G-Wiz Electric Car

Banning the G-Wiz sums up Labour I mean come off it. Are we men or mice in this country? I have just overtaken two girls in the cleanest, greenest, sweetest four-wheeled self-propelled invention to hit the London streets since the first horseless carriage arrived at the end of the 19th century. This machine is so simple and yet so revolutionary that it restores one's faith in scientific progress. Not since the windmills sprouted on the roofs of Notting Hill has there been a gizmo so deliriously trendy and yet so gentle to the upper air. I am talking about the G-Wiz electric car. In case you have yet to spot one of these mobile rabbit hutches, they are manufactured in India out of plastic and rubber bands, and since they are powered by a battery they emit no more CO2 than a small dandelion. They are at once as green, and as hopeful for the future of capitalism, as a dollar bill. You simply recharge them overnight like a mobile phone, and then you can pootle around town with the blissful satisfaction that you are not only saving money - at 1.3p per mile, the G-Wiz's efficiency is only exceeded by the bicycle. You are saving time, since you can park almost anywhere you like. You can stick its little rump at right-angles to the kerb, and because it is electric you don't even have to pay to put it on a meter, and indeed you can hug yourself as you watch the traffic wardens sniffing around the car like baffled hyenas. Above all, my friends, if you drive a G-Wiz you are saving the planet. It is a joyful contraption; it costs less than £7,000; it is eco-friendly, and gaining rapidly in popularity; and how, therefore, do you think it is viewed by the emanations of the British state? They want to ban it, of course. No, wait. It's even wetter than that. They want Brussels to ban it for them! Some brainbox at the Department of Transport has spotted one of the 750 G-Wiz machines now on the streets of London, and has sucked his teeth. Hmm, he has said to himself. That looks too good to be true. So they have done some tests, and "proved" that the G-Wiz would not be safe in a violent collision with an Eddie Stobart pantechnicon. How about that, eh? Unsafe? Of course it's unsafe. You don't have to use a test-crash dummy to see that. Just look at the thing. To call it a golf cart would be an insult to the relatively cheetah-like qualities of the average golf cart. It has less grunt than a Flymo. It's a Fisher-Price toy of a car, a glorified Airfix model, and that is why it is so light, and that is why it can be driven by a battery at a roistering top speed of 42mph, and that is why it is no more noxious to the atmosphere than a baby's breath. As I have lately discovered in my capacity as ace test-driver for GQ magazine, it is a wonderful machine, and it is almost as if the Government cannot bear the populace to have their hands on anything so wonderful and cheap and simple. Transport minister Stephen Ladyman yesterday denounced the G-Wiz, and said it was not in conformity with EU regulations. This is not a car at all, he said. It must be reclassified as a quadricycle, and he wants Brussels to kick it off our streets. Well, folks, how pathetic is that? It's as though we have got into some weird S & M relationship with the EU, in which ministers go around asking for correction. After years of ritual humiliation at the hands of Madame de Bruxelles, the fabled dominatrix, the man in Whitehall has become addicted to discipline. Oooh, yes, they say. Tell us we've been naughty. Tell us we were wrong to let it on our streets. Tell us we should have classified it as a quadricycle! Madame de Bruxelles will obligingly crack her whip, and what is the result? The EU's vehicle homologation committee will meet. It will decide that, if the G-Wiz is to be classified as a car, it will need to undergo complete rigidification of the chassis. It will be fitted with airbags and side impact protection systems, and special pedestrian-friendly bumpers, and at the end of this horrifying surgical procedure - a kind of reverse liposuction - it will have doubled in weight, just as every other car on the roads is now far heavier than they were 10 years ago. And these absurd and pointless safety measures will in turn generate two absurdities. The new obese G-Wiz would still be crushed like a beer can on collision with a cement mixer, and yet it will be so laden with safety equipment that it will be far more dangerous, on impact, to pedestrians. Worse still, of course, it will be far harder and more expensive - and much less green - to make it move by battery alone. In fact, the whole concept will be more or less wrecked. That is why Mr Ladyman - Girly-man, more like! - should stop this drivelling appeal to Brussels to ban a brilliant invention. He should listen to Oliver Letwin's excellent speech on Tuesday, in which he explained the Tory view of the relation between the citizen and the state. It is not just about taxing less, and running the economy efficiently - vital though those goals are. It's about seeing the catastrophic fiscal impact of having a bossy, regulatory approach, by which new laws and new interdictions endlessly necessitate the creation of new taxpayer-funded officials to enforce those laws. It's therefore about treating people like grown-ups, and letting them take their own risks, without endlessly and expensively substituting the judgment and protection of the state. You have only to take one look at the plucky little G-Wiz to see that is no less (and no more) dangerous than a bicycle. We don't need the Department of Transport to tell us that, and we certainly don't need Brussels. The customer can see that it is vulnerable; but he also knows that the G-Wiz fleet has travelled 20 million miles without a bad accident and with negligible CO2. Let him weigh it up himself.

57 thoughts on “G-Wiz Electric Car”

  1. The G-wiz is unsafe according to reports (although how unbias they are I do not know). At only forty miles and hour it crumples up to the point that passengers will probably be a DNA identification job and i cannot see how an airbag or side impact bars would help any (although I know nothing about cars). However, most cars go much faster than forty miles per hour so perhaps they are just as dangerous to the occupants at seventy miles per hour. Personally I would not like to be in an accident in a speeding smartcar or mini. Also I would have thought that this car was intended for use in cities where, I think, most accidents involve pedestrians anyway so surely the fact that this car would only be hitting a person at forty-two miles per hour would mean that this car is statistically safer.

    But the issue comes down once again to the idea of the nanny state. If people know a car is dangerous if it is in a relativly low speed accident then should it be banned or should they get to make their own choice as it is after all their own life. Most things in life are dangerous in some way and we cannot control them all. Should it be made a crime to walk across a wet kitchen floor in case we slip and crack our heads open, should we all be forced to only buy pre-chopped food in case we accidently stab ourselves with a carving knife etc.

  2. Apparently they are currently legal to drive on motorways – this strikes me as almost as bonkers as taking my pedal cycle onto a motorway – but in a city it seems sensible to accept that there is a risk to the user, just as there is to me on a bike, publicise the facts, but then let people get on with their own decisions.

    Incidentally Boris, since you claim to love cycling, how about two campaigns:
    i) zero Vat rating on bikes and accessories
    ii) a free copy of Cyclecraft to everyone in the country (can’t make them read it, but I wish everyone would).

    Together these might persuade more people (as well as those scared of the Tube) onto bikes – it may not stop climate change, but it would surely make folk fitter, healthier and more productive.

  3. I should be careful where you go with this kind of argument, Boris. The more you try to protect the Gwiz, the more likely it is that some zealous bureaucrat somewhere will get the hump and take a closer look at the bicycle. Which, it has to be said, is likely to be even less safe in a 40mph collision with Eddie Stobart’s finest.

    Keep your head below the parapet, boy. That way they might not notice…

  4. Further to the transport (and nannying) themes. Presumably you have a sensible view on the cycle path silliness in the proposed Highway Code changes? The are, of course, all of a piece with the rest of the nannying

  5. No CO2? THese things produce CO2 from the coal-powered stations that create the electricity to power them.

  6. < ‘So they have done some tests, and “proved” that the G-Wiz would not be safe …’ (Boris)<

    Yes, that’s all well and good, but they are still providing a tax incentive for people to drive classic cars. Crashing an MGB into one of the approved EU tanks that roll off production lines from Croatia to Spain these days would not be pretty (for the MGB driver that is). Like you point out, cars are getting heavier, therefore negating the fuel efficiency savings created by new engine technologies. It’s a mad old world Boris. Perosnally I’d love a return to the good old days when a small car didn’t weigh the same as an elephant. My second ever car, a top of the range Peugeot 1.9 litre 405, weighed less than a bog standard 1.4 litre 207.

    < ‘It’s as though we have got into some weird S & M relationship with the EU, in which ministers go around asking for correction.’ (Boris)<

    In the ‘scene’ I believe they call it ‘financial servitude’, apparently it’s sought after by well to do laywers, rich businessmen, high court judges and even politicans. Believe it or not, there are people out there who seek out a cruel mistress who will spend all their money for them and punish them for the privilege. The thought that these bizarre characters are running the country doesn’t exactly instill be with confidence. Didn’t that famous dominatrix that got done for tax dodging in the 80’s reckon she’d seen a couple of hundred MP’s?

  7. People take absurd risks all the time. Look at how they cross the road in certain parts of London, for a start. If the information about the car’s performance in crash tests is easily available (which it certainly is, particularly in these days of the internet), then why the need for further state intervention? If someone wishes to choose to drive such a car, then it is his or her choice.

    Take a look at America, where everyone seems to drive giant Dodge 3500 pickups or similar vehicles, as a result, at least in part, of an ‘arms race’ between everyone wanting a larger and stronger car.

  8. By the way, IS wants:

    “i) zero Vat rating on bikes and accessories
    ii) a free copy of Cyclecraft to everyone in the country (can’t make them read it, but I wish everyone would).”

    (i) If only you knew the cost, chaos and injustice resulting from the never-ending ‘exemptions’ to VAT, and the atrocious system of law which has resulted, I think you’d be less enthusiastic

    (ii) Free? You wot? What planet are you on? Who would pay – Father Xmas???? You mean taxpayer-funded, I presume.

  9. Whilst the power stations originally powering these things do spit out CO2 (although if you buy green leccy they don’t have to) you still get the pollution equivalent of ~145mpg from an electric car because a large engine is more efficient than a small one, and this offsets even the transmission and battery charging losses considerably. This means we would still win even if we continued to use coal power stations, and thats before we take the improvements to air quality in our town centers into account. (although don’t talk to the residents of Didcot about this)

    As far as i can see it the real problem with the G-wiz (and the reason i don’t own one) is its top speed makes it impossible to use on a motorway, having been priced out of London i have to commute by train and one of these chappies would be an ideal (and scarily cheaper) alternative.

    For a real mans electric car http://www.teslamotors.com/ seems to provide a hopeful glimpse of the future. Now i only need ~$100k for a shiny red electric sports car built by lotus…

  10. “The new obese G-Wiz would still be crushed like a beer can on collision with a cement mixer…”

    For the record Boris, there is no such thing as a ‘cement mixer’ outside the ordinary portland (etc.) factories that produce cement. The probability of encountering one on the open road is negligible even by quantum mechanical standards.

    Use the term ‘cement mixer’ in the community of civil or building engineers at your peril; you would be justly ridiculed as a ‘southern pansy’, one of the primary credentials for which pejorative is a complete lack of knowledge and/or understanding of the provenance and applications of concrete.

    That said, in some circles you would also qualify for the aforementioned epithet by not knowing how to operate and maintain a Cat D9 dozer.

  11. “No CO2? THese things produce CO2 from the coal-powered stations that create the electricity to power them.”

    Very true. The only difference between the present and the, so-called, ‘steam age’ is that we currently ‘put the coal in’ twenty miles away.

    Or, alternatively, the plutonium, which leads us to the conclusion that plutonium is just high tech coal and should probably be delivered in big bags, carried on environmentally friendly horse drawn carts to those fortunates with a plutonium cellar.

  12. James ‘Mick’ McDougall said

    “No CO2? THese things produce CO2 from the coal-powered stations that create the electricity to power them.” Very true. The only difference between the present and the, so-called, ‘steam age’ is that we currently ‘put the coal in’ twenty miles away. Or, alternatively, the plutonium, which leads us to the conclusion that plutonium is just high tech coal and should probably be delivered in big bags, carried on environmentally friendly horse drawn carts to those fortunates with a plutonium cellar

    Excellent comment if I may say so. The Labour govt would probably try to sell a nuclear waste spill in Worcester as a feature for lighting up the town – more sophisticated to glow in the dark? 😀

  13. < ‘Whilst the power stations originally powering these things do spit out CO2 (although if you buy green leccy they don’t have to)’ (Richard Plakett)<

    If every consumer fell for buying ‘green leccy’ do you really think the means of productions would change? Try looking at how that national grid works as oppossed to the sales patter on your doorstep!

  14. A little off topic but nevermind. Steven_L Yes i do understand how the grid works, but i thought it better to encourage these things as they seem to be a step in the right direction. I asked a friend who works with wind farms which company supported them most and went with them. Apparently there is a loose promise to buy as much electricity from a wind farm as i use, no salesman came into it, and indeed when they did several years before their tactics put me off and i refused to switch supplier.

    The point i was making was that it is globally still more environmentally friendly to drive an all electric car even if the power comes from a heavily CO2 emitting power station.

  15. OK, so if every consumer in the UK switched to Scottish Hydro tomorrow are you seriously suggesting we shut down our gas and nuclear plants?

  16. British press rips Blair

    They’ve been rough on Tony over in England, his resignation today was no exception. Here’s how the big

  17. The problem is that the world’s major auto makers refuse to make electric cars, despite the contribution they would make to reducing pollution, carbon emissions and petroleum dependence. Here in California, once upon a time the state mandated the production of electric cars. I still drive one of them, a Toyota RAV4 EV. Best car I’ve ever driven – uses no gasoline, goes 80mph, has a 125 mile range. The struggle for electric cars continues in California. Check out http://www.pluginamerica.com

  18. No im suggesting that if they did there might be a bit more investment in renewable energy and that would be a good thing.

  19. Yes, in terms of energy security, Saudi light crude ain’t gonna last forever. In 20 years time when they are interested in 6th generation planes the Yanks will take their business anyway.

  20. “i) zero Vat rating on bikes and accessories” – IS

    Actually you can already buy bikes and accessories VAT-free if you’re in employment through some government scheme or other. I don’t know the specifics because as a student I’m not eligible, but I did notice that it is the case.

    No CO2? THese things produce CO2 from the coal-powered stations that create the electricity to power them. – matthew

    Perhaps, but there are changes that can be easily made to a coal power station (such as bubbling the exhaust through an algae-pond! I love this for the sheer ingenuity), and there are ‘green’ options. You can hardly drive around town with a solar panel, wind turbine, tidal generator or nuclear reactor in your car can you? Use those for the power generation and a battery in the car and it’s clean(ish).

  21. electricity is nonsense for cars anyway.

    It’s all very well to say that an electric car has a 125mph range, but what happens when it reaches the end of its range? You have to wait 8 hours while it charges.

    My petrol car recharges instantly, when I fill it with petrol at the petrol station.

  22. Don’t worry, once Ken prices all other vehicles out of London, the G-Wiz will take over. It will thus be safer, and it’s safety factor will also be improved following the publication of the test results. Other cities will follow suit. Large heavy vehicles will be banned except at certain hours for deliveries, the G-Wiz will be restricted to these urban areas. People will transfer between the G-Wiz and their petrol/diesel/whatever vehicle at city limits. Well ……. maybe. Does sound a bit Science Fiction.

  23. No CO2? THese things produce CO2 from the coal-powered stations that create the electricity to power them. – Matthew

    Breathing creates CO2. Should we ban that too? The zeal with which people pounce on anything that whiffs of self-interest or convenience nauseates me, frankly. It’s as if they’re trying to outdo everyone by become the most pathetically self-abasing. Or maybe they just want to demonise the kind of aspirational or assertive people that make them feel inferior. Either way, it’s pathetic.

  24. K said:

    “Personally I would not like to be in an accident in a speeding smartcar or mini.”

    I’ve seen mini’s crash tested (new ones) and whilst I wouldn’t want to be in one during a crash,(or any other car for that matter) they take a hell of a beating. Small doesn’t necessarily equate to fragile.
    Old mini: death trap.

  25. I think the issue is not so much which produces more CO^2, but whether CO^2 is actually a problem.
    While no-one is denying that global warming is occurring and could cause problems most scientists will agree that climate change is a natural process and the earth would be undergoing climate change now regardless of human presence. The only people who seem convinced that human are causing climate change are politicians and those that like to feel morally superior(they also seem to be under the immpression that the earth has always had the exact same climate, I assume) and in fairness, as much as I trust a climate forcast carried out by a PPE graduate or an aging hippy, I am going with the geoscientist.
    The environment is a gift to politicians who want to be seen to have tough, active policies. Most people do not really care that much about global warming so a politican can come up with all sorts of tough policies and relativly few will be up in arms (unless you go too far) and what is more, the minority that are convinced that humans have caused global warming tend to be an extremely vocal minority (empty vessels make the most noise as it were). If a politician actually tried to focus on issues such as immigration and the justice system he risks having some people (again the vocal minority) up in arms which is something no politican wants to risk even though the silent majority agree with them.

    The environment has become the new way to save people from themselves. I am certain that those people who harp on about global warming and the beauty of recycling would have been trying to convince African tribes to follow Jesus if they had lived a couple of hundred years ago or would have been visting victorian slums telling the residents how to save themselves from vice. It is all just a way to feel morally superior and to reaffirm ones place in the heirarchy.

  26. “The environment has become the new way to save people from themselves. I am certain that those people who harp on about global warming and the beauty of recycling would have been trying to convince African tribes to follow Jesus if they had lived a couple of hundred years ago or would have been visting victorian slums telling the residents how to save themselves from vice. It is all just a way to feel morally superior and to reaffirm ones place in the heirarchy.”

    As a vehicle engineer, it’s a way for to persuade people to give me money. Trust me, I’ll spend it much more wisely than Broon would. For example, did he swill a large bottle of Taitinger last night whilst toasting Tony’s long overdue departure? Actually, that’s not such a good example, as he no doubt did.

    As for whether global warming is real or not, I’m unconvinced, but burning less oil now means we’ll have more for later, which makes perfect sense to me regardless.

  27. Captain Badger said:
    May 11, 2007 12:51 PM | permalink

    Old mini: death trap.

    I am afraid i have to disagree, I was in one which was written off with £5500 worth of damge, quite good for a car that was worth £800, And im still walking and so is my passenger who at the time had no seat belt on. I will admit it wasn’t the happiest moment of my motoring life.
    Old cars were built to be ridgid where as new cars are built with crumple zones and although a crash in a newer car is less likely to be such a rough ride it is still as likely to kill you, Take an old espace and a new espace in a head on the newer car will sustain more damage and a higher intrusion into the cabin area where as the older car (being rust free and well looked after) will remain mostly intact but without air bags you just die from the head injury on the steering wheel not the front bumper of the car that hit you.

  28. But it does not really take a lot to write off a mini does it so it is not fair to compare a collision that writes off a mini to a collision that writes off a four wheel drive.

  29. Pedro said:

    Old cars were built to be ridgid where as new cars are built with crumple zones and although a crash in a newer car is less likely to be such a rough ride it is still as likely to kill you, Take an old espace and a new espace in a head on the newer car will sustain more damage and a higher intrusion into the cabin area where as the older car (being rust free and well looked after) will remain mostly intact but without air bags you just die from the head injury on the steering wheel not the front bumper of the car that hit you.

    Have to take issue with your point there and disagree, and agree with Capt. Badger – an ‘old’ Espace and a new Espace? If we’re talking old minis than anyEspace is a ‘new’ car, ie. a modern car. An old mini is one with a sub frame and you had to have the car pumped up with blue fuid every now and again. Brand new they were only £600 so if you did £5500 worth of damage then that is NOT an old mini, unless it has provenance (owned by a Beetle?) or gold plated. Believe me, old mini = death trap.

    I agree that “Old cars were built to be ridgid where as new cars are built with crumple zones” but I do NOT agree that “a crash in a newer car is less likely to be such a rough ride [but] is still as likely to kill you” – what do you think technological advancement is for, just keeping engineers out of pubs at lunchtime? The crumple zones absorb energy so you don’t hit the steering wheel with as much force OR the bumper of the car hitting you. Seatbelts have arguably had the biggest impact in saving lives I think, if memory serves me well.

    I don’t agree with every claim to protection, such as side impact bars in the Volvo – an excellent car until they had those as standard as I understand they tended to act as deadlocks to the doors in a corner impact (which is not unlikely). But let us not forget ABS brakes and the forgotton hero’s of today – modern tyres!

  30. “Brand new they were only £600 so if you did £5500 worth of damage then that is NOT an old mini, unless it has provenance (owned by a Beetle?) or gold plated. Believe me, old mini = death trap.”

    for reference i was talking Old Mini and when it got written off it was totalled at £5500 worth of damage on all the paperwork (the sum of the parts is more than the whole!!!!), and i only paid £800 fot it. hence the only worth £800, And it was an H reg 1990 model so modern by some standards but not a BMW and more than £600 new.
    And by old Espace i meant the first from the 80’s.
    I agree that seat belts and ABS have been huge steps forward in terms of life saving measures but all a crumple zone does is lower the impact if you hit a standing object, i belive thats what they are developed for, with another car coming head on it will result in more intrusion into the cabin as the old(er) car will run straight through it. being Ridgid and designed not to crumple and with the momentum behind it very dangerous. But truth be told the only truely safe car’s are ones with no one driving them and parked in a garage.
    Im sure that’s what the long turm plan for the car is in the eye of a politician.

  31. Pedro – “Im sure that’s what the long turm plan for the car is in the eye of a politician.”? Not all of them, they like to limit everyone elses freedom but their own – unless you’re Boris, he rides a bycicle.

    I had a H reg model as my 2nd car ever, but it wasn’t a 1990 🙂 The sight of me bump-starting it down the hill to go to work, in a suit and stilletos was, I’m sure, a local entertainment, especially as I had to time it just right to jump in before it ran away from me. Ahh the balmy days of youth.

  32. Whilst the body of evidence regarding global warming appears to confirm that the Earth is going through ‘a warming cycle’, I’ve yet to see any pursuasive evidence that this effect is anthropically inspired.

    I also understand that, in global warming terms, gaseous emissions from sheep and cattle are, at least, an order of magnitude less desirable than similar volumes of CO2 yet calls for reduction in the livestock numbers in developed countries seem conspicuous by their absence.

    Hmmm.

  33. Well, I was in a modern car when it was hit from behind by a car traveling at fairly high speeds. The crumple zone did exactly crumpled together, took the impact and did not intrude into the body of the car. I also had a friend who was in a car that, as it was crossing over a junction, was hit side on by another car travelling at about sixty miles per hour. Despite being a modern car everyone walked away and the worst injury was a broken arm. I think it is important to remember that most times we see pictures of cars after accidents the fire crews have already been there so the damage to the car will including any cutting away that the fire crews did which makes the damage to the car look much worse. I was actually told by a fireman not to ever get a small car as they and their occupants suffer far greater damage in accidents than other more substantial cars.

  34. That’s right k – bigger is better as the accident stats prove. Yet I think Boris has a point about the nanny state and being allowed to make our own choices. A more dangerous way to travel would be on a motorbike.

  35. Riding a motorbike is dangerous i will admit that having been in a big accident on mine but Scooters are worse with the small wheels and huge pot holes. Add swerving round pot holes, pedestrians, Cyclists, Cars, Lorries and bigger bikes and you have by far the most dangerous way to travel in a city but there is no one trying to ban them.

  36. “That’s right k – bigger is better as the accident stats prove.”

    Here’s where we have to separate passive & active safety. Some cars (like our ‘old’ mini) peform atrociously in crash tests, but have very good passive safety (good chassis etc so a competent driver will have a good chance of avoiding an accident) and so the chance of occupants being killed or injured per mile travelled is still acceptable. Others (let’s not name names, but a US brand of ‘Grand’ SUVs of the sort you may take a ‘Voyage’ in spring to mind) perform well if driven full tilt into a deformable target, but fall over if you try & take avasive manouvres. (remember the Mercedes A class awful performance in the ‘Elk’ test leading to emergency chassis reengineering? – not many elk in central London I admit.) Last time I looked, the NHTSA estimated 2400 US citizens killed every year in ‘single vehicle rollover incidents’ which they predicted would not have occured had they been in cars not ‘trucks’. Tricky business, this road safety. Best way to reduce traffic injuries? Learn to drive properly, then do it as little as possible.

  37. Quoting Adamsmith blog: Boris Johnson was on top form in Thursday’s Telegraph where he attacked the recent government moves to ban the G-Wiz, the electric car that has fast become the ultimate green fashion statement in London in the brief time it has been on sale. For those who don’t know – the G-Wiz is a small electric car that is emission free, and therefore parking charge and Congestion Charge free too.

    For the city dweller, it is close to perfect. Cheap to buy, cheap to operate, small and easy to drive in traffic. It’s a perfect example of how technology will save us from swingeing life-style changes in the face of climate change. So why does the government want it banned? Apparently it’s not safe enough. As it’s not a car, it doesn’t have to pass EU safety checks.
    Transport minister Stephen Ladyman yesterday denounced the G-Wiz, and said it was not in conformity with EU regulations. This is not a car at all, he said. It must be reclassified as a quadricycle, and he wants Brussels to kick it off our streets.

    http://www.adamsmith.org

  38. < ‘But let us not forget ABS brakes …’ (Jaq)<

    Yes, thank God for ABS.

    < ‘…calls for reduction in the livestock numbers in developed countries seem conspicuous by their absence.’ (Xenodrome)<

    The day we start trading cow farts might be closer than you think.

  39. If we’re being pedentic, Mr. Button, Dandelions are net absorbers of CO2, as some of the carbon they absorb when photosynthesising is released as CH4 when they die & rot.

    And CH4 is a significantly more effective greenhouse has than CO2.

    I seem to have painted myself into a corner. Drat…. Er, so what did you think of Eurovision?

  40. Lucas and Ogle design produced a similar concept a decade or three ago. As a techie, I always ask the questions of electric cars:
    What powers the heater??
    Is the electricity that charges them produced by lower emission method than a conventional IC engine??
    And incidently HM govt. have not yet found a way to tax the CH4 emissions of rotting vegetation. Perhaps we are now going to endure an army of “compost bin emissions inspectors” as part of the ministry of funny smells.

  41. Actually all living things produce CO^2 when they respire. Green plants use up CO^2 during photosynthisis, but they only photosynthesis in daylight whereas they respire all the time. Therefore the location is important in deciding whether a plant is a net producer or absorber of CO^2

  42. What about red plants? Aren’t they the same as green plants?I’m doing GCSE Biology now! (Well, not right now, but am doing the course!) So, so confused lol!

  43. Ok, here are the very basics.

    Photosynthesis is carried out by a chemical called chlorophyll which is contained in the cells of plants.

    Chlorophyll appears green and is the chemical that gives green plants their colour.

    So in order to be able to photosynthisize plants must have at least some green colour on them, as it were.

    For further info. I would check out the bbc’s revision pages.

  44. Does anyone else suspect that the glare from the unnumbered ranks of teeth whitened US citizens contributes to global warming?
    [Ed: yes, post now deleted]

  45. Mr. Johnson,

    I have, for a number of years, enjoyed your perceptive and witty observations about the various delinquencies of our current Lords and Masters, the ‘New’ Labour Party. Your tirades invariably carry a light touch and avoid the rancour and acerbity of, for example, Jeremy Clarkson’s weekly railing against the status quo. It pains me, therefore, to tell you that enough is enough!

    You are, unlike Clarkson, a politician rather than a C grade celebrity with a penchant for fast cars, and have responsibilities of a wider scope than the occasional bit of leg pulling and tilting at the odd metaphorical windmill; your article above being a case in point.

    I am not going to argue about the merits of your observations regarding the G-Wiz. No doubt you believe that it reflects the culture of cowardice within the Labour party in standing up to European legislative nonsense; but surely that point has been proved countless times? My irritation stems from the simple fact that, if you are prepared to expand your portfolio of opinions to encompass issues outside your ambit as the Tory spokesman for higher education and express opinion on matters diverse, why have you selected an issue of such consummate trivia as the G-Wiz?

    We stand at the precipice of a conflict which promises to plunge our country into a long and un-winnable war ‘against terror’; a war which will divide Britain across racial and religious boundaries and turn the spotlight of distrust onto law-abiding, patriotic citizens whose only ‘error’ has been to follow the teachings of Islam. A war which will erode our already moribund civil liberties to level not incompatible with Soviet Russia in the 60s.

    Of equal import is the incontrovertible fact that one of the few remaining legacies of the British empire, a diplomatic corps and foreign office second to none, has been more-or-less traded in for a lecture circuit in the States and perhaps(?) a non-executive directorship in Halliburton Energy Services by that grubby little puppet Blair.

    And yet the G-Wiz is top of your mind?

    The term British foreign policy has become oxymoronic in the last five years; who wants to talk to the oily rag when one can go directly to the mechanic of mayhem in the White House? This unfortunate state of affairs has only been exacerbated by the simple fact that AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) owns the US government and thus US Middle Eastern policy effectively devolves to Israeli policy. The consequence of which is that Britain is indirectly supporting a regime which has almost surpassed the SS and certainly Saddam Hussein in every aspect of oppression and racial violence.

    I suppose that having a cheap laugh about the apparent conflict between Labour’s specious policies and their actual activities is tempting for a part time journalist. But the journalist in question (yourself) is also a moderately senior member of a major political party. Thus, in my humble opinion, there is some obligation to use the media organs at your disposal in a more pro-active fashion than, say, having an ineffectual swat at a Government showing all symptoms of imminent demise anyway. This seems to be particularly appropriate when issues of the magnitude I have outlined remain largely unaddressed by any of the preeminent political parties in Britain.

    The only conclusion I can draw is that your reluctance to discuss these matters in a public forum must stem from fear. The same fear that ex US President Jimmy Carter talks of in ‘Palestine: Peace not Apartheid’. The same fear that Dr. Norman Finkelstein endures at the hand of the US Israel lobby often in the form of the redoubtable Professor Alan Dershowitz; the fear that begs the question of who is most culpable when a wrong is committed? The person committing the offense or the person who stands by and says nothing.

    Mr. Johnson, I can sympathise with fear; it is a debilitating condition that often makes us weak and petty. So, if you are afraid of speaking your mind about the issues I have raised, by all means emulate Clarkson et al and carry on writing about light hearted trivia.

    But please stop pretending to be a statesman as well.

  46. Flippin’ hecky thicky micky!
    Internal cumbustion engine + bicycle = motorbike. The only way to travel. Christ on a ‘bike!

  47. Steven_L, There have already been efforts to put a price on cow farts – four years ago, the government of New Zealand got close to implementing a tax on them, on a global-warming pretext. It was defeated at the eleventh hour, when farmers threatened to walk their animals up the steps of parliament.

    And by the way, despite the cavilling, you were right to tick Boris off for saying that the G-Wiz emits negligible CO2, and you are right that green tariffs are a con. The Renewables Obligation means that companies claiming to sell eligible renewables (i.e. anything other than large hydro and Energy-from-Waste) are double-selling greenness that their customers have already paid for.

    There may be plenty of reasons to drive a G-Wiz (and several not to) and Boris is right that it should be upto the individual, but the G-Wiz’s minuscule contribution to reducing carbon emissions is not a significant reason. It’s difficult to compare carbon emissions from electric-powered vehicles with those from internal-combustion engines, because of the different and varied fuels used, but by my reckoning, the G-Wiz travels roughly 15% further per kWh of primary fuel than the most efficient diesels on the market running at their quoted combined efficiency. Occupancy levels and distance travelled will be far more significant to emission-levels than the relative notional efficiencies.

    Boris’s G-Wiz enthusiasm is like Dave’s rooftop wind-turbine: more symbolic than material. One shouldn’t dismiss the importance of symbolism to a politician, but in these cases the symbolism has positive and negative sides – on the positive side, it shows that they want to put their money where their mouth is, but on the negative side, it shows that they are easily taken in by hype.

  48. I agree it id generally considered to be better to be seen to do something than actually do something. For instance it is judged as better to put up a rooftop windmill capable of powering a small hairdryer (despite the fact that they require huge amoutns of energy to produce and transport and are unstable) than to actually not use the hair dryer, straightners, microwave, air conditioning etc. It is like recycling. Recycled paper can only be used as low grade paper and paper in the EU comes from sustainable forests anyway so recycling does more harm than good. The scenerio is similar for plastics. Yet tell some green imperialist missionary this and they reply that “yes, but we must show we are doing something to encourage others”.

  49. Put a bloke in a G-Wiz with a bike helmet on and crash it into a brick wall at 40mph. Put a bloke with a bike helmet on a bike and crash him into a brick wall at 40mph. QED.

    It’s political suicide to ban or tax bikes, and time is required while the tax take on the G-Wiz is calculated vs. vote loss. And of course, politicians lost guts and the ability for original thought years ago.

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