So why in the heck are we doing this in the first place?

The short answer here is that the planners screwed up. The longer answer is that the planners screwed up by trying to plan rather than use markets - appropriately guided by a crowbar stuck into them.

Policies aimed at limiting climate change by boosting the burning of biomass contain critical flaws that could actually damage attempts to avert dangerous levels of global warming in the future. That is the stark view of one of Britain’s chief climate experts, Professor John Beddington, who has warned that relying on the cutting down and burning of trees as a replacement for the use of fossil fuels could rebound dangerously.

As varied reports have told us burning such wood biomass after it has been transported thousands of miles increases, not reduces, emissions. So, how did the political process get it all so wrong? 

Leave aside the whole question of whether anything should be done and concentrate only on what should, if anything. As Nick, now Lord for having said it, Stern pointed out the solution is a carbon tax. Not, repeat not, attempts to plan any response in detail.

The reason being that markets and the economy are complex things. It is impossible to calculate the effects through multiple iterations and third and fourth level effects. Thus, if intervention there is going to be that intervention has to be a simple one, a change to the price system. So that we can then use the price system and those markets as our great calculating engine.

Doing this, a tax upon the carbon emissions from what is burnt, from transportation and so on, would have immediately told us that, given this lever in the price system, wood biomass on this large and trans-continental scale does not work, does not solve the perceived problem.

What did they do instead? They tried to be clever, tried and failed to navigate and calculate through the effects. Thus we end up with something entirely counterproductive, something both more expensive and also with higher carbon emissions. Not the point at all.

And all the result of the fools thinking that we can plan something as complex as an economy. It really isn't just a failure of this particular plan, it's a failure of the very concept of detailed planning in the first place.