Tag Archives: fracking

On fracking, and economic lunacy

Some comments to The Guardian, where else, by Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, should not go unnoticed. For Ms Lucas, the problem with fracking to produce shale gas in the UK is not earthquakes, contamination, etc, the main concerns opponents raise. No she says, in reported speech but presumably accurately, it is possible that stringent regulations could minimise those risks. “It’s not that fracking itself is necessarily worse than ordinary gas extraction.”

Instead, it is the mere fact, my paraphrase, that we are about to start a new method to produce fossil fuels.

Lucas accepts we do need gas to tide us over until the brave new world arrives when we can access our entire energy needs from renewables. (A date which gets no closer as the years pass – better to rely on nuclear fusion, which remains equally obstinately out of reach.)

She would prefer to keep importing the stuff from Norway because it would be easier to stop doing so than shut off our own cheaper indigenous supplies. This really is the economics of the madhouse.


On Fracking

I know someone who, for purely professional reasons, was at the anti-fracking protests at Balcombe, West Sussex in the summer. He was talking to one of the protestors. What did she have against fracking? Actually, she said, she didn’t know much about the subject. Her friends were against it, and she just tagged along.

How could she afford to take time off work, for a protest that meant so little to her? Oh, she was a teacher. She was in the middle of the long summer holidays.

That anecdote just about says it all. Most protestors over fracking are not terribly well informed. Many inhabitants of Balcombe, though they were disinclined to see their picture postcard village disfigured by industry and were presumably prosperous enough not to worry too much about their gas bills, were by the time the protest was over not too sorry to see the back of their temporary neighbours.

Fracking for shale oil and gas has been going on for years in the US. Not only has it transformed the economy, to the extent that the Americans are starting to build new chemicals plants rather than importing necessary raw materials for industry, but the scare stories about the process have been disproved. Check the website of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

There used to be a grim oil industry joke that God had located the planet’s hydrocarbons in places where they were either hard to get at or under the control of some wildly unstable regimes. God chose to place oil and gas shale in more convenient locations. In the UK, they are generally in places that would benefit from any economic activity.

Fracking causes minute, barely measurable earth tremors. So, too, does coal mining. Had the people now protesting over fracking been in positions of authority in the 18th Century, that’s it for the Industrial Revolution, then. We’d all still be living in wattle and daub huts tugging our forelocks to the local squire.

I suspect that, in their ill-informed way, some of those protestors think this would be a good thing.