Friday, January 30, 2009

Tom Levitt, Geoff Hoon and the logic of capitalism

As you'll see in the above extract from the House of Commons debate on Heathrow this Wednesday, Tom Levitt did his duty and supported Geoff Who?, as he had done previously in the local press. We'll regurgitate Hansard below in case you'd prefer to see the words spoken:

Levitt: Does my right hon. Friend agree that perhaps the most polluting and wasteful practice by Heathrow is stacking, in which aeroplanes have to wait to come into land? That is because the runways are used at 99 per cent. capacity, which causes problems with the reliability of services. Is it not the case that the first impact of a third runway would be to reduce carbon emissions through the reduction and even abolition of stacking?

Hoon: My hon. Friend makes an excellent point and one that was completely ignored by the hon. Lady. At any given time, there can be as many as four stacks of aircraft waiting to land. The average delay at Heathrow—caused by the capacity problems—is some 19 minutes, and some aircraft are delayed for far longer. Therefore it is necessary to address the question of capacity, in carbon terms as much as for any other reason.

The logic used is the same as used by the proponents of the Longdendale Bypass, which of course includes Levitt. That congestion - be it in the air or on the roads - causes pollution (in this case CO2 emissions) and the best way to treat this is by increasing capacity. The perverse and contradictory logic on display is their worldview turned on its head. They support capitalism, and support the infinite growth it seeks. But in this case, they seek to cloak that logic in the clothes of environmentalism. The truth is that expanding capacity will simply serve to increase demand - more planes in the air (or cars on the road) equals more pollution. 

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