Tag Archives: pseudoscience

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

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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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Is “The Imminent Demise of Evolution” still imminent?

Well we all know evolution is rubbish and the earth is only 6000 years old. As Paul points out here the expert American Troy Britain confirms this.

If anyone can refute Troy please do so.

I first heard of the imminent demise of evolution in 1971 while at L’abri studying under the founder of the Religious Right Francis Schaeffer. I can provide all the evidence for this on demand.

 

Reblogged on WordPress.com

Source: Is “The Imminent Demise of Evolution” still imminent?

Have Frack Free Ryedale been naughty?

s-l1000

So far the storm centre for fracking has been Lancashire, culminating in the fractivist phyrric victory in June 2015. The amount of disinformation has been incredible from the various groups aided and abetted by Friends of the Earth. However RAFF (Residents against Fracking: Fylde) withdrew a leaflet after a complaint to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) back in January; https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/complaint-to-asa-against-raff-residents-action-on-fracking-fylde-for-gross-errors/ and now there is a complaint with the ASA about Friends of the Earth’s activities in Lancashire with their amazing suggestion of fracking in Grasmere https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/dont-let-fracking-destroy-all-of-this/

At present the action has crossed the Pennines to Yorkshire, especially to Ryedale, a beautiful part of Yorkshire with poor employment prospects.

2014-07-09 13.10.04 2014-07-09 14.10.38 2015-05-09 19.34.03

There Frack Free Ryedale has been very active and have come out with some extreme ideas as this tweet shows

ffreydale

That is false on several accounts, but the tweet was removed after criticism but the substance is still being repeated.

Over the last two year FFR have been active and even recruited a bishop to support them. Friends of the Earth are often present at times in the form of Tony Bosworth, he of “sand causes cancer” fame.

If you want to find out more You can look at FFR’s tweets or face book pages until you are blocked or to Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration (FORGE)   https://www.facebook.com/ryedalegas?fref=ts

I hope this has given the background of what’s going on in Ryedale, but in September 2015 FFR put an advert into the Malton Gazette. As it was replete with error and misleading Ken gave it his usual treatment and complained to the ASA. You will find what he wrote below. What happens now is that FFR will be given opportunity to respond and either accept or refute the complaints. But nothing further can be said until ASA publish a conclusion

To the Advertising Standards Authority, from Ken Wilkinson 24/Sept/2015.

Regarding a paid for advert published in the Malton Gazette in the week of 23 Sept 2015.

FFR

I would like to complain about the content of this advert as I believe it contravenes your guidelines.

Complaint 1.

Frack Free Ryedale (FFR) have used a quote from a draft report from DEFRA that was never completed. It did not pass the standards required and did not present any new research. This was only published after a freedom of information request. As such this report would not represent a reasonable view of the matters being discussed. To quote https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-shale-gas-rural-economy-impactspaper ‘This paper is an early draft of an internal document; it is not analytically robust. Work on it has since been discontinued. The draft paper was intended as a review of existing literature. It includes early, often vague, assumptions which are not supported by appropriate evidence. These were never intended as considered Defra positions or as statements of fact. Containing no new evidence, the paper simply refers to data from overseas studies which cannot be used to predict impacts in the UK with any degree of reliability. The author of the paper was not asked to consider, and did not have an in-depth knowledge of, the UK regulatory framework. In June 2012, the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering report concluded that environmental (and health and safety) risks can be managed effectively in the UK if operational best practices are enforced through regulation. The UK has a rigorous and robust regulatory regime which is fully capable of preventing and managing any risks.’ As such, the use of this document as a source of data that will be used to inform the public is not acceptable and I believe that breaches your guidelines.

Complaint 2.

FFR have made a statement that ‘Fracking IS bad for business’. It would appear that the source for this is the DEFRA report above. However, even the flawed report uses the word ‘may’ several times, to indicate conditional statements. They are, by their very nature, only indicating a possibility. FFR have stated that fracking IS bad for business with no evidence to support that. The press widely reported that ‘Fracking could generate 33 billion pounds and 64000 jobs’ in a report prepared by Earnst and Young, in 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/24/fracking-generate-investment-jobsindustry-report-uk as such it would appear that FFR have presented an unsupported statement that does not follow expert opinion. As such this would appear to have breached your guidelines.

Complaint 3.

the phrase ‘industrialisation of the countryside’ used in the last statement is problematic. On 24th April 2013, the ASA passed a judgement regarding a similar matter concerning Cuadrilla and a complaint made by Refracktion. ASA complaint A12-203806. In this Cuadrilla claimed that the land usage was small, and the ASA appeared to have agreed with that assertion, as the complaint was rejected. A similar complaint was made in the Lancashire Planning debate, with Cuadrilla, and the idea that this type of development is ‘industrialisation’ was rejected by the planners. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/industrialization The development of industries in a country or region on a wide scale www.Dictionary.reference.com defines industrialisation as ‘an economic organization of society built largely on mechanized industry rather than agriculture, craftsmanship, or commerce’. Other dictionaries use a similar definition, namely that the extent of the industry must be large, and have the effect of displacing other ways of living, such as farming or tourism. It also indicates something that would be permanent. The drilling and operations proposed by the local drilling company are temporary, and as such cannot be considered as industrialisation. A small number of wellpads, each one having possibly 24 wells, one every 3 miles, and well concealed behind trees, would hardly constitute ‘industrialisation’. In the UK, we have an extensive gas infrastructure, and it is all buried, out of view, and safe. In the area where FFR are trying to influence opinion, there are 8 producing wells that have been drilled in the last 20 years or so, and these were not noticed. They also did not affect local tourism or business. FFR would appear to be trying to further the impression that wells would be drilled vertically, with no regard to the local environment, as this aerial view from FFR’s leaflet that was distributed in the area tries to show. This is from an old coal gas project in Australia, and as such is not a fair comparison. It take no account of local planning law, or the ability to drill horizontally, or the fact that no one is planning this kind of development. http://frackfreeryedale.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/GAS-EXPLORATION-IN-RYEDALELEAFLET.pdf

this is fracking

It also fails to recognise the study done by AMEC in 2013, that visualises various scenarios for the development of shale gas using horizontally drilled wells. On pages 29 and 30 of this you can see wellpads with up to 24 wells are visualised. It also states that the ‘Minimum distance between well pad sites ……5 km in most densely developed areas’. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/273997/DECC_S EA_Environmental_Report.pdf Looking at the impact of a wellpad, they are assessed as being of 2 to 3 hectares. Looking at a 5 km square, that amounts to a land take of around 1/10th of one percent, or 1 in a thousand. This would be the only surface impact, once pipelines were installed. The drilling with its rig, is only a temporary installation, and so not ‘industrialisation’.

km8 siteThe picture here is of the visible impact of KM8 well, where work is proposed. It will look exactly the same after the proposed work that FFR are complaining about. As guidance, please see the following links, regarding the surface impact on the tiny amount of land that would be used. https://millicentmedia.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/image-of-a-completed-well-pad-with-10- wells-computer-generated-cuadrilla-resources.jpg

deccimageThis graphic from the govt DECC shows the minimal surface impact of a multiwell site.

onshore3rd   Each mark is a well that has been drilled in the North Yorkshire area for hydro carbons. (courtesy Third Energy).

wych farm  This is one of the 10 wellpads in beautiful Poole harbour, where 100 wells have been drilled. They are difficult or impossible to see, as they are all carefully sited and concealed. They have drilled under the millionaires retreat, Sandbanks, reportedly the fourth most expensive land in the world. When communicating with Frack Free Ryedale, could you please keep my name anonymous, describing me simply as ‘a concerned member of the public’ or similar. I would also appreciate that this matter be taken to the council for adjudication. I have brought three complaints in the last two years against misinformation from ‘anti’ frack groups. In all three cases, they withdrew, and promised not to present the adverts again. In view of the intense discussion over this technology it would only seem fair, and in the public interest, that the ASA actually makes a ruling on these matters, rather than accept the promises of a group that may well completely ignore the ASA’s views. I asked for this to be done on two previous complaints, but that was ignored.

Regards,

Ken Wilkinson.

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