Category Archives: Climate Change

Medical risks for fracking from BMJ and MEDACT

In early June 2018 the BMJ (British Medical Journal) published an editorial on the health dangers of fracking. This was immediately taken up by some environmentalists and anti-frackers as confirmation that fracking is simply too dangerous and a risk to health. It was written by two professors of public health; David McCoy and Patrick Saunders, both from the left-wing medical pressure group MEDACT . This is the third foray against fracking by MEDACT. On 30th March 2015 they launched the first edition of Health and Fracking in London.

 

As The Times pointed out it was heavily dependent on the work of a Mike Hill from Lancashire, who is an engineer who has made many highly dubious claims of long experience in the oil and gas industry. The launch was not well-attended but there were three elderly visitors, the late Nick Grealy, Ken Wilkinson, who worked as an engineer on rigs for 12 years, and myself who spent a few years as an exploration geologist. Our questions unsettled the panel, who were not able to give any substance to their claims of fracking being bad for health. They could not cite any health effects of the 2000 oil and gas wells in England. The supposed health effects all involved chemicals that are not permitted in the UK, something the panel did not seem to know.
In 2016 Medact revised the report and toned down their claims.

medact

https://www.medact.org/2016/resources/reports/shale-gas-production-in-england/
In their key points they state

‘Based on current evidence it is not possible to conclude that there is a strong association between shale gas related pollution and negative local health effects’.

Having stated that they then go on to contradict themselves saying

‘In particular, there are risks of (i) adverse reproductive outcomes due to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals’

This completely ignores the fact that these are specifically forbidden under EU and UK law as can be seen in paragraph 4 of this link
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2010/9780111491423/schedule/22

Citing chemicals that are not permitted is hardly a public health concern! In full their health concerns are:

Of particular note are: a) the risk of adverse reproductive outcomes due to exposure to endocrinedisrupting chemicals which can be potent even at relatively low levels; b) the risk of respiratory effects resulting from ozone and smog formation, which may affect communities living at a distance from oil and gas extraction sites; and c) stress, anxiety, mistrust, fear and other psycho-emotional effects arising from nuisance impacts, as well as actual and perceived social and economic disruption.

The second two are both tenuous and the third –stress and psycho-emotional effects etc- is particularly tenuous due to the campaigns of anti-fracking groups who play on fears of health issues.

 

When it comes to the BMJ editorial they struggle to give any argument of substance on the health dangers of fracking

“Nonetheless, although shale gas production may not be a population level health threat on the scale of tobacco, sugar, alcohol, or motor vehicle pollution, some evidence shows that it increases the risk of negative health and environmental outcomes, including increased risk of cancer, adverse birth outcomes, respiratory disease, and mental wellbeing.567891011”

The words “some evidence” are revealing, especially as they cite the Colorado claims on birth effects , which have been dismissed by Public Health England, who are a statutory consultee on every shale gas application. A summary of the limitations of this evidence can be seen on this blog post.
http://frackland.blogspot.com/2015/01/shale-gas-health-studies-from-usa-are.html

The best they can claim are the postulated effects on Climate Change;

“The greater concern, however, is that shale gas is a fossil fuel that will aggravate climate change.”.

Note that this ignores all the old claims of earthquakes, water and air pollution etc. Probably that is because these claims have been shown to be fictitious. Concern about climate change, (while valid) is not a direct public health issue of concern for either the BMJ, or medical practitioners.

foeadvert

Friends of the Earth give disproved claims against fracking

The editorial also comments about the supposed fracking ‘moratorium’ in Scotland. This policy was a source of discontent for the authors of the engineering report that was commissioned by the Scottish Government. That report in fact found that the process of shale gas extraction was low risk, and that there was no technical reason to stop development. The decision by the Scottish Parliament was a political, rather than a technical or health matter.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/fracking/11382948/SNP-fabricated-reasons-for-fracking-ban-says-expert.html

The legal challenge made by INEOS was based on the scientific evidence, and in fact, the SNP are now denying that there is such a moratorium or ban. Presumably this is because a judicial review would have be decided on hard evidence, rather than political gestures.
ttps://www.bmj.chom/content/361/bmj.k2397
This BMJ article has been spun in the Westwood-sponsored Talk Fracking
http://www.talkfracking.org/fracking-news/health-climate-fracking-danger/

Text of the BMJ article.

David McCoy, professor of global public health1, Patrick Saunders, visiting professor of public health2
Author affiliations
Correspondence to: D McCoy d.mccoy@qmul.ac.uk

The scale of harm to health is uncertain, but the danger of exacerbating climate change is not

In October 2017, the Scottish parliament voted in favour of its government’s decision1 to extend a moratorium on shale gas production, often colloquially referred to as “fracking,” that had been placed in 2015. This followed an extensive public consultation and the government commissioning six reports on unconventional oil and gas extraction that covered economic effects; decommissioning, site restoration, and aftercare of industrial sites; climate change; seismic activity; health effects; and community level effects from transportation.2
Despite this thorough process, the petrochemical multinational INEOS took the Scottish government to court on the grounds that the effective ban on shale gas production is “unlawful” and that ministers have misused their power and made “very serious errors.” INEOS has also applied for financial compensation.3 Meanwhile, central government argues that shale gas will enhance the UK’s energy security, create jobs, and boost the economy and that “world class regulation” will keep communities and the environment safe.4
Arguments continue between those who advocate the benefits of shale gas and those who claim it is harmful and unnecessary. But who is right?
Like many industrial activities, shale gas extraction will produce waste and pollution, including hazardous matter that can damage both human health and the environment. And although much activity takes place underground, it will affect the aesthetics of the landscape, disrupt the local social and economic ecosystem, and produce extra traffic, noise, and light pollution. It may also lead to seismic activity.
Importantly, the potential harms of shale gas production will disproportionately affect local communities, which is why government and industry have provided various financial incentives for local communities and talked up the benefits of local investment and job creation.
But much disagreement arises from the difficulty in quantifying the risks and potential harms with any precision. The production of hazards and their effects on health and the environment will depend on multiple factors including how many wells are drilled and over what land area; the size and proximity of local populations; how the industry behaves and is regulated; and site specific geological, topographical, meteorological, and socioeconomic factors. The same degree of uncertainty exists for the estimation of benefits.
Evidence from the United States, where there has been the most experience of shale gas production, needs to be applied to the UK with care. The US has different geology, geography, population density, and topography, as well as a different energy market.
Nonetheless, although shale gas production may not be a population level health threat on the scale of tobacco, sugar, alcohol, or motor vehicle pollution, some evidence shows that it increases the risk of negative health and environmental outcomes, including increased risk of cancer, adverse birth outcomes, respiratory disease, and mental wellbeing.567891011
The greater concern, however, is that shale gas is a fossil fuel that will aggravate climate change. Although it may offer some environmental benefit if produced and used efficiently, and if it displaces “dirtier” sources of energy like coal from the energy mix, this does not hold true for countries like the UK that have already phased out coal. Furthermore, methane (the main component of shale gas) is a potent greenhouse gas that leaks directly into the atmosphere at different points in the production and supply line, producing an additional global warming effect.
A recent study that integrated the environmental, economic, and social aspects of shale gas production to assess its overall sustainability concluded that the UK’s future electricity mix would be more sustainable with a lower rather than higher share of shale gas.12 Other analyses indicate that shale gas production would be incompatible with the EU’s climate targets.13 Meanwhile, a global rise in atmospheric methane concentrations since 2006 has caused alarm among climate scientists with evidence that the oil and gas industry is a major contributor.14
In short, the argument that shale gas is relatively clean and can assist with our transition to a sustainable energy system is thin, if not hollow. It also implies an unacceptable indifference from proponents of the industry to the global threat posed by climate change. In its 2017 Statement on the State of the Global Climate, the World Meteorological Organisation notes that climate change is already claiming lives and destroying livelihoods and has “eradicated decades of developments gains in small islands in the Caribbean.”15 Around 30% of the world’s population is estimated to live in climatic conditions that deliver potentially deadly temperatures at least 20 days a year,16 and 23.5 million people were displaced owing to weather related disasters in 2016.17
Although we can’t be certain about the scale of harm that shale gas production will bring to local communities and the immediate environment, it will exacerbate climate change. And on these grounds alone, the risks clearly and considerably outweigh any possible benefits.
Footnotes
Competing interests: We have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and declare that DM is the former Director of Medact, a public health charity that campaigns for ‘a safer, fairer and better’ world. Both DM and PS were co-authors of two health impacts assessments published by Medact on shale gas production.
Provenance and peer review: Commissioned not peer reviewed.
(References removed see article in BMJ. I apologise for the lack of references but I failed to copy the whole article when it was not behind a paywall)
D McCoy

————————————————————————————————————————————-

The BMJ attracted one response from Ken Wilkinson, who has been adept at debunking anti-fracking claims.
https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2397/rapid-responses

___________________________________________________________

Rapid Response
I am concerned that Medact seem to continue to misrepresent the well-established, and safe practice of hydraulic fracturing. In 2015 they cited clear links between hydraulic fracturing (HF) and health concerns. After many complaints (one from me) they updated their conclusions in 2016 to state ‘based on current evidence it is not possible to conclude that there is a strong association between shale gas related pollution and negative local health effects’. (See ‘Key points’ https://www.medact.org/2016/resources/reports/shale-gas-production-in-en…)
The situation is under constant review by Public Health England. They are a statutory consultee for any frack application. They have consistently stated ‘PHE has reviewed the literature on the potential public health impacts of exposures to chemical and radioactive pollutants as a result of shale gas extraction. We conclude that the currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health in the vicinity of shale gas extraction sites will be low if shale gas extraction is properly run and regulated’ https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa… The Medact statement that ‘some evidence shows that it increases the risk of negative health and environmental outcomes, including increased risk of cancer, adverse birth outcomes, respiratory disease, and mental wellbeing’ is not supported by credible evidence. The studies that support these have all been rejected as bad science by PHE.
In any case the chemicals that are cited in the US based studies are not permitted in the UK anyway. Only ‘non hazardous chemicals’ are permitted by the regulator, the Environment Agency. This is to comply with UK and EU law. Fugitive emissions are similarly not permitted. As such any (flawed) US studies have no relevance in the UK.
The argument about climate change is not relevant for the BMJ. In fact the Climate Change committee have stated that HF gas is acceptable as long as it displaces imports. Imported gas would have a higher GHG footprint than locally produced well regulated shale gas. The combination of renewables and gas is the reason that the UK (and the US) have dramatically decreased GHG emissions.
Similarly the fact that INEOS is taking the Scottish Government to court is an indication of the poor decision made. After a full scientific review, the expert advice given was that shale gas extraction was low risk. The decision was made for SNP political reasons, rather than technical ones. I am sure that the BMJ would advocate that evidence based science should dictate medical decision making. In fact the SNP have retracted from this position and have declared that there is no ban when the matter got to the courtroom. https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-accused-of-misleading-voters-…
Competing interests: No competing interests
08 June 2018
Kenneth Wilkinson
Retired Engineer and teacher

 

It does seem that the BMJ has allowed Medact to let off another damp squib, in their failed attempt to demonstrate that fracking is a health threat. Perhaps it shows there are no arguments against fracking, unless one takes the most pessimistic view of Climate Change.

 

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The Precautionary Principle gone to excess

A warning against the precautionary principle gone wrong and used by extreme environmentalists like FoE and GP to stop any possible advance.

Too many have fallen for their pseudoscience

The Risk-Monger

What follows is the base text for a presentation made at the BAFSAM general assembly in London on 17 May 2018. As the presentation was delivered without notes, the actual content may differ slightly.

Happy 50th Birthday!

50 years may only be one monarch in the UK, it might only be a blink of the eye since The Risk-Monger had entered grade school, but it is two full generations and a world of change for farming. What has happened to the feed additive industry over the last 50 years? What has your half-century of technology advances done for the world? How have you helped advance farming and food security since your parents’ time? … since your grandparents pioneered the advances in food and feed technology?

Our Grandparents’ World

The world of farming and food production of our grandparents was quite different from what we see today. Increasing food production following…

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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

and

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

Cuadrilla

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.
dscf6025

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.

 

DSCF2898
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 https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/complaint-to-asa-against-raff-residents-action-on-fracking-fylde-for-gross-errors/ . 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 https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/how-fiendish-is-friends-of-the-earth/ . 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.

 

foe-leaflet-cover

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.

022

 

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

057

 

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

033

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

003

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 https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2013/6-september/comment/opinion/wanted-a-green-theology-that-probes-fracking is simply emotional, and this discussion paper from the Blackburn Diocese is very inaccurate and biased. The Url http://www.ctlancashire.org.uk/issues/ (go to fracking) gives the paper and my response.

rape
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 http://www.refine.org.uk/
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!

 

Why no faith in Fracking?

For the last 18 months there have been protests at the fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool in Lancashire. There have been over 200 arrests with some convictions. The road is often closed and protestors happily wander across the road and at time surf on lorries. Police have been abused and there has be criminal damage.

At regular intervals there have been faith protests mostly by Quaker, Catholics and wiccans etc.

The week of 23 -28 April has been seen as a “No faith in fracking” Week, with religious activities every day.

So far the general response from activist Christians is that fracking is a very bad thing and most reports from Anglicans, Catholics, Quakers, Methodists etc argue that fracking is both wrong and dangerous.

You can read some of these on the Churches Together in Lancashire website http://www.ctlancashire.org.uk/ See under “Fracking Lancashire” and “engaging issues” and on Catholic “Faith and Justice”. Sadly these are inaccurate  and my response to “The challenge of fracking” is also included, which points out how inaccurately it portrays fracking.  A major problem is that many Christian Greens stay in an echo chamber of anti-fracking greens and don’t take note of experts from statutory bodies like Brit Geolical survey, PHE, Environment Agency and a host of academics working on issues connected with fracking. It is irresponsible and intellectually dishonest to do this.

The blog from “No faith in Fracking” gives their case with quotes from activists.

It is strong in emotion and very weak in fact and makes the usual anti-fracking arguments on climate change and that fracking causes health issues. They give no evidence for their assertions, but then there seems to be none apart form American reports, which though peer-reviewed, have an uncanny knack of being re-tracted for glaring errors.

It is very sad that this represents the public face of churches and faith groups and it seems that anti-fracking, with all its extremism, has high-jacked churches and other faith groups. Sadly Church leaders have not yet seen through them for their dodgy arguments masked by virtue signalling.

None of this does the cause of caring for our planet any good whatsoever. It probably alienates more that it attracts.

What we need is for our faith to inform our concern and protection of the environment and make sure our planet is in better condition when we leave it!!

I ought to add that I am an Anglican priest and before ordination worked as a mining and exploration geologist. I have long considered myself an environmentalist.

I print the blog in full and make my comments where needed.

‘No Faith in Fracking’ Week 23-28 April, Lancashire
Posted on April 18, 2018

https://nofaithinfracking.org/2018/04/18/no-faith-in-fracking-week-23-28-april-lancashire/

The controversial process of fracking* for shale gas could begin in the UK as early as this spring. In response, three months of community and civil society action, under the banner ‘United Resistance’, are being planned from April – June 2018. As part of this, Quakers from the North West are working alongside people of all faiths and spiritualities to co-create a ‘No Faith in Fracking’ week at the Cuadrilla fracking site at Preston New Road (PR4 3PF) near Blackpool from 23-28 April 2018.

The No Faith in Fracking Week will offer a space for people moved by faith and spirit to express in their various and distinctive ways their shared care for the Earth, their resistance to fracking and their concerns about climate change and climate justice.

This is sheer spiritual one-upmanship and assumes anyone of faith will agree with No faith in fracking. It is rather bigoted and ignores all the sincere Christians who disagree and may reckon that fracking is the best (or least bad) for the environment. Here I would include several members of Lancashire for Shale, Prof Younger of Glasgow, Dr Nick Riley – the expert on the Bowland Shales  – to name but a few. WE see that fracking is the best option for mitigating climate change and as it can provide energy throughout the world , then we support climate justice

Wendy Pattinson a Quaker from Lancaster and member of the No Faith in Fracking group said: “Fracking crosses a climate red line and we cannot allow a new source of fossil fuel to take hold in the UK. The oil coal and gas in reserves already in production and development globally is more than we can afford to burn. There is no room for any new coal, oil or gas exploration and production.”[1]

She needs to explain why fracking crosses a climate red line. Without a good argument she has simply resorted to assertion and emotion. She would have done better than to rely on the Friends of the Earth whom were shown to be duplicitous in their activities in Lancashire culminating in their leaflet crossing the requirements of the Advertising Standards Agency which hit the media in Jan 2017  https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/friends-of-the-earth-fck-it-up/ . Here is the substance of their misinformation as found in their leaflet and spread round Lancashire https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/dont-let-fracking-destroy-all-of-this/  

She needs a reasoned approach rather than virtue signalling

Dot Kelk, a Catholic from Preston, said: “Pope Francis in his Encyclical Laudato Si puts it very clearly: ‘I urgently appeal..for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots concern and affect us all’.

In his Encyclical the Pope said nothing about fracking and spoke in general terms. He cannot be used to support opposition to fracking. What he said and rightly so, is that we MUST care for the environment and also our use of fossil fuels.

Clíodhna Mulhern, a Quaker from Lancaster, said “ Hydraulic fracturing poses significant, proven risk to the health of local people, it undermines local communities, and contaminates air, water and soil – the very building blocks of life. As people of faith and spirit it is our privilege and our duty to protect life on earth and if that means standing at Cuadrilla’s gates then that is where we shall be. “

There are several doubtful statements here. What is the evidence of “proven risk to health”? Medact 1 failed to provide any and Medact2 stated that there was no proof. Yes, local communities have been undermined – by anti-fracking groups and NGOs like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. What is the evidence that fracking “contaminates air , water and soil”? Apart from the odd spillage – as happens in any industry including farming – nothing. And the final sentence shows are rather superior attitude, claiming that they , and only they, care for the earth. That is offensive and bigoted.

Chayley Collis, a Quaker from Huddersfield, said: “Fracking is clearly incompatible with the global Paris climate commitment. The UK Government itself has also recently acknowledged that to have a reasonable chance of keeping global temperature rise below 2 degrees we need to leave up to 75% of existing reserves of fossil fuels in the ground” [2]

This was not claimed in the Paris Climate commitment and is ONLY what some environmentalists claim. She needs to read the govt response more precisely. It said “In 2011 the IPCC estimated the amount of carbon within existing proven reserves of coal, oil and gas to be 1,053 billion tonnes. Based on these figures, between 70-75 percent of known fossil fuels would have to be left unused in order to have a 50% chance of limiting global temperature rise to below 2°C.” That answer refers to ALL fossil fuel reserves and not just gas. It does mean it is best to leave the worst fuel  -Coal- in the ground, but it does not say fracking should not occur. This is an emotive, but vacuous, argument

In February 2017 Quakers in Britain issued a statement opposing fracking in the UK Fracking.

This statement https://www.quaker.org.uk/our-work/sustainability/fracking is weak in content but high in activism and gives no fundamental reason to oppose fracking

Hilary Whitehead, a Quaker and one of the organisers of the No Faith in Fracking week, said: “Care for the vulnerable in society, such as those people impacted by climate change, is a theme that unites all faith traditions, as is care for the Earth, our shared home. The No Faith In Fracking Week will bring together a range of faiths and spiritual traditions in upholding the sacredness of Earth. These will include Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Green Spirit, Wiccan, Quaker and Druid and will involve prayers, rituals, ceremonies, meditations, silent vigils and liturgies at the roadside entrance to Cuadrilla’s fracking site.”

If she really cared for the vulnerable in society she would not put the poor at risk over energy. Again appeals to the sacredness of the earth  means she claims the spiritual high ground and other Christians who dare to disagree are negligent in following their faith teaching

Events planned for the week include:

Tibetan Buddhist chanting and guided meditation,
Christian Celtic Care of Creation
Green Spirit readings from Thomas Berry and Matthew Fox
Earth care rituals
Catholic liturgy
Talks and workshops on the effects of climate change
Walking meditation led by the Community of Interbeing.
Meditations led by Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement (DANCE)
‘Earth Agape’ Liturgy led by Christian Climate Action and Faith & Resistance Network
Quaker-led silent vigils
Wiccan Wellbeing Celebration Day
Earth and spirit poetry and readings
Songs of Hope
A link to the event diary is here: https://nofaithinfracking.org/events/

The co-ordinators of the week are inviting people of all faiths and spiritualities and none to join the peaceful gatherings at any time during the week. More information:

Notes for the Editor

Press contact: 0798 3355955

A film, with interviews from members and supporters of the No Faith in Fracking group, from a range of faith traditions, is available to view here: https://vimeo.com/255967037

1. ‘The Sky’s Limit’, Oil Change International, 2016 and ‘Tackling climate change: Keeping coal , oil and gas in the ground’ Friends of the Earth briefing, July 2017

2. Fossil Fuels: Written question: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-12-09/56871

3. Faith Against Fracking https://vimeo.com/140180741

Film about US faith groups witness against the fracking industry

* Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock.

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Fracking debate in Yorkshire, March 2018

  Fracking debate in Yorkshire

Fracking creates a stir in both Yorkshire and Lancashire. On March 8th there is to be a debate in Yorkshire between the local MP Kevin Holinrake and the expert engineer Mike Hill from Lancashire. For a debate you need an impartial chair who is not aligned to either postiion. That chairman is Bishop James Jones, who like me has long been concerned about the environment.

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/460519
DEBATE EVENT “This house believes that UK regulations make fracking safe”
2 tickets per applicant

“This house believes that UK regulations make fracking safe”
Proposed by Kevin Hollinrake MP
Opposed by Michael Hill C.Eng. MIET
Chaired by Bishop James Jones KBE
THURSDAY 8TH MARCH 7.00PM – 9.00PM
LADY LUMLEYS SCHOOL, SWAINSEA LANE, PICKERING, YO18 8NG
DOORS OPEN AT 6.45PM FOR A 7.00PM START
Please note that tickets are restricted to 2 per applicant
Organised by Kirkbymoorside Town Council

**********************************************************

I first heard Bishop Jones speak on the environment in about 2003, where he was introducing his book

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jesus-Earth-James-Jones/dp/0281056234/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519654370&sr=1-10&keywords=james+jones
It was good to see evangelicals in Lancashire being challenged on the environment, but I felt he was trying to draw too much out of the gospels.
I have considered environment for decades having read Carson’s Silent Spring in the 60s and when working for a mining company in Africa I could see many problems. In the 70s I found that churches were just not interested and in the early 80s the Board of social Responsibility in Jones’ future diocese of Liverpool ignored my request to put the environment on the agenda!
This is a brief and simple summary of my views on the environment
https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/gods-creation-and-the-environment/

It was only after the mid-80s that the churches belatedly became concerned about the environment and after 2010 most threw in their lot with anti-frackers and divestment, almost taking the lead of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. By 2014 fracking became the litmus-test on whether you were environmentally sound. I failed dismally, but that is another story.
Today within the Church of England almost all Green voices oppose fracking and support divestment and alternatives with approaches like those  Mark Lynas, late Sir David Mackay, Lord Deben and even groups like DECC, BGS are either side-lined or rebuffed. With the exception of the Fletcher/Holtham report, I have been unable to find church discussions on fracking which do not oppose it. They are also usually deficient in accuracy. This is the case within my diocese of Blackburn
***********************************
Local news in Yorkshire report the coming debate as here;
https://www.minsterfm.com/news/local/2512787/fracking—facts-and-fiction-debate/

Kirkbymoorside town council is to host a major debate on fracking in Pickering on March 8.
Chartered engineer Mike Hill will go head to head with Thirsk and Malton MP, Kevin Hollinrake at Lady Lumley’s School, Pickering at from 7 – 9pm
Mr Hollinrake, whose Thirsk and Malton constituency includes the fracking site at Kirby Misperton, will argue that UK regulation can make hydraulic fracturing safe.
Mr Hill, who has worked in the industry for 20 years, will make the case against this view.
The debate will be chaired by retired bishop, the Right Reverend James Jones KBE, formerly Bishop of Liverpool and as Chair of the Hillsborough Inquiry. Bishop Jones is presently an adviser to Amber Rudd, The Home Secretary.
Kirkbymoorside Town Council has opposed fracking activities locally since December 14.
Fracking has been expected in Ryedale since November 2017, when Third Energy said it was ready to start work at its KM8 well in Kirby Misperton.
Mike Hill, UK Expert Member|TWG Hydrocarbon BREF|JRC/EU Commission said:
“This debate is very important not just for Yorkshire but for the U.K. The Govt. position on fracking is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what unconventional fossil fuel (UFF) exploration means.
The severe risks to the public health, the environment and local economy have not been mitigated anywhere near adequately enough.
The wider implications for climate change are also being “confused” by the government. Fracking is not a bridge to a low carbon future and never was.
It is a bridge to nowhere, a dead end, and is in reality a far “dirtier” fuel to develop, in terms of green house gas emissions, than coal.
Add to that the propaganda being spread that we can somehow reduce our dependence on Russian gas and the entire case of fracking is totally destroyed.”
Kevin Hollinrake, MP, said:
“I welcome the opportunity to have an open debate about shale gas exploration in the constituency and to answer questions.
I believe that shale gas exploration is in our national interest and there are strong economic reasons for supporting it.
However, I do so only as long as we make sure development does not pollute the environment, reduces our carbon footprint and the impact to our landscape and communities are properly managed.”
Kirkbymoorside Town Mayor, Angus Ashworth said:
“I hope that this event will provide an opportunity for residents of Kirkbymoorside and the locality, to hear both points of view on the subject of fracking regulations.
I have every confidence that the evening will be informative to all parties and on behalf of
Kirkbymoorside Town Council
I would like to thank the speakers and chairman for agreeing to participate in this debate.”
Later this month, a Government appointed planning inspector will begin to examine the North Yorkshire joint minerals and waste plan, which will set policy on fracking for the next 20 years.
The day set aside for oil and gas submissions is a week after the Kirkbymoorside debate, on Tuesday 13 March.
The shale gas company, INEOS, is also expected to begin seismic testing for shale gas in its licence areas in North Yorkshire in 2018.

Bishop Jones has been recognised for his work on Hilsborough and has now retired to Yorkshire. He was interviewed for the Yorkshire Post in December 2017, where he also gave his very negative views on fracking
https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/my-yorkshire-the-right-reverend-james-jones-kbe-1-8928850
Here Bishop Jones makes clear his opposition to fracking

Image may contain: text

 

If you had to change one thing about Yorkshire what would it be? I would stop fracking in Yorkshire. I am seriously worried that the regulation is not coordinated or robust enough. I worry about the impact it will have on our water. The risks are too high. If the water ends up contaminated it could have a disastrous impact on our health, our agriculture, tourism and the whole economy of Yorkshire.

This needs a little consideration
JJ said; If you had to change one thing about Yorkshire what would it be? I would stop fracking in Yorkshire. I am seriously worried that the regulation is not coordinated or robust enough.
I say; At government departments etc eg PHE, HSE, EA DECC say that the regulation is robust. So why is the Bishop concerned. This concern sounds like an echo from Mike Hill, one of the debaters, who claims the regulations are thoroughly lacking and has convinced many local groups and churches about this.

JJ says; I worry about the impact it will have on our water. The risks are too high.
I say; What grounds? This is the standard anti-fracking argument whichdoes not hold water.
JJ says; If the water ends up contaminated it could have a disastrous impact on our health, our agriculture, tourism and the whole economy of Yorkshire.
I say; The usual scare story put forward by Green NGOs like Friends of the earth, who under Andy Atkins (see below) mounted a campaign in Lancashire. Again no claim could be demonstrated.
I feel here that Bishop Jones has fallen for the usual anti-fracking scare stories, as have too many in the churches.
*******************************************
Now back to Mr Hill.
Mr Hill has long claimed that regulations for fracking are very poor. He also wrongly claims that only ONE of the TEN recommendations in the RS/RAE report of 2012 have implemented, though many have challenged him. http://www.ukoog.org.uk/regulation
His views are widely accepted in the churches and it is clear he influenced the 2015 report on fracking from Blackburn diocese. This comes from his own website and members of the diocesan committee.
http://www.ctlancashire.org.uk/data/uploads/documents/issues/fracking/the-challenges-of-fracking-discussion-document-january-2015-final.pdf
The group claimed to take expert advice but the only “expert” mentioned in Mr Hill. The paper was very inaccurate with a gross bias along with bad theology.
My blog on it is here in which I took advice on many aspects which were beyond my skills .
https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/lancashire-churches-get-fracked/
In 2017 Mike Hill wrote a paper criticising the Church of England briefing paper on shale gas, which is the nearest to the official view of the church;
Shale Gas and Fracking A Briefing Paper from the Mission and Public Affairs Council and the Environment Working Group of the Church of England December 2016
https://cms.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-11/shale-gas-and-fracking.pdf
Here is Hill’s   review

Hill makes a lot of charges againon Shale Gas and Fracking is to be found on his website Shale Gas Office.
https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/b0aabf_5902a55b06fd4338a56db38dd8687240.pdf

his

was used by the Blackburn environment Group to show why the Flectcher/Holtham paper was misguided; Among other things nearly all the references Hill uses are his own UNPUBLISHED papers.
https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/10/30/anglican-environmentalists-misguidedly-challenge-church-report-on-fracking/
I do wonder whether the Bishop’s concern for regulation comes from Mr Hill
*************************************************

So much for Mr Hill,  back to Bishop Jones and to consider his previous connections with fracking.. Many will know of Friends of the Earth campaign in Lancashire against Cuadrilla. FoE were involved since 2011 and encouraged by their CEO Andy Atkins. Atkins visited anti-fracking groups in Lancashire on several occasions and gave some environmental awards. It culminated with the ruling of the Advertising Standards Authority against their leaflet seeking funds of their work
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-38499811
Andy Atkins was CEO of Friends of the Earth from c2010 to 2015 and encouraged the anti-fracking campaign in Lancashire, yet Jones praises him
“Andy (pictured) has been described as ‘one of the leading environmentalists’ by former Bishop of Liverpool Rt Rev James Jones, who chaired the independent panel on the Hillsborough disaster. ‘He’ll lead not only A Rocha UK – but also the whole Church – to a new level of action towards the earthing of heaven,’ said the bishop.”
http://arocha.org.uk/top-campaigner-to-lead-a-rocha-uk/
Divestment.

Jones along with 3 other retired bishops and numbers of clergy wrote this letter to the Guardian to divest from Exxon-mobil. There is not space here but some of the arguments are contentious and one-sided.
http://brightnow.org.uk/news/bishops-clergy-call-cofe-divest-exxon/

To conclude it is difficult to see Bishop Jones as an impartial chair for this debate as he is clearly anti-fracking and biased against petroleum.
All in all for a long time he has supported a negative view of fracking , repeats their myths and seems to back FoE

To it, does not bode well for a debate like this.

Mark Lynas – On why GMOs are vital to food security in our world

 

This is an excellent address by Mark Lynas on the value of GMOs

One of the annoying things about the environmental movement today are those who apply heresy tests to anyone claiming to be green.

GMO EU action

and so;

If you don’t regard GMO as frankenstein food you hate the environment

 

If you don’t only eat Organic food you are doomed to a green hell

If you don’t hate Glyphosphate then you are poisoning the earth and our food

If you support nuclear energy, you deserve the green version of being nuked.

If you don’t support divestment from fossil fuels, you are a shill for the coal industry

If you support fracking you don’t give a damn about climate change and are a shill for Big Oil.

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Sadly, I have only taken a little poetic licence there, but sadly these attitudes are only too common. They are essentially the views of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who possibly do more damage to the environment and humanity than anyone else

 

Anyway ignore my rant and read Mark Lynas

 

Source: Mark Lynas – Speech to the Oxford Farming Conference 2018

Big oil stops selling oil

I nicked this blog as it sums up the daftness of the KEEPITINTHEGROUND policy on fossil fuels.

I often do not agree with Luis, but this is very good

http://daysgt.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/i-read-news-today-oh-boy.html

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy!

Tired of being demonized by the green fringe and by the media in general, a secret meeting of the most important oil companies CEOs took place during the weekend.*

They decided enough is enough so, unilaterally they have suspended all oil deliveries immediately and for an indefinite period of time.

The world’s reaction was swift and brutal. The news services are currently overwhelmed so we only know a minute part of what this decision has triggered. Here are some of them:

 

Airlines do plan to operate their flights on Monday, but no new bookings are being accepted at this time. Among other things, this means travelers are being stranded all over the world with no easy way to go back home. The revenue of the airlines will quickly drop to zero and their financial position will deteriorate rapidly if the oil flow is not restored fast.
State oil companies are not all participating in the boycott but the price of oil has skyrocketed already. Frantic traders have pushed the price above $250 per barrel but the ceiling is nowhere near. At least in the short term, Saudi Arabia and Iran seem poised to benefit from the chaos.
Stock markets all over the world plummeted by more than 20% but the floor has not been reached. Markets are essentially in free fall.
Long lines at petrol stations are being observed all over. Violence has broken out in several instances.
Car sales have ground to a halt. It seems nobody wants to buy a product that cannot be fueled.
Absenteeism at companies and schools reached an all time high. It is expected this metric will further deteriorate and by the end of the week the whole economy would have come to a halt.
Food shortages are beginning to alarm. Most of the food bought worldwide is transported by truck or ship and there is a serious risk riots will break out in all major cities. Price gouging has already began. The prices of some staples have already reached levels never encountered before.

 

Additional updates:

World leaders condemn the decision of the oil companies and urge their CEOs to immediately reconsider their actions.
In a joint press conference called by the executive director of Greenpeace and the president of Sierra Club both begged oil companies to reconsider. They both came close to apologizing for their previous unfair attacks on the oil companies.
Layoffs at many companies have begun.
All sorts of services gradually begin to shut down as people cannot commute to their jobs.
Trash begins to accumulate in cities around the world. Public health officials fear epidemics will be triggered at any moment.

 

More updates:
While the world spirals toward an uncontrolled economic depression, the main oil CEOs stand firm and have not yet reversed their decision.
Panic, riots, violence, despair have erupted all over the world. This truly looks like the end of the world. Ironically, this catastrophe was not caused by CO2.
Stock markets globally have lost more than 50% of their value.
Supermarkets begin to close as they have nothing left to sell.
Motor vehicles begin to run out of fuel and are being abandoned wherever they shut down.
Even though ambulances have fuel priority, they cannot go anywhere as abandoned cars block almost every street and avenue. People are now dying.

 

Overnight, almost eveybody has turned into a pauper. Despair is rampant.

Stay tuned for more updates…

 

 

* Obviously, what is mentioned here is fiction but moving away from fossil fuels before the time is right would be catastrophic for humanity. Let’s be responsible and not advocate medicines that would be much worse than the illness.