Why Some Greens won’t listen

I often find that though environmentalists have their hearts in the right place, at times their minds are not as some will not listen to any scientific, technical or rational reasoning and almost hide behind a green wall of their binary thinking categorising everything into green or not green.

Here Nick Grealy deals with the problem of the loss of green discourse in his usual lively way

The Green Wall of Deaf.


Last week, Stephen Tindale, director of UK Greenpeace wrote a piece supporting shale gas from a green perspective in The Sun, Britain’s largest circulation newspaper.

DURING my five years running Greenpeace, we pushed for an increased number of wind farms, a more efficient national energy grid and restrictions on the use of ­hazardous chemicals.

We won every one of those battles

But today Britain faces its biggest environmental challenge ever — tackling global warming while still keeping the lights on.

And as a lifelong champion of the Green cause, I’m convinced that fracking is not the problem but a central part of the answer.

But it all fell on deaf ears. Deaf Green Ears.

I know Stephen and I’m sure he would prefer this peace to have appeared in  The Guardian. After all, Damian Carrington the Environment Editor there has been utterly relentless in his attempts to keep UK gas in the ground.  Stephen’s politics are much like mine -Labour (Sadiq Khan London wing) and Remain. The Sun, by no means the worst UK tabloid, is not a natural home for greens,  given it’s Murdoch ownership and it’s strident right wing tone is unlikely to have few green readers. I assume The Guardian was deaf to his pitch, just as they have been for mine. But it’s becoming clear that this is censorship.

On one hand, the piece struck me as yet another example of the UK shale industry spending what little resources they have to preach to the already converted. Yet, it is the complete lack of reaction from the UK Green Side that speaks volumes. There was a communal wall of silence around the article from all the UK climate side: Guardian, Business Green, Independent, Carbon Brief, ECIU, Edie, Aldersgate Group, Green Alliance, 1010 etc were united in ignoring the issue and none of them  reported or responded. We need those people on board. After all they not only trumpet shale as an enemy of renewables at any and every opportunity, they also profess that the one clear challenge of the day is global warming. They also support Greenpeace and FoE anti shale projects which outnumber industry ones by orders of magnitude.

But all steadfastly refuse to engage. They’re simply Green bullies. Always attacking, always sniping and never, ever able to man or woman up enough to explain their objections in anything less than an occasional tweet or a derisory throw away line based on the same stuff they’ve been saying since 2009. They absolutely refuse to engage with any one.

This from Stephen especially  resonates:

I’ve tried to ask green groups if they would really prefer to get their power from slave labour rather than fracking — but they don’t have an answer to that.

So shale gas is good for meeting our energy needs. It’s good for protecting the environment. And it’s good for human rights.

Of course, these views have put me at odds with many of my former colleagues in the environmental movement.

Interestingly, the negative response to my views on fracking has actually been much stronger than when I changed my position to support nuclear power — which just goes to show how hostile this debate has become.

And I thought it was just me. Leo Hickman, director of Carbon Brief for example accuses me of arrogance. The same charge has been made of me by the PR guru behind Ineos Shale by the way. I’m not especially arrogant, I’m like the character described in Paul Theroux’s book and film The Mosquito Coast.

“Allie, your father is the worst type of pain in the ass. He’s always right”.

(Except to my own children, I hasten to add).

Over the past 8 years here, one can  return to most any random article going back years, and I predicted what at that time sounded completely off the wall by ‘conventional wisdom’ of the day.  All this in retrospect proved to be true. (Sadly I have an undeserved reputation among global energy analysts as being so right about almost everything that I must be well on the road to riches by now). What mostly happened is that PR guys have stolen every word I say . To paraphrase Gandhi, first they laugh at you, then they argue with you, then they hate you and ultimately they steal your work and pretend they always felt that way. That’s certainly not the case with Stephen I hasten to add, who wrote his/our case on his own blog and mine some time back.

Google Stephen’s name however and there’s nothing in the UK from his former colleagues. Nothing. Not one single reference, except tot the original story.  Stephen still makes money pushing new nuclear and tidal barrages, whereas I just stick to natural gas. The gaps in Stephens’ knowledge about gas came out in a BBC Daily Politicsshow piece earlier this week by his not calling out Lancashire Nana Tina Rothery’s mis-statements on LNG and one of Damian Carrington’s  basic misconceptions  made the headline hers not the gas industry’s.

Fracking won’t come on line for 10 to 15 years

This insane headline, which flies in the face of any US experience stems from one rubbish study on UK fracking dating from 2009, the dark ages of fracking. The US experience shows otherwise, this being an example from just today:

Bob Orndorff with Dominion: West Virginia has seen a 280 % increase in dry gas production from 2010 to 2014 pic.twitter.com/fyDeWn9mMM
26/10/2016, 14:25

But Tina’s misconceptions are now all over the BBC and celebrated as gospel by not only Tina’s clique, but by people who don’t know, and don’t care, about natural gas. People in places like:

Guardian, Business Green, Independent, Carbon Brief, ECIU, Edie, Aldersgate Group, Green Alliance , 1010 etc

I’ve been on Daily Politics a couple of times, but I’m probably not too popular with them because of my arrogance against Brexit these days. Perhaps they fears my predictions about that fantasy project will be equally as clairvoyant.

The BBC has a responsibility to show “balance”. One can say that’s unwise considering Brexit, just as the US press is having some soul searching over the free pass “balance” gave to Donald Trump. But for now, in BBC Land, every position must be “balanced”.  And weirdly,  Tina was the only one they could dig up. Tina Rothery suggests that Cuadrilla’s drilling decision is a travesty against democracy while never mentioning how she ran against George Osborne and got 3.8% of the vote by the way.

But it’s Tina’s supporters and paymasters who were absent.Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth appear so often on College Green outside Parliament, in front of the BBC and Sky News studio at 4 Millbank that they destroy that particular patch of green.  They  have enough anti fracking demonstrations on the grass, but aren’t willing to engage on the screen.  After the recent Fox fiasco on BBC R4 Today, perhaps Tony Bosworth and Craig Bennnet of Friends of the Earth or Lawrence Carter or Doug Parr of Greenpeace were at the bottom of the producer’s list

But, strangely enough,, Damian Carrington of the Guardian , James Murray of Business Green, Leo Hickman, Megan Darby and Simon Evans of Carbon Brief or Richard Black and George Smeeton of ECIU , hardly shrinking violets in their support of renewables and climate issues in every other media, also seemed to have turned down the chance to confront their fears and have a polite, collegial debate. It would have been nice to have Bryn Kewley of E3G or Dustin Benton of the Green Alliance on there too.

All of the above are continual snipers, naysayers and general saboteurs of UK onshore natural gas. They could easily make mincemeat out of people like the mysterious, invisible and very well paid spokesperson for UKOOG Averill MacDonald, but they didn’t want to engage with Stephen, for much the same reason they consistently refuse to engage with me.  They prefer to cast the oil and gas industry as distant pantomime villains. The last thing they would like their supporters to see is a rational, climate based progressive argument in favour of natural gas from people who don’t want to play the role. They especially love to dismiss anyone from the gas industry as an enemy of the climate, air, water, land and progressive political values. They say the most brutal wars are civil wars.  That’s why these cowards won’t debate Stephen or I.

Thus, Stephen’s appearance got far more reaction in the US press, albeit among the US fracking claque echo chambers in places like the Washington Times instead of the New York Times.

Don’t ask me what the answer is, although brains and money are always useful in these kind of things. The essential problem is that the anti –frackers think they have won and don’t want to be confronted with any of those fact thingies anymore than the Brexit and Trump supporters and their disdain for “experts” do. As long as they hide, and don’t reveal any uncomfortable facts from their followers, they’re winning.

The Deaf Green Claque are simply bullies. They’re chickens.  But all chickens come home to roost, slowly, but surely. There’s one chicken one day, two the next week and a few the next month. Chickens always arrive at the roost – but not all at once. One day, everybody will simply notice : they’re here.

1 thought on “Why Some Greens won’t listen

  1. Paul Braterman

    Anti-fracking is a shibboleth. If you don’t make the right noises, you belong to the wrong tribe. And the technique is all too successful, with Scotland’s Labour, Greens, and (with the possible escape clause) ruling SNP all against fracking, with never a word being said against offshore oil drilling.



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