Category Archives: friends of the earth

Bishops’ move against Big Oil. Backwards not Diagonal

Early in my ministry in the Church of England I found very few fellow priests who were bothered about the environment. Apart from Hugh Montefiore, who was regarded as a bit odd on this and no lover of Concorde, few were concerned. It was brought home to me in 1982, while on the Liverpool Diocese Board of Social Responsibility. I took advantage of bringing up the need for care of the environment, citing the cleanliness or not of the River Mersey. I was met with stony silence and my request never even made it to the minutes of the meeting.

I had a concern for the environment since working for a mining company in Africa over a decade earlier, but found no interest in the church, so ploughed my own furrow. I soon was convinced by all the arguments of Friends of the Earth et al – and E F Schumacher (who lived opposite my school) on nuclear energy – and from 1980 turned vicarage gardens into wildlife havens.

Then slowly the church turned and now we have leaders asking for no more fossil fuels. I don’t have space to discuss all the issues of the environment which have come up in the last 30 years, except to say that some approaches today are more bonkers than mine were in the 70s. My concerns predated any concerns over Global Warming/Climate Change, to which I was converted by Sir John Houghton in 1998, having had a geological scepticism before that. I had worked on Precambrian glaciation so was aware of a fluctuating climate. I cannot see how anyone can doubt that Climate Change is a serious issue, but I suggest many will wonder about me after reading this blog!

My concern is this letter from Church Leaders to the Government produced in March 2022. Also involved were Operation Noah, Cafod, Christian, Aid, Tear Fund and A Rocha, who, perhaps, provided the ideas behind the letter.

The Operation Noah press release can be read here;

https://operationnoah.org/featured/former-archbishop-of-canterbury-50-bishops-and-200-church-leaders-write-to-pm-and-chancellor-calling-for-renewables-push/

To many this will be an excellent prod to encourage the government to do the “right thing”. After all Christians should care for creation and this call to reduce fossil fuels must be an excellent idea. Or is it?

Oh that were the case but this letter shows a poor understanding of energy issues, transitions from fossil fuel, and is fatally marred by seeing everything in a binary way as clean or dirty fuels. Nuclear energy is just ignored and no questions are asked about the vast amount of metals from Copper to Rare Earths (and attendant pollution) needed to get away from fossil fuels. Or fertilizer from the Haber-Bosch process, which depends on fossil fuels. There is no reference to hunger in a world where many rely on artificial fertilizers, which are made from petroleum. They also ignored the value of plastics in many things including medicine. Further they do not even consider the problem that renewables are intermittent and often produce very little electricity. No mention is made that storage of power is very limited – a matter of hours when it needs to be weeks.

At best the appeal is naive but if successful will cause untold suffering as many are forced into fuel poverty. It will also, make the church look silly.  Somehow we have to balance getting to Net Zero ASAP without great human suffering or pollution caused by unthinking green policies.

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https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZVkcT5VKz45P3tzdv2mKwznhyKRduubUqrx5_pcNX9U/edit

OPEN LETTER FROM CHURCH LEADERS TO BORIS JOHNSON AND RISHI SUNAK (Deadline for signatures: Wednesday 23 March at 12 noon via this form)

(Here I give the whole text of the letter and make comments on certain parts as quotations- i.e. like this;

The letter misunderstands this for the following reasons~!!)

Dear Prime Minister and Chancellor,

Spring Statement and Energy Security Strategy

As Church leaders from across the UK, we urge you to ensure a rapid shift from fossil fuels to clean energy in the upcoming Spring Statement and the UK’s new energy security strategy.

My comment is that this is based on the simplistic binary division of energy into clean or dirty. Fossil fuels are dirty, renewables are clean. In fact none are clean as this shows;

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/12/13/the-soapflake-scale-of-clean-and-dirty-energy/

snowflakescale

Not even electric is clean, even from wind or solar, due to all the materials needed to build the Grid and turbines and solar farms. Turbines are squalidly dirty when built on peat.

In fact, the materials, especially metals needed, are why no energy can be clean. Turbines look both stately and clean and solar gives off no emissions, but the amount of minerals needed is horrendous, along with disruption of the environment, especially if built on peat..

Just take one metal -Copper. On this I must say that I’ve worked underground in an African copper mine (and got CO poisoning), re-surveyed an ancient mine and prospected a few thousand square miles to work out the potential for copper. A recent calculation showed that for the UK to be 33% EV by 2030 then an additional 40,000tons of copper are needed annually. That is what a  tiny mine would produce and had my ancient mine had that amount in toto i.e 2 million tons of Copper ore at 2%, then it was probably viable. I would need to find a similar sized mine every year until 2030 and that is just for Britain. Possible reserves in Anglesey and Cornwall could produce 500,000 tones of copper, which is a fraction of what EVs need.

So how much would you need on a worldwide basis?

The figure is astronomical and would be at least a 50% increase on annual copper demand, which could not be met by recycling.

Where would the copper come from?

Now repeat it for Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and the Rare Earths. Lithium is already shooting up in price.

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Those who have a gung-ho outlook on renewables never ever ask this question and it is left for a few geologists to bring it up but it is not heard. Most I mention it to have never heard of the problem, even if they are solidly green.

Add to all that all the waste rock from mining and the water needed to mine.

This plan needs urgently to tackle the climate emergency and the cost of living crisis affecting millions of the most vulnerable people in our country, including many of our Church members.

This is clearly essential but how will banning any new UK oil and gas do this? All it will do will make us dependent on imports and the vagaries of the market. It also ignores the fact that much petroleum is not used for energy.

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Or more visually. What are these church leaders going to stop using?

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The letter simply fails to see, whether we like it or not, we will still be using fossil fuels in the 2040s. Better for all to use our own.; less emissions by avoiding importing, and lots of tax revenues to spend on the more vulnerable. Even dishy Rishi might be happy.

We welcome the UK Government’s decision to ban Russian oil and gas imports, which are fuelling the catastrophic war in Ukraine.

Why are we importing from Russia?

Before about 2013 virtually no gas was imported from Russia whether to Britain or much of the EU. (I’d need to check details on EU.) The amount has increased year by year. Yet both Britain and the EU rejected fracking their own gas reserves due to the pressure from Green groups, who did not have a penchant for rigorous accuracy.

At times the stories put out by greens were face-palming for their errors and these were echoed by church groups, as I found in the Diocese of Blackburn. I still smile to read that Acetic  and citric acid are pollutants. That would mean no vinegar or lemon juice with fish and chips. When diocesan environmental officers make that type of howler we have a problem.

All the green groups took up the anti-fracking cause and often appeared on RT – Russia Television, where there were given the red carpet to expound their cause. Putin must have loved it! Friends of the Earth when two OAPs reported them to the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading leaflets. I do not know why FoE is regarded as a flagship environmental group.

Artificial Fertilizers

Oil and gas is not only needed for fuel but also as a feedstuff for artificial fertilizers without which many would starve.  This is the Haber-Bosch process which artificially fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere for fertilizers. A major producer is Ukraine and already the war  putting these under threat. Why wasn’t this mentioned in the letter? Organic sounds wonderful, and you can practice it in your garden or in a few farms, but it will not feed the world. To get rid of oil means you close down the Haber-Bosch process which would result in serious starvation.  Further those opponents of GMOs, like Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion did their best to stop GMOs which fixed nitrogen.

However much one might prefer organic food a rapid transition spells disaster as in Sri Lanka.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/07/world/asia/sri-lanka-organic-farming-fertilizer.html

This is not to say the present agricultural system is ideal or even good. Overuse of artificial fertilizer is a serious problem, with run-off into rivers. My own view is that it is not good, and at times horrific, and needs to move to “mixed economy” of artificial AND organic along with a form of rewilding and regenerative agriculture. This has come from both the non-organic and organic sector.

It is not helped by many, especially church green groups supporting LOAF; Local, Organic, Animal-friendly and Fair Trade.

The Organic is the most contentious as so much of our food is grown using artificial fertilizers. When presented as dogma it is not helpful.

Blackburn Environmental Group expects members to support LOAF, which means I could not be in that Group, despite having had largely organic gardens for over 40 years, with a compost bin!! This means that the group will only allow one perspective on the environment, rather like only allowing conservative evangelicals on the evangelism and mission committee! I will go further and say the churches on the environment have followed only one narrative and that is anti-big oil. Thus any statement is very one-sided, and thus I am as bad as any red-neck driller who cares nowt about creation!!

Many green and aid groups, Christian or not, have often opposed GMOs and non-organic farming  – without providing an alternative. 15 years ago Christian aid was very opposed to GMOs, and along with Green Christian have help to create a negative image of GMOs. I know I may have gone off on a tangent on Organic and GMOs, but this illustrates the way too many christian greens think and close down a diversity of views. But it was not a tangent as it is all part of an extreme green agenda. Getting rid of oil will also mean getting rid of fertilizers and pushing many into hunger.

We need to see that as fracking was stopped in UK and EU due to misinformation from Green groups, other sources had to be found. Russia were happy to oblige, as are Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Now as the whole of Europe is dependent on Russian gas we should see the problem. Whether fracking would have provided enough gas we don’t know as protesting green groups made sure that even proper exploration and assessment could not happen.

Here is a meme from 2015 based on a wildly inaccurate Guardian article. BTW Sir Mark Walport never never never said what the meme and guardian ascribed to him.

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The UK has a duty to demonstrate global leadership on the climate crisis, as hosts of the recent COP26 climate summit and as we continue to hold the COP Presidency.

We call on you to use the Spring Statement to provide financial and fiscal support for renewable energy and energy efficiency, especially solar and wind energy

Now that sounds very good, but it does not consider the position of renewable energy today. Turbines and solar farms seem a nice clean way of obtaining energy, and at times produce half of electrical power. However half of electrical energy  is only a quarter of all energy used in the UK as most transport, industry and heating depends on fossils fuels.

Much of the green media trumpet the success when renewables produce 50% of electricity, but go quiet when little is produced as when there is no wind or sun. This happened in December and now during this week of the spring equinox. As a result most electricity is produced by GAS powered power stations and COAL is brought in to cover the shortfall. Most of last week and this week more electricity comes from coal rather than wind.

Consider these graphics for 24th March 2022. These show how little wind is contributing to electrical generation.

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Redraw that graph in your minds removing gas and then nuclear. Without them never more than 12k MV were produced, whereas at least 25k was needed – at midnight and at most 36k. At most 5k was produced from wind and solar, dropping to 1 or 2k at night. Yes, it was windless, but even so there is a massive gap between generation from renewables and what is actually needed. Pragmatism rather than ideology is needed.

The graph below shows the difference between demand and actual supply from wind power. It’s going to take a very looooooooooooong time to bridge that gap. Jumping to renewables now and closing down fossil fuels will simply creating a massive energy gap.

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and for most of March. Gas is dominant

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Renewables sound lovely in theory and their capacity may equal that of fossil fuels but when the is no wind or sunshine, no energy is produced, so the capacity is effectively very small.  Sunshine at night is obvious but to get to reasonable amounts from wind you need a wind speed of 15  mph or more. Above 20 mph turbines are whirring but cycling is unpleasant!! No matter how large the capacity, absence of wind or sun means little energy is produced.

Another unaddressed issue is the question of energy storage. Electricity produced has to be used immediately in the absence of storage and at present there is minimal storage. “Big batteries” may store enough for a few hours, but to be effective storage must be enough for several weeks, as that is how long a windless or sunless spell can last. The church leaders did not consider this and when we look for it we find a glib appeal to battery storage. The technology is not ready yet and without storage renewables cannot supply energy needs. Any transition is going to be slower that the technological change.

Here is a technical article laying out what is needed for 24 days storage.https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/236723/1/Ruhnau-and-Qvist-2021-Storage-requirements-in-a-100-renewable-electricity-system-EconStor.pdf

We must ask how quickly does a transition need to be to make up for that shortfall. Any realistic assessment will suggest many years and not before 2040.

Above all if we are going to transition then we must have something to transition to, or rather the same amount of power for electricity, transport and heating.

Nuclear Energy?

Surprisingly (or not) no mention was made of nuclear energy and I suggest this was deliberate as many green groups are as opposed to nuclear as fossil fuel. Green groups have campaigned against nuclear for over half a century and sucked in many (including myself until I deconverted)

and the retrofitting of homes

That covers many things whether insulation or new heating systems. It cannot be denied that most Britons have been dilatory about insulation over the last 50 years. Many simply did not bother. Over the decades I found we were out of step or ahead as we went for basic insulation and energy saving. Some may remember the ginormous and expensive lightbulbs of the mid-eighties.

As well as many not bothering there was no inducement for landlords to insulate. I remember last century persuading the Parsonage Board to pay for fibreglass insulation for me to install.

Today retrofitting for insulation is very expensive if the maximum is done. In 2013 we moved into a dormer bungalow which had little insulation except cavity wall. On moving in we did the low hanging fruit for about £1000 or so – thick curtains, one ceiling insulated for £400 (I should have done more), improved loft insulation, trapdoor  (no cost as I had the right-sized wood and old carpet), draught elimination etc. I worked it out that without grants it would take 20 years to recoup the expenditure needed on reduced bills to pay for full insulation.

New heating is more problematical. Most rely on gas, but any replacements is not cheap and beyond the budgets of half the population. This includes heat pumps, which have something unproven about them.

This raises some issues but retrofitting will take years and is costly. Appeals sound good but are often not very achievable.

and other buildings across the UK. These measures would reduce heating bills, decrease carbon emissions and increase our energy security.

Clearly, any insulation etc will reduce all of these. Something should also be said about transport and landscaping for saving energy. We need more evangelistic cycling bishops.

The Spring Statement must include no support for new oil and gas developments. The International Energy Agency has stated that there can be no new fossil fuel developments if we are to limit global heating to 1.5°C.

As oil and gas will not be phased out completely before 2050 there will have to be new developments in many parts of the world, if not the UK, then USA, Middle East, Africa etc. We need to ask whether Saudi Arabia is more just  than Russia as , e.g. 80 executed in one day in the last month.

At present by rejecting Russia we need to get oil and gas from the Middle East and USA, as Britain produces insufficient oil or gas. Yet there are untapped off-shore and on-shore sources. Some on-shore  wells have been producing since before WWII, and the fracked well at Elswick in Lancs  has been producing gas since the 1990s. (Yes, this well was fracked and I have copies of the drill logs and the chemicals used for fracking!!). There several potential fields off-shore and the potential for gas was not  fully explored in Lancs and Yorks (and 6000ft below my house) before the plug was pulled. The advantage of homegrown oil and gas is that no gas is lost in transit, as happens with LNG and instead of paying high prices to producers the government would gain large tax revenues, which could then be put into retrofitting. Slamdunk. QED.

New oil and gas production will not deliver lower energy bills for families facing fuel poverty and will have no impact on energy supply for years.

This is an old mantra and thrown out to stop the discussion.

The use of UK oil and gas gives a tax windfall, over imports.

How many years? This sounds like a typical green objection from their playbook.In the 40s during WWII A new oil field was opened up in months in the Midlands, so it may not take years as opponents to fracking claim.

We urge you to increase support for vulnerable households across the UK facing a cost of living crisis as a result of increasing food and energy prices, through measures including a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

i find this a bit rich as many church groups eg Operation Noah, Green Christian. Operation Noah, Diocesan Environment Groups have joined in with Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion etc demonising “big oil”, and failing to see that without workable alternatives to “big oil” and their products, a rapid change to renewables makes the cost of living crisis worse.

Many of our Churches have set 2030 net zero targets and are taking action to decarbonise our buildings, including through the installation of solar panels, heat pumps and other energy efficiency measures.

General Synod’s Net Zero 2030 aim was simply absurd and will result in failure. far better would be to concentrate on what can be done to church buildings etc, and encourage all church members and beyond to consider their own homes, travel and gardens and how efficiencies and improvements will reduce carbon footprints.

An example of failure cause by impatience and devotion to Net Zero is fitting a church with a hydrogen-based system. It simply did not work and had to be replaced – with another OIL BOILER.

More than 2,000 churches across the UK participated in Climate Sunday ahead of COP26 and called on the UK Government to unleash a clean energy revolution and limit global heating to 1.5°C.

Unleash? What will they unleash? It doesn’t exist!!!!

Between them, UK Churches have more than £20 billion of assets under management. Working with other investors, Churches can make a significant impact in tackling the climate crisis and in supporting a fair and fast transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy.

Any transition will not be fast as fossil fuels will still be used in 2050 both for energy and plastics. How can you have a fast transition without new energy sources  in place?

We need to do far more than intone; Clean and dirty, green, renewables, transition etc.

The International Energy Agency stated last year that achieving the world’s climate goals requires the finance flowing to renewable energy projects to treble by 2030. We call on the UK Government to implement the policies to enable this to happen.

This will increase capacity but production depends on wind and sun!

there is no point until there is energy storage to avoid a Dunkelflaute when wind and sun fail.

Now is the time to end our dependence on fossil fuels and fund a fair and fast transition, which will secure our future economic prosperity and protect the livelihoods of vulnerable communities.

It can only be the time to end our dependence on fossil fuels, when alternatives are in place. Renewables simply cannot provide the energy needed for our society to function. Until then we are stuck with fossil fuels

This is simply a myopic view considering only fossil fuels with no consideration to what alternatives are available. Sadly this misplaced vision has been pushed not only by secular green groups and more recently Extinction Rebellion but Christian Groups lie  Operation Noah  ( Bright Now) and other groups who support and are behind the letter.

To conclude the letter is simply ill thought out and demonstrated a total one-sided and a lack of knowledge or understanding of energy issues.

Yours sincerely,

Followed by 500 signatures.

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CONCLUSION

The letter is a simple message go renewable now.

It has a narrow focus as if it is a simple solution of get rid off fossil fuels and move to renewables.

This assumes it is possible to do it and will be a rapid transition. It cannot be if only as there is no effective storage as yet.

They also see fossil fuels only in relation to energy and fail to see oil used for fertilizer and necessary materials eg plastic, which is essential in hospitals. Also our water supply needs chlorine, which is obtained from brine using natural gas at Widnes.

The letter is marred by a Tunnel vision against fossil fuels

They fail to register any benefits; longevity, health, material wealth (both excessive and moderate) travel, even these come with environmental and climate costs.

They see only one solution to climate change and ignore changes to agriculture, trees, and lifestyle.

It is very one-sided, relying on  poor advice or research probably with  a conscious or unconscious bias. This typifies work of green groups.

It is almost the churches’ equivalent of Extinction Rebellion, who over-egg their arguments and are often inaccurate.  It is surprising that any bishop would support them.

For myself prior to ordination I was mining and exploration geologist focusing on copper. I have long been an environmentalist and look to the breadth of environmental issues.

Antifracking goes upmarket!

In the heady days of the protests outside the fracking site at Preston New Road one got used to the scruffy temporary buildings, the Nanas smoking fags, occasional visits from the elite from the Green Party – and, of course, Geza Frackman /Tarjani who made friends with everyone and has yet to be vaccinated. along with that was the barrage of disinformation from the various frackfree groups, who got upset when dissected.

Friends of the Earth had a go too, and got their knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority

foeadvert

We were told how massive quakes would bring down houses, many would get cancer (sometimes said just after having a fag), water courses would be polluted, fracking fluid contain dangerous chemicals, wildlife would be destroyed, and the traffic would be excessive. all these claims were neutered by reputable bodies, but they were repeated ad nauseam.

Below is a poster on Preston New Road, and a meme based on a dodgy comment from an activist scientist, wrongly ascribed to Sir Mark Walport by the Graudain

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Of course, anyone who supported fracking was a climate denier, capitalist pig, a Tory lacky, a shill for big oil and so on. The churches fell for it and repeated the same stories in their publicity.

Fracking came to a sudden stop in 2018 after a Mag 3 tremor, which wouldn’t even get a mention in San Francisco, where they occur almost weekly. In 2019 a moratorium was imposed by the government, which still allowed geothermal energy which results in larger “quakes”.

Now it seems that the antifracking horror stories have been taken on by such august groups as the Conservative Environment Network (of which more in another blog and the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit https://eciu.net/  ECIU

It has an impressive board “The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s Advisory Board reflects the breadth of interest within Britain in energy and climate change issues. Members of the board advise ECIU on matters of science, economics, policy, community interest and communication. ECIU is deeply appreciative of their advice, support and involvement.” It includes Michael Howard, Andrea Leadsom, Lord Puttnam and Lord Krebs among others. Their purpose is summed up:

   We support journalists, parliamentarians and other communicators with accurate and accessible briefings on key issues, and work with individuals and organisations that have interesting stories to tell, helping them connect to the national conversation.

Sadly this tweet does not live up to that ideal and is sweeping, biased and inaccurate. The Nanas would have been proud of it.

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The four negative arguments against fracking are simplistic and could come out of the Friends of the Earth play book.

1 Geology Of course the geology is different, as it is in various parts of the USA! The strata in Pennsylvania are much more folded and faulted than those in New Mexico! In UK oil and gas has been safely extracted near Studland, the Weald, Leicestershire, Yorkshire  and in Lancashire, Formby and Elswick, close to the cuadrilla sites. Many of these involved fracking e.g Elswick

2. Industry can’t do sums That needs explanation and is irresponsible with substantiation.

3. Little impact on prices The price to the customer is only part of the issue. British produced gas may not be cheaper but it has two advantages. First, tax revenues would be very valuable. Secondly, importing gas involves increase of emissions due to transport  and loss of gas in transit. Meanwhile we simply import gas from all over the world and haven’t even checked whether there is gas under the north of England.

4 Unpopular For ten years green groups had a sustained campaign of misinformation and scaremongering. A good example is Friends of the Earth who were hauled over the coals by the Advertising Standards Authority. Living 10 miles from the Lancashire site, I came across many examples of locals being given false information. No wonder it is unpopular.

The unpopularity was proclaimed after 25,000 letters of objection were sent to Lancashire County Council in 2015. As I wrote in my blog back in 2015 ”  Out of all the objections , over 18000 were template letters templates & 11500 from outside Lancashire.”  The template letter was full of misrepresentation too.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/25000-letters-of-objection-to-fracking-in-lancashire/

Really ECIU should be more politically savvy. 

The Diagram.

The diagram presents fracking as a very dirty and dodgy method, and if it were true I would oppose fracking everywhere! But;

Consider each snippet of text.

  1. Yes, it uses loads of water as does every other source of energy e.g. nuclear and coal. Often the water can be re-used.
  2. Oh yeah! Some of the chemicals are hazardous to health. This harks back to the list of over 600 dangerous chemicals in a list made in the USA nearly 10 years ago. Most are no longer used in the USA and almost all banned inn the UK. In the UK, the main chemical  – 98% – is that lethal substance water. Along with that some surfacants are used  (same as in kitchen products.) In 2015 a Friends of the Earth leaflet claimed carcinogens were used. It was slated after complaints from cuadrilla and two OAPs by the Advertising Standards Agency. Under pressure  on BBC Northwest  Dr Tony Bosworth of Friends of the Earth identified the carcinogen  – SAND!!!!! In fact Governor Hickenlooper  of Colorado actually drank some!
  3. Methane can leak or be vented. Yes, a little is. This can either be by accident or necessary during exploration.  As firms want to sell the gas, they don’t want leaks as that means loss of profit
  4. Spills and leaks of fracking fluid. That is always possible, whenever fluids are involved – eg agricultural run-off, sewage or industrial pollutants polluting land and waterways. None should happen. Great care is taken on fracking sites – evident to all who visited them. The site at Preston New Road was carefully protected as I saw on several occasions. There were no spills or leaks with Cuadrilla. Some happened in the USA but were mostly due to badly constructed wells.
  5. The casings are considerable and effective. 
  6. Oh dear, the picture of ponds is so American. Yes the ponds for contaminated waste water. However these ponds are not allowed in the UK and the water has to be taken off site to be treated.
  7. Horizontal  drilling! Yes, but they should have made it clear that the actual fracking is done about 6000ft below surface so there is no chance of cracks making it to surface. The maximum extent of cracks has been found to be 1000ft, so still a mile belwo surface.

It is surprising, or not, that the ECIU used a hostile American diagram, which was produced not to inform ABOUT fracking, but to persuade against fracking. The diagram is UNTRUE for fracking in the USA and doubly untrue for fracking in the UK.

This is very careless slovenly reflecting badly on the ECIU. It seems that inexperienced and ill-informed employees are allowed to make public statements on social media.

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finally the diagram is typical of “popular” diagrams produced to “explain” fracking. Most contain serious errors, but none give are fair picture of just how deep down fracking will take place. Form diagrams one would conclude a few hundred feet, whereas it is 6000 to 8000ft, i.e double the height of most British mountains. Imagine having to climb a mountain twice as high as Snowdon or Scafell!!

Before that here’s another dodgy diagram

antifrack (2)

Now a undodgy diagram:

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Who caused the present energy crisis?

Here is an interesting letter to The Times  (5/2/22) on the energy crisis of today. Not all will agree with it but I think it is spot on.

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As a Christian I always get narked at those like Richard Dawkins who say that us believers go for faith without evidence and thus what we believe is unprovable and untrue. I could write on this, but suffice it to say that there is evidence for the existence of Jesus and details in the New Testament. But I won’t be a God-botherer today.

For many years I have got increasingly fed up with appeals for “renewables” as if they will solve every energy crisis. A times it comes out as a mantra or an item of credal faith. Most green groups from FoE, Greenpeace to wildlife Trusts  and the National Trust sing from the same hymn/herrsheet. It is now political orthodoxy in all parties; Greens, Labour, LibDem and tories as they are swept along with the renewable tide, as if they can replace fossil fuels NOW..

I suggest they never look at the figures for energy sources for electricity production. When it is windy like today (and far too windy to cycle 6th Feb 22) renewables, largely wind, make a good showing but as soon as the wind drops gas is ramped up and coal comes into play.

One of the best accounts of why renewables are no panacea is to found in Prof dieter Helm’s recent book Net Zero, how we stop causing climate change.  Helm is no climate denier or sceptic but is fully aware of problems, both technical and political. The section on pp34-6 should be read by all. In the last y30 years renewables have made virtually no contribution to energy demand. Period.

December 2021 was a time of no wind and little sun and renewables flopped – ein dunkelflaute as the Germans would say. More gas was used and also coal.

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This figures for one day show that renewables are very far off from making a real impact, yet for a decade it has almost been an item of faith that renewables will provide. At times some will just say the word “renewables” as if that will provide the power. No kid, I’ve heard it too many times. Within the churches, the Ecocongregation project is almost entirely in favour of renewables.

What so many fail to see is that the transition away from fossil fuels cannot happen overnight, whether for electricity or transport. On average renewables may produce nearly 50% of electricity (but not heating and transport, which is often ignored), but on a cold windless winter’s night, with a ridge of high pressure, renewables will produce nearly zero.

The usual green narrative is completely blind to this and think fossil fuels can soon be phased out. Oh that they could be! The transition has two major hurdles, the first is the capability of renewables which is a long way off, The second is less obvious and is the immense amount of additional metals needed for the transition, eg Cu, Co, Ni, Li and the rare earths. To give an indication; just to provide 100% replaced by electric cars the consumption of Copper needs to double from now on from the present usage of 100,000 tons. That requires some very large copper mines. One of the largest in Southern Africa is Tsumeb in Namibia which produced about 1.7 million tons of copper in the century it was open.  That is 20 years supply for the UK. Now multiply that for every country to go electric! Many do not acknowledge this major hurdle.

Those most qualified to judge have made this clear many times, but amateurs from green groups continue with the mantra of renewables.

Just consider two with much understanding

Helm Preface

not be in the money anytime soon  ix

david Mackay

Letter to the Times, 5th Feb 2022

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Kelly makes some very strong statements here, which are very sound.

He says that bowing to climate alarmists and renewable energy lobbyists, coal and nuclear plants were decommissioned before replacements were in situ. Totally right. The clamour from Greeenpeace, Friends of the Earth, echoed by many green groups, almost drowned out other voices, which were easily dismissed as Climate Deniers. I was told that if I supported fracking I was a climate denier. Once was by a fellow vicar who thought Acetic and Citric Acids were pollutants used in fracking!!!!!  I could also add most Green groups and all political parties as the CEN Conservative Environmental Network are all opposed to nuclear and coal, especially the latter.

Kelly points out that decommissioning of plants  was done before replacements were in place. Thus with coal power stations gone, there was no generating capacity to make up for the shortfall from renewables, which could not produce in the absence of wind and sun. This is simply folly and the collapse of power generation or the problems of the turn of 2021-2022 was made inevitable. No one , or only a few, wanted to retain coal, but until cheapish and reliable energy comes on line the risk is too great, especially for the poor, who have to use a higher portion of their income on fuel and electricity.

On paper the replacement capacity of renewables seems good and comparable to fossil fuels. But there is a very big BUT. However big the capacity is, no electricity can be generated without wind and sun. When it is windy greens crow about the fact that 50% of electricity is being generated by renewables but silent the next day when the wind drops and little power is produced. Then gas kicks in and, what is worse, COAL.

Kelly also points out there is no way to store more than small amounts of energy on  a large scale, as without that any excess electricity produced simply goes to waste. Yet many simply believe without evidence that these are in place. He could have pointed out that wishful thinking will not produce energy and you cannot use technology which has not been invented or is not yet on line. None of this can be magicked into existence by ditching fossil fuels and nuclear. Taking a long view in the early 70s GranadaNW had a series on a house powered by renewables. It was great to watched and filled myself and others with hope, but that hope has not been fulfilled despite all the R & D.

And so his finale on fracking. Despite much hostility fracking has been successful in the USA, with relatively few problems. Most of these were caused by individual bad practice or “litigious individuals”. As in the UK opponents were often rather economical with the truth. The UK story of fracking is a sad one as greens of all kinds made a crusade against and were also economical with the truth. It foundered on minor tremors which almost certainly caused no damage, despite the likes of Geza Tarjani claiming that the 2021 “earthquake” (Mag 2.1) damaged his house and became one of the most tire**** protestors against fracking. He has recently been charged in connection with Sajid Jarvid’s home https://www.lancs.live/news/lancashire-news/leyland-man-geza-tarjanyi-denies-22945802

Freinds of the Earth were censored by the Advertising Standards Authority for an inaccurate leaflet some years back. https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/friends-of-the-earth-fck-it-up/

It is concerning that leading green groups do this and that government continues to listen to them.

Kelly is totally clear that our present energy crisis is self-inflicted and the result of listening to green scare stories.

The result has to raise the cost of energy and everything else and also drive more people into fuel poverty.

When you get your extra high fuel bills, this will direct your thoughts on who is to blame.

E F Schumacher and the nuclear debacle

How can a leading coal economist become such a guru for green issues and alternative and small-scale technologies?

E.F. Schumacher's founding philosophy and how it still guides us today -  Practical Action

That is the legacy of E F Schumacher (16 August 1911 – 4 September 1977). Migrating from Germany from 1950 to 1970 he was Chief Economic Adviser to the National Coal Board, Yet this leader of old, polluting technologies became the prophet for the opposite and his legacy is his opposition to nuclear energy and various green groups named in his memory. Whether acknowledged or not he has had a great influence in Green Britain! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._F._Schumacher

I came across his work in the 70s as I read Resurgence  and The Ecologist, as his name often came up. I admit to lapping up his ideas. To my surprise I found that he lived in my home town of Caterham in a lovely house opposite our school playing fields. For four years I cycled past his house every day on the way to school and then for another four years after that saw it from our geography, history and science blocks. Two of his sons were several years ahead of me in school and mother taught one of his daughters maths. Yet I knew nothing about him when at school when he was advising the National Coal Board.

After 1970 he seemed to change his economics to small scale projects and upped his opposition to nuclear energy. On the former he was influenced by visits as an advisor  to Burma. I shall return to nuclear energy. That was music to my ears and most environmentalists of the day. He published his ideas in the book Small is Beautiful in 1974, which I got in paperback form some years later.

Book review: Small Is Beautiful: A study of Economics as if People Mattered  - EF Schumacher (1973) - Blue and Green Tomorrow

The subtitle of Small is Beautiful is a study of Economics as if People Mattered. I won’t go into that , but it is behind much of the small-scale arguments of the last 40 years, including Intermediate Technology. It is a classic of the 70s and significant in the whole green movement. But I will focus only on his views on nuclear energy.

Chapter 8 would shock many today, where he expresses his regret that so many coal mines were closed down in the 60s, despite have enough reserves. Thatcher continued in the 80s and Scargill criticised her for it. Scargill could see how the coal industry was being closed down, despite there being plenty of coal. All this was before the serious air pollution from coal was fully acknowledged and before an understanding of climate change.

The other reason to shift away from coal: Air pollution that kills  thousands every year

Chapter 9 of Small is Beautiful is entitled Nuclear Energy – Salvation or Damnation?. EFS goes for the latter, where perhaps purgatory might be better!! The lecture was given as the Des Moeux Memorial Lecture “Clean Air and future Energy” in 1967. When discussing the lecture for his book in 1973, he points out the change in perception on nuclear energy. In 1967 most were in favour but the tide had turned by 1973, and though he does not say it because of the activities of the Sierra Club, the new Greenpeace and others. EFS was just one who added his pennyworth in this lecture. My own memory is that nuclear energy was seen as good thing from the fifties and by the 70s all environmentalists were opposed to it for its horrific potential dangers.

He claimed ” Of all the changes introduced by man into the household of nature, large -scale fission is undoubtedly the most dangerous and profound.” He then says that the building of power stations, whether based on coal, oil or nuclear (note that as yet gas was not used), are decided on economic grounds rather than the ‘social consequences’ which may result from the curtailment of the coal industry, which was in full swing in the 60s. The social consequences were unemployment and destruction of communities, which occurred in all old mining villages and towns. I witnessed them in Wigan and Chirk in the 70s and 80s. What was over-looked he claimed was the ‘incredible, incomparable and unique hazard for human life’ of nuclear energy. To buttress his arguments he used the example of nuclear weapons and their extreme destructiveness. He then describes the radiation and points out there is no safe way of storing “used” material as it will radioactive for ever.. Arguments still used today.

On p116 he notes the problem of air and water pollution (with coal burning being implicit), but says there is a ‘dimensional difference’ and ‘radioactive pollution is an evil of incomparably greater’ dimension’ than anything mankind has known before.’ and rhetorically ‘What is the point of insisting on clean air, if the air is laden with radioactive particles?’

This claim was very plausible in the early 70s and carried many with them, including Tony Benn. It convinced most environmentalists, including myself.

According to EFS the change came in February  1972 with the government report Pollution; Nuisance or Nemesis? The report expected nuclear to produce 50% of electricity by 2000. They highlighted the chief concern – which was the storage of radioactive waste  which was forever.

EFS concluded “No degree of prosperity could justify the accumulation of large amounts of highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make safe.” That has been the cry of environmentalists ever since.

EFS’s arguments against nuclear energy have been held by groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth ever since, who were very successful in their propaganda. I can’t criticise them as I totally swallowed the lot and was anti-nuclear. However they swung opinions against nuclear, which now produces only 20% of electricity in Britain.

More humorously Friends of the Earth had a yellow tea shirt with the words The only safe fast breeder is a rabbit. We bought one, partly at that time I was a curate in a Lancashire church and the vicar, my boss, was always telling us we should have children ASAP! He was not a nice, cuddly vicar!! Many parishioners were aware of this, so my wife turned up to parish events in the T-shirt! I left a few months later and then worked under the nicest vicar ever. We had our first child in that parish, and he and his wife were godparents. He was my unofficial mentor for 25 years. The Church of England can be quite Jekyll and Hyde.

One of EFS’s main themes was the danger of nuclear energy and how it was far worse than anything other form of energy. He was aware of pollution but did not consider the horrific air pollution from burning coal as totally disastrous. He could have noted the Clean Air Acts of the 50s after the great smog in London and the frequent pea-souper fogs. I think the last pea-souper was in 1963 which almost reached our house in Caterham and probably equally close to EFS’s house half a mile away and a lower altitude. The accumulated death-rate from coal over the years is immense and still is so in many parts of the world. So how does nuclear compare?

Accident rate from nuclear power.

As soon as one mentions nuclear weapons as EFS did in his lecture, pictures are conjured up that an accident in a nuclear power station would be like Hiroshima, first in its blast and next its radiation. So;

nuclear, no thanks!

Any accident creates great media interest, specially when creative writing takes precedent to fact. The three most well known are Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011. The resultant deaths were none at Three Mile Island, possibly one at Fukushima. Chernobyl was serious with 28 killed on site, 34 others and   up to 4000 from cancer. The whole area of the disaster zone was evacuated. here is a list of all accidents from Wiki. Fukushima was no Hiroshima as one person was possibly killed and the death and injury was caused by the tsunami and not a nuclear accident. Many of the reports on Fukushima have been very creative!!

Fukushima nuclear plant water to be released into the ocean via undersea  tunnel

Here is wiki’s list of accidents;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_and_radiation_accidents_and_incidents

Chernobyl terrified many but compared to coal it was less lethal, as fatalities from coal are simply individuals who die one by one from air pollution  but the table from this New Scientist article puts it into perspective.  If you include deaths of miners then that ran at 1000 pa from 1873 to 1953 in Britain, which includes the Gresford disaster of 1934 which killed 266. This was just one of several.

This New Scientist article considers the relative death rates of various forms of energy per TWh. Brown Coal includes lignite which is used in Germany to replace nuclear and nuclear power stations were shut down after Fukishima.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20928053-600-fossil-fuels-are-far-deadlier-than-nuclear-power/

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Compared to coal nuclear is a very safe energy – and one of the safest. I find it difficult to understand why EFS gave the lecture as it shows an extreme Unconscious Bias – or was it Conscious?  However he set the tone for the next half century (or supported it) and his perspective and that of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth has become accepted wisdom for a half century of environmentalists – though some like me repented.

In November 2021 there were strong voices for nuclear energy at COP26, but others counteracted as did the activist scientist Michael Mann, commenting on twitter.

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Friends of the Earth has been consistently anti-nuclear since 1971 , as has Greenpeace.

https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/policy-positions/nuclear-energy-our-position

Both are also opposed to GMOs and Fracking, presenting their arguments with Conscious bias. In turn they influence most green groups in Britain and elsewhere, resulting in calls for divestment (keep it in the ground) rejection of nuclear energy and a total conviction that renewables can provide all energy needs in the immediate future. They cannot..

At COP26 there was a grudging acceptance by many that nuclear needed but Greenpeace retained its opposition of 50 years.

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At COP26 some environmentalists slightly, and grudgingly, softened their opposition to nuclear energy as did Andy Lester of A Rocha in an interview  with the evangelical TWR (Trans World Radio)  https://youtu.be/aUzbpWGuGuU

It is a shame that a Christian environmental group should take such a negative attitude, though Lester regards nuclear as acceptable only in the short term to be rid of fossil fuels. Christian environmentalists often sing from the Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth hymnbook and do not wish to listen to other viewpoints. Hence the carious churches’ studies on energy, climate change etc  do not allow any breadth of opinion , beyond “keep it in the ground”!! He did not like being challenged either!

However some Climate campaigners like Mark Lynas and James Hansen have accepted that nuclear is needed to tackle climate change.  At least some environmentalists recognise that if we are serious about tackling climate change, we need nuclear power as part of the solution.

Nuclear Energy is like tree planting. The best time was decades ago, and the next best time is today.

I was disappointed  when I found that EFS, whom I almost revered in the 70s has left a flawed legacy, which has led both to the energy crisis of this year and the growing issue of climate change. Throughout the continent of Europe , as well as Britain, green NGOs have stymied the development of nuclear energy – and throttled it in Germany, and due to hatred of gas, it has meant an increased use of coal.

Not good.

P.S. Why did twitter restrict this?

Probably a complain from the anti-nuclear mafia

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Can the Church get to Net Zero 2030? Or is it holy greenwash?

It may be greenwash, but it is not copper-bottomed!!

Over the last few years the Church of England has got very concerned about Climate Change and thus in the February 2020 General Synod the Bishop of Salisbury put forward a motion that the CofE should aim for Net Zero by 2045. The accompanying papers were well-argued and realistic, and showed the ways in which the Church of England could make much headway in approaching Net Zero in 25 years..

When it came to the debate, which was poorly attended, some from Bristol Diocese put forward an amendment to bring that forward for Net Zero 2030. That was passed despite the low numbers and now the CoE is committed to be Net Zero by 2030.

As you read that ask yourself if you are a Goodie or a Baddie. The Goodie  wants Zero in 2025 or 2030 as a compromise, and divestment ASAP, and  the baddies are the rest!! The baddies are all as bad as each other and those, like me, who are concerned about climate change and know things need to done but do not accept a 2030 date for Net Zero, are as bad as those who will burn the last lump of coal! To some all of us are “Climate Deniers”.

I’m one of the baddies, and proud of it, Because I wish to see life, animal, vegetable, fungal and bacterial, on this planet improving and not wrecked either by those who don’t care or those whose feelings have taken over from their reason..

Joking apart, I will start by saying that there is no question that Climate Change is a serious issue and have argued that since last century, having been convinced by no less a person than Sir John Houghton after personal chats. Climate Change needs to be dealt with now, or rather 30 years ago, and not 20 years hence. However it will not be solved by impractical solutions or intoning ecogodwords like “renewables”, “carbon-free”, zero emissions”. Grand solutions will not work, nor will green virtue signalling. The solution will come from carefully worked-out technical changes AND lots of little changes from the public at large like planting a tree (in the right place) or reducing consumption of anything from food, to energy or materials in apparently trivial ways, including turning the tap off when brushing your teeth. There are those who are insistent on reducing plastic, but drive everywhere and pour their coffee grounds down the sink. It takes energy (i.e fossil fuel) to clean the water of coffee grounds – something which could be avoided by putting them on a flower bed or veg plot. That would also improve the soil.

Within the church those pushing environmental issues tend to be greenies with limited technical skills rather than techies. This may be seen by diocesan environmental officers with no science background putting forward arguments which are often flawed or inaccurate. It is cringeworthy when the Environmental officer comes out with basic scientific error indicating they have not studied science beyond GCSE. e.g. claiming. Fracking fluid contains contaminants like citric acids & acetic acids”!! My answer is “Fish and Chips”!! With a reliance on the outpourings from Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, and more recently Extinction Rebellion, this results in a disconnect with the actual realities of energy, mineral extraction and food production, not to mention climate change and biodiversity. Thus those who favour nuclear energy, a continued use of petroleum until something better is found, GMOs, non-organic farming, glyphosate will find their views , and even considerable expertise, are not required and so are effectively non-platformed or even cancelled. They are often dismissed as climate deniers. The church has thrown away a lot of expertise, as with an expert on Carbon Capture.. As a result the environment groups simply do not have geologists, those from the oil industry, Energy etc. Hence any informed perspective is lost.

Only one narrative

It seems to me that when issues of the environment are discussed only ONE narrative is followed or allowed and the rest are sidelined. Undoubtedly there are those who simply do not care about the environment i.e God’s creation, but those who do care cover a much wider opinion that members of the Christian Climate coalition. I began to realise this over fracking, when the only permitted narrative allowed was to be strongly anti-fracking and to dismiss those who saw fracking as being a bridge and reducing emissions immediately as climate deniers and as bad as the “drill, baby, drill” redneck from Texas, who gives not a stuff about anything except his truck and MAGA hat. This was so with both secular and church groups. Perhaps we can call this the Grand Green Narrative GGN, which insists you do not diverge from its tenets!! Its corollary is that if you diverge from the GGN you are not green.

A recent Church Times article of 6th November 2020 was on the Net Zero 2030 proposal as being achievable, as it was coming up in general Synod.

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/6-november/news/uk/synod-emissions-target-realistic-says-its-mover?utm_term=Autofeed

However it is more assertion than demonstration, but here we may be dealing with belief rather than actual substance. Having persuaded Synod in February to switch from Net Zero in 2045 to 2030, proponents have to show that it is possible.

But what we have in the article is somewhat muddled and shows a lack of understanding of energy issues and also how such changes can be effected. I don’t know whether that is due to the reporter or those consulted.

I touch on a few points. We are told that;

Purely electric heating has, on average, a lower net-carbon footprint than gas or oil,

I blinked at that statement. It may be true if you use only electricity from renewables, but most electricity is not from renewables. 20% is from nuclear and about 50% is from gas with a small percentage from coal. It depends on the source of electricity, but then we can only have green electricity in our mains as the grid makes no distinction, and we don’t know where our power actually came from!.

Despite the government’s new green schemes for 2030 it will be very difficult to produce “green” electricity on the scale needed. At present electricity is about one quarter of energy used. ( there are times, e.g. on a cold windless night, when no renewable electricity is being generated. Think if a freezing January evening when every appliance is switched on. When this happens gas power stations are ramped up and coal switched on.)  The rest is from fossil fuels for transport, heating  and industry. The recent government suggestion of windfarms sounds good, but will only generate electricity when there is wind.

switching to 100-per-cent renewable energy on a “green tariff”, perhaps through the parish buying scheme;

This is a blind faith in renewables as if renewables are good clean energy and fossil fuels are bad and dirty energy. In fact, both are “bad” and and neither are clean. All energy systems have an environmental cost. For fossil fuels it is in the extracting and burning of them, and for renewables, both in the fossil fuels needed for construction and the demand for copper, cobalt, lithium and other rare metals, which need to be mined from mineral-poor rock needing vast amounts of ore to be mined for a little metal. If it is a porphyry  deposit the ore is probably 0.25% copper, thus needing to mine 400 tons of ore for one ton of copper. There is a serious problem on the metals needed  – and often these are obtained from dodgy overseas mines outside the major mining companies, with little concern for safety or pollution. This is why prospectors are looking at old copper mines in Camborne and Parys Mountain on  Anglesey. Both have an environmental cost, which would be less so than a dodgy venture in the middle of Africa. Both could be the size of a copper mine I once worked in, where among other things I got CO poisoning. Not recommended!

Further, renewables need also to be built with vast quantities of Concrete and resin-based materials ( which produce a lot of emissions in construction) for wind, and areas of land for solar farms. The environmental cost of building windfarms on peat terrain is immense, especially as peatbog is excellent for carbon capture. Here is a windfarm built on peat in Ireland.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1327581502763380736

That should make you blink. With peat as an excellent carbon sink, they should never be used for wind farms or even the occasional turbine – or even tree planting. That  nullifies any reduction in emissions on the combustion of fossil fuels.

But this does not fit in with the usual designation of clean and dirty energy. In fact all energy is dirty. Please repeat 1000 times.

On major issue often overlooked or glossed over is that the electrical grid needs to be vastly expanded. Heating and transport by electricity means that the grid must double, or even triple in size. This is not crucial for the church, but is for the whole of society.

On could add the area needed for solar farms

It is very easy to raise objections to fossil fuels, but we also need to quiz the claims of renewable suppliers. Frequently they have claimed to provide 100% renewable electricity and gas.  At times they have been censured for making false claims, as was Ecotricity by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2017 for falsely claiming their gas was 100% renewable. It was not and they were not producing much gas, if any!! The ASA insisted future averts were corrected. Further it is impossible for wind and solar to provide 100% renewable electricity  in absence of storage e.g. on a cold windless night. Thus wind accounts for between 0% and 40% of electricity generated at any particular time, which is not reliable. On that cold, windless night gas is ramped up and maybe coal is switched on. Without plenty of gas power stations power-cuts would be the norm. A little realism and attention to detail is needed. I just checked twitter and found for this week  (written on 26/11/20).

National Grid ESO 
@ng_eso
We’re forecasting tight margins on the #electricity system over the next few days owing to a number of factors, primarily varying renewable generation levels and colder temperatures over periods of the day with higher demand [1/3]

I hope there are no power cuts and gas and coal plug the gap!! Yup, coal is burniong merrily as I type.

Here is a recent tweet focusing on electric vehicles. The figures seem to be in the right order.

EVS Tweet “There are 33 million cars in UK each averaging ~10miles/day or 3KWh/day. So to charge them all will need 100GWh/day of electricity demand. That equates to two extra Hinkley C’s ! Forget Wind power – unless you want to add sails to all the cars!”

That tweet only focuses on the actual electricity needed and I deal with the increased use of metals below. A Times report (27/11/20) says EVs use up 50% more emissions than petrol/diesel cars and take 50,000 miles to break even on emissions.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/electric-cars-have-to-do-50-000-miles-before-they-are-greener-than-fossil-fuel-vehicles-8hb5m0dm7

In contrast to the simple appeal of renewables all energy predictions, including those from Greenpeace, conclude fossil fuels will be used until at least 2050.

The devotion to the green means you cannot use the greener, or the least ungreen – which is nuclear and gas.

The perfect is the enemy of the best available.

The suggestion of lots of little improvements is excellent and is what people should have been doing for 40 years, if they haven’t been doing so. Thus moving over to LED lights should simply have been done, even only as replacements over the last 40 years, moving from Tungsten filament incandescent, to low energy to LED. In our household we followed that trajectory from 1986 starting with the massive low energy bulbs and then moved with the times. A good personal task is to consider how you can make little energy or material savings from all aspects of your living. e.g using a bike where possible.

The same is the case with insulation and all forms of energy efficiency. Some of us remember cold houses in the 1950s with expensive and inefficient heating with temperatures of 55 deg F  – sorry 13deg C !

The change in mode of travel to achieve net Zero is challenging.. To change to electric may reduce emissions to zero at point of use, but one must consider the metals needed for batteries and motors, as I mentioned above. I admit to being wary of the Governments policy to ban diesel and petrol cars from 2030, on grounds of practicality and the need to vastly increase electricity generation, but also the availability of the metals needed.

Acute Metal Shortage

There is also the problem of essential metals as greatly increased quantities of copper, Nickel and Cobalt will be needed, and also Lithium. For the hoped-for 32% of EVs by 2030 an additional 27,000 tons of Copper will be needed annually just in the UK. (To consider what that means, that is nearly one and a half million tons of Copper Ore at 2% copper. When working for an exploration company in South Africa and re-evaluating an old mine  my initial findings showed that it could be 2 million tons at 2% which would be a small viable mine. Drilling soon showed there was half a million so it was dropped. My point is simple, Britain would need a new Copper mine of that size ( 2 million tons at 2% every year. That is simply unlikely.)  The extra 27,000 tons of copper needed is an 18% increase from the last decade years when 150,000 tons were consumed annually of which 130,000 was reclaimed from scrap. This additional Copper will have to be from refining. To give an indication, if Parys mountain in Anglesey was viable as a mine it could produce 80, 000 tons of refined Copper i.e 3 years of increased demand.

parysmlountain

Parys mountain Copper Mine

The result will be to open up mines of much poorer ore with the attendant increase of mine waste and pollution.

This is expressed far better by scientists from the British Museum of Natural History

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/press-office/press-releases/leading-scientists-set-out-resource-challenge-of-meeting-net-zer.html

or on a world perspective

https://www.mining.com/much-copper-nickel-cobalt-electric-vehicle-world-needs/?fbclid=IwAR0AliU-1JxFPUlmOCDBfjlBdFeastmvSedCz7yuEszwrnpVB4ooGijz97g

I’d suggest both the Church of England and the Government get up to speed on their understanding of mineral resources and stop hoping for renewables!

Now to change tack on travel.

On travel it is remarkable how few clergy actually use a bike. Except in far-flung rural parishes it is often the quickest and easiest mode of transport. It has the great advantage of being able to stop and talk to people in busy streets. In fact, a bike is an excellent pastoral aid! Travelling five miles to visit in a hospital I found cycling was quicker than a car  – and less frustrating. Yet the article makes no mention of bikes and says  It also includes all work-related travel by clergy, staff, and volunteers. It is simply not happening.

It seems no one expects to get to Net Zero by 2030 as the article says. A further phase of work from 2030 includes all emissions from large building projects; emissions from the farming and management of church lands, and all emissions from products bought, such as paper and printing; downstream emissions from waste disposal; emissions from building contractors; and carbon generated from use of emails and the internet in work-related contexts. All these are said to be “within our influence to a significant degree”.

Ah, I see! Net Zero by 2030 is not Net Zero by 2030. One would have thought these would have been included in the 2030 targets. I suggest there is a clear realisation that Net Zero 2030 is impossible to achieve!

One would have thought the items on this long list should be tackled well before 2030.

However much was omitted;

Water usage

Tree-planting

Various small ways of reducing energy usage in church, school and home

  the myriad little things

And, of course, the education of congregations

The article then gives the example of a church in Birmingham. The church at Baddesley Clinton, which has no gas or running water, is now carbon-neutral after the installation of under-pew heating, which heats a bubble of air round the pew rather than the whole church space.

I don’t whether to laugh or cry at this scientific nonsense. Is there a plastic bubble to enclose those being warmed?  From the most basic physics all should know that hot air rises and thus most of the heat will fleetingly warm those in the pew before roasting the top of the church. It does not say what the source of electricity for the underfloor heating is, but it would use more electricity than other methods of heating.

The CT article then says  “It has halved its energy consumption by switching to a renewable-energy supplier. That is impossible and risible, you will use the same amount of electricity for the same usage whoever your supplier!

Shoddy arguments like these help no one and create misunderstanding of energy issues. However this type of confusion takes root and is very difficult to counter. One is usually met with a variety of ecogodwords.

Eco-diocese, eco-church

Several dioceses are register as eco-dioceses and with eco-churches.

In 2016 eco-church was relaunched through Arocha, with bronze, silver and gold awards. Much was simply sensible green advice on what churches could do, but it tended to be doctrinaire coming from a particular standpoint. Back to the Great Green Narrative

It simply assumed that churches ought to go renewable and recommended Ecotricity. This follows the common line on renewable (good) and non-renewable/fossil (bad) and not considering the actual problems of obtaining energy, or the total emissions produced.

The additional materials point one to resources and groups to follow. It refers to the flagship green group Friends of the Earth. Yet it ignores they way they were pulled up by the Advertising Standards Authority in early 2017 for their grossly inaccurate leaflet on fracking. In it they claimed that additives to fracking fluid were carcenogenic. When challenged on BBC the best they could come up with was – SAND! One needs to note their campaigns, especially in the EU to ban GMOs, and their anti-nuclear stance. Bees have been in their sights for year, but now claim that the greatest cause of decline is intensive farming, rather than what they previously claimed – neonicotinoids.

The record of Friends of the Earth is not good. Nor is that of Greenpeace

GMO EU action

Another group highlighted was Frack Free Fylde, which for several years disrupted peoples’ lives, blocked roads, held up funerals and pushed misinformation. And also recommended is Keep it in the ground with the aim of stopping extraction of fossil fuels.

If Ecochurch is to be ecochurch, it should not simply put forward one extreme environmental line, however popular that may be. It excludes a large number of environmentally concerned people. It is classic GGN Grand Green Narrative.

There is so much else to recommend what parishes can do to be truly eco-church. It is a pity eco-church focussed on only those groups taking a particular view on energy and not referring to government bodies or others. Perhaps it is as well it was produced before Extinction Rebellion and Christian ‘sClimate Action.

COP15-System-Change-not-Climate-Change

The problem of Net Zero 2030

I think it is a great pity that Bishop Holtham simply does not say Net Zero 2030 is totally unrealistic.

To conclude it was based on an amendment which was both ideological and idealistic and rather lop-sided in their beliefs and arguments.

Their’s is a tunnel vision on divestment  and Net Zero ASAP

It is Binary thinking, whereby fossil fuels are totally bad and renewables the opposite

It is unrealistic on transition

energytransistion

Further they have excluded the middle ground, which needs to be recognised and also their support gained. I wonder how many will opt out because of that.

They eschew the more technical and slower approaches, which take the state of technology into account. These will be far more effective in both the medium and long term, but won’t have the activist glamour.

Nothing will be gained by rushing things and we should follow the example of beavers and slowly beaver away.

FINIS

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

 The Church Times Article in full

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/6-november/news/uk/synod-emissions-target-realistic-says-its-mover?utm_term=Autofeed

THE whole Church should be committed to reducing its carbon footprint, and, if it works systematically and together, it can succeed, Canon Martin Gainsborough, a General Synod member, has said.

Canon Gainsborough moved the amendment in the General Synod in February which resulted in its adoption of the target of net zero emissions by 2030 (Synod and Comment, 21 February).

Canon Gainsborough was commenting on the publication today of Synod papers on the scope and definition of what net zero would look like, to be debated by the Synod this month. “What an achievement and what a legacy that would be!” he said. “I have been hugely impressed by the way in which the Environment Working Group has been working since the momentous vote in February.”

“The definition of what is included for our net-zero carbon target seems the right one. It is also widely supported, as the consultation process relating to it shows.”

Chaplain to the Bishop of Bristol, Canon Gainsborough was formerly the professor in development politics at the University of Bristol and the Social Justice and Environmental Adviser in Bristol diocese.

Data has been submitted from 4500 churches — about one third of parishes — to the Energy Footprint Tool (EFT). Twenty-two diocesan synods have carried or are planning to debate a net-zero motion, and 23 have either registered or planned to register as an eco diocese. Birmingham, Bristol, CoventryGuildfordLeedsLiverpoolSt Edmundsbury & IpswichSalisbury, and Winchester have achieved Bronze status.

The Church’s current carbon footprint is described as “very significant”. A baseline study in 2012 found that it created between 600,000 and one million tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent: the standard measure of greenhouse-gas emissions. That figure was purely for energy, and did not include transport, water, waste, and purchases.

Heating accounted for more than 80 per cent of church energy use. Purely electric heating has, on average, a lower net-carbon footprint than gas or oil, and the Synod papers make practical recommendations for reducing both energy use and carbon transmission. The lowest tier of these are “actions that nearly all churches can benefit from, even low-occupancy churches only used on a Sunday. They are relatively easy, with relatively fast pay back. They are a good place for churches to start.”

These include attention to maintenance and draught-proofing; switching to 100-per-cent renewable energy on a “green tariff”, perhaps through the parish buying scheme; replacing light bulbs and floodlights with LEDs; writing an energy-efficient procurement policy; making a commitment to renewable electric and A+++ rated appliances; and offsetting small remaining amounts of energy with a contribution to community projects in the developing world.

At the other end of the scale are the main “Only if” projects, such as the installation of ground-source heat-pumps, likely to be done only as part of a reordering.

Included in the 2030 target are churches, cathedrals, church halls, and ancillary buildings; Royal Peculiars; theological education institutions; clergy housing; voluntary aided schools and diocesan academy trusts; and church bodies’ offices and diocesan properties. It also includes all work-related travel by clergy, staff, and volunteers.

A further phase of work from 2030 includes all emissions from large building projects; emissions from the farming and management of church lands, and all emissions from products bought, such as paper and printing; downstream emissions from waste disposal; emissions from building contractors; and carbon generated from use of emails and the internet in work-related contexts. All these are said to be “within our influence to a significant degree”.

Those acknowledged to be out of the scope of the target, “but still within our mission to influence”, include greenhouse-gas emissions for which worshippers and visitors are responsible, and schools that are fully controlled by local authorities.

The PCC and congregations of two rural churches, St Michael’s, Baddesley Clinton, a small building south of Birmingham, and St Michael and All Angels, Withington, in the Cotswolds, are highlighted for their recent work. The church at Baddesley Clinton, which has no gas or running water, is now carbon-neutral after the installation of under-pew heating, which heats a bubble of air round the pew rather than the whole church space.

It has halved its energy consumption by switching to a renewable-energy supplier; has replaced all light bulbs with LEDs; and offsets to climate stewards the travel associated with people coming to church. The Rector, the Revd Patrick Gerard, who is also the diocese of Birmingham’s environmental adviser, describes his PCC as “not an eco-warrior PCC at all, but very practical”. The LEDs had been “an easy win”, and the congregation were now warm. The old wall heaters had been retained, “but we now have the confidence not to use them.”

OTHER STORIES

Climate battle must start right now, says bishop

THE Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop on environmental issues, is writing to all bishops and diocesan secretaries this week, in response to the target set at the General Synod last week to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero by 2030

The church in Withington, in Gloucester diocese, was believed to be the first to become carbon-neutral, in 2010, when a biomass boiler, solar panels, and LEDs were installed (News, 1 October 2010). Although the biomass boiler worked, it was simply a boiler replacement, and did not change the the number of radiators. Loading it with wooden pellets became an onerous task for a small core of people.

Pew heaters have been installed, and have made a fundamental difference to comfort levels, besides maintaining zero-carbon credentials, it has been reported. Residual electricity is bought from renewable sources.

The project leader, Matt Fulford, said on Tuesday, “Different people will view the project in different ways. You’ve got those viewing it as a very positive environmental project; others take a treasurer’s view that sees it as as a very positive financial project; and a third view it as a success because of the comfort element. It is now a very usable building which is enjoyable to be in; so it’s a missional view in being able to serve its core purpose better. It’s lovely when all three of these come together.”

Also the General Synod “jobs to be done”

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-11/GS%20Misc%201262%20EWG%20update.pdf

Net Zero2030

1. The energy use of our buildings;
 Gas, oil, or other fuel use
 Electricity purchased (no matter the source it is purchased from – renewable
electricity purchased is accounted for later)
 For the following buildings;
• Churches, including church halls and ancillary buildings.
• Cathedrals (and …..l  the precinct)
• Schools where the DBE has a significant degree of influence (generally
Voluntary Aided & Diocesan Academy Trusts) including halls/other buildings
• Clergy housing,
• Church bodies’ offices

• Other diocesan property, including common parts of tenanted properties
• Theological Education Institutions
 Including the “well to tank” and “transmission and distribution” factors involved
in getting energy to the building.
 Note: Electricity used to charge EV vehicles will be included within the above.
2. All work-related travel

3. From this, and on the understanding that real reductions in energy use have been
made, the following can be removed:
 Excess energy generated on site (e.g. from solar PV) and exported to the grid
 100% renewable electricity purchased either from the Green Energy Basket
or agreed companies, reviewed annually, having regard to the criteria used
by the Big Church Switch
 Green gas [certification approach still t.b.d.]
 Other reliable offsetting schemes,

After2030

4. All the emissions from major building projects (
5. Emissions generated from the farming / management of Church land (including
church yards, unless fully controlled by local councils, and glebe land) less emissions
sequestered through the farming / management of Church land (such as tree
planting, soil improvement, and other nature-based solutions) *
6. All the emissions (including upstream process & transport) from the procurement of
any items we buy (e.g. pews for churches, paper & printing for offices, new cars for
bishops, catering for events)
7. Upstream and downstream emissions from water and drainage
8. Downstream emissions from waste disposal
9. Emissions from building contractors, plumbers, electricians and the like
10. Carbon generated from use of emails and the internet in work-based contexts
11. Diocesan investments, if they are a material amount
12. Air-conditioning gasses
In standard Greenhouse Gas definitions, these are those parts of our “Scope 3“ emissions
which are within our influence to a significant degree.
* To be specifically reviewed in 2022, with the potential to bring them into scope of the
2030 target, only after consultation, and if feasible methodologies have been developed
 NOT INCLUDED IN TARGET

13. Travel of staff and clergy to and from their usual place of work or ministry
14. The travel of the public to and from church, school, and church events.
15. Clergy family’s & residents’ GHG emissions (consumer goods, travel, holidays). The
energy used to heat and light the housing, if over the average reasonable use above.
16. Personal GHG emissions from the lives of worshippers attending church, other
church users (such as people attending a choir or playgroup), and overseas visitors
17. Schools over which we have very limited influence (generally Voluntary Controlled
Schools which are fully controlled by Local Authorities)
In standard Greenhouse Gas definitions, see below, these are either out of our scope or
are scope 3 but largely outside our influence.

Click to access GS%20Misc%201262%20EWG%20update.pdf

dff

The plot against fracking

I’m not supposed to agree with Matt Ridley!! Or else I’m not green.

However having followed fracking in the UK all this decade I struggle to disagree with what Ridley has written here

I totally agree with what he says about GMOs and not the opposition to them by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Christian Aid and ER.

I waver a bit about the Russian connection but…………

Protesters at Cuadrilla’s Blackpool site (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The plot against fracking

How cheap energy was killed by Green lies and Russian propaganda

The first coffee house in Marseilles opened in 1671, prompting the city’s vintners to recruit a couple of professors at the University of Aix to blacken their new competitor’s reputation. They duly got one of their students to write a pamphlet claiming coffee was a vile foreign novelty made from a tree favoured by goats and camels. It burned the blood, dried the kidneys and attracted the lymph, inducing palsies and impotence. “From all of which we must necessarily conclude that coffee is hurtful to the greater part of the inhabitants of Marseilles.”

Thus does novelty run up against vested interests. Today similar pseudoscience is used to blacken the reputation of almost any new development. Usually, as was the case with coffee, the campaign fails. But these days the anti-innovation forces have deep pockets and few scruples and have won some big battles. We now know that the opposition to genetically modified crops in Europe has resulted in more pesticide use than would otherwise have been the case, yet that opposition was very profitable for the big green pressure groups.

They fanned the flames of opposition, coining terms such as “Frankenfood”, and nimbly hopped from one fear to the next as each myth was busted: biotechnology was going to poison people, damage ecosystems, cause allergies, impoverish small farmers, boost corporate profits, and so on. They turned Monsanto into a pantomime villain and forced it to contemplate a strategy (making plants that could not breed true so the plants could not spread in the wild) that activists then criticised as a “terminator technology” designed to prevent small farmers saving seed, thus forcing them to rely on Monsanto.

 

Eventually, the issue lost its ability to yield donations and media interest, so the green business blob moved on. As Mark Lynas, a prominent anti-GM campaigner, now ruefully admits: “We permanently stirred public hostility to GMO foods throughout pretty much the entire world, and — incredibly — held up the previously unstoppable march of a whole technology. There was only one problem with our stunningly successful worldwide campaign. It wasn’t true.”

Cameron’s government projected gas prices would either rise fast, medium or slow – In fact they fell

More than a decade later, environmentalists hit upon another money spinner: opposition to fracking. When the shale gas revolution first came along, some environmentalists welcomed it, and rightly so. It “creates an unprecedented opportunity to use gas as a bridge fuel to a twenty-first-century energy economy that relies on efficiency, renewable sources, and low-carbon fossil fuels such as natural gas,” wrote Senator Tim Wirth, a prominent environmentalist. And so it has proved: the country that adopted shale gas first and most — the United States — is the country that lowered its carbon dioxide emissions first and most, because gas displaced coal, a much higher-carbon fuel.

But then the vested interests got to work. Renewable energy promoters panicked at the thought of cheap and abundant gas. Their business model was predicated on the alleged certainty that prices would rise as fossil fuels ran out, making subsidised wind and solar power look comparatively cheap. David Cameron’s coalition government produced three projections about what might happen to gas prices: that they would rise fast, medium or slow. In fact they fell, a possibility the government had entirely ignored.

It is hard to recall now just how sure almost everybody was in 2008 that natural gas was running out. Its price had risen as gas fields in North America and the North Sea began to run dry. Peak gas was coming even sooner than peak oil or peak coal. Yet in the suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas, something was stirring. Engineer Nick Steinsberger, working for a company called Mitchell Energy, tried different ways to fracture shale rocks deep underground so that the gas would flow. Hydraulic fracturing had been invented the 1940s, generally using petroleum gels, but it did not work in shale, which contained an enormous amount of gas and oil. Nobody much minded you pumping gels down into rocks in those days. After all, the rocks themselves are — by definition — already soaked in toxic mixtures of oil and gas.

Steinsberger noticed water worked a bit better than gel. In 1998, he tried sending water down first, then some sand to prop open the cracks and — whoosh! — out came a lot of gas. And it kept on coming. “Slick-water fracking” had been invented, using far fewer chemicals than previous methods, allowing vast shale reserves around the world to be exploited.

Most experts said shale gas was a flash in the pan and would not much affect global supplies. They were wrong. By 2011 America’s declining gas output shot up and oil soon followed suit. The US has now overtaken Russia as the biggest gas producer in the world, and Saudi Arabia as the biggest oil producer. Cheap gas brought a stream of chemical companies rushing back from Europe and the Persian Gulf to manufacture in America. Gas import terminals were rebuilt as gas export terminals. The Permian basin in Texas alone now produces as much oil as the whole of the US did in 2008, and more than any Opec country except Iran and Saudi Arabia. This — not wind and solar which still provide only 2 per cent of world primary energy — is the big energy story of the past decade.

One country that should have taken sharp notice is Britain. As late as 2004 Britain was a gas exporter, but as North Sea production declined it rapidly became a big net importer, dependent on Norway, Qatar or Russia. As Britain was paying far more for its gas than America, that meant that our huge chemical industry was gradually moving out.

Russia Today television ran endless anti-fracking stories, including one that “frackers are the moral equivalent of paedophiles”

Fortunately, it then emerged that Britain has one of the richest and thickest seams of shale: the Bowland shale across Lancashire and Yorkshire contains many decades of supply. Fracking it would mean drilling small holes down about one mile, then cracking the rocks with millimetre-wide fractures and catching the gas as it flowed out over the next few decades. Experience in America showed this could be done without any risk of contaminating ground water, which is near the surface, or threatening buildings. The seismic tremors that have caused all the trouble are so slight they could not possibly do damage and were generally far smaller than those from mining, construction or transport. The well pads would be hundreds of times smaller than the concrete bases of wind farms producing comparable amounts of energy.

Still, friends of the earth, which is effectively a multinational environmental business, spotted a chance to make hay. Despite being told by the Advertising Standards Authority to withdraw misleading claims about shale gas, it kept up a relentless campaign of misinformation, demanding more delay and red tape from all-too-willing civil servants.

foe-leaflet-coverfracking-sand

Poor Bosworth was shown up on the BBC by claiming sand was the carcinogen, hence the seaside meme , more here from the culprits of the complaint on FoE! https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/friends-of-the-earth-fck-it-up/

The industry, with Cuadrilla fated to play the part of Monsanto, agreed to ridiculously unrealistic limits on what kinds of tremors they were allowed after being promised by the government that the limits would be changed later — a promise since broken. Such limits would stop most other industries, even road haulage, in their tracks.

The Russians also lobbied behind the scenes against shale gas, worried about losing their grip on the world’s gas supplies. Unlike most conspiracy theories about Russian meddling in Western politics, this one is out there in plain sight. The head of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the Russians, as part of a sophisticated disinformation operation, “engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations — environmental organisations working against shale gas — to maintain Europe’s dependence on imported Russian gas”.

The Centre for European Studies found that the Russian government has invested $95 million in NGOs campaigning against shale gas. Russia Today television ran endless anti-fracking stories, including one that “frackers are the moral equivalent of paedophiles”. The US Director of National Intelligence stated that “RT runs anti-fracking programming … reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability.” Pro-Russian politicians such as Lord Truscott (married to a Russian army colonel’s daughter) made speeches in parliament against fracking.

As night follows day, Tory politicians lost courage and slipped into neutrality then opposition

No scare story was too far-fetched to be taken up and amplified. Tap water would catch fire (no: though it’s a natural phenomenon in some places in America where gas naturally contaminates ground water). There would be significant gas leaks (no: there are more gas leaks from natural sources and pipelines). The water that comes out of the well is dangerously radioactive (no: it is not). Fracking uses a lot of water (a lot less than farming). And so on. The unelected quangocracy that runs these things on behalf of taxpayers, mainly in the form of the Environment Agency, appeared at times to be taking its instructions directly from Friends of the Earth. So, of course, did the BBC.

The endless delays imposed by regulators played into the hands of shale gas’s opponents, giving them time to organise more and more protests, which were themselves ways of getting on the news and hence getting more donations. Never mind that few locals in Lancashire wanted to join the protests: plenty of upper-middle class types could be bussed in from the south.

As night follows day, Tory politicians lost courage and slipped into neutrality then opposition, worrying about what posh greens might think, rather than working-class bill-payers and job-seekers. A golden opportunity was squandered for Britain to get hold of home-grown, secure, cheap and relatively clean energy. We don’t need fossil fuels, the politicians thought, we’re going for net zero in 2050! But read the small print, chaps: the only way to have zero-emission transport and heating, so says the Committee on Climate Change, is to use lots of hydrogen. And how do they say most of the hydrogen is to be made? From gas.

After genetically modified crops and fracking, what innovation will be next to get stopped in its tracks by vested interests? Vaping, I reckon. It’s an open secret that the pharmaceutical industry pours money into anti-vaping campaigns because the technology is a threat to their lucrative nicotine patches and gums, which they have been getting doctors to prescribe to smokers trying to quit for years. Unlike e-cigarettes, which are the most effective aids to quitting yet found, Big Pharma’s products don’t work very well. So they are worried. Next time you hear somebody arguing that e-cigarettes (like coffee) burn the blood, dry the kidneys and attract the lymph, ask who benefits.

 

During the past few weeks Extinction Rebellion has been active in cities all over the world. Here in Britain the focus is on London where many streets have been blocked and over 1000 arrested.

On the church side various Christian Green groups have been active and three bishops have taken part, including Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool. This blog both re-blogs and discusses Bayes’ blog The Rainbow of Non-violent Advocacy

On thursday 17th October tube trains were stopped at Canning Town to the chagrin of commuters. There were ugly scenes and protesters  were pulled off the roof of the train and roughed up. The scene was ugly, but commuters were stopped getting to work.  Here Christian Climate Action were highly involved and among arrestees were an Anglican and Catholic priest.

Enough of this which fills the news, and before discussing Bayes’ blog , here is something about me.

I consider myself an environmentalist (though some would deny me that now), but cannot say when it started as my parents gave me a love of nature and the countryside, especially mountains. That led to me changing from studying chemistry to geology and then working for a mining company in Africa. There I became more aware of environmental issues (although my company was pretty good on the environment compared to some recent horror stories.) and as I trained for the ministry I found virtually nothing on a Christian view of the environment until Sam Berry wrote a little booklet and Bp Hugh Montefiore tried to make an impact.

At that time I was in Friends of the Earth, anti-nuclear, pro-organic and voted Ecology in in 1979. Then no one opposed coal, possibly because E F Schumacher (with whose sons I went to school) was the green guru and he was pro-coal and anti-nuclear. I only used my bike in the parish.  It was my eccentricity! Moving to a vicarage in 1980 I practiced wildlife gardening. One disappointment was visiting the Centre of Alternative Technology in Wales. I was not impressed by the poor engineering of their alternative technology – at that time I ran Morris Minors and swapped engines, gearboxes, wings, doors and – woodwork. My ultimate was when a Minor conked out on the Galibier Pass. We were off again in five minutes.

There was no interest in the environment in the diocese of Liverpool and in 1982 I brought it up on the Board of Social Responsibility. I was met with stony silence and never made it to the minutes!

From the late 1980s the reality of Climate Change became clearer but took a decade to become generally accepted. Some, especially American evangelicals rejected it, and I wrote about that in my book Evangelicals and Science (2008) and then in Religion in environmental and Climate change https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/07/10/evangelicals-and-climate-change-1990-to-2011/  I finished it on the day a tremor was caused by fracking 10 miles away, which I did not feel. At the time I was hostile to fracking, but started to research it in depth after reading a Green Party leaflet in 2012. What it said about earthquakes was laughable and thus I did not vote Green as I intended!! I started to research fracking and soon found the immense inaccuracies from Green groups, which were swallowed by Christian environmentalists. Having a geological background did not help me!

Since then I’ve been concerned at the total bias of so many Christians on the environment, or usually only climate change, who seem to have replaced the apocalyptic scenario of Dispensationalism with a climate apocalypse. That I cannot buy into. (I suppose I ought to say that I consider Climate Change a serious issue, which needs addressing on many fronts, rather than just Divestment.)

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

Enough of me and so to Bishop Paul Bayes.

He begins with his protesting with CND in the 1980s, rather like Rowan Williams at that time.

He speaks of a rainbow of responses from the backroom girl to the activist

Within the rainbow some work quietly and unobtrusively to influence political and other leaders with facts, evidence, scholarship, quiet wisdom, nuance. Others will follow the advice of an editor of the Economist: “Simplify, then exaggerate”, crafting messages which motivate the heart and lead people to take a stand, and proclaiming them clearly and very loudly.

Facts and evidence are essential on any issue, as without them one is liable to talk nonsense or worse, and be intentionally or unintentionally, dishonest. That may be the scientist and historian in me coming out, but there is always the one ugly fact that can destroy one’s case. I reckon those ugly facts are the best facts of all. On climate change the evidence is paramount. Once a researcher or activist comes out with false facts, they lose credibility.

Bayes’ second one “Simplify, then exaggerate” is very dubious. Yes, things must be put over simply, but exaggeration is no better than dishonesty, and too many activists have fallen foul of this, like Hallam’s claim that 6 billion people will die of Climate Change by 2100. Proclaiming a lie clearly and very loudly is doomed to failure, and is liable to result in less action over Climate Change. It has emotional appeal, but it is wrong to convince people of the dangers of extinction and death, when they are not there.

And so he writes

 “In the case of Extinction Rebellion the messages and demands are suitably loud and clear (See https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/demands/):

  • Tell the truth (and declare a climate emergency)
  • Act now (and move to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025)
  • Go beyond politics (and establish a citizens’ assembly to focus the practical steps)

The details of these demands are of course open to debate

And so to consider these three points

  • Tell the truth (and declare a climate emergency)

Sadly Extinction Rebellion is prone to exaggeration. Hallam’s 6 billion deaths is a good example from a founder of ER. We also see it as people, especially the young, are reduced to tears as they fear they will not get to old age.

I have not found ER good at telling the truth. In time this will backfire to the detriment of the planet.

  • Act now (and move to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025)

I would say we should have acted 20 years ago and in fact most governments have. The progress since 2000 has been considerable but needs more. I can’t expand on that here.

The second part to move to Net Zero by 2025 is simply impossible, – 2050 is possible but not 2025. There is simply not the technology in place or available for 2025. To reach Net Zero by 2025 would mean us reducing energy consumption by a good 80%, as there are no Net Zero alternatives available now. It would mean that nearly all homes would have their heating stripped out, with nothing to replace. That would increase deaths from hypothermia.

Slightly flippantly could I suggest that Liverpool diocese gives an example and follow this timetable so the diocese is Net Zero by 2025. The timetable –

mid-2020 all clergy and employees should stop using cars

mid-2021 all vicarages must stop using fossil fuels for heating (est cost £26,000 per house to provide alternatives. That would be about £4 million)

mid-2022  all churches should stop using fossil fuels for heat.  (another £10 million)

mid-2023 all churches and vicarage must get off mains water , as that is dependant on fossil fuels for distribution AND chlorine for sterilisation – the Cl is made in Widnes using natural gas by Ineos.

This is clearly impossible and is a daft suggestion, but illustrates the impossibility of Net Zero by 2025. Realism is needed as well a naive hope.

  • Go beyond politics (and establish a citizens’ assembly to focus the practical steps)

This is a total rejection of all our democratic structures, and a citizens’ assembly sounds more like a separate political organisation to which most people would not have a say. There is something dark and dictatorial about ER.

The whole talk of DEMANDS is anything but democratic.

Image result for system change not climate change

The unwitting message of this banner is that ER is not about Climate change but a rejection of any form of Social Democracy and capitalism. (yes, Capitalism can and does go wrong, summed up by Ted Heath in the 70s on Lonrho “the unacceptable face of capitalism.” Capitalism needs regulating, with regulations continually brought up to date , not rejecting it out right.) One does not have to look far to find arguments for System Change.

 

And so he concludes.

If you’re a Christian then, in matters of the future of the planet, in all matters of justice and peace, will you listen for the voice of the triune God who loves you, the voice of the Holy Spirit within you who comforts and provokes you? Will you take your stand within the rainbow of non-violent advocacy? And if you will, where will you stand?

I am very uneasy with his conclusion as it invokes Christian discipleship (which is much needed) but implies, if it does not state, that if you disagree with this you are not a faithful Christian. In other words, if one rejects what Bayes says, one is not listening to God. That is offensive and will alienate many Christians. It is rather like extreme evangelicals who insist you believe in the inerrancy of the bible and, for some, creation 10,000 years ago. Many will simply dismiss what he says and carry on turning up the heating rather than putting on a sweater.  (I write this in a cosy fleece.)

At this pointPaul Bayes seems to present a very exclusive view of Christianity, whereby those who don’t stand with his views on ER and the environment are somehow outside the fold. Have normally been a contender for an Inclusive church here he does the exact opposite. Anyone who works in fossil fuels, mining, much of energy are those excluded from the rainbow. I can name some who are in that position, and feel their church involvement under question.

I am only too aware that many Christians and others have little or muted environmental concern, but this will only make them less concerned.

Just focussing on churches, we will find many (most?) are not bothered by Climate Change and the actions of ER will make them less so as seen in response at Camden tube station.

As David Sheppard, former Bishop of Liverpool, told me in his study years ago, to argue in such a 100% /0% way means than many will reject what you have to say, but a 60%/40% will persuade your hearers/readers of a little.

However if protesters went out ,put on a fleece, turn off the tap while brushing their teeth or planting trees in their garden or churchyard, instead of stopping people at work that would be a big step in the right direction for the climate.

Recently the Bishop of London has written a fine, gently encouraging and challenging, letter to her diocese. I doubt if her readers will get arrested protesting, or swearing about extremism, but are liable to say, “Mmmm, I think she has a point.” Suggestive ideas can eat away over time, and change people. A bloody nose does not.

https://www.london.anglican.org/articles/letter-from-the-bishop-of-london-taking-action-in-response-to-climate-change/

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

via The Rainbow of Non-violent Advocacy

by the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool and Chair of the Ozanne Foundation

my-name-is-paul

Last Thursday I stood with a number of colleagues, lay and ordained, as part of the Christian Climate Action contribution to the Extinction Rebellion protests in London. We read from the book of Revelation In Trafalgar Square, standing in front of the National Gallery, surrounded by people of all faiths and none who were taking their stand together to form part of this extraordinary non-violent direct action movement.

I was not arrested, though I could have been. Some of my ordained colleagues there had been arrested the previous day, and a great many Christians have been arrested before and since, just a few of the 2600+ people (at the time of writing) who have taken their protest to the point of loss of liberty. Without violence they break the law and they face the music. And who are we to judge?

On the way to Trafalgar Square I passed Downing Street and Admiralty Arch, two of the several places where I myself had been arrested in the 1980s, over 35 years ago. At that time it was my great privilege to be a national co-chair of Christian CND, and to have been able to take a stand on the wide rainbow of non-violent advocacy which wanted to see nuclear weapons banned, within the still wider rainbow that seeks to change the world for the better in any way. That was around the time of the “Church and the Bomb” report. I spent time lobbying the General Synod and arguing with bishops, and I spent time in the cells at Cannon Row police station. All that advocacy felt like one seamless thing to me.

And the arguments used against Extinction Rebellion last week were also familiar to me, since the same things had been said to me whenever I sat in the road, or chained myself to railings, or prayed persistently outside a US base, or otherwise took action all those years ago. “Isn’t this just ridiculous middle-class posturing?” “Aren’t you just messing about?” “Do you really think that these protests will change policy – will change anything at all?”

All these are fair questions, but they miss the point. The point is that non-violent advocacy is a wide, wide rainbow, and each colour in it has its place, and it would be foolish to assume that no part of it makes or will make a difference. It’s a matter of diversity, as St Paul understood very well when he spoke of the body and its different parts.

The advocacy of Mahatma Gandhi or of Dr Martin Luther King took its place within this diverse, non-violent, world-changing rainbow. Within the rainbow some work quietly and unobtrusively to influence political and other leaders with facts, evidence, scholarship, quiet wisdom, nuance. Others will follow the advice of an editor of the Economist: “Simplify, then exaggerate”, crafting messages which motivate the heart and lead people to take a stand, and proclaiming them clearly and very loudly.

In the case of Extinction Rebellion the messages and demands are suitably loud and clear (See https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/demands/):

  • Tell the truth (and declare a climate emergency)
  • Act now (and move to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025)
  • Go beyond politics (and establish a citizens’ assembly to focus the practical steps)

The details of these demands are of course open to debate, and so are some of the tactical choices made about where and how to protest and what to disrupt. But when it comes to the future of the planet the rainbow of advocacy needs XR, just as it nees Greta Thunberg and the school strikes. The urgency of the climate crisis means that nuanced debate between sophisticated grown-ups is not enough, as the famous sculpture by Isaac Cordal, “Waiting for climate change”, makes clear:

Waiting for Climate Change

All this is personal. It bears in on each one of us, as Bishop Rowan Williams knows. Writing in the afterword to the XR manual “This Is Not A Drill” [1], he has this to say:

“To put it very directly: it is worth changing our habits of consumption, the default settings for our lifestyle, the various kinds of denial and evasion of bodily reality that suit us, the fantasies of limitless growth and control, simply because there are healthy and unhealthy ways of living in this universe.

To go on determinedly playing the trumpet in a string quartet is a recipe for frustration and collapse and conflict. There are ways of learning to live better, to make peace with the world. Learn them anyway: they will limit the disease and destruction; they may even be seeds for a future we can’t imagine…

It just might work.”

And as a person of faith he says:

“In the Book of Proverbs, in the Hebrew Scriptures, the divine wisdom is described as ‘filled with delight’ at the entire world which flows from that wisdom. For me as a religious believer, the denial or corruption of that delight is like spitting in the face of the life-giving Word who is to be met in all things and all people…”

And he ends by saying:

“Anger, love and joy may sound like odd bedfellows, but these are the seeds of a future that will offer life – not success, but life.”

So what? Well, with all this in mind, there is a question for you who are reading this. On this matter – the future of the planet – and indeed on any other matter of justice and peace, will you take your stand within the rainbow of non-violent advocacy? And if you will, where will be the right place, the best place, for you yourself to stand?

Of course some approaches stand outside any non-violent advocacy rainbow. On one side is the assumption that no advocacy is necessary at all, or perhaps that advocating is so naïve as to be pointless, or perhaps that we can’t be bothered – that other people will engage with it and so we won’t have to. And on the other side, the assumption that only violence will change things, or that if we feel we must break the law, then having broken the law, no consequences should or must be faced.

Neither of these approaches was taken by Mahatma Gandhi, or by Dr King. As they engaged with the issues of justice that lay before them, each one understood the spectrum of advocacy and operated across it; at times pragmatic, at times prophetic. Jesus too spoke highly of the law and also acted in ways that challenged it, reaching out to the excluded. In words of the Lutheran Gordon Lathrop that so often speak to my own heart, “…we are speaking of the biblical, historic Christ who eats with sinners and outsiders, who is made a curse and sin itself for us, who justifies the ungodly, and who is himself the hole in any system”.

Jesus lived with urgency, for the times were urgent. The times for us too are urgent, as indeed they have always been.

If you’re a Christian then, in matters of the future of the planet, in all matters of justice and peace, will you listen for the voice of the triune God who loves you, the voice of the Holy Spirit within you who comforts and provokes you? Will you take your stand within the rainbow of non-violent advocacy? And if you will, where will you stand?

 

Paul Bayes is Bishop of Liverpool

[1] Extinction Rebellion, “This Is Not A Drill”, Penguin Books 2019

 

 

Fracking Porkies at Cuadrilla’s Site at Preston New Road

The other day I went to the entrance of the Cuadrilla site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool. Unlike previous occasions there were no protestors there, though their photographer was walking up the the road and then took photos of me. Earlier the vestal virgins had been there as they are every Wednesday!

Hence I could wander around without being sworn at by the ladies present or interviewed by some clown thrusting a phone into my face.

Here are my photos with comments

P1000838

Here we go “No social licence” – whatever that means. The appeal gets boring and usually it means they have consulted protestors!

As for  “Renewable energy requires no conflict” that is face-palming. Each method causes conflict over the environment as wind, water and solar all have an environmental price to pay, whether threats to moorlands, valuable land submerged or simply the mining to extract metals needed.

As for people the conflict is there, whether loss of land for production, the visual impact etc. The protestors ignored the conflict over a wind farm at St Michaels, 10 miles from PNR, a few years ago – and other objections to wind and solar farms

P1000839

Fracking , like other industries, including farming, does use vast amounts of water, so what is the difference?

To say that after fracking the water is highly contaminated is an exaggeration. Of course it is not suitable for drinkng  or for agriculture, but neither is what you flush down your loo, unless you like cholera.

After fracking the flowback water cleaned up to Environmental standards, just  like your piss and pooh.

More less than honest scaremongering

PNR 181026 Ros Wills

This is absurd beyond words

P1000840

What about the 100s of toxic chemicals? That is perfectly true and were itemised in a paper some 10 years ago listing all chemicals which HAD been  used in fracking. Note the PAST tense and these are what HAVE been used in the past , not what are being used today. Today the fluid is 99% water, some sand and a few chemicals like surficants, which are used in many applications.

This is a dishonest and misleading claim.

It is a honest as saying lead is added to petrol (as tetra-ethyl lead) which was withdrawn in the 90s after Claire Petterson proved it to be dangerous

One could also mention National Benzole, a fuel for cars up to the 60s which was rich in benzole or benzol – a coal-tar product consisting mainly of benzene and toluene. It was withdrawn for health reasons in the 60s.

https://www.davidicke.com/article/472397/fracking-madness

The poster claims that the chemicals contaminate drinking water. Again that is duplicitous as the mixture if spilt could contaminate water, or rather water courses not water supply.

Of course the aim is to release methane as that is the point of fracking for gas. But any methane lost represents a loss of the product desired.

And the usual onEarthquakes!!!! Good scaremongering here as most don’t grasp how tiny they are.

P1000841

Form what I’ve seen on the Fylde it is the protestors who are good at destroying communities!!

 

P1000842

This poster is very challenging and the substance of many calls for divestment.

However it represents a gross misreading of the paper produces by researchers at University College, London, who argued, with good justification that;

  • 80% of  coal reserves need to be left in the ground
  • 50% of gas reserves
  • 30% of oil reserves

That is very different from saying 80% of fossil fuels must be left in the ground.

Many green groups do this, including Christian Aid. Frankly it demonstrates either gross incompetence or blatant dishonesty

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

 

This raises some serious questions.

Why do the protestors  put up such inaccurate nonsense?

Why don’t they check out their facts?

Are they simply clueless or dishonest?

If it were a bunch of swampies with little knowledge then one could make allowances, but these protests are supported by the supposedly informed;

  • Prof Mike Berners-Lee of Lancaster Univ has supported them. That removes any credibility from his writings
  • Various  MPs MEPs and Cllrs from the Green Party and Labour, not to mention those from Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace
  • John Ashton OBE
  • and others who cannot hide behind being uneducated.

Why did they not criticise the inaccuracies of both these displays and the content of the material put out by these anti-frackers? (They could have commented on the stuff at Maple Farm too.)

dscf6024006

There doesn’t seem much desire for an accurate and dispassionate portrayal of fracking

And so we can consider Extinction Rebellion with their clarion call of

TELL THE TRUTH

This stuff at Preston New Road  is the opposite of telling the truth, but so is much anti-fracking propaganda.