Friday, 2 August 2013

Increasingly Fracktured Parties to the Climate Debate

The Guardian runs two articles today: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/02/uk-shale-gas-fracking-renewables and from the ever irascible and irrational Dana Nuccitelli, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/aug/02/climate-change-contrarianism-not-skepticism

I quote these because, of late, it seems that the Guardian is adopting a somewhat more mature attitude towards the debate on climate change with recent thought-provoking articles from the likes of Warren Pearce and climate scientist Tamsin Edwards, which evince a move away from the gnashing of teeth by mainstream warmists at the temerity of unqualified nobodies questioning anthropogenic global warming theory towards a more inclusive approach. Edwards, in particular, draws on her personal experience to question the role of climate scientists lured into advocacy by politicians and environmental pressure groups and lobbyists; so a breath of much needed fresh air in the heated and claustrophobic arena hosting Climate Wars. Nuccitelli of course does his best to counter this with his customary expellation of stale wind, cursing all those who dare to kick the tyres of his shiny Global Warming Bentley which he has so enjoyed cruising around on in the past but, of late, doesn't get out much, because the road is increasingly littered with inconvenient truths.

According to Nuccitelli, those who question global warming are not sceptics, they might possibly be labelled contrarians because they set themselves up in opposition it seems, simply as a matter of course and not principle, but really they're just 'concern trolls' who have nothing better to do with their time than inexpertly trying to pick holes in the unassailable fortress of Global Warming Theory. Whatever label you chose, we are all mischievous unscientific ignoramuses whose views should not be entertained at all lest we derail the 101% justifiable crusade to decarbonise UK industry and save the world.

I AM a contrarian. I set myself up in opposition to everything and everyone who seeks to muddy the waters of the climate debate and unnecessarily prolong a much needed and very overdue root and branch reassessment of the entire science of anthropogenic global warming. I do not have a political agenda and I try very hard to assess each issue on its particular merits, not according to a pre-programmed mindset. Which brings me to the other article in today's Guardian concerning fracking.

Andrew Simms says: "Renewables are, according to the International Energy Agency, now the fastest growing global energy sector, set to beat gas and generate double the supply from nuclear power by 2016. . . . . . . Yet, from the apparently 'desolate' north, to the Tory front line of the home counties, political priority is given to the development of shale gas, a difficult, dirty and inefficient fuel to exploit, whose extraction will accelerate climate change."

Greens will always be ant-fracking, if only because it destroys the prospect of ever achieving their dream of a green economy powered by windfarms and solar panels. Fracking, even for 'clean' gas, is ideologically as far removed from their position as coal-mining or the building of nuclear power plants. So of course, they will be hopping mad all over the country at the prospect of this invasive technology being used to extract gas from beneath their neighbourhoods. But is there a more rational reason why we should oppose fracking? Is it really as safe as the industry would have us believe? Are we really certain that it will not contaminate aquifers which have remained pure and pristine for centuries, if not millennia? Will the use of huge amounts of water in the process have any knock-on effects, for instance, possible water shortages, rising water bills? Will house prices in fracking areas plummet because of fears about subsidence and minor earth tremors?

I remain unconvinced with this latest 'dash for gas', in particular because it contradicts so acutely the government's public stance on renewables and the avoidance of climate change. That alone alerts me to the overriding possibility of yet more vested interests. Personally, I think we should be building nuclear power stations as of yesterday, plus investing in cleaner technologies for burning fossil fuels (coal and gas) of which there still remain significant unexploited conventionally accessible reserves. ANY means of power generation necessarily involves pollution somewhere on the planet, even 'clean green'. We need to engage our critical faculties a lot more in deciding which sources we are going to exploit instead of relying upon crooked ideology and quick-fix solutions.