Tag Archives: Greens

FAKE NEWS AND THE GREEN MOVEMENT

We hear much about fake news at present and how it influenced both the Brexit vote and the Presidential election.

Fake news is prevalent and is common both among climate change deniers (the extreme one) and what Owen Pattison in his only wise comment on the environment called the Green Blob. Fake News is rife among ideological Greens, especially Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth , anti-fracking groups and all the KIITG (Keep it in the ground) palaver. As a Christian it offends me that it has become the quasi-official view of Christian greens. much of whose stuff is fakenews. (They are good on tips for green living – but some of us have been doing that for decades, OK on local projects, but on big issues like energy, fracking and climate change they go fake.)

As Ken who puts in detailed complaints to the ASA on anti-fracking groups says “I do not know of any valid science in the anti frack rhetoric. Bullshit from start to finish, as I have shown with Frack Free Somerset, RAFF, Frack Free Alliance. Breast Cancer UK, and perhaps with FoE.” several of these forensic complaints can be found elsewhere on my blog

I could include Creationism as fake news as it is equally spurious, but is of more marginal importance

Here the ever-perceptive Nick Grealy makes some very good points and thus I asked him if I could nick his blog. I share his view that all this is destroying the environmental movement as once anyone starts to check out this green fakery with intellectual honesty, they will finds flaws galore and soon get disillusioned. It is like the boy who cried wolf.

 

wolf

As that boy discovered to his horror a wolf came and attacked the sheep and nobody took any notice of him until it was too late

wolf2

and so, if we are not careful the big bad wolf of environmental degradation will jump out and destroy our world. We will have to thank all those green groups if it happens

I do wish the Green Blog would stop crying “Wolf” and get on with caring for our planet instead of pushed their pseudo-green scare-mongering ideology ideology

 

GO FLY A KIITG:DID KEEP IT IN THE GROUND, FALSE BALANCE AND FAKE NEWS BURY THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT?

http://www.reimaginegas.com/?p=3884#more-3884

The nomination of Scott Pruitt has rightly caused much gnashing of teeth at sites like Climate Home.

Green groups reacted with bitter hostility calling Pruitt a “fossil fuel industry puppet” (350.org), “an arsonist in charge of fighting fires (Sierra Club) and “destined for the environmental hall of shame” (NRDC).

But how exactly did Pruitt – and us – get to this position?  All three of the above organisations fought Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s all of the above energy plan because it promoted the use of of natural gas alongside nuclear, efficiency and renewable. The Sierra Club, is the oldest environmental organisation in the US (1892) and has 2.4 million members today.  Yet their Beyond Natural Gas campaign doesn’t have any actual plans, simply a whole bunch of feelings.  A large part of the anti fracking movement narrative depends on  fake news, just as reprehensible coming from the green left as from the right:

Natural gas drillers exploit government loopholes, ignore decades-old environmental protections, and disregard the health of entire communities. “Fracking,” a violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations, is known to contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, and cause earthquakes. If drillers can’t extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas.

Yes this is the same Sierra Club who once took money from Aubrey McClendon’s American Clean Skies. They still take money from Michael Bloomberg for the end coal campaign, even though Bloomberg doesn’t agree with them at all on natural gas.

To keep coal-fired power plants in upstate New York and not frack doesn’t make any sense at all.

We also have Bill McKibben of 350 in 2009

On March 2, environmentalist Bill McKibben joined demonstrators who marched on a coal-fired power plant in Washington D.C. In this article for Yale Environment 360, he explains why he was ready to go to jail to protest the continued burning of coal.

What caused environmental organisations to change their mind about natural gas is one of the mysteries of the age.  Much blame can be found in the intersection of the social media echo chamber where the Tea Party met the Fake News movement and produced the Post Truth Era.  This is the Wikipedia definition, and they at least thanks to donations like mine and I hope yours, are one of the few remaining on line oases of sanity:

Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of truth by rendering it of “secondary” importance. While this has been described as a contemporary problem, there is a possibility that it has long been a part of political life, but was less notable before the advent of the internet. In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell cast a world in which the state is daily changing historic records to fit its propaganda goals of the day. Orwell is said to have based much of his criticism of this on Soviet Russian practices.

The contemporary origin of the term is attributed to blogger David Roberts who used the term in 2010 in a column for Grist.[1][2][3] Political commentators have identified post-truth politics as ascendant in Russian, Chinese, American, Australian, British, Indian, Japanese and Turkish politics, as well as in other areas of debate, driven by a combination of the 24-hour news cyclefalse balance in news reporting, and the increasing ubiquity of social media.[3][4][5][6][7][8] In 2016, “post-truth” was chosen as the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year,[9] due to its prevalence in the context of that year’s Brexit referendum and US presidential election.[10][11]

Tea Party, Green Tea Party, Brexit and Trump were all enabled by two key trends in what was previously called the Main Stream Media.

One is the financial catastrophe that hit newspapers and TV networks as they lose advertising and eyeballs.  But especially in the UK, where luckily , to  my progressive lefty opinion at least, we have the BBC, there was another force present.  We saw the trend  in the UK on first the fracking debate, and secondly the EU referendum debate. The second problem is  false balance. The BBC’s great strength in the main stream media era was that as a public broadcaster they were required to have a neutral stance and reflect a variety of opinion.  I’m happy to concede here that the neutrality does not often extend to the climate debate, but that isn’t the issue here. This from Open Democracy gives a summary of the problem:

There is now widespread agreement that the BBC failed the nation by botching its coverage of the referendum. Viewers and listeners seeking information were instead bombarded with contradictory and impenetrable claims and counter-claims. As a result, many ended up confused, frustrated and sometimes unsure how to cast their votes. BBC representatives have half-admitted that this was so, but have offered an excuse.

It’s worth underlining that the UK shale gas is “controversial” meme stems from giving a platform to all views. Let me make clear, all views should be represented, but at the same time, this result from the Referendum campaign could also describe much of the fracking “debate”. Simply substitute  “campaigners” for politicians:

One effect of this approach was to draw politicians (anti -fracking campaigners) into making ever more extravagant and less well founded claims. It therefore actually reinforced both the opacity and the mendacity of the campaign. Attention had to be concentrated on the often trivial or diversionary assertions of campaigners instead of the real issues.

So in the interests of either balance, or simply to create an interesting twist on the very boring subject of natural gas supply,  a very small minority were given a platform far bigger than votes would otherwise have allowed.  The Lancashire Nana Tina Rothery for example got 3.8% of the vote when she stood for election.  The UK Green Party, which cost Lib Dems previously safe seats throughout the UK, thus destroyed the Lib Dam/Conservative coalition got the same percentage nationally.  They thus set the stage for the Brexit Referendum.

Nowhere in the UK, including Lancashire, London or Yorkshire, do actual hard core opponents of shale number more than a tiny percentage.  Yet eccentrics such as Gayzer Frackman, who also believes in chemtrails, or 9/11 conspiracy “theorists” like Ian R Crane are given platforms for public debate that would make anyone who knows little about the subject think they are credible.   This “balanced” “debate” where the eccentric or just plain cuckoo are given equal weight to thousands of mainstream energy experts confuses, not informs.

The false balance  about fracking is one in which even the UK government colludes, if accidentally, by giving  the choice as one between fracking or renewables as the DECC/BEIS opinion polltrackers insist on presenting.  Renewables always win and if it was a true choice, with a gun to my head, I’d  choose renewables too. Going against wind or solar of the oil industry is a false choice. The reality is that it’s BOTH. To pretend otherwise  is false balance.

False balance can sometimes originate from similar motives as sensationalism, where producers and editors may feel that a story portrayed as a contentious debate will be more commercially successful than a more accurate account of the issue. However, unlike most other media biases, false balance may actually stem from an attempt to avoid bias; producers and editors may confuse treating competing views fairly—i.e., in proportion to their actual merits and significance—with treating them equally, giving them equal time to present their views even when those views may be known beforehand to be based on false information

Fracking in the UK is continually described as “controversial”, despite it only being so to a tiny minority. The all of the above option is notably absent in the fracking debate.  June 23rd showed how binary choices, presented in an emotional  post truth  feeling over fact debate, have not helped democracy, but subverted it.

No where is this more true than the Keep It In The Ground (KIITG) movement, which was given  initial credence by the UK Guardian newspaper.

Interestingly, several present and previous Guardian journalists have told me privately that they were horrified by the KIITG campaign.  Since the departure of Alan Rusbridger the editor at the time, it often , but not often enough, seems to have disappeared – along with 250  jobs.

Rusbridger and Murdoch have similar sorts of motivations: both men have used money-losing papers in pursuit of political beliefs – and in so doing, as each would argue about the other, placed politics above journalism.

It’s clear now that the Keep It In The Ground campaign has failed.  Trump and Brexit showed how post truth triumphed.  The UK anti fracking campaign that is centred on Adam Vaughan of the Guardian may have slowed things down, but certainly not triumphed.

The folks at Climate Home, 350, and Keep It In The Ground got to where they are today in large part by rejecting any pragmatism for the role of natural gas – again a fuel they fully supported when the debate was about facts not feelings, science not emotion.  This is the  “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” meme that went from Cicero to Goldwater to Malcolm X and now apparently resides both in Trumpism and radical anti frackers.

I fear that some of the Keep It In The Ground tendency will take the wrong conclusion.  They, somewhat like the UK Labour Party under Corbyn, feel that the only reason they failed was due to not being extreme enough in their policies.

Just as Corbyn will take the left down with him, environmentalist extremists won’t learn lessons.  That would be devastating for the environment, but devastating for democracy too.  We need a new centre for a new world, in both politics and environment, before we end up with neither.  We’re standing on the edge of an abyss. What the answer is I don’t know but we have to realise where we stand and how we got there.  This from Michael Lewis in the FT is depressing and instructive, but only if the Green movement engages in some self criticism and learns from the new world:

(Trump’s) rise to power, in this sense, marks the triumph of the irrational in US politics.

“Every which way, Trump is exploiting the faulty mechanisms in people’s minds,” …. “It feels like we are in a world where, to me, some meaningful part of the electorate is beyond reasoning with — beyond fact, anti-science. All the mental faculties that lead to human progress, they are opposed to.”

Faulty mechanisms are in everyone’s minds, not just Trump’s and Farage’s, but in Alan Rusbridger’s too.  It’s time to abandon outdated concepts before they drag everyone down.

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Which is better; Grass-to-Gas or Fracking? Is someone taking grass?

At the end of the 19th century fuel for transport was causing two serious problems in Britain.

First, the emissions from vehicles was unacceptable as the streets were piling up with horse shit faster than allotment holders could remove it.

Secondly, an ever increasing amount was needed to grow the fuel needed for the engines of the vehicles, otherwise known as fodder.

For longer journeys another carbon-based fuel was used -coal – but that caused problems too.

Then a cleaner fuel was found – petroleum!

Yet today the so-called green electricity provider Ecotricity reckons grass would provide the gas needed to provide all we need! Really to heat homes for 80% of houses and fuel vehicles?  I am sure someone has worked out the area needed on the back of an envelopes and taken into consideration the winter months when grass hardly grows.

Perhaps Dale Vance is taking Grass or something else to suggest this

 

Even those whose livelihood is developing biogass regard this idea as unsustainable, but, of course the Guardian disagrees.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/18/could-gas-from-grass-rival-fracking-to-heat-uk-homes

But some biogas plants cause local problems

http://www.pore.org.uk/

Here is a good assessment from Lancashire for Shale , a groupwho consider all forms of energy and not just one!

Ecotricity has been granted planning permission for an anaerobic digestion plant in Hampshire. We take a look at its plans for 5,000 of these “Green Gas Mills” around the country.

Ecotricity’s ‘green gas mill’ at Sparsholt College in Hampshire

 

It’s an attractive proposition: taking an endless and abundant supply of grass and turning it into gas to heat homes across Britain. Ecotricity says …

Source: Grass-to-Gas or Fracking? – Lancashire For Shale

Here it is.

Ecotricity has been granted planning permission for an anaerobic digestion plant in Hampshire. We take a look at its plans for 5,000 of these “Green Gas Mills” around the country.

 

It’s an attractive proposition: taking an endless and abundant supply of grass and turning it into gas to heat homes across Britain.

Ecotricity says gas from grass has the potential to provide the needs of 97% of Britain’s homes by 2035.

It’s founder, Dale Vince says: “We now have a more than viable alternative to fracking, which people have been fighting tooth and nail up and down the country to prevent. It’s not too late, because fracking hasn’t started yet.”

Is he right? Could grass-to-gas eliminate the need for fracking and, if so, how feasible would it be in practical terms?

On balance, it doesn’t look like it.

Even if it proves technically valid – and it seems that’s doubtful – Ecotricity’s plans would likely meet just as much local opposition as fracking because of visual and traffic impacts.

The site for which Ecotricity has obtained planning permission is 12 acres in area, or 4.8 hectares. That’s over twice the size of a shale gas pad.

But once constructed, a shale gas well site will be much less visually intrusive than an anaerobic digestion facility with its permanent and industrial-looking tanks, reception hall and silos.

Additionally, a producing shale gas pad will not require a constant stream of lorries to deliver feedstock and take smelly byproduct digestate away to spread on fields, unlike an anaerobic digestion plant.

According to Ecotricity’s planning application, the main road by which heavy goods vehicles will enter and leave the site will see an average of 27 vehicle movements per day from June to September on the northern section and 21 per day on the southern approach.

So that’s a total of 48 vehicles a day for four months or over 3,800 in total – and higher than the average traffic movements that would stem from bringing a shale gas site into being.

But in the case of the Ecotricity site, those traffic impacts would be evident for every year of operation whereas a producing shale gas site will be responsible for very few traffic movements.

It’s taken Cuadrilla over 2 years to obtain planning permission for a single site in Lancashire that would be less visually obtrusive and responsible for significantly fewer lifetime HGV journeys, and so it’s hard to imagine it being much easier for Ecotricity.

It submitted its original application in January 2016, which was turned down in April. It tried again in July and obtained planning permission in October – taking 10 months in total.

To build 5,000 of them between now and 2035 would require Ecotricity to construct over 2 plants a year, every year, which given the time it takes just to navigate the planning and permitting processes involved seems implausible.

Then consider the cost – £10 million each if the Hampshire site is anything to go by – bringing the total to an eye-watering £50 billion which, according to Dale Vince, would only be possible with public subsidy, which is why Ecotricity is lobbying the government to let it cash in on the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). It’s quite unlike the £33 billion EY say it would cost to build a mature shale gas industry and which would be funded entirely through private investment with no subsidy.

Putting all other arguments aside, you’re then left with the question of why do it in the first place.

If there was an urgent need to find a better way of dealing with unwanted grass, then turning it into energy like we do with food waste and farm slurries would be a great idea, because it would essentially kill two birds with one stone.

But there’s no such problem with grass.

So what other benefit would there be to industrialising the countryside with 5,000 of these cumbersome looking facilities?

It wouldn’t do anything to decarbonise home heating because the gas it produces is still methane, and still contains carbon that would be released to the environment from the exhaust of central heating boilers up and down the country. So there wouldn’t be any net benefit for the climate, in fact, it would arguably be worse because of all those extra truck and tractor movements needed to harvest and transport grass and then take away the biosolid residues.

A smarter move would be for Ecotricity to team up with the fracking industry and co-locate shale and biogas sites in the same locations, sharing the risk of planning and permitting and cutting down on the costs of the infrastructure needed to get the gas to market (such as grid connections) and making grass-to-gas more commercially viable with fewer sites – moreso if the biogas plants could also accept food and farm waste from rural communities.

It looks like grass-to-gas could be a companion to shale, but it couldn’t be a competitor.

How to Starve Africa: Ask the European Green Party

A superb demolition of green double-think. They say they care for Planet and People yet put forward policies which don’t help the planet (ban fracking) and will kill lots of people.

Their irrational and immoral objection to GMO sums all this up

The Risk-Monger

There is a commonly shared neo-colonialist expression: The Europeans have the watches; the Africans have the time. Today, the European Green Party, with the support of countless environmentalist NGOs, proposed an initiative in the European Parliament to make Africa wait for at least another generation to be able to lift itself out of poverty.

The report tabled by Green MEP, Maria Heubuch, is as vile as it is selfish in its neo-colonialist demands to impose peasant agriculture on a continent trying to develop and feed itself. The Greens are demanding that the European Union not be involved with the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition which is donating billions to create a green agricultural revolution in ten of the poorest African countries. Many identify what has been achieved in Asia today as due to the World Bank’s investments in agricultural technologies in the 1960s and 70s and what is sorely…

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