Those masochists among you who follow The Slog regularly will be aware of my objections to fracking in Britain, but to summarise again (hit the search engine for ‘fracking’ if you want to see all the blogs) the energy extraction method raises three huge problems for any United Kingdom government considering it:
1. It is colossally heavy on water use, and given that our under-invested water supply system here is groaning already under the weight of people generally emitting waste products and otherwise keeping clean, it seems a tad silly to threaten the water infrastructure so we can have more heated water less reliably.
2. In an overpopulated country already busy paving over its agricultural land for car parks and houses, the proposal seems to be that we dig up the rest of it in order to extract energy wastefully, noisily and messily…in search of more supplies of a dead-end technology that will be superseded within twenty years.
3. The biggest and best databased argument of all is this one: the diminishing returns on fracking wells in the US show that all this threat to water infrastructure and further lost land is going to be pathetically short-term. There was yet another excellent and balanced account of this at Testosterone Pit yesterday, where Wolf Richter’s writer Dajahi Wiley relayed more evidence on the shocking (and rapid) output depletion rates over three years..as well as two other well-researched commercial factors that should be more than enough to frighten even most franaticks off.
But not enough for our very own James Delingpole, who has posted this piece at Breitbart. Objectively headlined ‘Luvvies unite against shale gas, jobs, cheap energy and economic growth’ (four unproven assumptions in a headline would be good even by Mail/Sun standards) this is James’s argument: if a bunch of luvvies all sign a petition against fracking, it only goes to further prove that fracking must be A Very Good Thing. It is certainly true to say that luvvies have little or no commercial perspective on the whole; but there is an air of vicious desperation in the way that the Delingpolar One piles into some of the petitioners:
Russell Brand – literally constructed by the Devil from his own toe-jam, belly-fluff and stray pubic hair. Charming.
Frankie Boyle – faux hard-man comic who keeps ruining it with his achingly right-on tweets and his propensity to sign fluffy round robins at the behest of brain-dead eco-activists. Nyeeece.
Jeremy Hardy – left-wing comedian who has struggled for material ever since Margaret Thatcher ceased to be prime minister. Listen to more Radio 4 James: you don’t know what you’re missing.
Anyway, having eliminated himself from a dozen Christmas Card lists, JD displays the luvvie thesis:
‘The government says that fracking is safe even though it is banned in several European countries and US states. There is substantial evidence showing that fracking causes water stress risks water contamination and soil contamination, earth tremors – and is a threat to human, wildlife, bird, fish and livestock health. This technology will not bring down fuel bills and will not provide a jobs boom, but it has the potential to leave a damaging environmental legacy for future generations.’
This James denigrates as follows: ‘Almost every word of that paragraph is a lie or a grotesque distortion of the truth.’
The link to THE TRUTH (oh dear, here we go again) takes us to Matt Ridley, whose arguments are the same old same old…but again, do not address the three specific UK and general databased doubts I expressed earlier in this post.
Neither does James’s Breitbart Bash Fest. I have two problems with it: First, the assertion “almost every word”, which is obvious drivel: fracking is banned in several EU & US States and it will leave a legacy in the UK…of hundreds of dirty great holes and unsafe ground of no further purpose after three years tops. Contamination, earthquakes and animal health I accept as unsafe arguments because, again, the evidence either way is inconclusive. But stress on the UK water system is a near mathematical certainty.
Second, having dismissed the petition as ‘celebrity eco-sabotage’, Delingpole finally dons the Nazi armband by approving of how, in Canada, ‘Prime Minister Stephen Harper has shown the way by banning government meteorologists from sounding off about “climate change”.’ Waydergo there, Jimbo: how about we burn a few books too, huh? How about some slogans on billboards? I thought maybe, ‘I hate lefties and luvvies, ergo all lefties are luvvies”. Listen mate, it worked for Goebbels.
Superficial arguments, shouting, and the use of childishly insulting words are the stock in trade of the neoliberal. James’s chum Dan Hannan and his “Let’s get fracking!” gung-ho stuff also regularly call all those who disagree ‘lefties’ and ‘tree huggers’.
But what the neolibs also demonstrate is an intolerance of opposition and burial of awkward facts that don’t fit the polemic. Many of them are also – like Friedman himself – utterly devoid of commercial experience. In this sense, of course, they’re no different to the Left. For James Delingpole read Harriet Harman. For Boris Johnson read Ed Balls. For Dan Hannan read Ed Miliband.
That last parallel there might seem a little bizarre, but think about it: Hannan persists in ignoring the depletion and water stress factors against fracking, Miliband insists on putting his blind eye to the light on wind power. There is not a rice paper of difference between the two: they are both amateur plonkers imposing their ideology of ignorance on the rest of us….and to hell with the consequences.
I used to think James Delingpole a man at least in part from the libertarian school. Quite why and how he can these days associate himself with rentagob chatshow retweets and illiberal globalism is a mystery to me. Perhaps he might one day clarify it for me by answering The Slog’s evidenced points with something more than the distraction of false accusation.
Related pieces at The Slog: Comparing 1913 to 2013 and other lunacies