The Secret Broker: Green can mean ‘Go’, ‘No Go’, or ‘Four pints please and a potted History of Copper’
The Secret Broker
The Secret Broker
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I know Aussies give us Pommies a hard time about warm beer, but I think most of the teasing comes from the fact that you may have had a bad experience.
Around the City of London, many a drinking establishment could be found in the basements of 200-year-old office buildings.
They’d have stairs with copper railings that led you down into light-deprived caverns, where ale could be stored and served without the need for refrigeration.
Wooden casks of ale could be cellared and hand pumped up, without the use of electricity. And when I first started working in the city in 1980, there were hundreds of these drinking dens scattered around the place.
There was even a chain called ‘Davy’s Wine Bar’ and they would serve ale to you in large copper jugs.
Not any old ale mind you – it was ‘Davy’s Old Wallop’, and served at the proper drinking temperature.
You could only order Davy’s Old Wallop by the gallon or half-gallon. (For all of you non imperialists out there, a gallon equates to 8 pints of beer.) But whatever you ordered, it would arrive at your table with a couple of half-pint pewter mugs.
(Sigh. A pint equates to a bit over half a litre. Or, a 20-ounce. Unless you’re in SA, where you have to call for an Imperial Pint, lest you get handed a 15-ounce pint, otherwise known everywhere else as a “Schooie”. Unless you’re in Tasmania, where it’s actually called a “15 ounce”.)
A complementary bowl of crackers and celery was included with every gallon (8 Pints, or 10 Schooies. Or, in SA, 10 Pints) ordered.
The crackers would soak up about 1/100th of each pint consumed, on an empty stomach. A token gesture if ever I saw one, but greatly appreciated, all the same.
Also, being in a windowless basement had a few other advantages for us young single city types, who enjoyed the odd liquid lunch without being tutted at.
You could knock back four pints each in an hour, with a mate, and change the world one cracker at a time.
Or, you could entertain a married ‘Shirley Valentine’ from the office, with French wine and their favourite diet of figure friendly celery (free) and allow them to escape from the mundane typing pool for an hour.
Leaving the basement five minutes apart meant no one outside could see who you had been drinking with (or indeed, snogging with). This avoided any office gossip or moral finger-pointing.
So, tankards made of copper, hundreds of years old were used to serve the ale and as it turns out, there was a very good reason for this.
If you ever got stood up, and found yourself draining the contents of said tankards and inevitably sliding down the bar, the barman would – also inevitably – start banging on about the history and the magical properties of copper.
He would explain to you how copper in the tankard naturally sterilised its content from all germs and had been used for this purpose by mankind for thousands of years.
“Also,” he would continue, “did you know that a Ford Cortina contains over 22kg of copper wire, or that the British Navy in the 1700s had copper sheets added to the bottom of their boats, as no barnacles could grow on copper.”
No barnacles meant they could outpace all the other Navys and gave them a huge technical advantage.
Fast forward to 2021 and forget about how much lithium a Tesla needs. Think about how much copper it needs.
It requires 81kg of copper and even though copper is 99% recyclable, the price is getting squeezed up because of ‘Greenflation’.
‘Greenflation’ is the term now used by economists to explain how the greenies and the do-gooders are forcing up the price of commodities with their ‘Green means No, not Go’ mining policies. To wit, going green means no mining – of anything.
Yet these are the very commodities that are needed to produce their idea of Utopia.
Here is a graph of the copper price over the past five years:
That’s a squeeze of about 150% in just over a year and a recent research report from Morgan Stanley points out why the price is only going higher.
It pointed out that in the past it would take about five years to turn a copper discovery into a producing mine. Now it can take up to 11 years because of all of the environmental concerns raised.
A wind farm turbine needs 360kg of copper just to produce and supply green coloured electricity to the grid. These ugly things never existed in 1980, when the barman was enriching me with his knowledge on all things copper.
The average wind farm requires between 1.8-6.8 million kilos of copper, just to perform, and Wood Mackenzie estimates that globally, wind farm demand alone will reach 5.5m tonnes of copper, per year, by 2028.
To power a Tesla from 0-100km/h takes just two seconds and it’s all thanks to the copper wire used in their rotor arms. They use – wait for it – over a mile (1.6km, non-Imperialists) of copper wire per engine.
Elon reckons that he will deliver a million cars next year to all the greenies and former petrolheads. In fact, the whole industry is on target to build 60 million electric cars a year by 2025.
That’s a lot of tankards!
The Morgan Stanley paper also pointed out that ‘One big copper project in Peru, scheduled to open in 2011, remains unfinished, owing to resistance from the local community.’
I had to giggle at this conundrum that these greenies have produced for themselves. I have always thought it strange that most don’t realise they need coal-fired power generators, when plugging in, to recharge their green car.
It’s 2021 and I now wonder now what the barman would be telling me and whether after four pints of ‘Wallop’ I would go back to the office and go long a few tonnes in the futures market and see if I could take physical delivery into my garage at home.
If you think about it, old ships had copper railings on their stairs and grandma’s house had copper light switches, all because of the fact that no germs can survive on a surface made of copper.
So, if you are in lockdown and want something to do, you can buy sheets of copper at Bunnings and start to wrap your house in it. Or you could go long a few potential miners, though their time lag may outlive you.
As for me, I’m going to speak to some auction houses in Europe and see if I can acquire a few tankards from the 1700s because a) they won’t go down in value and b) I can drink my homebrew COVID-free and as warm as I like.
After my fourth pint poured, I will be telling anyone who is listening that “Isn’t it ironic how copper naturally turns green?”
If they don’t believe me, I will tell them, then just look at this image of the Statue of Liberty:
It’s clad in 31 tonnes of the stuff and is 130 years old.
And no mask required!