What would happen if energy was free?

If, for example, two companies could agree on a price for the energy they produce together, it would save money. There would also be no more pollution, as there would no longer be waste of energy. At the same time, production would stop, and with it the emission of carbon dioxide and water vapor.

In principle, such a system could be implemented without any government interference. There could be little to stop someone from producing electricity without buying the right to operate the plant, so long as he paid enough into the national energy fund, which would provide a cushion against the eventuality of any technical failures. He would then pay as he produced, and if an accident happened the national energy fund would have money to cover any damages. In practice, of course, government officials would have to approve the process and the equipment.

There is, however, a big problem. Some countries lack the money, or are unable to finance the necessary infrastructure. If these countries were to accept free energy, they would not be able to reduce the rate of global warming to acceptable levels, since the entire system would be designed around the concept of free energy.

The biggest problem is that free energy, if it works, will lead to a world full of electricity producers who use up all the energy available. Some of the world’s oil workers may go into exile. So people living near power stations and their families will be better off than before, because they will now have energy to make things.

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This is where the world looks like a carbon-waste economy. If you are using energy, you have to buy carbon credits to use it. The technology may be able to provide a cheap enough substitute for coal, gas or oil, but we’ll wait to see how that works.

In the longer term, however, we may find that technology does replace fossil fuels – at least at first, though energy will have to be produced cheaply again. So the world might look a little like an energy-intensive economy, the world of “free and easy” on its way to “expensive”.

It’s now known that the British spy agency GCHQ helped to install a malicious software program into the computers of a number of prominent citizens to help them find their family members who were missing in Syria.

The new details, which were released as part of GCHQ’s monthly report, come from a cache of documents made possible by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“The GCHQ programme, Equation Group, was designed