Category Archives: Church of England

Why catholics stand against fracking in Lancashire

Thirty years ago the churches were beginning to wake up to the fact that we as Christians should not only be concerned about traditional understandings of salvation but also our relationship, care and stewardship of the natural world aka the Creation. And so now care for Creation is high on the agenda for most churches. For many it has been a new discovery.

it has taken many forms and so today many Christians with a concern for the environment oppose fracking, but almost every occasion they are less than accurate in their objections.  An example is a recent article by Bob Turner for the the Lancaster faith and justice group, and Independent Catholic News gets his facts very wrong  and spins things to the point of inaccuracy. Local Anglicans from the Diocese of Blackburn are equally inaccurate

These type of views opposing fracking are almost the orthodoxy for green christians of all denominations and are echoed by the Environment Group of the Anglican Diocese of Blackburn. It is frustrating to find a high level of inaccuracy and poor argument as this does not reflect well on one’s Christian calling.


I make no apology for my criticisms and suggest that before well-meaning Christians make a public comment they ensure that they have their facts right and are not blown about by every wind of doctrine from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. It would also help if “practitioners” [those working in the industry and there are numbers of well-qualified Christians working in various parts of the petroleum industry] were listened too and brought into the discussions by the church. However, I do not see that happening as the usual “green” arguments against fracking would be challenged, if not destroyed.

Here is the article;


to be found on

and F&J bulletin Sept 18

I have lifted it and reproduce it below with my comments as extended quotations



Bob Turner

Following the announcement – on the last day of Parliament before summer – that Fracking at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire has been given the final go-ahead by the Government, I would like to outline a few points to Claire Perry our Energy and Clean Growth Minister.

Fracking is one of the dirtiest methods of extracting fossil fuels.


Fracking for gas is very clean compared to coal mining whether deep or open-cast. Having worked in an underground copper mine, I was appalled by the dirtiness of going down a coal mine. My snot was black for days 🙂 I visited an open cast which was better but very dusty and messy. (it has now been restored and the area is looking good.) What surprised me at Preston New Road on three visits is how clean it is – no dust, no smells, very little noise etc

Part of the myth against fracking is that it is DIRTY and is part of the mantra. If fracked gas is so dirty, why don’t those who oppose stop using all petroleum – which is nearly 100% fracked.

Its production of gas would not be compatible with the targets to cut fossil fuel use required to tackle climate change.

Here there is a difference of conclusions, but many environmental friendly people e.g. Lord Deben reckon that fracked gas is compatible climate change targets. There is good reason for this, as methane is CH4, and coal is mostly (impure) Carbon, so that combustion of coal produces far more CO2 for the same amount of heat , which is then converted to energy.  (I am aware of Howarth’s claims that gas is worse than coal, but prefer to follow all the other 95+% of researchers.) That is the stated position of Cuadrilla and many working in petroleum. Oh yes, I know some petroleum workers don’t care about it but many do.

The health hazards and pollution of water resources are well documented

Many of the US health surveys have been challenged and one paper at least was retracted for totally inaccurate results


This paper on asthma in Pennsylvania includes maps which show that people in fracking areas have less asthma than elsewhere.  – a poor argument

Within the UK there have been the flawed Medact reprots on fracking which CANNOT demonstrate any ill effects of fracking  – and admit it.

There have been cases of water pollution  in the USA caused by bad management of water on the surface. The only pollution of an aquifer was at Pavilon WY where fracking was carried out a few hundred feet below an aquifer and combined with poor drilling practice this caused pollution.

In the UK fracking can only occur at great depth below an aquifer and there are further restrictions. Note – the aquifer at PNR is unsuitable for domestic use, yet protestors want to protect it. Further, fracking will take place about 2 kilometers below the aquifer, meaning that as cracks for fracking extend only 300 metres, they will miss the aquifer by over a kilometre.

There is a risk at surface due to spillage hence the tight regulations on water containment etc. During the wet winter some were concerned by leakage of surface water on the PNR pad – but this was rainwater and was contained by bunding. I did visit the site when it was wettest.

These two comments are ill-informed scaremongering and ignore the controls on fracking.

and the fear of earthquakes is an unknown quantity not to be ignored.

Undoubtedly people have a fear of earthquakes as too many on hearing the word “earthquake” think of massive Mag 7+ quakes rather than a tremor which will probably not be felt. Fracking does produce “seismic events” most of which are too small to be felt. Even the two big ones at Preese hall were very minor , hardly felt and caused no damage.

This is a classic scare tactic as many do not realise how minute  even a Mag 3  quakes is. Hence my blog on quakes having been through the largest recorded Himalayan quake

The “Not for Shale” campaign of Greenpeace was very misleading on earthquakes


It will lead to damaging development in the countryside

The Elswick gas well from 300 yards!! This is what will be seen of a completed well!! It is behind the bushes halfway between the pylon and the larger pole


and hit house prices.

There are no grounds for this dogmatic statement and indications at PNR is that there has been no effect.

It is estimated it would require 6000 wells to replace 50% of the UK’s gas imports over a 15 year period.

Exactly how many, no one knows , but even allowing 40 wells per pad, this would mean 150 multi-well pads and they would be in various parts of the country rather than only in Lancashire


The pipelines and the millions of extra lorry movements up and down country roads, would bring excessive pollution and serious disruption to large parts of the country.

Apart from the occasional hold-up due to a delivery, the traffic has run smoothly at PNR – EXCEPT when protestors have caused problems neccisitating road closures to the inconvenience of many.

I ask What excessive pollution?

Further the pipelines for gas are already in place in Lancashire, but few notice them

The impact of one single well has been significant in North Yorkshire, where impacts from noise, traffic and noxious smells are reported .

This was a leak from an existing well, (nothing to do with fracking) and the smells were due to mercaptans which were added so any escaping gas could be smelt!! At PNR the noise can hardly be heard from the road, traffic impact has been low, except that caused by protestors often resulting in road closures, there no smells even on the pad.

It has been said that some local businesses have closed and the community is divided.

“It has been said” is simply speculative. However local businesses have suffered through the protestors. Rather than make unfounded assertions evidence should be provided.

Which businesses have closed?

As for dividing communities protestors and NGOs have done that well!

The combined impact of over 6,000 wells would be wide-ranging and severe…. a far cry from the wonderful opportunities that are laid out in Cuadrilla’s glossy brochure.

It is difficult to say what the numbers would be , but they would be spread over UK and not just Lancashire. Further they would not all be in use at one time and restoration would be carried on disused wells.

Some years back I drove through part of Pennsylvania where there was a lot of fracking. I had to look hard for the wells.


There were 8 wells 150 yds from where I was standing – directly bwehind the bush!

Cuadrilla, now granted the licence to frack at Preston New Road in September, is one of a group of fracking companies of which INEOS is the major player.

INEOS the hate firm but has no relevance to Lancashire. INEOS is a leading chemical firm, which at Runcorn produces the chlorine we need for our water supplies to be safe to drink.

INEOS produces Ethane from the fracked gas….. a long and dirty process.

Really , what is the evidence? The process is as clean as other industrial processes and thus I presume the author would like to see all products made from ethane be banned, whether medicines or other goods we use.

Ethane is the base material for plastics used in packaging…. the same plastics which we are allegedly trying to reduce !…. However INEOS is building bigger factories to produce more and more .

This is the latest theme in the wake of the plastic straw concerns. [I loath plastic straws along with excess plastic.] It is claimed, without evidence, that INEOS only want fracked gas to make more plastic (to make more pollution.) This is wrong as most will be used for fuel e.g. to heat 80% of UK houses.

This is simplistic on plastics as much plastic use has a long life e.g. in cars, multi-use plastic containers, my compost bin, water-butts, parts of mobile phones, computers, kitchen utensils etc etc

Further at Runcorn Ineos use gas to make caustic soda and chlorine. Chlorine is used to make our water safe.



The owner has just been revealed as the richest man in the UK with his wealth more than tripling in the last 12 months and he recently received a knighthood in the queen’s birthday honours list.

So what, – Lord Sugar, sir Richard Branson etc  – even Dame V Westwood 😦



Carroll Muffett, president of the US Centre for International Environmental Law, states that “Around 99% of the feedstock for plastics is fossil fuels ……..there is a deep and pervasive relationship between oil and gas companies and plastics.”

That is well-known, but why make it malign.



Earlier this month Ms Perry’s department published The 2018 International Climate Finance (ICF) results. These show the beneficial impact UK investments can have in tackling climate change and in protecting vulnerable people. The ICF has supported 47 million people to cope with the effects of climate change and has provided 17 million people with improved access to clean energy.

There is no clean energy. Every form of energy is DIRTY including all renewables.

The photo is of the foundations of a wind turbine. Imagine that on a moor with a peat bog.


There is a contradiction here. We have done wonders elsewhere in the world but we appear to be taking a backward step with our responsibilities on home soil.

Liz Hutchins, Friends of the Earth’s Director of Campaigns

This leaflet from FoE had to be withdrawn after complaints to the ASA in Jan 2017 for unsubstantiated claims. Craig Bennett could not answer the complaints with a TV interviewer. Why should we listen to FoE when they have consistently misrepresented fracking?


said it had taken seven years for the Fracking industry to reach the point it had, during which time Renewable Energy sources had gone from supplying one tenth of the UK’s electricity to a third.

As electricity is a fraction of energy usage , that is still less than 10 %. The chart below shows how little energy was renewable up to 2014. Even if you scale it up 5 times it is still minimal. Looking at the chart reminds me I need to go to Specsavers

energyuseUK - wheressolar


We have urgent problems to tackle, as highlighted by Pope Francis in his Encyclical, Laudato Si.


The pope said nothing about fracking. Repeat 100x

Much of what he says is spot on and is a call for environmental responsibility

Fossil fuels must stay in the ground

Who says so?

What would we do for energy, medicines, and many plastic items without them?

A good exercise is to spend a day not using anything dependent on fossil fuels. For a start we could not use tap water as that is made safe by chlorine from Ineos’ Runcorn plant. Bicycles are out too

That is a misrepresentation of the the UCL paper which claimed reasonably the 80% of coal needs to be left in the ground, 50% of gas and 33% of oil. That gives a very different picture.

Too often activists make this false claim, but #keepitinthe ground  is more important than truthfulness. It does not help over-stating things when the original warning was clear enough



and we need to stop our binge on single use plastic as soon as possible

Wonderful virtue signalling! The process of getting rid of single use plastic has been going on for years, starting with charging for plastic bags. It seems to be happening without eco-activists!!

The over- and wrong use of plastics is only one of the issues we face today.


…. or the future is very bleak for our grandchildren and their children.

sometimes I think Green Christians have taken over from the men in sandwich boards proclaiming “The end of the world is nigh”

This article is like an incredibly bad and confused sermon from a weak theology student!!! as one person commented

“Just read the article. It is an unstructured rant.”


Why was it published in Faith and Justice Newsletter and Independent Catholic News? Surely it is counter=productive/

To deal with the seriousness of all environmental issues we need a much more informed and rational level of discourse – and take heed of St Augustine


and realise  that many  will only respond to a nudge to help them change one thing rather than an apocalyptic rant. When they find the flaws they’ll reject the lot.

This kind of apocalyptic scaremongering is both childish and counter-productive

Sadly it is the common ground of far too many Christian environmentalists at present. This applies to all denominations whether Roman Catholics, Anglicans or non-conformists. Anglicans in Lancashire are similarly ill-informed and apocalyptic

To end with some humour


In the newly released parish resource film Global Healing Bishop John Arnold is asking us to take practical action in many different ways including nagging our politicians.

See: [12min 40sec]




Divest your church this Season of Creation: 1 September to 4 October 2018 – Bright Now

The month of September has been designated the Season of creation which is a magnificent idea as so often God as Creator and his Creation has been sidelined, almost to the point that the Gospel is just about Post-mortem salvation, with only a narrow concern on personal ethics. Or the more “liberal” who have a social concern but are indifferent to the environment and thus Creation.

In my church we are having Sept 2 to Oct 14 as our Season of Creation as it is bounded by Harvest Services and a Pet Service. That gives great opportunity to consider a variety of themes on God as creator, human responsibility to Creation, whether plants , animals, minerals,water and the need to ensure that there is enough for all.

There is much to consider apart from the Big bad wolf of fossil fuels, which at times become THE only issue.

As part of the Season of Creation Operation Noah  has launched a campaign to encourage parishes and local churches to divest from fossil fuels.


This follows the partial divestment by the General Synod of the Church of England in July 2018. Operation Noah did not thinkt hey went far enough

This is the blog of the new campaign

As our scorching summer gradually begins to fade into autumn, the Bright Now campaign is inviting local churches to support the movement for fossil free Churches. Could you join us in this next stage of the campaign? ………………

Source: Divest your church this Season of Creation: 1 September to 4 October 2018 – Bright Now

Their aim is to encourage all to divest totally from fossil fuels as soon as possible. In their reports Bright Now of 2013 and Fossil free Churches: Accelerating the transition to a brighter, cleaner future on June 2018 they give very clear and forceful arguments which divestment should be done immediately, with a large number of references.

If these two reports are the only things you read, then you will conclude that for the sake of the planet and humanity, immediate divestment is the only ethical action. Here they are in line with groups like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, McKibben’s and many fossil fuel campaigns.

However I consider the whole Operation Noah  and Bright Now campaigns and reports to be very inadequate and misleading, and thus fatally flawed.

Major Issues simply disregarded

First there are aspects about fossil fuels and energy which they simply ignore.

  1. Fossil fuels are more than fuel
  2. Renewables will not be able to replace fossil fuels for decades
  3. Fossil fuels vary in dirtiness

Now to consider each in turn.

  1. Fossil fuels are more than fuel

Fossil fuels are used for far more than providing energy as this picture shows.

Fossil fuels are used for Medicines, Cosmetics, Plastics, synthetic rubber, cleaning products, and asphalt. They could have included artificial fertilisers without which many in our world would starve and the making of essential chemicals like chlorine which means that our water is safe to drink.


This gives some of the things made just from petroleum. Try to eliminate all these from your daily life!!

In fact about a third of each barrel of oil produced is , on average, not used for fuel. As for gas, some is used  to make plastics, fertilisers and other things.

Yes, I know, many plastic things are awful, especially the excessive use of single use plastic and it is great that these are campaigned against.

For those who do not have perfect health (or even eye-sight) we depend on plastic for so many things medical.

Perhaps  readers could get up one morning and vow to use nothing dependent or made from oil, gas or coal.  First, you will have no heat, Secondly no water, thirdly no electricity, fourthly, no clothes from artificial fibres, fifthly you can’t take your medicines, sixthly you can put your glasses on etc etc.

Renewables will not be able to replace fossil fuels for decades

It would be fantastic to get rid of all fossil fuels by the end of the year. That will not happen and cannot happen for several reasons.

Renewables are dependent on energy storage to tide one over when wind and solar produce no or little power. Batteries or other storage systems are simply not in place and hardly on the horizon.

Even if they were in place ramping up would take decades and not years.

Often we are told that renewables produced 30% of our power this year. This is true, but often no power is produced as on a cold windless winter’s night. Further electricity is only a third or so of our energy usage – industry, heat, trans[port and when that is taken into consideration renewables produce less than 10% of Britains’s energy.

This shows how energy is sourced on a world perspective


This earlier chart for 2015 shows how small the renewable contribution is. Note the question


This shows the change in the mix for UK energy this decade. The largest changes have been the decline of coal and rise of gas.


And a reminder that energy transitions take decades, not years.energytransistion

I rest my case that divestment from fossil fuels is anything but premature and also folly  resulting in worldwide suffering. In fact I consider it a poor form of virtue signalling and is better for those divesting than our fellow humans who struggle with insufficient energy as well as everything else. I include those  in fuel poverty in our towns and cities.

Fossil fuels vary in dirtiness

There is no doubt that fossil fuels are dirty. Some of us remember the London pea-soupers. I think the last was early 1963 and the soup came within a hundred yards of our house in Surrey. I won’t forget the petrochemical smog around Chamonix when we were walking by a glacier, or the pall of coal smoke hovering over Llanrhaidr-ym-Mochnant while climbing the Berwyns in winter. Far worse is an open fire heating a hovel, but that is preferable to hypothermia.

Of all fossil fuels coal is by far the worst and emits more CO2 but also particulates, ash and radioactive particles. We know of diesel. The cleanest is gas and all scientific studies conclude that gas is by far and away the cleanest fossil fuel, except for one researcher – Robert Howarth. (However, the 2013 Bright Now report accepts Howarth’s outlying ideas due to relying on questionable secondary sources. But they did acknowledge that the switch to gas has reduced emissions.)

From this, it is a pity that Operation Noah did not prioritise getting rid of coal.


Having considered their serious omissions I will now consider some

Bad arguments

Discussed in my blog

The ON reports very much follow a leave it in the ground stance and say

5. The vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of meeting the Paris Agreement targets. The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone would take the world beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

This is in two parts. The first is a sweeping statement on the Paris Agreement and fails to make any distinction between the 3 fossil fuels. The fact that emissions of CHG from coal are vastly greater than oil, which is turn is greater than gas is simply ignored as is the proportion of each fuel which should be left in the ground. Also ignored is the wide-spread rejection of coal. This seems to be a rewrite of the Paris agreement and rather alters the meaning. Further no one has put it that baldly. The original source on keeping fossil fuels in the ground comes from a paper in Nature from University College London researchers. They distinguished between the three fossil fuels
A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2°C target agreed by policy makers, according to new research by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources.

This puts things in a very different light both on the timeframe and which fuels are to be left in the ground. In other words, coal needs to be left there but oil and gas will be used to 2050 – and will have to be simply to keep the lights on. There is clear to anyone who understand than energy transitions take DECADE not YEARS.

This attitude is often accompanied with the mantra keepitintheground which is great for chanting but does not solves problems of energy or emissions.

As serious is the lop-sided bias of Operation Noah reports, as I discuss in my blog referred to above. The authors seem to ignore anything apart from the most strident keepitintheground position, preferring the one-sided approaches of  the most strident greens and ignoring the more moderate (and in my view more constructive ones) of Lord Deben, Sir David Mackay, Dieter Helm and various others. It is wrong not to mention and consider them as it prevents the average churchmember and minister from considering a variety of viewpoints which are all concerned with doing the best for the planet and to fulfill the Paris agreement.

At best this is a case of shoddy argument, but is very misleading and prevents an honest discussion as other well-evidenced arguments are simply not presented.

Some may consider it to be duplicitous and slightly less than honest.

What has happened is that the churches’ witness for the environment , and particularly fossil fuels, has been hijacked by a group who are prepared to give a highly biased and often inaccurate argument for divestment. I also note that some members of Operation Noah are prepared to break the law to make their point.

It is very difficult for someone, even if they have some technical skills, to counter such strident arguments which are buttressed by claims to be ethical.

It is a pity that there are insufficient people in the churches, who have the technical expertise to present a more reasonable argument rather than virtue signalling.


I rest my case and there is much more i could have said………….



Evangelicals and Climate Change 1990 to 2011

How far do evangelicals whether in the USA, Britain or elsewhere regard Climate Change? It is not an easy question to answer.

a21Increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations from 1958–2013

At the end of this I give a link to a chapter I wrote way back in 2011. Ironically I completed it as there were minor tremors 10 miles from my house probably caused by fracking. Those tremors meant my essay was out of date before it was published!

Looking over this chapter, I still agree with most of it, but it suffers too much from a historical, backward look and not discerning the events going on at the time. I started to write it just after the 2009 Copenhagen conference on Climate Change and in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. At that time I was unaware of the fracking revolution in the USA and that there was exploration for fracking right on my doorstep. Despite my cycling the country lanes on the Fylde, in the absence of protestors fracking exploration was almost invisible! Since 2011 Climate Change is far more to the fore and of great interest to Christian greens and the whole church.

It would be fair to say, that for Christians Climate Change is the dominant environmental concern and at times one wonders if anything else matters except Climate Change and fracking. Sadly the discussion is now often based more on emotion than science.

I made several omissions in my essay including not referring to  Canadian Katharine Hayhoe. (whom I thought was American as she lives in Texas!!) If I had been more USA aware in 2011 I would have mentioned this book    A Climate for Change    by Hayhoe and Farley published in 2009.


from the preface;

Bike to work. Hug a tree. Eat granola. Live off the grid. Wear hemp. Bathe in a stream. And worship the earth.

Go ahead. Label us – just because we think global warming is a serious problem that you should know about.

But here’s who we really are.

We’re Christians. We don’t worship the earth. We worship the Creator of the universe. We believe that God spoke the world into existence and sustains it by His power. We believe that Jesus Christ is the way to eternal life, that the Bible is God?s Word, and that nothing compares to the importance of the gospel message.

Now, for what we don’t believe. We don’t believe the universe came into existence through random chance. We don’t believe that life came from nothing or that humans evolved from apes.

We believe in common sense. We believe in the sensible progression from older to newer technologies. Yes, we live in a house with air conditioning. We drive cars. We don’t have solar panels on our roof (too expensive), and we’re not vegetarians (meat is just too tasty).

Don’t worry – we’re not going to try to convince you that Earth is four billion years old or that it’s young, but with the appearance of age. Even we, the authors, disagree on that one.

Climate change is about thermometers and temperatures. It’s about what’s been happening on our planet since the Industrial Revolution. It’s Chemistry 101. Now, can we talk about global warming?

(from the Preface of A Climate for Change)

I was taken aback about the denial that humans are evolved and that one author seems to be a Young Earther


My distinction of Greens and Browns is probably too simple. I am tempted now to subdivide Greens into Bright Green, Dark Green, Dim Green and possibly some other shades. In the UK among all Christians I would say the latter two are in ascendant !!!


This was my  Conclusion

It is not possible to draw a neat and simple conclusion on Evangelical attitudes
to climate change. McKeown’s division into Browns and Greens is
good, but is too simple. McKeown highlights the divide between the different
Evangelical factions, but matters are more complex than his aptly
polarized scenario shows. There are the infl uential activists on either side,
personifi ed by John Houghton for the theory of climate change and Calvin
Beisner against it. These individuals have been highly active for the last
15 years, and at times it seems that there can be no resolution and that
Evangelicals are simply divided.
However, certain things are clear. The more moderate Evangelicals are
convinced of climate change and work positively with the wider church
and – if they have scientifi c skills – in the scientifi c community. Those
opposed are very vocal and dismissive of the ‘ junk science’ and have made
much of alleged ‘fraud’ by Chris Jones of the CRU. Despite the vindictiveness
of these allegations, the conservatives or Browns have become more
environmentally aware in the last decade, as groups such as the ISA have
slowly shifted their position. The strongest examples of shifts in opinion
are to be seen in those such as Richard Cizik, who rejected decades of environmental
indifference almost overnight.
As I write on a cold and damp July evening (and revised it after the coldest
December for decades), it is diffi cult to foresee the future and whether the
political clout of the more conservative Evangelicals will inhibit efforts to
address climate change. For most Evangelicals, climate change is a matter
of indifference and they will probably refl ect what they have been taught
with varying levels of conviction. As Creation care is more widely espoused
by Evangelicals, whether in the conservative or moderate form, environmental
concerns are becoming of greater concern. According to a recent
article in Christianity Today 21 , environmental issues have hit the United
States hard this year (2010). The editorial, entitled ‘Let the sea resound’,
begins: ‘The question is no longer, “Do you believe in global warming?” but,
“What do you believe about the Gulf oil spill?” The BP spill has brought
creation care closer to home. Whether global warming is a dire threat or
not, human- made or not, we are all now more aware of our relationship to
other parts of God’s creation’. No one around the Gulf of Mexico has been
able to avoid the effects of the spill, and it has become a primary concern
of President Obama. The environmental record of America has never been
good, but this spillage exceeds any previous catastrophe. Americans have
been forced to see that the environment is fragile in a way they have never
before perceived it. As the Christianity Today article says, ‘There seems to be
little doubt that the Gulf oil spill is the United States’ environmental 9/11’.
Tree huggers are objects of ridicule, but many have become ‘sea huggers’.
Perhaps American Evangelicals may become ‘climate huggers’. 22 If that
happens, the present bias against climate change in the United States will
change, as American Evangelicals have considerable political infl uence,
especially in the Republican Party. Most American Evangelicals support
9781441169297_Ch07_Fpp_txt_prf.indd 129 9/6/2011 2:30:34 PM
Religion 130 in Environmental and Climate Change
the Republicans and as long as they follow the creationist line of climate
change, Republican politicians will do the same.
Over the next few decades, both the absolute numbers and proportion of
Evangelicals and Neo- Pentecostals are set to rise, making them of greater
signifi cance, both socially and politically, in many parts of the world. I
must emphasize that this will not only be in the United States, where they
are so infl uential now, but in countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America
(especially Brazil). Thus, their views on climate change and what should be
done about it are of great signifi cance for our planet.

To read what went before please click below



The Church of England and Divestment; July 2018

Divestment and the Church of England
In July 8th 2018 the General synod of the Church of England are meeting to discuss divestment from fossils fuels. They had one bite of the cherry in 2015. Reading the GS (General Synod) papers things seem to be moving to total divestment and not just from coal and tar sands.
Needless to say green groups are at full throttle on this with “position papers” being published. Most active is Operation Noah who have published both a paper and petition. I will consider these rather than the other multitude of voices for divestment


Here is the petition
The introduction is;

1. We ask the National Investing Bodies of the Church of England to make an explicit commitment to disinvest from companies involved in the extraction of oil, coal and gas, as soon as possible.
2. We urge the National Investing Bodies to increase their investment in clean alternatives to fossil fuels.
3. We call on the Church of England to take a leading and influential role in the national debate on the ethics of investment in fossil fuels.

This goes much further than any motion at General Synod and seems to want total divestment. Further it takes up the false dichotomy of clean (renewables) vs dirty (fossil) fuels, and thus ignore the devastation caused by mining for all the minerals needed for renewables, showing that they are also dirty! THERE NO CLEAN ENERGY.
The third point on Ethics seems to be virtue signalling as it defines a priori that fossil fuels are unethical.
After that are six reasons why it is important to divest. Rather than deal with each I shall consider reason no 5.

5. The vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of meeting the Paris Agreement targets. The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone would take the world beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

This is in two parts. The first is a sweeping statement on the Paris Agreement and fails to make any distinction between the 3 fossil fuels. The fact that emissions of CHG from coal are vastly greater than oil, which is turn is greater than gas is simply ignored as is the proportion of each fuel which should be left in the ground. This seems to be a rewrite of the Paris agreement and rather alters the meaning. Further no one has put it that baldly. The original source on keeping fossil fules in the ground comes from a paper in nature for UCL researchers. They distinguished between the three fossil fuels
A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2°C target agreed by policy makers, according to new research by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources.

This puts things in a very different light both on the timeframe and which fuels are to be left in the ground. In other words, coal needs to be left there but oil and gas will be used to 2050 – and will have to be simply to keep the lights on. There is clear to anyone who understand than energy transitions take DECADE not YEARS.
The second sentence which is very authorative comes from a polemical report and from ON’s position paper

. A report from Oil Change International,12 written with Christian Aid and others, shows that the potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming. Even the reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone (without coal) would take the world beyond 1.5°C.
This is hardly unbiased, and conclusions from an advocacy group should not be seen as definitive.
(Most of the photos in the paper are of the worst of coal extraction/devastation rather than oil or gas production. This is a dubious way of appealing to emotions ) Compared to open-cast coal or the slag heaps of deep coal, oil or gas wells look like an English country garden.
I checked out the website and note that it is a group which is opposed to any fossil fuels. Accuracy is not its forte as I found with the section on fracking As well as making unsubstantiated claims many of the links could not be opened. This prevents any fact checking
It is insufficient simply to cite those of a similar perspective as if they are universally held
To discuss the remaining points would take time as I would need to “fact check” each claim as I have done for my previous points.
In fact both the ON petition and paper fall down when you actually “fact check” and it is difficult not to see it as truth shaving as well.

More on Operation Noah. In 2013 (revised 2015) they produced a report Bright Now arguing for divestment. On the surface this seems a good report with good theology, sane economics and sound science. It is not. The report is highly biased and ignores any voice which does not call for immediate divestment and an immediate move to renewables aka clean energy. In other words references only reflect their bias. The section The scientific case for disinvestment is remarkable for its high standard of technical and scientific error. This is not surprising as they looked to unreliable sources, and ignore reliable ones like the British Geological Survey and others. Operation Noah have been effective within all churches in Britain but their bias and inaccuracy should cause concern.
This week (mid-June 2018) Operation Noah have produced another document, presumably in readiness for the General Synod. It is excellently produced, well-written with a wealth of references. The report is Fossil free Churches: Accelerating the transition to a brighter, cleaner future and has some excellent testimonials. So what is it like?
Before looking at the content, consider the references. I remember a university teacher saying the first thing he looked at in an essay are the references as that indicates the essential strengths and weaknesses of the essay. If a student uses bad references the essay will be bad too! It is salutary to do that on Fossil Free Churches. Over half are by advocacy groups, which often have a less than through approach to accuracy – truth shaving -, like Friends of the Earth,(who were pulled up the Advertising Standards Authority in 2017), Ceres, 350org among others. In fact, the references are slewed to support divestment rather than even considering other viewpoints, which regard natural gas as a fuel which is far better than coal, and thus good at the present time to reduce emissions. Thus references 46 and 47 are from the IEA (International Energy Authority) but they fail to cite a paper which goes contrary to what they advocate; . Some reference should be made to the work of Lord Deben in the DECC, or even positive references to the need of natural gas in IPCC reports. Surely readers should be able to make their own mind and not simply fed a one-sided view. It is almost a case of no-platforming.
This one-sidedness comes out in both the Advisory group and “experts” consulted;

ADVISORY GROUP: Nicky Bull, Darrell Hannah, Ruth Jarman, Alex Mabbs Those who have contributed to this report and whose input is acknowledged below do not necessarily endorse the content of this report. We would also like to thank the following experts for their advice, input, ideas and suggestions as we developed the ideas in this report (though all errors and omissions remain the responsibility of the author): Stephen Edwards (Operation Noah), Martin Poulsom (Operation Noah), Reggie Norton (Operation Noah), Tom Harrison (Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts), Sian Ferguson (Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts), Luke Sussams (Carbon Tracker), Katharine Mansell (European Climate Foundation), Jeanne Martin (ShareAction), Greg Muttitt (Oil Change International), Simon Bullock (Friends of the Earth), Ric Lander (Friends of the Earth Scotland), Keval Bharadia (Christian Aid), Monique Nardi (Mission 2020), Rachel Mash (Anglican Church of Southern Africa), John Weaver (John Ray Initiative), David Pickering (United Reformed Church Synod of Scotland), Joel Moreland, Hugh Lee, Kevin McCullough.

There is simply no diversity of thought here and are almost entirely divestment and anti-fossil fuel advocates. This prevents any balance or serious grappling with issues and essentially presents divestment as a fait accompli, which in the paper is buttressed by theological virtue signalling. At least one expert vandalised the DECC building in 2015. Further there is no engagement with those who may be called practitioners in energy. As this is a Christian document, I know numbers of Christians who work in the fossil fuel and nuclear industry or who have other necessary expertise, which was needed here. Among Christians in the UK, this study has ignored Lord Deben, late Prof Younger, Dr Nick Riley. This is ignoring many fine secular experts.
Sadly many who read this paper, will not be aware of alternatives to immediate divestment. Over the last decade green Christians have sung from only one sheet, cutting out other voices. Here they show the characteristics of fundamentalists. Too often in the Christian press alternative voices are either ignored or suppressed.

The paper starts with an Executive summary stating “the vast majority of fossil fuels need to be left in the ground.”
If we are to meet the Paris Agreement targets, the vast majority of fossil fuels will need to remain in the ground. This means that fossil fuel companies run the risk of being left with ‘stranded assets’ – worthless fuel reserves that regulations will prevent from being burned or that can only be consumed at unimaginable cost to us all. Fossil fuel companies’ predictions of future business
I dealt with earlier in the blog, but this is unfounded dogmatism. As I wrote before it is, 80% coal, 50% gas and 33% oil . That is very different.
All this needs a proper discussion using a wide range of sources giving full details of the issues and any controversial aspects. It is thus too emotive and biased to be a useful guide.
Along with there is no discussion of relative dirtiness of the various fossil fuels or the dirtiness of so-called clean energy. It is too slick to contrast “clean” and “dirty” energy and ignore the DIRT of renewables, e.g. mining for rare earths, wrecking of peat bogs for wind turbines, difficulty of recycling obsolete turbines and solar panels
The appeal to stranded assets sounds convincing and would be if fossil fuels have only a few years left but all projections including WWF reckon fossil fuels will still being used in 2050
There is an appeal to rapid developments, but until they are developed they cannot be used! Ultimately there is a blind faith in renewables, more hope than reality. Thus renewables cannot replace fossil fuels in the foreseeable future

But renewables still marginal and will be in the timeframe suggested by ON for a transition
This graph from BP highlights the problem. Renewables are only providing some 3% of the world’s total energy. Note this is TOTAL energy and not just electricity generation where the percentage is higher. This on 14th June 2018 wind power was producing 33% of the UK electricity having only produced a few per cent for several weeks. By the evening it had fallen back and thus I was able to out for a cycle ride without being blown off. And then at the end of June 2018 solar actually outperformed gas for a short time during the day, but once the heat wave is over solar will be reduced in significance


The graph below shows the annual mix for electricity production in the UK. Note that dirty coal is almost phased out, nuclear (hated by many greens) runs at 20%, wind and solar now at 20% and gas ruling the roost at 40%. This does not consider the intermittent nature of renewables which produce nothing on a frosty, windless night. This graph shows just electricity but that is only part of energy useage in the UK as for heating, industry and transport. That is almost entirely fossil fuels (including electric cars.)


The theology in the paper seems reasonable BUT must be grounded in the science, which it is not.
The ON material falls down when “fact-checked” and this is due to an in-built bias, which should not be practiced by Christians. The authors simply select what reports they wish to use and ignore swathes of good material As a result we can see them as examples of inadequate fact-checking with truth shaving.

What is needed both by the Christian Church and all people is not truth shaving whether from “climate deniers” or ardent greens but truth sharing and a ruthless pursuit of truth, even when that is uncomfortable.
I can expect to be accused of being a Climate Denier having written this!! To me there is no question that Anthropogenic Climate Change has been happening for well over a century, and if nothing is done then the consequences will be dire. However the apocalyptic nightmares peddled by greens like Greenpeace, Friends of the earth, and McKibbin, Naomi Klein and others do no good and may well discourage people from taking any action. It does not help when such apocalyptic visions are accompanied by truth-shaving and, at time, sheer inaccuracy.
The solutions to the whole climate issue will not be a simple divestment but a diverse approach not only concerning fossil fuels, and fuel conservation but farming practices, re-afforestation, restoration of peat lands and wetlands.
As Oscar Wilde said, “to every complex question there is a simpe answer – and that is wrong.” !!!!
My final point is to say that in 1982/3 I tried to get concern for the environment put on the agenda of the Liverpool Diocesan Board of Social Responsibility as I was a member. My appeal fell on deaf ears and was not even recorded in the minutes.


My reasons for supporting fracking as the best but not perfect energy source

I wrote this for the newsletter for retired Anglican Clergy as I was requested to do so. It was written two years ago. I attempted to be conciliatory but the next newsletter had a rant of a response from some retired canon, who decided that I was a climate change denier and generally not concerned by the environment. He was clearly blessed with great pastoral gifts – NOT! A nice chappie!

It is two years out of date but the arguments are the same!!

To Frack or not to Frack; that is the question.

On April Fool’s Day 2011 I sent off proofs for a chapter on Evangelicals and Climate Change, where I was critical of American Climate Change deniers. I never noticed the earthquake caused by fracking at Preese Hall ten miles away. After that I began to hear about fracking and was negative initially, but did nothing until a party political leaflet came through the door (not UKIP!). I liked what I read;-improved cycling facilities, recycling, environmental improvements, etc, but the last paragraph made me stamp my feet causing a Magnitude 0.75 quake! The Preese Hall quake was big and dangerous! As a geologist I knew a Mag 2.3 was trivial. When I worked in a Ugandan Copper mine, quakes 1000 times more powerful were common. The most memorable was at an Ascension Day service causing the organist to miss a note! This election leaflet goaded me into action, or rather delayed action as I had limited time until I retired in 2013. And so I began to investigate.
The usual arguments cited are;
• flaming taps due to methane in water,
• toxic chemicals in fracking fluid
• quakes, i.e. minor seismicity.
• poor geology,
• aquifer and water pollution,
• rampant capitalism
• industrialisation of the countryside


  • damaging to climate change . (This is used to trump all and to ignore any other challenges on the above points!!


The horrors of fracking in Lancashire from Talkfracking
The University of Google directed me to anti-fracking sites, but I wanted something more reliable. As a geologist, I started with the British Geological Survey, and then the United States Geological Survey. Fracking cropped up on the Affiliation of Christian Geologists and so I contacted friends there, along with more friends in the USGS. It soon became apparent that the earthquake concern was very rare, and low risk, and where larger quakes occurred (Mag3 – 5), these were not due to fracking but wastewater injection. These had occurred since the early 80s, i.e. two decades before (the present style of) fracking started and mainly involved waste water from traditional oil production. That is still the case today. (One friend, who in 1991 wrote the earliest papers on these, took me up a couple of 14,000ft mountains in Colorado and I took him up Ingleborough!) Fairly soon, I realised that problems were caused by bad practice rather than the fracking process itself.
After that I left my geological comfort zone and looked at the other issues. I had a choice of three major sources;
• The plethora of publications by anti-frackers, and ‘eco’ organisations.
• technical material from bodies like the BGS, EA, PHE, HSE, scientific bodies and independent academics
• publications from gas operators.
I focussed on the second group. It took time to grasp the technicalities of fracking. I quickly realised that there was little scientific credibility to the antifrack publications. I used the antifrack material to guide what I should look for and ignored material from firms like Cuadrilla. Delving into all this was frustrating and annoying as I became more and more appalled at the inaccuracies of those opposing fracking, including those in the churches.
The straw which broke the camel’s back was my attending a meeting of Frack Off near Garstang in August 2013. I realised then that this meeting promoted ideologically motivated duplicity and scaremongering. More of that later.
I found dealing with anti-fracking rather like dealing with Creationism, which I have dealt with since 1971 after a visit to Schaeffer’s L’Abri in Switzerland – when I thought I was about to join Servetus in Geneva. At the risk of offending Creationists, their arguments are always fallacious, if not dishonest. Creationist claims on the inaccuracy of radiometric age-dating and other scientific questions were poor science. After many years of checking them out, I have never found any which are valid. It is the same with arguments against fracking, which either universalise from examples of bad practice as with pollution of water supplies in Wyoming, exaggerate, or misquote the evidence..
As a result I was forced to re-assess my long-held views on the environment, not that for a moment I even considered rejecting Care of Creation or environmentalism. For 50 years this has itself in appreciation of the natural world, wildlife gardening, economy of energy use and insulation etc. Not to mention my bike as my preferred means of transport, or driving economically. (I try to get 50mpg out of a Corolla which should only do 44!) I had convinced myself of the Peak Oil argument in 1971, not knowing King Hubbert presented it two decades earlier. Peak Oil came to the fore after 2000 when it seemed that fossil fuels would soon run out. I presumed society would be forced to adopt renewables. Shale gas and oil has changed that and almost certainly fossil fuels will NOT run out before 2100. Rather than adjusting to an imposed fossil-free world in a few decades, the limitless (almost) supply forces choices in relation to the environment. Not being a Global Warming Denier, that means a wise use of fossil fuels. Here for many reasons, gas (increasingly fracked) along with every other source of energy except coal is the best option for both the planet and people and here I concur with the IPCC and what actually came out of Paris in 2015!
I began my journey in 2011 rather sceptical of fracking. It was a steep learning curve forcing me to think more about energy and the environment. I came to the conclusion that fracking was the best, or least bad, option and very necessary for Britain. That put me in agreement with the “best environment minister ever” John Gummer aka Lord Deben, but meant that I went against most green Christians. As I considered the whole fracking debate issue to be important, I began to put my head above the parapet. That was impossible to avoid after Cuadrilla applied for two exploration wells 10 miles from my home in February 2014. Now that changed everything. For two years it has dominated many aspects of life in Lancashire.
In February 2014 I went to Cuadrilla’s open meeting at Elswick and was greeted by anti-frackers at the door. Many had arrived in gas-guzzlers! Inside were various stands and many staff from Cuadrilla and Arup. I did not say I had been an exploration geologist but simply asked questions. They gave very reasonable answers and did not try to blind me with science. I went away confident that they were careful operators. A few weeks later I went to a meeting at Inskip of RAFF (Residents against Fracking Fylde). It was very different as the speakers simply peddled the anti-fracking line. During question time I raised questions about a speaker’s geological understanding pointing out it was contrary to BGS reports. I was surprised that she was supported by a Friends of the Earth worker, as I had always had a high regard for FoE. I became aware of hostility to those who did not support the anti-fracking line. About that time lots of anti-fracking signs appeared in the various villages.

One of many signs near the Preston New road site near Blackpool



this is fracking

The nightmare opponents of fracking have, but forget that this is not fracking with long laterals but close vertical drills.


Welcome toRoseacre! After this appeared houses were difficult to sell
I took copies of the RAFF leaflet Shale Gas; the Facts, which I found to be grossly inaccurate. I was put in touch with Ken, who shortly had complained to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) about a leaflet distributed by Frack Free Somerset. Before the ASA made a judgment FFS withdrew the leaflet! Ken and I put in a complaint to the ASA against RAFF . RAFF tried to answer our complaints but shortly before a judgment was due they withdrew the leaflet. We did the same for Frack Free Ryedale who in Feb 2016 withdrew their leaflet. We await the result over a complaint about Friends of the Earth’s leaflet appealing for donations to fund their work in Lancashire. Some may have seen some of the press coverage of FoE in February stemming from Cuadrilla’s complaints to the Charity Commission . At present I am trying to work out what FoE have done in Lancs over the last few years in preparation for a paper to be given at a geological conference. It is clear they worked on local villages and fuelled the local opposition. They also provided training in public speaking in preparation for the June hearings. However those speaking simply repeated the pseudoscientific party line of the antis. My own involvement convinced me that much of the opposition in Lancashire had been fired up by groups like FoE and Greenpeace.



The substance of the Friends of the Earth leaflet
I also became concerned at the violence, intimidation, and law-breaking from some anti-frack supporters, some of which I observed.
Last autumn, we went on holiday to the USA and as we went to Philadelphia we spent a day going around a fracking area. We were put in touch with the CEO of a local company, who took us on a tour of various wells in hilly woodland. It was more attractive than most forestry commission areas. From the valley the only visual impact was a gas pipeline.



Trout Run, nr Williamsport, PA. gas pad at top of hill. Forest cleared for gasline



The “flat hill” is a gaspad with 6 wells. Houseowner happy to have it there


Well being drilled 2 mls from previous photo
We were sent on a tour on empty roads. I visited one pad and spoke to a couple whose house was only yards from another pad, and they were quite happy with it all.

I spoke to people in the motel, restaurant and shops. One or two had some reservations but most valued the fracking. This was in Bradford county a supposedly grim area for fracking.
My intention from the beginning was to consider “all sides”, and that meant talking to green groups, industry and “official” bodies and academic institutions. One major problem was that many green groups, whether in the flesh, or online, simply wanted no questioning or dealings with anyone who questioned them. I was more fortunate with the other two categories. Academics in the UK and USA sent me technical papers on request, which were often behind a pay-wall. I have had personal dealings with several and have been on geological fieldtrips with others, as I know the Forest of Bowland well. (some of my blogs on the geology of the Bowland Shales have been used by university geologists!) I have got to know staff from Cuadrilla, and they have also allowed me on-site. I have made useful contacts with many connected with the shale gas industry


Three Oxford geology profs and D. Phil student looking at Bowland Shales
As can be seen, fracking is both a technical and a social issue and the two are often inter-twined. Often polarisation gets deep and fractious.

So far the CoE has made no official statement on fracking, but many individuals have. Nearly all follow the anti-fracking line and their ‘science’ is poorly evidenced and argued. Most appear to have no technical or scientific knowledge. Doctorates in literature do not qualify one to speak on drilling wells or geology!
This Church Times article is simply emotional, and this discussion paper from the Blackburn Diocese is very inaccurate and biased. The Url (go to fracking) gives the paper and my response.

Cartoon to go with Church Times article. Since removed.
My conclusions of my study are;
• Fracking is as safe as any other industry. The regulations are robust. There is environmental risk (as there is with farming!), but has been greatly exaggerated. There may be accidents and minor environmental spills etc, but the key pollution pathways responsible for many of the US problems have been examined by the Royal Academy of Engineering. This has lead to a raft of regulations.
• Local gas will be better for meeting Climate Change targets, provided there is a concerted effort on renewables, energy efficiency, etc etc. The key climate issue is to eliminate of coal, which may kill 1600 people a year in the UK. LNG imports are worse for the climate than locally fracked gas.
• So often environmentalists polemically present the option of fracking OR renewables rather than both.
• If fracking takes off it benefit employment, especially in Lancs and Yorks.
• It will improve energy security and help the UK’s balance of payments, as North Sea oil did for decades.
However fracking alone is insufficient. Other aspects need tackling, e.g. planting of trees, farming methods, peat restoration, energy conservation, etc.
One of the weaknesses of many Greens today is to see everything through a lens of Climate Change, and to see fracking as the biggest evil of all. In fact, Green campaigners and architects of the Climate Change Act, the late Stephen Tindale, and Baroness Briony Worthington see shale gas as the way forward, in progressing to a low carbon future. The myopic anti-frack approach has resulted in polarised arguments which help no one.
This fractious polarisation is often fuelled by certain green groups, who cannot, or will not see the big picture. They constantly chant the mantra #keepitintheground. Sadly, a secondary result of my study of fracking is that many Christian Greens make the same mistake.
Over the last five years the clamour against fracking has not been edifying and the church has made no useful contribution. Many commentators have ignored the mass of scientific evidence from so many professional groups, such as the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society, Public Health England, the HSE, the Environment Agency, the British Geological Survey, CIWEM, the European Union, the US Environmental Protection Agency and dozens more. Much of this is on the internet. A good place to start is
They comment on ‘toxic’ chemicals that are not permitted under UK and EU law. They also ignore the hundreds of research papers that confirm the safety of the process. These commentators prefer health studies that are dismissed by health experts, and histrionic reports of pollution incidents that are nothing to do with fracking.
To me it is a matter of great concern whether for the environment, the well-being of people (and planet), and the credibility of the churches. Thus I am one of the many who support a well-regulated fracking for the sake of the environment.
Not all think I am right!


Dippy, diplodocus, goes to war with religion

Last week we went to the Dippy, the diplodocus, exhibition in Dorchester. It was fascinating to see the vast model of this dinosaur, which was attracting kids of all ages.  Later Dippy will travel round the country to the joy of many. It was an excellent exhibion but some of the “informative displays” were rather misguided and inaccurate as they relied on the whole idea of science and religion being at loggerheads with each other. It seems that those from the British Museum of Natural History are simply not up to speed. But first a description and then our visit

First, here is a description cribbed from Wikipedia

Dippy is a plaster cast replica of the fossilised bones of the type specimen of Diplodocus carnegii. The 105-foot (32 m)-long cast was displayed from 1979 to 2017 in the Hintze Hall, the central entrance hall of the Natural History Museum, in London.D

The genus Diplodocus was first described in 1878 by Othniel Charles Marsh. The fossilised skeleton from which Dippy was cast was discovered in Wyoming in 1898, and acquired by the Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie for his newly-founded Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. The bones were soon recognised as a new species, and named Diplodocus carnegii.

King Edward VII, then a keen trustee of the British Museum, saw a sketch of the bones at Carnegie’s Scottish home, Skibo Castle, in 1902, and Carnegie agreed to donate a cast to the Natural History Museum as a gift. Carnegie paid £2,000 for the casting in plaster of paris, copying the original fossil bones held by the Carnegie Museum (not mounted until 1907, as a new museum building was still being constructed to house it).


The work involved in removing Dippy and replacing it with the whale skeleton was documented in a BBC Television special, Horizon: Dippy and the Whale, narrated by David Attenborough, which was first broadcast on BBC Two on 13 July 2017, the day before the whale skeleton was unveiled for public display.[1]

Dippy started a tour of British museums in February 2018, mounted on a new more mobile armature.[2][3] Over the following three years, Dippy will be exhibited at locations around the UK: Dorset County Museum (10 February – 7 May 2018),[4] Ulster Museum (17 September 2018 – 6 January 2019),[5] Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Great North Museum, the National Assembly for Wales, Number One Riverside in Rochdale, and Norwich Cathedral.[6]

And a timetable of Dippy’s wanderings around the country

Dippy is staying in the Dorset Museum in Dorchester and is sharing her stay with the “cold, cretaceous” novelist Thomas Hardy, who was writing his dark, but profound novels at the time Dippy was unearthed. And so the five of us went round and the two year old was enthralled. So was I!!

This photos show some of her vastness.


She made us look like midgets.


I hope she never got arthritis in her neck.


Big fat legs


Around the walls were more general geological displays and here is the map of the Weymouth Anticline  made by Mike House in about 1950 when he was studying under W J Arkell, who was prof of geology at Oxford in the 50s. House led my first university geological field trip to Swanage, but left soon after to take the chair at Hull. The only thing I remember of his farewell lecture was his description of some dino footprints on what was soft mud. The adult plonked her feet haphazardly, but baby dino planted her feet without crossing the cracks just as a human child would do.



Here is a local fossil ichthyosaur at the museum. One of the early workers was the Rev William Conybeare and an Anglican vicar and important early geologist in the early 1820s. As a geologist he was superb and had evangelical sympathies. Despite what is said in other display boards at the Dorset Museum, Conybeare was typical of his day and had no problem with vast geological time and spoke of “quadrillions of years”. He did have problems with the young earthers of his day!!


nice gnashers from a local


I simply cannot understand what this incoherent muddle means. I think both Conybeare and especially William Buckland (see below) would say just the same !!


How on earth can this be allowed in a serious museum? It is just muddled twaddle.


If, like me, you cannot read it, here it is magnified.


After my face-palming , here is my criticism.

  1. Take the sentence “During the 19th …… Bible.” First, it fails to note that Darwin published in 1859, and the dorset dinos were discovered 40 yrs before, so evolution was not on the table in 1820. In 1820 most scientists and educated Christians accepted the findings of geological deep time, with a few noisy objectors. Even by 1800 most educated people, Christian or not accepted deep time , as Martin Rudwick has shown in his recent books e.g. Earth’s Deep History or my modest contributions ; in the Evangelical Quarterly  which is a historical survey  and  a chapter in the Geol soc publication Geology and Religion on how Adam Sedgwick, a close friend and colleague of Conybeare and Buckland, dealt wit 6 day creationists of his day (Today you are not supposed to speak about or to creationists like that!!)
  2. Dr William Buckland was a great geologist but a nutter!! Hw was the first to identify a Jurassic Mammal and instrumental in getting Ice Ages accepted in Britain. For much of his geological career he reckoned the Noah’s Flood was the last geological event, with vast geological epochs before it. At that time it made sense and in some unpublished writings (now at Oxford) regarded the flood as caused by melting ice from the Ice Age. Read my article in the Proceedings of the Geologists Association on his excellent work (and Darwin’s)  on the Ice Age in Wales . There is a reference to it and access at the end of this blog.
  3. Willaim Smith produced the first geological map of any country in 1815 – England and Wales, but in the 1790s held to a 6 day creation. However he was disabused of that by two local vicars; Richardson and Townsend!
  4. Lastly, the commentary by Henry and Scott. This was a later collation of commentaries by Henry  (1670s) and Scott (1800) neither of whom took any notice of geology!

And finally something on the greatest woman fossil collector Mary Anning


It was great meeting Dippy , but a disappointment at some of the shoddy historical material.

Sadly, it has to be said that today a higher proportion of Christians believe that the earth was created in 6 days than when either Conybeare and Anning were unearthing ichthyosaurs in the 1820 or at the end of the century when Dippy saw the light again.