By Duncan Whitmore


In Part One of this series of three essays exploring the significance of Ludwig von Mises for libertarian thought, we examined the specific place that Mises holds in our tradition, and outlined the unique sophistication of his utilitarian theory in favour of freedom compared to that of other theories that can be grouped into this bracket.

In this part we will turn our attention to a detailed analysis of the action axiom – the keystone of Misesian economic theory – and its implications for concepts that we readily encounter in libertarianism.

Somewhat ironically, it was largely as a result of his influence that the wertfreiheit of Mises’ praxeology was regarded as a separate discipline from the search for an ultimate, ethical justification of liberty – a belief that was sustained by Murray N Rothbard.1 In more recent years, Hans-Hermann Hoppe has probably come closest to providing a link between the two through his derivation of “argumentation ethics” within the praxeological framework, and his identification of the pervasive problem of scarcity – a key praxeological concept – as underpinning any system of ethics.

Nevertheless, one may conclude that a full reconciliation, or synthesis, between the two is still wanting and that there remain other important commonalities to which this essay will seek to provide an introduction. Some of what we will learn below will have implications for a general understanding of right, and that the truths we reveal are inescapable for any political philosophy. Others will be specifically pertinent to libertarianism and will provide us with insights as to how we can further the libertarian goal. Read more

Convivial costs

This is a brief addendum to my earlier essays on Conviviality and Good Governance.

In writing my recent paper about diesel cars, I found myself using the idea of “social cost.” The Business Dictionary defines this as “the expense to an entire society resulting from a news event, an activity or a change in policy.” Wikipedia calls it “the private cost plus externalities.” An externality from something is a cost or benefit that affects a party, who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit.

This set me thinking about how a convivial order, which includes a minimal system of good governance, would deal with such costs. (I’m assuming that an unintended benefit to others, or positive externality, wouldn’t require any action by anyone – except that the doer might choose to stop doing it.) The most obvious example of such a cost is the cost to others of pollution, such as air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution. But it can also be applied to other activities, such as the cost to innocent individuals of bad, politicized regulations and taxes. In this paper, however, for simplicity I’ll use the word “polluter” for the party causing such a cost.

Read more

Green wasters

David Davis

When I drive around, usually in a hurry to do tasks and chores, I am often struck (not literally, thankfully) by the use of Municipal waste-collection vehicles, and the effect they often have on surrounding traffic.

Let me explain: I am not in principle against many parts of the GreeNazi-recycling terror currently oppressing us. It would be preferable if we were incentivised to recycle rather than threatened. Some things like metals can be recycled rather simply, and often have been until socialism lent a hand.  And I have always tried to recycle metals, even in the past befriending Gypsies who used to recover about 40% of British Steel’s volume input before they were turned en-masse into Accredited-State-Mendicants, Local-Authority-Authorised-Neighbourhood-Modifiers, and “travelling people”, in the hope of votes for apparatchiks.

Municipal waste-collection vehicles have become recently enormous. Moreover, they spend large time-segments occupying the entirety of a street to the effect that traffic can’t pass either way, while the “refuse disposal associate operatives” and “neighbourhood recycling co-ordinators” stride about in high-visibility-jackets, tipping nugatory amounts of metal, paper or plastic into compartments on their juggernaut, which proceeds at a pace bearing no relation to the street traffic.

I can’t help thinking that the nett contribution to atmospheric CO2 – if that is what the GreeNazis really care about or say they do – is increased due to these recycling activities. You have a large slow-moving diesel truck (indeed, in each Soviet there are many) plus the stalled traffic, engines idling for some minutes, either end of it. The amount of fuel burned while not going anywhere must be high, surely. The later savings in CO2 production due only to the recycling activities must be small in comparison.

Perhaps the whole thing is a gigantic Marxist-Leninist scam-trick, designed to load the economies of MEDCs*** with cost-burdens, so as to keep as large a proportion as possible of the world’s humans on or below the poverty-line…..so the same Marxist-Leninists can have a captive slave-brood to talk about….