Cui bono?

At the tender age of twelve, I was a Thatcherite.

Is fracking for shale gas dangerous? The Spectator says not.

Fracking is not a pretty process: it involves drilling a large well and then pumping large quantities of water and sand down it in order to fracture the appropriate strata of rock. Once the rock is fractured, gas can seep into the well and be forced to the surface. But it isn’t anything like as hazardous as environmentalists — in a repeat of the fantasy and exaggeration which characterised the campaign against GM foods a decade ago — like to claim.

What about cost?

kilo­watt for kilowatt, energy generated from shale gas emits only half as much carbon as coal — the energy source which it is already beginning to replace in many American states. It is estimated that $4 spent on shale delivers the same energy as $25 spent on oil

So why do environmentalists oppose it? Because they are hysterical liars and puritans who want everyone to suffer:

The energy-scarce world of their dreams has been put off for a couple of centuries at least; instead we are staring at a future of potential energy abundance.

OK. Turn to Potomac Upstream, a blog I rather like. Here I find fracking described as the end of our World. So I asked her for sources, and she referred me to Salon. What do they say about the dangers?

In every fracking state but New York, where a moratorium against the process has been in effect since 2010, the gas industry has contaminated ground water, sickened people, poisoned livestock and killed wildlife.

And on cost of production, it refers to Wikipedia, which, citing the New York Times, states:

The degree to which production is economically viable remains uncertain as only high prices resulting from high demand can support the increased cost of production

What particularly irks me about this is the statements of fact. I have a degree, and the ability to understand complex concepts, even research them a little, but my specialism is restricted, and I cannot find for myself what is the cost or carbon footprint of fracking. These two sources tell me opposed things. Even if there are statistics which each can rely on, one at least is not telling the whole truth.

I love the Spectator’s slogan “Don’t think alike”. However, it seems to be strongly in favour of regimented thinking. At the tender age of 12, in a strongly Tory household, I was a Thatcherite, and reading the Spectator recently has caused my final break with the Conservative party. I could not bring myself to vote for my current MP.

I want to read to know about the World, not to reinforce my current prejudices, or get an emotional kick from anger at lying environmentalists or lying corporations. People need jobs. I get that. And NIMBY is not a good argument, so people may pretend to more general environmental concerns. But when I ask Who benefits? I think the corporations have a greater interest in distorting truth than the campaigners. I dislike not knowing, but need to admit when I actually do not know.

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8 thoughts on “Cui bono?

  1. New York is an interesting case because of the NYC watershed which provides drinking water to NYC and in some cases to places north of the city. The land and the reservoirs are part of an intricate, century-old system and is owned by NYC and policed by the Department of Environmental Protection. Protecting the land, providing buffer zones, cutting down on impervious surfaces can help protect the watershed. It is an amazing engineering feat this system. One of the problems with fracking is the potential to contaminate the drinking water. Checkout the Riverkeeper website: http://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/safeguard/gas-drilling/

    • It will take a lot to get me interested in the specific matter of fracking, even in Lancashire, a county where I used to live. Certain things I read do increase my level of concern, but not enough to make me make a serious study, let alone engage in activism. So I find it irksome when I see reporting putting a case, perhaps pushing it further than the truth really warrants. The most despicable example of that I know is Mr Blair’s argument persuading the Labour Party to vote for joining the invasion of Iraq, where it really mattered, and people needed to be trusted with the actual truth. But it happens all the time, trivially or seriously.

  2. It happens all the time, trivially and seriously and it’s why so many people can’t be bothered to care, don’ t you think? It’s not because they’re ignorant or lazy or incapable of cogitation. It’s because they literally cannot assemble enough realiable information from any side of any argument to make thinking about it worth their time.

    A few years back our neighbor, in his early 80s, bought his wife and himself their first computer for Christmas. We helped them set it up and get online and always when he’d pose a question in conversation we’d urge him to look it up, go look on the internet, you’ll find an answer. Finally we said that to him once and he said “Yeah, well, you know what you get when you go on the internet? More internet.”

    • Hello again.

      I think we do care, but caring is so difficult and consuming that we care about one important thing. If we care about too much, we accomplish nothing. How am I to decide between these two views? Even if I got to the level of scientific papers, there might be the same wide spectrum of view and difference of emphases and perspectives.

  3. Talk about serendipity!

    Clare you commented on my blog after finding me – and now you’re blogging about a topic that I am just getting into!! My father and I run an environmental services company here in the U.S. and we are both very interested in assisting these sites with soil restoration solutions.

    Divinity is an AWESOME thing!! Thank you for posting!

  4. Hey Clare – thanks for the call-out. I can relate to your journey from Thatcherism. Much as I am given to the occasional long-winded lefty rants in my blog, in fact I used to enjoy the bracing challenge of thoughtful conservative arguments – when those things existed. Particularly in the early Reagan years the avatars of the right were often less reliant on lazy phone-in platitudes than were the those from the self-satisfied liberal orthodoxy of the day. But as time progressed the cutting-edge thought process turned flabby and increasingly ideological. Those who call themselves conservative today are anything but. What they do, to considerable success, is to repeat the same tripe over and over again. The mainstream media for their part simply play the part of stenographer. Thus – as you so well put it – those who are educated and capable of reasoning but lack particular expertise in a specialist area do not emerge from an encounter with an MSM account any the wiser. Laziness and a lack of interest in real intellectual engagement are unfortunately the rule of the day. Ah well, we continue the good fight. Cheers – Katrina

    • I like your writing, so am happy to point people your way. I find political discourse depressing. Once, I thought I could get some understanding of what was right in politics, now I feel quite unable to do so.

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