Tag Archives: Fracking

New British government: a step forward for climate strategy

The Government has come under harsh criticism from green NGOS eg FoE and the Green Party for getting rid of DECC. Here Stephen Tindale, formerly of Greenpeace argues that it is a “step forward”.

Like anything Stephen writes it is challenging to all sides, but he always makes one think.


( I copied this without permission but full acknowledgement!)


New British government: a step forward for climate



The UK no longer has a department with the words ‘climate change’ in its title. Climate policy is now the responsibility of a new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This could be seen as a downgrading of climate action – and has been condemned by some green groups. But I think it is a step forward.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was created by Gordon Brown in 2008, with Ed Miliband as its first Secretary of State. Before 2008 energy had been the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry, and climate change dealt with by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). So different parts of the ‘energy trilemma’ – economic, social and environmental – were in different departments. The economic argument usually trumped the decarbonisation debate. The social part tended to get overlooked.

Before yesterday’s reshuffle there was some speculation that prime minister May would return to this arrangement. She has not, which is a relief. Defra is not a powerful department within Whitehall. Andrea Leadsom, the new Defra secretary, is not a strong champion of decarbonisation (though not opposed, as her record as a minister at DECC demonstrates). She is too wedded to deregulation to deliver strong climate action. Moreover, climate change is not just an environmental issue: it affects health, the economy, foreign policy and much more.

DECC was also not a strong Whitehall department. Its first two years, under Ed Miliband, saw the passing of the UK Climate Change Act (though, to be fair, this had been initiated by David Miliband when he was Defra secretary), a Feed In Tariff for small scale renewables and a raft of sensible strategies. Then came the coalition, with the Lib Dems running DECC. David Cameron went to the DECC building on his first day in office and promised “the greenest government ever”. In terms of clean energy, Cameron delivered – at least while in coalition with the Lib Dems. Installed UK renewable capacity nearly tripled between 2010 and 2015.

However, many Tories came to resent DECC as ‘a Lib Dem fiefdom’. Chris Huhne, DECC secretary in the first years of the coalition, fought many battles with Tory Chancellor George Osborne, winning some but losing most. His successor Ed Davey took a less confrontational approach; his main political problem was the promise by Ed Miliband, by then Labour leader in opposition, to freeze energy bills if he became prime minister – leading Cameron, a previous supporter of decarbonisation, to try to ‘cut the green crap’.

After the 2015 general election, Tory DECC secretary Amber Rudd reduced renewables subsidies. This was justifiable, given falls in costs, but was done too fast. The Treasury under Osborne was putting substantial pressure on DECC to cut subsidies. Not to meet austerity targets – subsidies come from fuel tariffs not taxes so do not increase government debt. Not due to concern about fuel poverty. (If Osborne had such concern, he hid it very effectively.) The pressure was partly due to the wish to reduce industrial energy costs to improve competitiveness, and partly an ideological desire to have less intervention in the market. Meanhwhile DECC’s staff numbers were slashed, and many of the best officials left.

Greg Clark is less neoliberal than Osborne was. He is clearly on the left of the Conservative party; indeed he was a Social Democrat activist while at university. He was an effective shadow DECC secretary before 2010, taking a pragmatic approach and being willing to listen and learn. Clark’s new department is in charge of industrial strategy. Lib Dem Vince Cable spoke about industrial strategy when he was running the business department 2010-15, but his Tory successor Sajid Javid did not, wanting to leave pretty much everything to the market. An industrial strategy is necessary in order to deliver decarbonisation. If one thinks that names of departments matter (which I don’t particularly), having industrial strategy in the name of a strong department is more important than having climate change in the name of a weak one.

However, the new business department will only succeed if it is supported by those at the top of government. Theresa May has not been much involved in climate discussions: there is no great overlap with her previous portfolio of home affairs. But Carbon Brief has helpfully found two quotes.

In July 2006 she said:

“I welcome that the Government has responded to cross-party pressure to make it easier for homes in Maidenhead [May’s constituency] and across the country to install renewable energy like solar panels or mini-wind turbines. Where the Government offers positive, constructive and reasonable policies, they will have my support. But the Government could do far more to promote green energy, rather than giving unfair subsidies to new nuclear power stations. Conservatives want to enhance our environment by seeking a long-term cross-party consensus on sustainable development and climate change – instead of short-term thinking or surrendering to vested interests. The modern, compassionate Conservative Party believes that quality of life matters just as much as quantity of money.”

In December 2008 she said:

 “I am thrilled to see that after years of Conservative pressure, we have finally passed a necessary and ambitious piece of legislation on Climate Change. Britain is the first country in the world to formally bind itself to cut greenhouse emissions and I strongly believe this will improve our national and economic security. To stay reliant on fossil fuels would mean tying ourselves to increasingly unstable supplies which could endanger our energy security and the Climate Change and Energy Bills mark an important step for both the health of our economy and the health of our nation. It is now vital that we stick to these targets. I will continue to put pressure on the Government over the third runway at Heathrow as an extra 222,000 flights a year would undermine our national targets and seriously damage the health of the local community.”


So the new prime minister accepts the need to move away from fossil fuels. The Hinkley subsidy will be questioned – as it should be in my view. Other nuclear options would require less subsidy. A new runway at Heathrow looks unlikely. (A new runway at Gatwick would similarly undermine national carbon targets. That is a battle to come.)

Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary is a bizarre appointment. Perhaps May believes that giving him a serious job will make him grow up and lose his buffoon image. If so, I hope she’s right, but doubt it. Boris set ambitious decarbonisation targets as mayor of London, but did little to deliver them – and the targets were safely ‘not in my term of office’. And he has questioned human responsibility for climate change in some of his newspaper articles. So much growing up is needed.

New chancellor Philip Hammond gave some strong speeches on climate change in his previous role as Foreign Secretary, highlighting the economic and security advantages of leading the decarbonisation effort. For example, in November last year he said:

“For too long, we’ve allowed the debate about climate change to be dominated by purists and idealists – many of whom operate on the left of the political spectrum – who actively promote the notion that they and only they, have the answers to the climate challenge; and that we have to sacrifice economic growth and prosperity in order to meet it.

I reject those arguments. I reject them first of all because wanting to protect the world we inherit, to pass it on intact to the next generation is a fundamentally conservative instinct. As long ago as 1988 former Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher said, “the last thing we want is to leave environmental debts for our children to clear up… No generation has a freehold on this earth. All we have is a life tenancy – with a full repairing lease.”

And I reject those arguments secondly because I do not accept that we have to choose between our future prosperity and safeguarding the future of our planet. This is not a zero sum game. As conservatives, we choose both.”


I am not a Conservative, but I choose both too.


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Fracking Fun by Pinnochio

Well. petroleum products are so ungreen and we can see how fossil-fuel dependent the bicycle is;


So cheers to fracking


Fracking will destroy our countryside and will make it look like this – The Jonah gasfiled in Wyoming


This is what our countryside will look like


Hold on a mo! Jonah is not fracking of shale but tight gas from sandstone done before fracking for shale. A big porkie. This picture is simply deceitful



Just one snag – these are caused by wastewater injection not fracking – and the earthquake damage is from the Far East.




Whoops. Walport never said anything like that . It was said by a leftie prof from Sussex and misquoted by Adam Vaughan in the porkie Graudain


Now here are lots of misrepresentations of the effect of fracking on our water. The graphics do not give true scale so it seems that fracking takes place just below an aquifer. Mendacious






How do these parties compare to the Tories?


plaid cymru

This is nearer the truth showing actual fracking 8000ft below the surface. Frack cracks do not travel more than 1000ft upwards so still a mile off an aquifer



And the chemicals  – actually 99.5 5 water and a bit of sand and polyacrylamide. A drinkable mixture. The claim of 632 chemicals is what HAS been used in the past, not what are used even in the USA today.



Naughty Cuadrilla. Please count the porkies. They are easily counted but take longer to give details why they are porkies


A Blackpool college. An energy centre in the area of Britain with the highest unemployment……



How to intimidate academics. Yes, I have heard accounts of what has happened . It is not pleasant


Alleged health effects.




But smoking has no health effects


Experts like Mike Hill say fracking is dodgy


After all Blackpool will go under the sea. The effect of a few 6in holes 8000ft below surface


Mike hill’s office in Lytham

Hill under water

His misrepresentation of flares


and so the locals of Lancashire get hopelessly confused. I don’t blame the writer of the letter but I do blame those who have conned the people of Lancashire

Quake in Lancs

as does the sub-christian horror comic The Church Times.

It was a bishop who told me that the CT was a sub-christian horror comic


And now for more green shibboleths; – for light entertainment




Danger of GMO

Chemical-free organic food





Now here’s the result of a frack-free, organic, no-vaxxer  lifestyle.


Not for me , thanks







Is Pope Francis Pro-life? The Perplexing Silence ofLaudato Si’ on Human Overpopulation

Is Pope Francis Pro-life? The Perplexing Silence ofLaudato Si’ on Human Overpopulation

I nicked this blog of Peter hess from Huffpost http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-m-j-hess-phd/is-pope-francis-prolife-t_b_10709504.html

I am sure Peter wont mind

07/01/2016 02:47 pm ET | Updated 1 day ago
  • Peter M. J. Hess, Ph.D. Theology for a Sustainable Future
  • A year after the highly anticipated publication of Laudato Si’ I continue to ask myself, “Is Pope Francis really pro-life?” That was my first question on reading through his lengthy encyclical letter a year ago. The pope had a fantastic opportunity—from the most visible pulpit in the world—to address the causes and treatments of one of the greatest threats to life on earth: anthropogenic climate change. I’m glad he took this opportunity, and I hope he’ll revisit the topic.

    However, the encyclical leaves one glaring omission: not once in forty-thousand words did Pope Francis say a single thing about one of the two critical drivers of accelerating environmental degradation: human overpopulation. By our sheer numbers and our energy-extravagant lifestyle, we Homo sapiens are driving huge numbers of our fellow species—and possibly ourselves as well—toward theprecipice of extinction. In this respect Laudato Si’s analysis and treatment of a complex problem is surprisingly weak.

    Please do not mistake this as an anti-Catholic diatribe. I write as a lifelong Roman Catholic and a trained theologian. I have deep loyalty to my church and her gospel of freedom, to her ministries of healing the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and educating tens of millions around the world. I believe that how we live our faith in light of climate change may be the biggest ecclesiological issue of our time: without a livable world there will be no church left at all.

    Along with global overconsumption of finite resources, overpopulation is one of the twin pillars underlying all our ecological crises. Together they account for the exhaustion in a few centuries of fossil fuels laid down over hundreds of millions of years. Together they are responsible for skyrocketing CO2, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, inundation of island nations and coastal cities, and accelerating ecological refugeeism around the globe. Together they account for coral reef bleaching, deforestation, habitat destruction, and worldwide extinction of species on a scale unseen for millions of years.

    In a century and a half the human population has skyrocketed from one billion to 7.42 billion, fueled by a one-time bonanza of fossil energy. The industrial application of fossil fuels improved agriculture and furthered the advance of science and technology. More food meant fewer people died of starvation, and modern medicine found ways to decrease the infant and child mortality rate and increase the human life span. In themselves these are good developments, but when they are not matched by a corresponding reduction in birth rate, a population surplus quickly starts to build.

    Why might a “pro-life” pope fail to recognize that human overpopulation is a problem for all life on earth? Of the sixteen occurrences of the word “population” inLaudato Si’, only three are relevant to this point. These are found in paragraph 50, in the context of the discussion of human numbers. The first instance is a flat-out denial: “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and to a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.” Pope Francis seems unable or unwilling to acknowledge that there is a biological limit to Earth’s carrying capacity for humans just as there is for every other species on our planet.

    The second use of the term correctly points to the arrogance and danger of ignoring excessive consumption: “To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.” Indeed, it would be completely wrong simply to point fingers elsewhere and ignore the thirty-times-greater environmental impact children born in the developed world have than those born in developing nations: “It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized.” The pope correctly addresses here the second pillar of environmental degradation.

    But the pope’s third reference shows that his understanding of population issues does not reflect the facts of biological equilibrium: “Attention needs to be paid to imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations.” The claim that population density is a merely local problem is false on many counts. The delicate balance between earth’s inhabitants is constrained by numerous factors related to the population of competing species.

    Lions once ranged widely across Africa and into Syria, Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and northwest India. 2,000 years ago more than a million lions roamed the Earth; today there may be as few as 20,000 left. Demographers estimate the African human population will be four billion by 2100, equivalent to the entire global population in 1974. Tigers likewise are in precipitous decline: the Bengal Tiger population stood at 100,000 in 1900, and numbered fewer than 4,000 in in 2013. With India at 1.4 billion humans today, the human/tiger ratio is 35,000 to one.Examples of other fauna being crowded out by humans include African elephants, rhinoceros, pandas, polar bears, sharks, whales, and other large species. By our sheer numbers we humans are presiding over the sixth great mass extinction event in the history of earth.

    Ultimately we humans are just as vulnerable as all the other species we are extinguishing, and sooner or later our population in excess of carrying capacity will be pitilessly trimmed by the factors of famine, disease, refugeeism, and brutal wars over water, energy, land, and resources. This should be recognized as a serious moral problem for a pro-life position. Twenty-five years ago Catholic missionarySean McDonagh asked in The Greening of the Church, “Is it really pro-life to ignore the warnings of demographers and ecologists who predict that unbridled population growth will lead to severe hardship and an increase in the infant mortality rate for succeeding generations? Is it pro-life to allow the extinction of hundreds of thousands of living species which will ultimately affect the well-being of all future generations on the planet?”

    Pope Francis has said many important things in Laudato Si’, and my critique should not detract from what is an excellent first foray by Catholic Church leadership into discussions of ecological degradation. But sweeping overpopulation under the carpet is like leaving the eggs out of eggs Benedict. I hope Laudato Si’ is only the first installment in a courageous reappraisal of theology-as-status-quo, and that we can look forward soon to another encyclical addressing the problem of human overpopulation in its integral relationship with overconsumption.

    The Nobel Savage: Greenpeace’s Colonialist Ambitions

    Does Greenpeace actually care for either truth or people? The ideology seems to prevent them. As well as other examples given in the blog there is also there fromgramme of disinformation on fracking in Britain;



    They seem oblivious to any kind of ethics

    The Risk-Monger

    Golden Rice (rice genetically fortified with beta-carotene to help prevent Vitamin A Deficiency among malnourished populations) has become a dogmatic noose around the neck of Greenpeace threatening to choke the entire organisation. Their relentlessly obsessive opposition to all GMOs have cost the NGO many good leaders, ostracised them within agricultural circles (except the tiny, but boisterous organic food industry lobby) and brandished them with an anti-scientific label that will burden their credibility for decades to come.

    On Thursday (30 June 2016), 110 Nobel laureates condemned Greenpeace for being anti-scientific, begging them, other NGOs and the UN to stop opposing GMOs and, in particular, Golden Rice. Since there are only several hundred living Nobel Prize winners, this is a significant sting for an organisation like Greenpeace trying to move in from the fringes of society and be respected at the policy table.

    The letter signed by 110 Nobel laureates  considers Greenpeace’s opposition to Golden Rice as…

    View original post 1,882 more words

    The Mistrust of Science and what it means for natural gas.(= GMO +YEC)

    I always value Nick Grealy’s comments on fracking and his articles are consistently good.

    His comments on the pseudoscience of anti-fracking also apply to Creationism, anti-GMO, anti-vaxxers, anti-global warming etc.

    They come from the smugness of the secure who don’t need to struggle to live and “know not what they do” for the less advantaged.

    I am tempted to comment on the first paragraph, but assure all that I look much younger than Nick


    sci placeboI’m in general good health. I never get so much as a sniffle, haven’t had a headache in years, and as long as I stay away from mirrors I feel 30 years old. Thanks to either good genes or the beneficial aspects accruing from twenty years of smoking, drinking and staying up all night, I often appear ten years or so younger than I actually am.

    Don’t let that fool you. I’ve also had a fractured skull leading to two brain operations, a burst stomach artery, two separate forms of cancer and a heart valve replacement. Never once during my involuntary medical adventures did I ask to be prescribed the treatment 3% of doctors recommend. In short, I trust science.

    I’ve noted here before that natural gas opponents on the other hand, too often choose to cite the outliers in science. And let’s be fair, science isn’t a democracy. Galileo presents an obvious example where one person disrupted conventional wisdom. In the modern era we have the relatively unsung, but spectacular, case of Barry Marshall and Robin Warren who counter to all conventional medical thinking discovered peptic ulcers were not caused by stress, spicy food and too much stomach acid, but by a virus which shouldn’t even have existed. They won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2005.

    A recent piece in the New Yorker by a surgeon, Atul Gawande came to my attention ironically enough through a tweet by Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Institute which studies climate change (on which we agree how overwhelming evidence supports it) but also one who frequently cites outlier studies that paint natural gas in a negative light. Just as often, he chooses to ignore any which show the opposite. Like many communications professional in the climate sector, he often enthuses about emerging technologies that may – or may not- be ready for prime time. Equally, although he too welcomes the two great climate wins of lower carbon emissions and lower carbon intensity, he chooses to present them mostly as wins for renewable technology alone, not for the other key trends of efficient design and the coal to gas switch.

    Gawande barely mentions climate -or energy at all, being a physician. Nevertheless, there is much read across here for the natural gas debate. Much of what Dr Gawande says rings a rather depressing bell. I commend the whole piece, but this extract refers firstly to an issue we resolved in the UK a long time ago, but a growing one in the United States – often among the same constituency as fracking opponents – the anti-vaccination movement.

    People are prone to resist scientific claims when they clash with intuitive beliefs. They don’t see measles or mumps around anymore. They do see children with autism. And they see a mom who says, “My child was perfectly fine until he got a vaccine and became autistic.”

    Now, you can tell them that correlation is not causation. You can say that children get a vaccine every two to three months for the first couple years of their life, so the onset of any illness is bound to follow vaccination for many kids. You can say that the science shows no connection. But once an idea has got embedded and become widespread, it becomes very difficult to dig it out of people’s brains—especially when they do not trust scientific authorities. And we are experiencing a significant decline in trust in scientific authorities.

    Today, we have multiple factions putting themselves forward as what Gauchat describes as their own cultural domains, “generating their own knowledge base that is often in conflict with the cultural authority of the scientific community.” Some are religious groups (challenging evolution, for instance). Some are industry groups (as with climate skepticism). Others tilt more to the left (such as those that reject the medical establishment). As varied as these groups are, they are all alike in one way. They all harbor sacred beliefs that they do not consider open to question.

    To defend those beliefs, few dismiss the authority of science. They dismiss the authority of the scientific community. People don’t argue back by claiming divine authority anymore. They argue back by claiming to have the truer scientific authority. It can make matters incredibly confusing. You have to be able to recognize the difference between claims of science and those of pseudoscience.

    Pseudoscience is especially strong in the UK fracking debate. An engineer, a handful of doctors, or one geologist are often cited as being the Galileo or Marshall and Warren of our time. But the important point is that one or a handful of outliers are their authorities. It used to be said that you can choose your opinion, but you can’t choose your facts.  Today apparently, one can also choose your science. Gawande continues, echoing my point cited above in reference to methane emissions, chemicals and even seismology, but specifically addressing many issues of the day:

    Science’s defenders have identified five hallmark moves of pseudoscientists. They argue that the scientific consensus emerges from a conspiracy to suppress dissenting views. They produce fake experts, who have views contrary to established knowledge but do not actually have a credible scientific track record. They cherry-pick the data and papers that challenge the dominant view as a means of discrediting an entire field. They deploy false analogies and other logical fallacies. And they set impossible expectations of research: when scientists produce one level of certainty, the pseudoscientists insist they achieve another.

    It’s not that some of these approaches never provide valid arguments. Sometimes an analogy is useful, or higher levels of certainty arerequired. But when you see several or all of these tactics deployed, you know that you’re not dealing with a scientific claim anymore. Pseudoscience is the form of science without the substance.

    I trust Gawande. He’s a doctor. But he also highlights some issues transferable to the natural gas debate. One of several mistakes the gas industry has made is assuming that people listen to facts. Another is not reaching out to new audiences, an issue not unconnected to spending precious resources only preaching to the already converted. The environmental movement is equally guilty of course. The extreme churches, right and left,  often have a common business model: Think of it as tithing in reverse- priests pay their own congregations.

    Either pro- or anti-, the general public increasingly don’t listen to the facts, they listen to the messengers. They listen not to the noise, but to the signal.

    I’ve also mentioned the concept of “surprising validatorsbefore.  Surprising validators only arise when they have information -from communication – to start their journey from. After that it’s important for them, and them alone to speak to their congregation.  Stephen Tindale in the UK is a classic example, but I’ve always tried to be one too. I’m obviously a natural gas supporter – but not to the exclusion of anything except coal. Or pseudoscience.

    Gary Sernovitz’s inspiring book the “The Green and The Black” shows there is at least one other metropolitan liberal progressive apart from I who also supports natural gas.

    I would hope communication works both ways. I have a lot of people on the right who read me here, and sometimes I’ve turned down money from conservative groups. Yet I have influenced them on climate. The liberal ones have never offered sadly.

    That’s a shame. I speak to a lot of greens in my sometimes apparently quixotic quest to explore for shale gas in London. After all not only are they my neigbours, they’re also my tribe. I surprise them by not having horns, not denying the climate, and sharing most every other value they hold.

    But, when, not if, the London project comes to pass, there may be another barrier. “Conventional wisdom” investors, or at least those from the right, are convinced (by the protestors!) that I would never get acceptance that would allow any progress.  To that I can only say one thing: They too need to get out of their bubble. Speaking to people, instead of demonising or giving up on them may show how the natural gas industry is pushing on an open door.

    But first one has to discover the door, and then turn the handle. Afterwards, as in most things, and here I refer to my medical adventures again, one finds that things aren’t so scary after all and there are nice people only too happy to help.

    Colorado Governor Extols Fracking as “Best & Safest Extraction Technique”

    I took this from Natural Gas now as Hickenlooper is interesting on fracking. He is originally a geologist and even drunk fracking fluid to make a point and is still alive , though all the fractwits would say it would make him grow horns and other mutations

    Colorado Governor’s Memoir Extols Fracking as “Very Best and Safest Extraction Technique”

    Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) has just released a new memoir, which puts the spotlight on his strong support for fracking and natural gas.  As he says in the memoir,

    Based on experience and science, I recognized that fracking was one of our very best and safest extraction techniques. Fracking is good for the country’s energy supply, our national security, our economy, and our environment.” (pg. 277)

    In the book, Hickenlooper explains his path starting off as a geologist and eventually being elected as governor. And as part of the story, he makes it very clear why he supports the use of hydraulic fracturing, even with a constant influx of out-of-state activists campaigning to ban the process. Hickenlooper writes:

    “Early critics of mine were right about this much: my background as an oil and gas geologist did influence my perspective. I understand the evolution of hydraulic fracturing. I knew that the innovations in technology, everything from the hydraulic fracking systems to the fluid, had become so advanced that it was a remarkably safe extraction method.” (pg. 276; emphasis added)

    Hickenlooper also addresses what he believes is fueling anti-fracking activism:

    “It seemed to me at the time that the way some media and activists were going after fracking was reminiscent of the early twentieth century, when the media skewered the oil and gas industry, personified by John D. Rockefeller. Only in our era, it was often bloggers wedded to a particular agenda who led the charge, cherry-picking some shreds of truth, or untruths, to make popular but inaccurate stories.” (Pg. 279; emphasis added)

    Hickenlooper’s memoir is getting lots of state and national media attention just as the divide between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on fracking in the Democratic primary grows. For instance, Sanders recently appointed 350.org co-founder and “Keep-It-In-The-Ground” activist Bill McKibben to a key Democratic Party platform position.  In the middle of all this, Hickenlooper, the governor of a key swing state, has come out with a clear repudiation of the anti-fracking, “Keep-It-In-The-Ground” platform.

    The Governor has long-been an advocate for Colorado’s energy producers, calling ballot measures targeting oil and natural gas development “radical” and “extreme” because they would “drive oil and gas out of Colorado.” More recently, Hickenlooper took an apparent swipe at the “Keep-It-In-The Ground” movement in his comments at a Colorado Petroleum Council luncheon. As the Denver Business Journal Reports:

    “We won’t transform the energy supplies of our nation overnight; there’s been rapid growth in solar and wind, but we’re a long way from saying we can walk away from hydrocarbons and not do significant damage to our economy,” Hickenlooper said.

    “The number of people in Colorado who want to ban hydrocarbons is probably a small minority,” he said.

    Hickenlooper’s new memoir puts a national spotlight on his support for fracking and is sure to come as more bad news for national activist groups that are struggling to build momentum fortheir campaign to ban-fracking in Colorado and across the nation.

    David Smythe – anti-fracking geologist

     A world-class star of geological research

    One of the difficulties of following fracking is working out who the experts really are amidst the clamour of competing voices. This is especially so if one has no technical expertise. Very quickly I discovered that the anti-fractivists in Lancashire looked to two experts. For the actual drilling and later for medical stuff, the expert was Mike Hill from Lytham, who was taken down a peg or two in 2015 about the time of the publication of the Medact report,  https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/medacts-madact-on-fracking/. This also refers to the Times report on Hill.

    When I heard Tina Rothery rave about Prof David Smythe I was intrigued and several cited him at the hearings in County Hall, Preston in June 2015.

    Smythe was prof of geophysics at Glasgow and left in 1998 shortly after giving evidence for friends of the Earth over the Nirex plans to deposit nuclear waste in Cumbria. (D Oldroyd; Geol Soc Memoir No25, Earth, Water, Ice and Fire, p271-288.  (This chapter is useful as it gives background on how Smythe and Haszeldine were consultants for Friends of the Earth  in the 90s.)


    Since then he has not been employed professionally as a geologist but has given evidnece for environmental groups most notably on fracking, gaining the accolade of fractivists.

    Controversy came in 2014 when the Geological society of London told him to stop using the letters C. Geol (Chartered Geologists) after his name as he had not paid his dues since 1996, nor refreshed his skills. (Thus I cannot use the letters A.M.I.M.M. as I am long lapsed.)


    In June 2015 he made a deposition to the Lancs County Council hearings in County Hall, when Cuadrilla’s applications were rejected. Several fractivist speakers cited his material, even though it went against all other geologists, e.g. the CPRE speaker. Dr James Verdon blogged against his views of Lancashire geology here  http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/professor-david-smythes-critique-of.html 

    More recently Smythe has started a blog, almost aping the title of Verdon’s blog.

    blog http://www.davidsmythe.org/frackland/

    His blogs are relatively few but one is devoted to attacking fellow geologists  “The insolence of Office”, eching critics on fracademics.


    It is difficult not to see this as pure vitriol against leading geologists like Riley, Rutter, Davies, Lord Oxburgh, Selley, Shipton , Styles, Verdon, Younger. I have met and discussed matters with several of these. Incidentally Lord Oxburgh was one of my geological teachers, and very good was he – and entertaining in the pub at Horton in Ribblesdale, where he was teaching us geological mapping.

    Most odd was his post in July 2015, The Mysterious case of Frack-free Witney  http://www.davidsmythe.org/frackland/?p=162 , why discusses why the Prime minister’s constituency of Witney was not up for shale gas exploration. The reason was implicit – that Cameron did not want fracking in his constituency. This idea gained traction among fractivists.  The location of Witney is clear from the map copied from his blog.



    However note that the area to the east of Witney is not available for exploration. It seems very suspicious until one considers the geology. The sub-surface Carboniferous strata below that area are much thinner than elsewhere as in Carboniferous times that area which stretches over to Belgium, known as the Brabant High was mostly a landmass and thus very little deposition took place. Thus to an oil/gas prospector it is moose pasture i.e. nothing there and not worth drilling. Smythe and I had a twitter exchange on this and he seemed unaware of the Brabant High, knowledge of which is no more than second year geology. (He got narked with me and told me to simply organise bible studies!! He does need to learn some geology! )

    In January 2016 Smythe offered a paper   Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins, UK  to the journal Solid Earth Discussion. This was posted to their website http://www.solid-earth-discuss.net/se-2015-134/ for comment and review.

    Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins, UK

    David K. Smythe 1College of Science and Engineering, University of Glasgow, Scotland
    *now at: La Fontenille, 1, rue du Couchant, 11120 Ventenac en Minervois, France

    Abstract. North American shale basins differ from their European counterparts in that the latter are one to two orders of magnitude smaller in area, but correspondingly thicker, and are cut or bounded by normal faults penetrating from the shale to the surface. There is thus an inherent risk of groundwater resource contamination via these faults during or after unconventional resource appraisal and development. US shale exploration experience cannot simply be transferred to the UK. The Bowland Basin, with 1900 m of Lower Carboniferous shale, is in the vanguard of UK shale gas development. A vertical appraisal well to test the shale by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the first such in the UK, triggered earthquakes. Re-interpretation of the 3D seismic reflection data, and independently the well casing deformation data, both show that the well was drilled through the earthquake fault, and did not avoid it, as concluded by the exploration operator. Faulting in this thick shale is evidently difficult to recognise. The Weald Basin is a shallower Upper Jurassic unconventional oil play with stratigraphic similarities to the Bakken play of the Williston Basin, USA. Two Weald licensees have drilled, or have applied to drill, horizontal appraisal wells based on inadequate 2D seismic reflection data coverage. I show, using the data from the one horizontal well drilled to date, that one operator failed identify two small but significant through-going normal faults. The other operator portrayed a seismic line as an example of fault-free structure, but faulting had been smeared out by reprocessing. The case histories presented show that: (1) UK shale exploration to date is characterised by a low degree of technical competence, and (2) regulation, which is divided between four separate authorities, is not up to the task. If UK shale is to be exploited safely: (1) more sophisticated seismic imaging methods need to be developed and applied to both basins, to identify faults in shale with throws as small as 4–5 m, and (2) the current lax and inadequate regulatory regime must be overhauled, unified, and tightened up.

    Citation: Smythe, D. K.: Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins, UK, Solid Earth Discuss., doi:10.5194/se-2015-134, in review, 2016.

    Several geologists responded and most were very critical. Click on “discussion” on the page to read the responses.

    CO Editor

    Interactive discussion Status: final response (author comments only)
    AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
    [Login for Authors/Topical Editors][Subscribe to comment alert]Printer-friendly Version – Printer-friendly version      Supplement – Supplement
    SC2: ‘Comment on “Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald basins, UK” by D.K. Smythe’, Rob Westaway, 05 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
    AC9: ‘Interim reply to Dr Westaway’, David Smythe, 31 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    SC18: ‘More rhetoric rather than substance’, Rob Westaway, 01 Apr 2016Printer-friendly Version
    AC11: ‘Regrettable re-insertion of citation of a tabloid press article’, David Smythe, 01 Apr 2016Printer-friendly Version
    EC1: ‘EC on SC2’, Federico Rossetti, 09 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
    SC4: ‘Advocacy-Based Science’, Terry Engelder, 16 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
    AC2: ‘Conjecture and refutation; author’s response to Dr Engelder’, David Smythe, 22 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    SC13: ‘In a tangle over philosophy of science’, Rob Westaway, 28 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
    SC14: ‘In a tangle over philosophy of science – ii’, Rob Westaway, 29 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
    AC3: ‘Water well contamination case history: Bradford County, Pennsylvania’, David Smythe, 22 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    SC6: ‘TYPOS CORRECTED SC5: ‘Erroneous assumptions lead to fundamentally flawed hydrogeological conclusions”, Paul L. Younger, 18 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
    AC8: ‘Reply to Professor Paul Younger’, David Smythe, 31 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    SC20: ‘Rejoinder to Smythe’s response on hydrogeological issues’, Paul L. Younger, 14 Apr 2016Printer-friendly Version
    EC2: ‘removal of SC3 and SC5’, Federico Rossetti, 19 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
    SC7: ‘This paper shows a poor understanding of the hydraulic fracturing process’, James Verdon, 19 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
    SC8: ‘Correcting formatting issues in Verdon comment SC7’, James Verdon, 19 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
    AC7: ‘Reply to Dr James Verdon’, David Smythe, 31 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    SC9: ‘Reply to “Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins, UK”’, Huw Clarke, 02 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
    AC5: ‘Reply to Huw Clarke of Cuadrilla Resources Ltd’, David Smythe, 24 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    SC10: ‘Some additional thoughts on Preese Hall’, Rob Westaway, 04 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
    AC1: ‘Failure by Dr Westaway to incorporate well data released in April 2015’, David Smythe, 05 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
    SC12: ‘Diversity of stratigraphic interpretations for the Preese Hall-1 well and surroundings’, Rob Westaway, 10 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
    SC11: ‘Misunderstanding of the Literature and Expanding the Discussion of Fracturing Fluid Migration Modeling’, Daniel Birdsell, 04 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
    AC4: ‘Response to Daniel Birdsell and co-authors’, David Smythe, 22 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    RC1: ‘Smythe se-2015-134 Review’, Andrew Aplin, 29 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    AC10: ‘Reply to review by Professor Aplin’, David Smythe, 01 Apr 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    SC15: ‘Comment on use of data and figures in Smythe paper’, Andrew Kingdon, 29 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
    SC16: ‘Clarification of Affiliation’, Andrew Kingdon, 29 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
    AC6: ‘Thanks for new PH-1 image data; faulting on 3D seismic not ambiguous; nothing missing from Balcombe logs’, David Smythe, 31 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    SC17: ‘Preese Hall-1 bedding dip’, Rob Westaway, 31 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
    EC3: ‘regarding SC18 and AC11’, Federico Rossetti, 02 Apr 2016Printer-friendly Version
    SC19: ‘About SC18’, Fabrizio Storti, 04 Apr 2016Printer-friendly Version
    RC2: ‘Review’, Stuart Haszeldine, 15 Apr 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    RC3: ‘Review of Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins, UK’, Anonymous Referee #3, 10 May 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
    RC4: ‘review’, Anonymous Referee #4, 12 May 2016Printer-friendly Version
    EC4: ‘decision on SE Discussion paper’, Federico Rossetti, 14 May 2016Printer-friendly Version

    Apart from Haszeldine ( aformer student) the responses were very critical.Finally on 14 May Rossetti made a decision not to publish on the grounds of 3 out of 4 referees rejecting the paper http://editor.copernicus.org/index.php/se-2015-134-EC4.pdf?_mdl=msover_md&_jrl=431&_lcm=oc108lcm109w&_acm=get_comm_file&_ms=49101&c=106184&salt=14965404591990297433

    F. Rossetti (Editor) federico.rossetti@uniroma3.it Received and published: 14 May 2016
    Dear Dr. Smythe,

    your ms. has been now evaluated by 4 independent reviewers. Based on the resulting reports (3 negative over 4), I regret to say that we can not go forward with this ms., since too much work is needed to render it potentially suitable for final publication on SE.

    My decision is therefore to discourage submission of a revised manuscript.

    Yours sincerely,

    federico rossetti

    This is a sharp response, especially the last sentence.


    I find this a strange story, and would be more sympathetic if he did not get some basic geology wrong i.e. unaware of the Brabant High, and did not try to trash so many eminent scientists, whose work I have got to know.

    There do seem to be close parallels with Mike Hill, who also opened himself up to be discredited, yet both are held in high regard by fractivists.

    I am left rather baffled why both Hill and Smythe have followed their courses of action.


    Robust (?) approach (by churches) to fossil fuels required

    On 15th April 2016 the Church Times (house paper of the Church of England) published an article

    Robust approach to fossil fuels required

    by Dr Hannah arguing that the churches need to bear down hard on fossil fuel firms. This reflects the view of Operation Noah, a Christian group very concerned with climate change and through its off-shoot Bright Now pushing for fossil fuel divestment by the churches.

    In early 2015 Bright Now produced the argument for divestment which can be seen here;


    The argument is very one-sided and looks to Lord Stern and the Centre of Alternative Technology‘s arguments for Zero Carbon. Any other argument, such as that of dieter Helm in The Carbon Crunch simply is not mentioned. Its description of fracking is simply woeful.

    As I was not happy with article I wrote a brief letter which was published on 22nd April;

    Dear Sir
    A more robust approach to fossil fuels
    Having recently given a paper at an international conference of the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) in Spain, I found  the article “Robust Approach to fossil fuels required” (CT 15/4/16) rather inadequate and strident. It reflects the current phobia of fossil fuels with realising there are no alternatives in the foreseeable future. Concern for the planet is essential but it must be grounded in realism.
    Fossil fuels will be used way into the 22nd century whether we like it or not and the key is to use them in an environmentally sensitive way. Thus coal needs to eliminated as soon as possible and natural gas must be seen as the best/least worst replacement either as a bridge fuel or having a permanent place (hopefully with CCS). Few commentators expect fossil fuels to be replaced by 2050 if at all, and are thus not going to be stranded assets. (petroleum companies will change drastically in the next decades.)
    I found the article both biased and in places inaccurate (as over claims that petroleum companies have almost all the necessary expertise for CCS). Much of the “robust approach” is simply ill-informed attacks on oil and gas, as is seen over fracking on onshore oil and gas in the UK. Sadly too many Christian green groups repeat the inaccuracies of the green NGOs, Naomi Klein and others, and that includes Operation Noah.
    Rather than “robust approaches”, which are often inaccurate and ideological attacks on ALL fossil fuels, all in general, and the churches in particular, need to consider what are the best (or least worst) energy solutions for the present rather than to have blind faith in renewables, which at present produce less than 5% of the worlds energy. To go from 5% to 100% will take many, many decades. As Prof Dieter Helm recently pointed out, we have no alternatives at present and need to go into to the future with a mix of energies, including nuclear, which is a no-no for many. Most importantly he emphasises the need for far more research in alternatives, rather than pinning our hopes on our present and limited renewables.
    The “Carbon Bubble” will not burst and will either go to an environmental indifference at great human cost or the development of a greener energy mix. The pushing of green idealism and ideology makes the former more likely.
    Michael Roberts
    Unsurprisingly there were two letters in the Church Times today; one from Ruth Jarman of Operation Noah, who is awaiting a court case for daubing paint over the DECC building in London. Here she is saying prayers after daubing the building.
    jarman decc)
    Dr Hannah also replied, accusing me of having “a mindset, also found among executives of oil and gas multinationals”, which is an offensive statement as well as untrue. As he is an expert in Second Temple Judaism, I am sure he would welcome Francis Egan , John Dewar or any other leading oil or gas executicve to present a paper on second Temple Judaism at a theological conference.
    I was not surprised at these two reactions from members of Operation Noah, but it does show I touched a raw nerve.
    I have to say I am very concerned at the way groups like Operation Noah  are misleading the church at present and this is not helped by Rowan Williams supporting the Cambridge University Zero Carbon Society, who published their report this week http://zerocarbonsoc.soc.srcf.net/ with Rowan writing a supporting preface. He may know his theology but not his energy issues.
    I reckon that poor “Christian” arguments like thes actually do no good for the environment and undermine the credibility of the church. I am afraid the various churches have been very naive over both Climate Change and fracking and just jumped onto MCkibben’s 350.0rg divestment program.
    Fortunately I am not alone in my opposition to such ideas on divestment or fracking, but few are prepared to put their heads above the parapet. The weakness in the church is that they ignore those who actually have some knowledge of the extractive industries, which are regarded as dirty and capitalistic. Here the gospel of St Naomi Klein is of more importance than that of Jesus Christ.


    29 APR 2016

    Darrell Hannah’s Church Times article: Robust approach to fossil fuels required

    Following the Church of England’s decision at last year’s General Synod to pursue a policy of ‘robust engagement’ with fossil fuel companies rather than disinvestment, Operation Noah trustee The Revd Dr. Darrell D. Hannah wrote the following article for the Church Times outlining what ‘robust engagement’ would truly require to keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C. Operation Noah’s Bright Now campaign continues to call on UK churches to fully disinvest from fossil fuel companies.

    This article was first published by the Church Times on 15 April 2016:www.churchtimes.co.uk

    Robust approach to fossil fuels required

    The Church must keep up the pressure on oil and gas companies, arguesDarrell Hannah

    Much has changed in the past ten months. The recognition by the nations participating in the UN climate summit in Paris, COP21 (News, 11 December 2015), of the need to keep the world’s temperature rise to under 1.5°C has revealed an urgency that has often been lacking until now: it has changed the game with regard to even the medium-term viability of oil and gas multinationals.

    To keep below a 1.5°C rise, about 85 per cent of all fossil-fuel reserves must remain in the ground. The 2.0°C target required about 80 per cent of all fossil fuels (88 per cent of coal reserves, 35 per cent of oil and 52 per cent of gas) to remain unburned.

    Not surprisingly, investors and market analysts speak of ‘a carbon bubble’ and ‘stranded assets’ with regard to fossil-fuel companies. For any corporation 80 per cent (or 35 per cent or 52 per cent) of whose assets are untouchable must be deemed a risky investment. Now, with the world committed to less than a 1.5°C rise, even more of those assets are in danger of being stranded, and the bubble has grown larger.

    In addition, the number and severity of extreme weather events have increased. The excessive rain and floods in the north of England and Scotland in January this year are the fourth such ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ or ‘once-in-a-century’ weather events in the UK since 2000 (News, 1 January). Similar patterns of extreme floods, and/or droughts, and subsequent wild fires, have occurred in North America, Australia and North Africa. The past year, 2015, was unambiguously the hottest globally on record, with 2005, 2010 and 2014 tied for the next hottest year.

    We should also consider the implications of the current migration crisis in Europe. The 2006-09 drought in Syria was one of the stress factors that led to its continuing civil war, which in turn has contributed significantly to the unprecedented number of immigrants seeking entrance into Europe. It is increasingly clear that it is not just poor nations that will be affected by climate change. We are already beginning to experience the consequences in Europe.

    Nonetheless, the oil and gas companies continue to conduct their business as if nothing had changed. BP’s recent report Energy Outlook 2016 Edition: Outlook to 2035 tacitly acknowledges the need for change, but puts the onus on governments. Moreover, the report predicts that the demand for oil and gas will increase in the coming decades. In view of the decisions made at the Paris climate summit, this must be deemed environmentally and financially irresponsible.

    In the light of the Paris summit, the worsening effects of climate change and the business-as-usual attitude of the industry, a small working group of those responsible for the Oxford and Birmingham diocesan disinvestment motions met to discuss what ‘robust engagement’ should look like in the current context. This is a summary of our discussion.

    Last year, the EIAG’s initiative, Aiming for A, succeeded in getting resolutions calling for enhanced disclosure of carbon emissions passed, with large majorities, by shareholders’ meetings of both BP and Shell. Exxon refused – and is still refusing – to consider such a resolution.

    Thus, with the EIAG’s encouragement, Shell and BP (but not Exxon) have promised to disclose just how much carbon their operations emit. It is now essential that these companies, as well as others, progress to actual reductions in carbon emissions – and not just more promises of further disclosure – or EIAG’s much heralded Aiming for A will be deemed a failure.

    Oil and gas multinationals must also radically reduce exploration. Since, as noted above, approximately 85 per cent of known fossil-fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of remaining below a 1.5°C rise, it is senseless for multinationals to continue to outlay more than $300 billion annually, which they spent in the past two years for which records are available (2012 and 2013), in the search for more oil and gas reserves.

    Any future exploration in sensitive areas, such as the Arctic and certain coastal regions, must be avoided altogether. Furthermore, it follows just how spurious is the claim – which was made, for example, at the General Synod meeting in July – that companies need to continue some limited exploration because many of their reserves are situated in difficult locations where extraction is expensive.

    Even if this were accepted, it is obvious that the $300 billion spent annually would still be excessive. Oil and gas companies have been exploring for the best locations for more than 100 years. The primary reason that they have been forced to search in less advantageous locations, such as deep sea and the Arctic, is because the unproblematic locations have already been exploited.

    Since the vast majority of fossil-fuel reserves are unburnable if the world is to avoid a 1.5°C rise, more radical and imaginative ways of thinking must be considered by the oil and gas multinationals. To an objective observer, their long-term future in their current form must be regarded as extremely questionable.

    Therefore, if they are to be ethically responsible towards their shareholders, they need to move to a ‘harvest mode’ of operation, bringing exploration to an end, and progressively reducing oil and gas production. This could either result in increased dividends, as the capital value of the company is returned to shareholders over time, or it could be coupled with diversification into renewables, more efficient battery storage and carbon capture and storage (CCS), where oil and gas companies already have almost all the necessary expertise.

    The companies should consider converting their petrol stations to the re-fuelling of electric or hydrogen vehicles. The flirtation with renewables by a few oil and gas multinationals a decade or so ago and their current pitiful level of investment in CCS appear to be no more than exercises in public relations. ‘Robust engagement’ would seek to convince the oil and gas companies that the transformation of such image management into their core business models is their only hope of survival.

    It is also essential that these companies begin the process of moving jobs from oil and gas production to renewables and CCS. Oil and gas multinationals could potentially be a powerful voice with governments. Instead of spending significant resources lobbying governments to protect their subsidies and their current rates of emissions, they should concentrate their lobbying efforts on influencing governments to seize this moment of change, and support renewables, CCS and electric or hydrogen vehicles.

    Finally, ‘robust engagement’ must recognise the huge influence that these multinationals have with other players, especially state-owned oil and gas companies. State-controlled companies – such as Saudi Aramco, Gazprom (Russia), the China National Petroleum Corporation, National Iranian Oil Company, Petróleos de Venezuela, Petrobras (Brazil) and Petronas (Malaysia) – own most of the world’s reserves of coal, oil and gas, while those companies listed on the world’s stock exchanges, such as BP, Shell and Exxon, among others, possess a much smaller market share.

    Nonetheless, the division between the two types of companies is not as great as it seems. Many of the largest state-owned companies float some of their stock, recruit non-executive directors from the publicly traded companies and contract these companies to help extract their reserves.

    The immense influence that the listed companies have means that where they lead, state-owned oil and gas companies inevitably follow. Thus the multinationals need to be encouraged to take their leadership seriously, and to cease using their smaller share of the market as an excuse to avoid necessary change.

    At a recent meeting in the Guildhall, attended by more than 2000 investment managers and asset-owners, it was suggested that companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon could soon go the way of Kodak, Blockbuster and Olivetti typewriters. This seems an incredible statement, until one remembers just how quick was the demise of these three commercial monoliths. If Shell and BP were to follow the example of Kodak and Blockbuster, the impact on the pensions of millions of ordinary individuals would be disastrous.

    ‘Robust engagement’ that is worthy of the name should include challenging oil and gas multinationals to make real reductions in carbon emissions now; to end nearly all exploration; to move to a harvest mode for the oil and gas parts of their business; to diversify into CCS, renewables and the servicing of electric and hydrogen vehicles without delay; to begin moving jobs towards renewables and CCS; to lobby governments to invest in renewables and CCS; and to show real leadership in the industry, especially towards those in the state sector.

    All this is necessary, most importantly, because of what the enormous threat of climate change means to God’s world and his children, but also because of the danger that the national investment bodies of the Church of England will lose many millions when the ‘carbon bubble’ bursts.

    The Revd Dr Darrell D. Hannah is Rector of All Saints’, Ascot Heath, in Berkshire, and a board member of Operation Noah. This article incorporates contributions from the Revd Hugh Lee, Marilyn Hull and the Revd John Nightingale.


    My reply published on 22nd April 2016
    Dear Sir
    A more robust approach to fossil fuels
    Having recently given a paper at an international conference of the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) in Spain, I found  the article “Robust Approach to fossil fuels required” (CT 15/4/16) rather inadequate and strident. It reflects the current phobia of fossil fuels with realising there are no alternatives in the foreseeable future. Concern for the planet is essential but it must be grounded in realism.
    Fossil fuels will be used way into the 22nd century whether we like it or not and the key is to use them in an environmentally sensitive way. Thus coal needs to eliminated as soon as possible and natural gas must be seen as the best/least worst replacement either as a bridge fuel or having a permanent place (hopefully with CCS). Few commentators expect fossil fuels to be replaced by 2050 if at all, and are thus not going to be stranded assets. (petroleum companies will change drastically in the next decades.)
    I found the article both biased and in places inaccurate (as over claims that petroleum companies have almost all the necessary expertise for CCS). Much of the “robust approach” is simply ill-informed attacks on oil and gas, as is seen over fracking on onshore oil and gas in the UK. Sadly too many Christian green groups repeat the inaccuracies of the green NGOs, Naomi Klein and others, and that includes Operation Noah.
    Rather than “robust approaches”, which are often inaccurate and ideological attacks on ALL fossil fuels, all in general, and the churches in particular, need to consider what are the best (or least worst) energy solutions for the present rather than to have blind faith in renewables, which at present produce less than 5% of the worlds energy. To go from 5% to 100% will take many, many decades. As Prof Dieter Helm recently pointed out, we have no alternatives at present and need to go into to the future with a mix of energies, including nuclear, which is a no-no for many. Most importantly he emphasises the need for far more research in alternatives, rather than pinning our hopes on our present and limited renewables.
    The “Carbon Bubble” will not burst and will either go to an environmental indifference at great human cost or the development of a greener energy mix. The pushing of green idealism and ideology makes the former more likely.
    Michael Roberts



    Why I am no longer a Green


    That is a surprising statement for someone to make when he read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring  half a century ago and has been green ever since.

    I can boast like the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11! But I am not speaking like a fool 🙂 Every garden of mine has had a compost heap, I tend to grow organically, plant flowers, shrubs and trees to attract wildlife, ride a bike when I can (and even more so for fun), energy economical – or bloody mean and keeping the heating down; and lots of other things to get brownie points from treehuggers. I have voted Green and been active in Friends of the Earth.

    However, I confess that the disimulation and nastiness of anti-frackers made me reconsider my green credentials.I found greenie Christians , as a whole, no better as so many repeated the dodgy dossiers of Greenpeace, Fiends of the Earth , Frack Off and the rest of them, and often think I don’t care for the environment because I think f***ing is a good rather than a bad thing.

    So I had to become a Green anti-green. Or so I thought until I came across the alternative, which goes by the clumsy name of Ecomodernism.  I stumbled across it and as I read it, I found that it summed up the position I had come to myself as I rejected the orthodox green faith. I had to apostasize from evangelical greenery as I found they were not quite honest and from their moral high ground didn’t give a damn for the poor especially those freezing to death. Far too many in Britain are living like this;

    fuel poverty

    Some get upset by this blog; https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/aunt-elsie-rip-13-january-2020-a-fracking-shame/

    But back to Ecomodernism.

    You will find their manifesto here


    To comment briefly on the Manifesto; many criticise their split of intense human habitation and wilderness, where they argue agriculture should be intesive rather than centred on small farms and small-holdings. At first I baulked at that and then realised we have no choice if we are to feed the world, which I consider a moral imperative. As for wilderness, which I love, it is not suitable for much human habitation without wrecking it.  An example of wrecked wilderness is the south rim of the Grand Canyon, which has less feel of wilderness than many of the hilly parts of Britain.

    Grand Canyon wilderness seen from the south Rim. LH picture is the Bright Angel trail which makes a nice August day’s walk RH is the Unconformity


    Mt St Helens; wilderness at its most wild (Oct 2009)


    And two within 30 miles of my home in the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland


    Needless some have tried to shred them like George Monbiot and co. It is a great shame and it would be far better if all concerned about planet and people looked for the common ground that unites, rather than minor differences. But then are stuck with a green ideology which takes them over. I will say no more but here is a fine article which outlines  the different perspectives of those who care for planet and people by Matthew Nisbet with the unfrotunate title of  Disruptive ideas: public intellectuals and their arguments for action on climate change.[ Ref;Nisbet, M. C. (2014), Disruptive ideas: public intellectuals and their arguments for action on climate change. WIREs Clim Change, 5: 809–823. doi:10.1002/wcc.317] and on-line


    He discusses the three main approachs from Bill McKibbin, who sticks to protesting not realising that this will not change everything despite Naomi Klein, through Al Gore and Lord Stern, who try too hard to face both ways to the Ecomodernism of Nordhaus and Shellenburger, who have recruited Mark Lynas to their ranks.

    In his paper Nisbet presents the different stances on the various issues in the table I reproduce below. (apologies for the imperfect copying)

    Table 1. Public Intellectuals and their Arguments for Action on Climate Change
    Group Problem Framing Outlook on Nature Outlook on Technology Policy Proposals Model of Social Change
    • 1Monbiot supports nuclear, carbon capture.
    • 2Gore skeptical of nuclear, carbon capture, puts stronger faith in market than Sachs or Stern to drive innovation.
    • 3Artistic expression specific focus of Kingsnorth.
    Ecological Activists

    • B. McKibben
    • D. Suzuki
    • C. Hamilton
    • G. Monbiot
    • N. Klein
    • P. Kingsnorth
    Capitalism, consumerism has exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet, risking catastrophe, or certain collapse. Sacred, fragile nature provides human salvation. Must be kept separate, protected against human influence. Advocate small-scale, locally owned renewables. Warn that nuclear energy, genetic engineering too risky, promote consumption.1 Call for strong regulation of industry, rationing of energy use, localization of economies, food systems, governance. New consciousness spread through grassroots organizing, social protest. Artistic attention to ‘ecocide’, myth of progress.3
    Smart Growth Reformers

    • T. Friedman
    • Gore
    • N. Stern
    • J. Sachs
    • A. Lovins
    Climate change is ultimate market failure, corrected by putting price on carbon. Progress blocked by ‘deniers’. Nature has limits, but ‘dangerous interference’ can be avoided by smart policy, ‘stabilizing emissions’, enabling ‘sustainable growth’. Market pricing will drive adoption of renewables, energy efficiency. Need government to catalyze nuclear, carbon capture.2 Call for binding international agreement, national carbon pricing, and government investment in innovation. Market mechanisms drive change. More recent calls for grassroots pressure, third-party movements, new ‘mindfulness’.

    • S. Brand
    • M. Hulme
    • R. Pielke Jr
    • S. Rayner
    • T. Nordhaus/M. Shellenberger
    • A. Revkin
    Misdiagnosed as environmental problem and market failure. Should be re-framed as energy innovation and societal resilience challenge. Nature is more resilient than fragile. Innovative, high-energy planet can promote human progress, while conserving, managing nature. Renewables not capable of meeting energy demand. Need government to develop natural gas, nuclear, carbon capture, other innovations. Argue for portfolio of ‘clumsy’ policy approaches across levels of society, government investment in energy technologies and resilience strategies. Technologies that lower cost of action, public forums that challenge assumptions create conditions for cooperation, innovation.

    Sometime I would like to write up a Christian Ecomodernism, if only to counter the Bambi eco-theology.



    Friends of the Earth get sand in their eyes

    It is every child’s dream to play on a sandy beach on a perfect summer’s day and perhaps building a sandcastle.

    But from what Tony Bosworth said on television  in October 2015, it seems that this could give you cancer!!!!

    He probably regrets saying it, especially as the trigger factor for his comment has not gone away. In the last month a Friends on the earth leaflet was enclosed in several publications –  at least Private Eye, The Sunday Times, Simple Things. I don’t know if there were others. Presumably FoE paid hard cash to have the leaflet as an insert.

    For more my assessment and the complaint put into the ASA see;


    The leaflet was asking for donations for FoE’s work in attempting to stop fracking in Lancashire, where they have been very active in working among communities over the last few years. Among other things they wanted donations “to investigate the practices of the fracking giant, Cuadrilla”. The cover had a picture of Grasmere with the words “Don’t let fracking destroy all of this” – what numpties! A little geology would have told them there is no gas in Grasmere.  They also claimed “25% of the chemicals used in the fracking process could cause cancer”.

    Exactly what FoE meant by the 25% of the chemicalsis not clear. Did the mean 255 of the number of chemicals used  – including dihydrogen monoxide,which in its pure from kills several hikers each year in the Arizona desert. Or did he mean 25% of the total volume of chemicals? Bbut on BBC TV on 19th October Tony Bosworth said it was silica, which makes up about 95% of beach sand, and so I draw on some humorous artwork from Backing Fracking. (The quotes are made up but give the gist of it!)

    fracking sand

    Sand gets in your eyes and gives you cancer!! Yes, sand i.e. silica CAN give you cancer but only if you breath in vast amounts as did coal miners, who often got silicosis rather than cancer. (I know too many who died of that and it was not pleasant, with oxygen cylinders and being virtually housebound.) It was a silly example as the Health and Safety Executive lay down VERY stringent regulations on how sand/silica should be used to protect workers. I say “workers” as even if the HSE regulations were not followed very little silica would blow off site to be a hazard to those nearby.

    To clear matters up a letter was sent to the HSE requesting their guidelines on the use of silica and below is the reply. Frankly, it shows that Tony Bosworth was grossly ill-informed about the dangers of silica and unaware of the regulations. It is surprising that as Energy Campaigner for FoE,  Tony Bosworth could be so ill-informed. He only compounded the errors and scare-mongering of the leaflet.

    If you are bored with this, you can read the HSE’s response to the question about silica and decide for yourself whether or not rig-workers and local residents are at risk of getting cancer. I honestly think all are at greater risk of getting silly-cosis.

    So here it is;


    Health and Safety Executive on the use of silica

    Thanks for your email, below is an overview of the HSE’s expectation regarding silica use on oil and gas well sites in GB. I hope you find this helpful.


    Silica is one of the major components of soil, rock, sand, granite and many other minerals and is a major constituent of construction materials such as bricks, tiles and concrete. Silica itself is not harmful but silica dust can cause a whole host of health problems for those who work with this mineral. Many common workplace activities such as cutting, drilling, grinding and polishing, produce fine dust containing Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS).


    Repeated and prolonged exposure over many years to relatively high concentrations of RCS in the air is known to cause a lung disease called silicosis and also lung cancer. Such exposure may occur for instance when rocks containing crystalline silica are ground up during mining or quarrying operations. The term ‘respirable’ means that the dust particles are small enough to get deep into the lungs when they are inhaled. Silica is not readily soluble in water or body fluids and this is thought to be one of the contributing factors determining the damage that silica can cause in the lungs.


    The hydraulic fracturing of rock, (fracking) process used to exploit gas and oil from shale deposits requires a substantial amount of sand. In 2008, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a safety warning, because they have evidence that in the US the risk of exposure to silica dust was not managed effectively.


    The risk of exposure to silica dust is well understood in Great Britain and the HSE has issued guidance to help employers manage the risks and to raise awareness of the importance of controlling exposure at work.   The occupational use of silica is regulated under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH). Occupational exposure to all substances hazardous to health, including RCS, should be adequately controlled using measures that are proportionate to the health risk. There is a Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) for RCS,  a WEL is the maximum concentration of an airborne substance, averaged over a reference period, to which employees may be exposed by inhalation.


    RCS has a WEL of 0.1mg m-3 and in practice, employers are expected to keep exposures well below 0.1 mg m-3 and to apply good control practice, as well as getting below the WEL. The position around the WEL, including developments in the EU is being kept under review by HSE.


    In oil and gas wells sand can be used as a propant – a material that holds open fractures in the rock caused by hydraulic fracturing. Where sand is used on well sites the risks of exposure to RCS should be controlled. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is to ensure that the sand is transported to the site and introduced to the hydraulic fracturing fluid in a way that worker exposure is minimised.


    Using sealed silos is a good way of ensuring that workers are not exposed to sand that could contain RCS. This technique was used at the Preese Hall well and there is an expectation from HSE that similar techniques to limit exposure will be used on other oil and gas wells where hydraulic fracturing is planned.


    Further information is available from HSE:





    Kind regards

    name removed

    HID Oil and Gas Policy Team

    Health and Safety Executive

    Redgrave Court

    Merseyside L20 7HS