November 13, 2013 11:25AM

The Return of the Chimney Sweep

Chimney sweeps are making a comeback in Great Britain. “According to the National Association of Chimney Sweeps,” the Telegraph reports, “Britain is experiencing the largest boom in chimney sweeping since Victorian times. ‘It’s been remarkable,’ said president Martin Glynn. ‘When we started NACS in 1982, there were just 30 members. Today we have 540 members nationally.’” The reason? Gas and electricity prices have risen so high that people prefer to burn wood in their previously unused or underused fireplaces.

Why are the energy prices so high? The British government’s pathological obsession with renewable sources of energy. Converting renewable energy (e.g., wind and solar) is much more expensive than conventional sources of energy (e.g., coal and gas). Since the government mandates that a certain percentage of energy consumption has to consist of renewable sources, energy prices are rising – fast. 

That leads to this amazing paradox: Progressivism started in Victorian England – a time and place of tremendous and unprecedented material and social progress that, nonetheless, also had a darker side. The stories of workers living in freezing and damp dwellings, children chimney sweeps suffocating while on the job, and environmental degradation, were both horrific and true.The evolution of progressivism has come full circle and progressives have turned reactionary: To combat the (highly uncertain) effects of climate change, modern‐​day progressives have embraced policies that lead to more burning of wood, freezing homes for the poor and vulnerable, and chimney sweeps back at work.