Category Archives: greenpeace

Evolutions in Trust, Part 2: Blockchain (Citizen) Science

The serious problem of citizen science, when so often measurements are made by thosue who haven’t a clue

The Risk-Monger

In Part 1 of this blockchain series, the idea of “blockchain trust” was introduced. We no longer trust our experts, institutions and authorities but will happily get into a car with a stranger or rent out our sofa-bed to people we have never met based on widely shared reviews, believed to be transparent and objective. This is the world of blockchain trust – where everyone is watching and reviewing everyone else forming an anonymous, decentralised consensus (chain) of affirmation. Authority is determined by all parts of the chain who participate (and are allowed) on the chain.

The Risk-Monger has long ago been voted off the island.

As most scientists have also been voted off (or given merely one voice among the chain), we need to focus on how this blockchain trust tool functions for environmental health policy decisions that should be evidence-driven. This is the purpose of Part…

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Fracking debate in Yorkshire, March 2018

  Fracking debate in Yorkshire

Fracking creates a stir in both Yorkshire and Lancashire. On March 8th there is to be a debate in Yorkshire between the local MP Kevin Holinrake and the expert engineer Mike Hill from Lancashire. For a debate you need an impartial chair who is not aligned to either postiion. That chairman is Bishop James Jones, who like me has long been concerned about the environment.
DEBATE EVENT “This house believes that UK regulations make fracking safe”
2 tickets per applicant

“This house believes that UK regulations make fracking safe”
Proposed by Kevin Hollinrake MP
Opposed by Michael Hill C.Eng. MIET
Chaired by Bishop James Jones KBE
Please note that tickets are restricted to 2 per applicant
Organised by Kirkbymoorside Town Council


I first heard Bishop Jones speak on the environment in about 2003, where he was introducing his book
It was good to see evangelicals in Lancashire being challenged on the environment, but I felt he was trying to draw too much out of the gospels.
I have considered environment for decades having read Carson’s Silent Spring in the 60s and when working for a mining company in Africa I could see many problems. In the 70s I found that churches were just not interested and in the early 80s the Board of social Responsibility in Jones’ future diocese of Liverpool ignored my request to put the environment on the agenda!
This is a brief and simple summary of my views on the environment

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

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

Bishop Jones has been recognised for his work on Hilsborough and has now retired to Yorkshire. He was interviewed for the Yorkshire Post in December 2017, where he also gave his very negative views on fracking
Here Bishop Jones makes clear his opposition to fracking

Image may contain: text


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

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

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

Hill makes a lot of charges againon Shale Gas and Fracking is to be found on his website Shale Gas Office.


was used by the Blackburn environment Group to show why the Flectcher/Holtham paper was misguided; Among other things nearly all the references Hill uses are his own UNPUBLISHED papers.
I do wonder whether the Bishop’s concern for regulation comes from Mr Hill

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

Jones along with 3 other retired bishops and numbers of clergy wrote this letter to the Guardian to divest from Exxon-mobil. There is not space here but some of the arguments are contentious and one-sided.

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

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

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


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

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

GMO EU action

and so;

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


Anyway ignore my rant and read Mark Lynas


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

Big oil stops selling oil

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

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

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy!

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

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

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


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


Additional updates:

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


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


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

Stay tuned for more updates…



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



IARC bombshell: WHO’s cancer agency ‘edited out’ draft findings glyphosate non-carcinogenic

co5erk4w8aafvlnI need to buy some more round-up as the best and safest weedkiller going. I was recommended it over 30 years ago by conservation groups.

This article and Reuters shows how some groups are manipulating the science on Round-up aka Glysphosphate and throwing in all the Monsanto did this nonsense


The World Health Organization’s cancer agency dismissed and edited findings from a draft of its review of the weedkiller glyphosate that were at odds with

Source: IARC bombshell: WHO’s cancer agency ‘edited out’ draft findings glyphosate non-carcinogenic

Why Christian Aid, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth & other NGOs are wrong to oppose GMOs. They will help starvation

I am baffled why so many NGOs who claim to care about starvation and malnutrition in the world should be so opposed to GMOs. It is as if they give with one hand and take with the other.


Meme made by Peter Hess, author of Catholics and Science.

The official policy of Christian Aid is hostile to GMOs, though slightly muted from 15 years ago. They seem unwilling to accept that MOs, Modifed Organisms, have enabled greater productivity in farming for millenia. Of course, this was at the whole animal or plant level as with Lord Delamere in Kenya in the days of Happy Valley. The local cattle were not very productive so he did experiments crossing local cattle with British ones and produced more productive cattle. GMO is only a scientific extension of selective breeding.

Thus we have GM papaya in Hawaii saving a devastated industry, yet  attempts to introduce golden rice have been thwarted.

It seems odd that these groups accept the science of climate change and then want to adopt extreme measures which will do more harm than good, yet reject the science of GMOs and do their damnedest to thwart them.

This article about Uganda brought it home to me, having spent nearly a year there many moons ago. As I was an exploration geologist I lived in the back of beyond, miles from anything like electricity. I mostly ate local and soon learnt how to find the local butcher. You went into a village or town, looked up to see where vultures were circling and then driving to be right below them. Sure enough there was a shacked with cows being hacked up. The waste bits were thrown outside and the vultures did their duty. The meat was cheap, but as I asked for no bones I paid twice the going rate. It was a bargain. However my workers could not afford meat. I had no fridge and once my “cow” went off, so my cook stewed it for himself. To him it was wonderful, but I will never forget the smell. My workers were better fed than most and I went past some “shambas” (subsistence allotments) were the food available was minimal.

Clearly more food is needed and agricultural research and innovation is needed.

This article describes anti-GM groups including   Climate Action Network-Uganda (CAN-U). This is part of the international  Climate Action Network, and members of the the Europe section include Friends of the Earth , Greenpeace, Christian Aid, tear Fund, RSPB, Oxfam and CAFOD.

What GMOs have to do with Climate Change I do not know.

However this is a serious matter and I wonder how many supported of the development NGOs I listed above are aware that they oppose scientifically base agricultural improvements.

I find it shocking.

The food and famine crisis is finally bringing to a head the clash between anti-GMO activists, mostly European based, and the science and farming communities.

Source: Uganda: From scorching drought to ravaging worms, poor pay the price for missing out on a biotech solution

Uganda: From scorching drought to ravaging worms, poor pay the price for missing out on a biotech solution




Over 1.3 Million Ugandans are experiencing some form of hunger as a result of prolonged drought that has caused massive crop failure leading to famine. Hardly had the sight of flourishing new crops brought hope to the subsistence hungry Ugandan households when the armyworms, a corn pest, struck. These worms are not the ordinary armyworms that come and go in a week. It is the fall armyworm, a type not seen before that causes extreme damage to a crop, more than the usual worms–attacking both the young shoots and the hardened leaves.

Billions of shillings from Uganda’s budget have been diverted to fighting hunger and now to controlling these worms. Government programs, for examples, elections of local leaders; and providing provisions of sanitary towels to poor girls to keep them at school have been suspended. Sections who feel aggrieved for the diversion of resources towards addressing hunger are pushing the government to the edge.

Drought tolerant crops perhaps could not have addressed the issues of prolonged drought but insect resistant transgenic maize is seen flourishing beside ravaged local maize varieties. The problem is that these resistant varieties are still confined in guarded fields because the Catargena Protocol that Uganda ratified demands there must be a biosafety law in place before farmers can access the insect resistant varieties. The Anti GMO activists have fought a battle to keep the legislators from enacting the biosafety law so that farmers may not access these “evil crops” that could save farmers from famine. Will Uganda be able to resist the activists’ assault designed to prevent the adoption of a regulatory framework.

Ugandan anti GMO activists and scientists agree on key clauses of the Biosafety Bill

Uganda is one of the leading biotechnology research companies in Africa. Despite years of research work by scientists, there has not been a comprehensive Biosafety law that would enable commercialization of GM products. The anti GM activists believed enactment of the law would open doors for GM cultivation–something they wouldn’t want. Most members of the activists group believed the bill was meant to promote GMOs and needed to be overhauled.

The committee of science and technologies of the Uganda’s Parliament has been collecting views of various stakeholders on the Biosafety Bill. After meeting the stakeholders they convened a meeting of both pro and anti GM activists, scientists, legislators and policy makers. The meeting was meant to generate consensus on key clauses of the bill.

The anti GM civil society organizations represented were: Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI); Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM); Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE); Pan-African Club; and Climate Action Network-Uganda (CAN-U).

The pro or neutral organizations included: National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO); Cotton Development Organization (CDO); National Environment Management Authority (NEMA); Makerere University; Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda (PSU); National Drug Authority (NDA); African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), Uganda National Council for Science and Technology Uganda Biotechnology (UNCST); and Uganda Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (UBBC).


The major areas that the anti GM activists had issues with included; the title of the bill, which they wanted changed from the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill; The Competent Authority to be different from the current one proposed in the draft bill, which is the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology; and the content of the bill to cover other forms of biotechnology other than GMOs; and labeling. The two sides agreed to maintain the title of the bill but that where there is GMO in the Bill should be replaced with Modern Biotechnology or targeted Biotechnology; to have the newly created Ministry of Science and Technology become a competent authority on issues of biosafety to oversee the National Biosafety Committee; the national Focal Point which acts as link between the country and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) would remain the Ministry of Environment.

Status of Uganda’s Biosafety law process

Uganda passed a national Biotechnology and Biosafetyy Policy in 2008with a main objective of harnessing benefits of biotechnology in all the sectors. Uganda then went on to draft regulatory framework 10 year later (2012). Since 2012 up to now, Ugandan legislators have not yet enacted this law and farmers cannot access the transgenic crops that could help address the current issues of drounght and insect. There has been several consultations and counter consultations on why Uganda should and should not embrace biotechnology. The role of collecting views have been that of the parliamentary committee for science and technology. These committees have done lots of consultations that included benchmarking with countries like Brazil, India and South Africa that have grown GM crops for years. There last activity on consultations was bridging the gap between issues that were being raised by those who thought the Biosafety Bill was so bad and was meant to promote all sorts of GM products.

Prime Ministers suggestions to activism challenges

Speaking at a the same consensus building roundtable meeting, the Prime Minister pointed out at the two major obstacles that are responsible for the delay of GM crops adoption: the Innocent Ignorant farmers and “Some groups who want Uganda to remain backward and dependent”. He continued to say the latter category’s dominance in Africa is threatened and that they do not wish Africa well.

Uganda’s premier’s suggested two solutions to these challenges. The solution to those that do not wish Uganda and Africa well was that Africa must be ready for such people and must confront and stop them. He however did not delve into how the “stopping” would be carried out. The ignorant innocent farmers are to be senstized.

Whether the Prime Minister will confront the issues by mobilizing members of his party which are a majority in the house will soon be seen, since the committee is ready with its report. The President has also on several occasions publicly endorsed the need to make biotech crops availability to farmers. As we wait for this, Over a million subsistence farmers are becoming hopeless as they see their crops eaten away by the unique armyworm. Their plight will eventually result in the reallocation of finances from other key sector like health and education, and is likely to cause both social and  political unrest.

Isaac Ongu is an agriculturist, science writer and an advocate for science based interventions in solving agricultural challenges in Africa. Follow Isaac on twitter @onguisaac