Category Archives: Climate Change

Moorland degradation in the Forest of Bowland

One of the joys of living on the edge of the Forest of Bowland is being able to explore it on foot and cycle. Much was only opened up by the CROW act of 2000 and the paths are often not well-defined. One of my common walks is up Hawthornthwaite Fell from Catshaw. The fell, seen from below Jubilee Tower, has a castellated appearance due to peat erosion as is clear on the left of the photo (sept 2016)

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I went up on a windy day in early April using a shooters’ track. The hillside was typical heather more demonstrating burning of heather, which takes several years to re-grow. The signs and smell of recent burning were evident.

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As I left the end of the track, I found some serious burning , which has shown no re-growth since autumn 2015. There has been much erosion in heavy rain.

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More recent burning.

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The path upwards was ill-defined over rough grassy moorland. As I reached the fence at the watershed I was met with squawking sea-gulls worthy of Alfred Hitchcock. That required a video. It is a major nesting ground for sea gulls and sadly there are not enough raptors to gobble up the chicks and eggs. I so rarely see even a buzzard, though 10 years ago I was heckled by three hen harriers, and was probably close to their nest.

Every so often the moor was replaced by a small pool, with the beautiful emarld green of sphagnum.

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In summer , cotton grass flowers

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And so to the top of Hawthornthwaite Fell with its felled trig point. When I first came up in 2003 the Trig point was 10 ft in the air as a monument to peat vandalism but was toppled a few years ago. The area is now a hollow as up to 10 foot of peat has disappeared in the century since the OS planted their trig point with a deep base. Then you would be walking above the height of the white post to be on the same level as the peat behind.

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There are a few small pools like this one which even has some sphagnum. I confess to damning it up in 2016 and note the improvement. The problem is to be seen from the post looking north where the peat has eroded into channels. This is the castellation of the first photo.

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On the RH of the fence United Utilities has done some peat restoration but the effects are hampered as the peat has disappeared down to the mineral base, almost exposing the Pendle Grit below. Some grasses grow and there are a few pools

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a close up of the toppled Trig Point, which should be an icon to peat degradation

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And finally four more shots to show how the peat has gone.

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There are many places in the Forest of Bowland where peat restoration has started with slow and steady results. On one fell  I could walk dry shod at any time of the year, whatever the weather as the peat had dried out. Now it is superbly soggy even in summer and is getting soggier.

On the principles of peat restoration I am most definitely an amateur as my background is geology, but am passably informed on mountain landscapes and vegetation. It is fantastic the way peat restoration has been done all over the Pennines, but like planting trees the best time is 30 years ago.

The gains are tremendous and with time the sphagnum could gobble up some carbon too.

Already in places wildlife has benefited .

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To follow this up the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) UK Peatland Programme (twitter; @IUCNpeat ) gives much technical stuff and gives both hope and an indication of the task ahead. 

As an amateur I shall not comment scientifically lest I truly put my foot in it !!!!

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I may have trodden on some toes too……………..

Fracking Lancashire: The planning process, social harm and collective trauma – a revue

Over the last few years I have been drawn into the controversy over fracking in Lancashire. Initially I was hostile to it having picked up thinks by hearsay. I was finished off by earthquakes as I found the claims of earthquakes so silly as if a Mag 2.3 could do damage. After that I looked into all aspects and concluded that anti-frackers were like Creationists – either culpably  clueless about science or downright dishonest. I still can’t decide which, but then I can’t for Creationists.

Well, here is a serious “social Science” study of the effect of fracking applications on local communities in Lancashire causing collective trauma etc.

My response may be summed up in this meme

 

Well, here is the paper.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718517300519

Available online 17 March 2017 In Press, Corrected ProofNote to users

Geoforum is published by Elsevier, a highly respected publisher of journals. Among others it publishes The Proceedings of the Geological Association, one of the flagship British geological journals. I was pleased to have a paper published in it some years ago but this has taken the shine off it for me. (My paper was on the discovery of Ice Ages in North Wales in the 1840s)

At present you can download Short and Szolucha’s paper. I shall give some extracts and make comments, which are informed by my close observation of the progress of fracking in Lancashire over the last five years

Fracking Lancashire: The planning process, social harm and collective trauma

Under a Creative Commons license

  Open Access


Abstract

To date there have been very few studies that have sought to investigate the crimes, harms and human rights violations associated with the process of ‘extreme energy’, whereby energy extraction methods grow more ‘unconventional’ and intense over time as easier to extract resources are depleted. The fields of rural sociology and political science have produced important perception studies but few social impact studies. The field of ‘green criminology’, while well suited to examining the impacts of extreme energy given its focus on social and environmental ‘harms’, has produced just one citizen ‘complaint’ study to date. It is vital that more social and environmental impact studies become part of the local, national and international public policy debate. To this end, in the following paper we seek to move beyond perception studies to highlight the harms that can occur at the planning and approval stage. Indeed, while the UK is yet to see unconventional gas and oil extraction reach the production stage, as this article shows, local communities can suffer significant harms even at the exploration stage when national governments with neoliberal economic agendas are set on developing unconventional resources in the face of considerable opposition and a wealth of evidence of environmental and social harms. This paper takes a broad interdisciplinary approach, inspired by green criminological insights, that shows how a form of ‘collective trauma’ has been experienced at the exploration stage by communities in the North of England.

 

Keywords; ‘Fracking’; Extreme energyPlanning policyCorporate influenceSocial harm; Collective trauma

 

The key words “extreme energy, social harm, collective” indicate the stance of the authors. To the authors Fracking is a “bad thing” as the authors of 1066 and all that would say!

Vitae

Damien Short is a Reader in Human Rights and Director of the Human Rights Consortium at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. His latest book, ‘Redefining Genocide’, was published by Zed Books, 2016. Currently he is researching the human rights impacts of the process of extreme energy.

Anna Szolucha is currently a postdoctoral Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen, Norway. She is researching the intersections of energy and democracy in the context of shale gas developments and renewable energy in the UK and Poland. Her recent publications include: a report on the social impacts of shale gas in the UK: “The Human Dimensions of Shale Gas Developments in Lancashire” as well as “Real Democracy in the Occupy Movement: No stable ground” published by Routledge.

The paper takes an “Extreme Energy” perspective and thus is opposed to fracking by definition. They give their objections to it and are dependent on opponents like Moobs, Ingraffea, Smythe and others and do not interact with those who are more positive towards it like the RS/RAE report of 2021 or the wealth of materail from Refine, BGS, EA, and many academics, who are air-brushed out.

however they consider those whom they refer to as experts like Mike Hill or David Smythe, despite their arguments being generally rejected.

They are very critical of the  LCC planning officer’s dossiers and do not mention the activity of Friends of the Earth in Lancashire from 2011, except for the advice taken from FoE lawyers at the hearings in late June 2015. I gave a paper on the history of fracking exploration in Lancashire in Barcelona last year and gave a very different story, particularly on how Friends of the Earth conned and manipulated local communities thus infecting them with collective trauma

Friends of the Earth also sought independent legal advice and, following pressure from the resident’s groups, eventually LCC officials relented and said that such new legal advice could be circulated at the Monday hearing.

This is not what many at the meeting perceived. Many were appalled at the emotionalism and inaccuracy from those opposed to fracking. Further the committee refused other legal advice, which was seen as the committee showing a bias against fracking. I was appalled at their behaviour and reckoned they mocked local democracy, by their refusal to listen to the planning officer, who is maliciously rubbished in this “academic” study.

I give comments on some sections;

6. Exploration stage harms: collective trauma

From our work with the communities resisting the applications in Lancashire it seems that sociologist Erikson’s (1976) work on collective trauma is an appropriate description of the collective harms experienced. Collective trauma, according to Erikson, is ‘a blow to the basic tissues of social life that damages the bonds attaching people together and impairs the prevailing sense of communality’; it ‘works its way slowly and even insidiously into the awareness of those who suffer from it,’ and while ‘it does not have the quality of suddenness normally associated with trauma, but it is a form of shock all the same’ ( Erikson, 1976:154). From the data collected in interviews, participant observation and numerous conversations, and the subsequent analysis it became clear that many particular narratives and descriptions that emerged can be equated to the experience of collective trauma Erikson describes.

It is difficult to take this seriously.  I see induced “collective trauma” reflected in the mantra of one district councillor who repeats on social media “I am frightened”. Well, they would be if they swallowed the false horror stories from RAFF and FoE.

7. Application and Planning Officer report analysis

While the ‘rejection’ outcomes of the Lancashire hearings rightly pleased many in the anti-fracking movement, the process up to that point was deeply concerning on a number of levels, which do not bode well for local citizens who wish to resist future fracking applications. Specifically, there were key areas where the fracking company was clearly favoured at the expense of the views of, and evidence presented, by the local objectors and their expert witnesses. Moreover, the deciding Councillors were effectively threatened with legal action if they refused the application. They were told that to refuse the application would be tantamount to breaking the law, as it would be an ‘unsustainable’ decision lacking evidence, and would expose them to high appeal costs at a time when councils are badly affected by austerity. We will deal with each of these points in turn.

This does not say who threatened the committee, though LCC lawyers pointed out they could be liable if they rejected the PO’s report. The meeting was heated and fraught. however the charge of threatening the committee needs to be substantiated. I saw no evidence of it at the meeting, but I did witness the appalling pressure applied by anti-groups and it was clear that there were fiends pulling the strings.

7.1. The Planning Officer Report

The Lancashire County Council Planning Officer’s (hereafter PO) report published by LCC on 15 June 2015, which is meant to provide an unbiased appraisal to assist the Development Control Committee (DCC) reach a decision was, at best, fundamentally flawed and inadequately researched, and, at worst, biased and disrespectful. Development Control Committees give considerable weight to PO reports, especially when much of an application concerns material that is both highly technical and hotly debated. Thus, the PO bears a huge responsibility to evaluate the application, via a reasoned summary of the best available evidence, in an impartial and responsible manner. Unfortunately, in this case the PO reports fell so woefully short of such standards that they raise the obvious suspicion of undue political and/or industry pressure and influence.

To describe the report as “fundamentally flawed and inadequately researched, and, at worst, biased and disrespectful.” is simply unjust. What the PO did was to weigh up arguments on both sides, which he did admirably. He concluded that the arguments put forward against fracking in Roseacre and Little Plumpton were very flawed.

This alone makes this paper to be totally flawed and showing an extreme bias.

 

8. Conclusion

To conclude, it was evident from the interview and observation data, and can be seen from these excerpts, that evidence from the USA and Australia is having a strong effect on local residents. It is galvanising resistance and allowing people to organise opposition around certain key harms that have been experienced elsewhere. During the interviews it was striking how well informed the respondents were. In making their objections most respondents were aware of recent academic studies and were able to cite their findings. Being able to inform the planning process with evidence-based objections undoubtedly contributed to the successful result – notwithstanding the Secretary of State’s intervention in favour of the applicant. Even so, the whole process took a considerable toll on the local population. It was apparent from the research that a form of ‘collective trauma’ was experienced by the affected communities. This is an under researched phenomenon and we suggest more studies are conducted into the social impacts of, not just sites of extreme energy production, but also areas subject to industry exploration applications. This data should then feed into all public policy discussions around unconventional gas and oil developments.

The need for such studies in the UK is even more critical now than in the past. At the time of writing (early 2017), Cuadrilla have moved in and started work to prepare the PNR site despite pending legal challenges launched by local residents. After the Secretary of State’s decision to override local democracy and approve the applications in Lancashire the residents have engaged in direct action by “slow-walking” the trucks bringing building materials to the site. This has the effect of slowing down the works but also means that the residents as well as the police are present at the site every day, witnessing and reporting potential planning breaches, so far to no effect. This situation will have significant and long-lasting impacts on the local community, contributing to the collective trauma already experienced by the residents living in the vicinity of potential fracking sites in Lancashire.

The political and legal pressures brought to bear on the LCC Development Control Committee highlighted by this research could be a taster of a new normal if the highly controversial EU/US negotiated (neoliberal par excellence) Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is resurrected, no doubt through a rebranding, repackaging process, or a post-‘Brexit’ US-UK version drawn up. Indeed, it is deeply concerning that neoliberal austerity ravaged councils, such as LCC, will be under immense pressure to permit fracking operations, despite the considerable risks of environmental and social harms, because under recent government guidelines if they reject an application and lose an appeal they will have to pay costs. On the other hand, if other councils, backed by committed and organised anti-fracking constituents, continue to object it may be that the prospects for a fledgling unconventional hydrocarbon extraction industry in the UK are bleak (Browne, 2017).

I am speechless.

One thing is very clear. The sample interviewed for this study was very limited and almost selected to give the conclusions required.

Why didn’t the two researchers contact a wider cross-section of people?

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I am afraid this academic paper has not raised my opinion of sociological studies as it demonstrates an extreme bias to the left and simply prejudice against fracking.

It calls to mind some of the crazy things which are highlighted on the twitter account @RealPeerReview

Here are some;

First a Ph D thesis from Salford Univ

http://usir.salford.ac.uk/40411/

The travelling gamer : an ethnography of video game events

 Law, YY 2016, The travelling gamer : an ethnography of video game events , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

Ethnography is the latest sociological study and auto-ethnography is when it is just done by the sociologist doing to be observing. (Check it on wikipedia)

Second is a peereviewed academic paper of an autoethnographic study of worring in a carrel in a library.

***This is the entire paper ***

I had thought Sage Publications published good academic joutrnals

 

Peter Joseph Gloviczki


Qualitative Inquiry

First published date: April-13-2017

Sage Publications

and lastly to get my claws in, a study of nail salons.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1532708614562886?journalCode=csca

If any reader thinks I am cynical about autoethnography or ethnography they might possibly be correct

Why Postmodernism kills science and technology 

I have long felt that to follow Postmodernism you can say nothing definite about anything (but you can be definite about that) All have their own truth and this undermines understanding anything technical  (or historical) as creationism is as good as evolutionary science, you can reduce Green issues to feelings wrapped up in a little selective science and so on

Scientists Should Oppose the Drive of Postmodern Ideology

 

The National Academies of Sciences of the USA recently published a report entitled Gene Drive on the Horizon. This commentary discusses the ‘Aligning Research with Public Values’ aspects in this report, the topic of public engagement, and the worrying ideological shift towards postmodernism which aims to deconstruct Enlightenment values.

Source: Scientists Should Oppose the Drive of Postmodern Ideology

Harsh Winter: How Coal, Lignite And Gas Saved Germany From Disaster

I am not a fan of Lawson’s GWPF, but then I am not a fan of watermelons either i.e. extreme greens. This blog points out how the green paranoia in Germany with a rejection of nuclear and love of renewables has resulted in the growth of black coal and also Brown coal or lignite – the dirtiest fuel of the lot. Greenies scored a load of own goals

Source: Harsh Winter: How Coal, Lignite And Gas Saved Germany From Disaster

How renewable energy advocates are hurting the climate cause

 

 

 

How renewable energy advocates are hurting the climate cause

Author profile image

https://ensia.com/about/people/paulmcdivitt/

 

[I took this article from ensia https://ensia.com/voices/hurting-renewable-energy/  and ackowledge as requested]

Overly optimistic reports of renewables’ success are not only misleading but also counterproductive

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, the proliferation of misinformation on social media is finally getting the attention it deserves. Or so I thought.

Scrolling through my Facebook news feed recently, I stumbled upon an article shared by Climate Central, a nonprofit news organization focused on climate science. “The World’s Renewable Energy Capacity Now Beats Out Coal,” read the headline from Co.Exist. I clicked. “The tipping point marks a major milestone in the transition to cleaner power sources,” the subhead declared from atop an aerial photo of a wind farm.

And so went most of the coverage of a new report on renewable energy markets by the International Energy Agency, a well-respected source of global energy statistics. Outlets big and small, reputable and lesser-known, specialized and general, adopted similar headlines, subheads and ledes, accompanied by photos of wind turbines and solar panels.

“Installed capacity is not really a useful metric for a lot of purposes.” –Mark JacobsonThe problem is twofold. First, capacity is a highly selective way to measure electricity, especially in the context of emissions and climate change. Capacity is defined as the maximum electric output a generator can produce under specific conditions at a moment in time — for example, how much a solar farm can generate during a sunny summer day or a wind farm when it’s really windy. But, of course, the sun doesn’t always shine or the wind always blow.

“Installed capacity is not really a useful metric for a lot of purposes,” Mark Jacobson, an engineering professor at Stanford University who studies renewable energy, told me. “When you’re asking, ‘how much is this supplying, how much is wind supplying versus coal?’ you want to look at the actual energy delivered.”

That’s commonly called generation, and is defined as the amount of electricity produced on average over a period of time, such as a year. Sure enough, if you look at generation numbers, coal still beat out renewables in 2015 by a significant margin, 39 percent to not quite 24 percent.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, most readers, and apparently many journalists, equate “renewables” with wind and solar. But the IEA’s renewables category also includes hydropower and biomass. According to the IEA, 71 percent of global renewable electricity generation in 2015 came from hydropower, 15 percent from wind, 8 percent from bioenergy and 4 percent from solar. In other words, it’s not wind and solar that have overtaken coal, it’s a basket of renewables heavily dominated by hydropower. While growth in wind and solar installations have certainly helped push renewables’ share up, hydropower also has been growing in recent years. When you include all sources, hydropower currently generates around 16 percent of the world’s electricity; wind, almost 4 percent; biopower, 2 percent; and solar, just above 1 percent.

These two subtle forms of miscommunication, I believe, have led to some unfortunate misperceptions. A recent survey found that, on average, Americans believe that the country gets 20 percent of the total energy it consumes from wind and solar (11 percent wind, 9 percent solar). Part of this is likely due to the common but erroneous conflation of “energy” and “electricity.” But even if you look at just electricity, the numbers for the U.S. still don’t come close to 20 percent. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2015 statistics show that 4.7 percent of the country’s electricity was generated from wind, with 0.6 percent coming from solar. That’s a 14-plus percentage point difference between what Americans think and the truth.

It’s hard to blame them, with confused and confusing coverage of renewable energy statistics popping up in their social media feeds and on news outlets they’ve come to trust. On top of that, most social media sharers never even read the articles they share. According to a recent study, 59 percent of links shared on Twitter have never been clicked, underscoring the outsize influence of misleading headlines, subheads and header photos. And research has shown that misleading and clickbait headlines have a lasting effect on how those who actually read articles interpret and remember their content.

Making wind and solar seem like they’re doing better than they really are could come back to bite them — and the climate.“This is typical of modern information consumption,” said Arnaud Legout, co-author of the study on social media sharing, in a statement. “People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.”

It’s understandable that environmental organizations and activists would want to build public enthusiasm for renewable energy. But making wind and solar seem like they’re doing better than they really are could come back to bite proponents — and the climate. If members of the public think we’re well on our way to throwing fossil fuels into the dustbin of history and replacing them with renewables, they’ll be less likely to demand new policies and take actions to lower their own carbon footprints. The public may even come to see wind and solar as capable of outcompeting fossil fuels on their own and therefore undeserving of government subsidies and helpful regulations.

Wind and solar have made real progress in recent years. Their costs are projected to continue to decrease, and more wind and solar farms and rooftop solar arrays will continue to pop up across the country and around the world. But if the goal is to limit warming to anywhere near the level world leaders agreed to in Paris in 2015, significant challenges remain — and pretending like everything is going great is not going to fix them. View Ensia homepage

Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself

For a longg time I have reckoned Postmodernism is a dead end as it ultimately denies the reality of anything and totally relativises history and science so that one ulimately cannot say creationism is more wrong than evolutionary science.

as Dawkins said “you cannot be a post-modernist at 36000ft” with the cabin door open.

So much of modern discourse leans to Post-modernism with the “science” behind Anti-vaxxers, anti-GMO, anti-fracking , climate change deniers etc.

Maybe Trump will be remembered by philospjers as the first Post-post-modernist!

There is much between the lines here

 

 

No one should be surprised that postmodern America chose an antihero to be our next president. Donald Trump is postmodernism embodied.

Source: Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself

Paradise Lost; the epic saga of Friends and the Earth and Fracking

The most well-known epic saga in the English language is Paradise Lost by John Milton, written before any had any grasp of geology. The saga of Friends of the Earth over fracking is a longer epic and from FoE’s side is a fact-free as is Milton’s
The saga began in 2011 when Andy Atkins of FoE felt called to make anti-fracking a centre-piece of FoE activity and to encourage anti-fracking in Lancashire.
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Since the publication of their leaflet in September 2015 the saga has become long and drawn-out and came to a sort of conclusion, which was no conclusion, when FoE agreed to withdraw their leaflet earlier this month. The response of FoE in the media was extraordinary as they claimed none of the facts or arguments were wrong result in a statement from the ASA,
Though FoE only want to deal with Cuadrilla’s complaint to the ASA, making it appear that it is only a “money-making industry” complaint and thus the complaint from the two pensioners was ignored. However the ASA result was dealing with both complaints as one. Exactly what went on between ASA and Cuadrilla we do not know, but from our end it was a never-ending saga of epic proportions, but we are not at liberty to release the correspondence.
BUT, as FoE has a charitable arm tentacle a complaint also went to the now defunct Fund Raising Standards Board, which gives an indication of how FoE might just have possibly  replied to the ASA. The two documents make an interesting read and could give some idea of what transpired between the ASA, FoE and the TWO sets of complainants.  So here goes;
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Here is the Friends of the Earth letter sent to me after I complained to the now defunct Fund Raising Standards Board. I guessed this would be same as they would have sent to the Advertising Standards people, so I used it to inform my additional information for the complaint.
The FoE letter
  • shows a lack of understanding of basic words like risk/hazard/toxic.
  • fails to take into account any of the UK regulations.
  • mentions chemicals that are not permitted in the UK.
  • erroneously confuses fluid leaks and surface well leak problems with fracking.
  • ignores data on health from Public Health England.
  • fails to take full account of the recommendations of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

You can read it in this link

kw-frsb-response-side-comments-1

 

My response goes into details

As sand is the great toxic material according to Tony Bosworth
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This is the letter from the HSE stating that sand, although it is a hazard(it does present a danger), is not a risk (as exposure is controlled).
We rest our case here and wonder why FoE and Bennett are so stubborn in not admitting to their shortcomingsmethaneI

-Oh dear, methane has no smell!!