Someone asked me this week why I’ve not mentioned fracking, which is currently the national bogey-thing. It’s the end of modern life as we know it, apparently.
The simple answer is that, even with a good (though fading) knowledge of geology, I didn’t know enough.
On one hand is the fact that France has banned fracking. With French energy company Total forced to the UK to frack, the veto in its homeland has been mentioned more than once. But this is probably less about the dangers of fracking than the fact that France has an energy policy. The UK does not, and more of that shortly. The French know where their energy is coming from, and can do without fracking which – as with any large-scale industrial process – has an environmental impact.
I don’t believe the claims that fracking has no side effects. I’ve read stories in the US where it has polluted groundwater, forcing people to ship in bottled water. Some people can light the fluid (it’s not water) that comes out of the taps. America is huge and fracking is carried out in remote areas, whereas England is small and there are no remote areas. Any danger to water supplies must be taken seriously.
I don’t see how earthquakes produced by mining are reported in a joking way as interesting and exciting, while earthquakes from fracking are practically the precursors to a zombie attack. An earthquake is an earthquake, surely?
I don’t buy the cheap fuel excuse for fracking. Self-sufficiency, maybe but cheap, no. Gas is sold on a world market and, if we add to the world supply, someone somewhere will produce less to hold the price up. Most of our gas suppliers are also the wholesalers, so I can easily see prices going up not down.
That’s all irrelevant, though: science and economics aside, the fact that the Government and the gas industry see the need to bribe us is enough to suggest that it’s a bad idea. We were bribed with cheap shares to accept energy privatisation in the first place, and look how well that turned out.
So: no to fracking, until we have more research.
But there’s a deeper problem, and that’s us. I realised this week that one reason Britain is in a mess is not because of big business or inept politicians but because of us, the people. We moan about EVERYTHING, even when two moans hold contradictory positions.
We moan about fracking, wind power, wave power, coal-powered power stations, nuclear power and waste incinerators – in fact anything to do with solving our power generation issues. We’ve had stories from people complaining about wind turbines, waste incinerators, biomass burners . . . . yet it seems to me that the dangers of doing nothing (global warming) are worse than any of the options.
The end result is that our Government has no national energy policy, but staggers from one alternative to another as the tabloids whip up hostility to whatever they don’t like that day. Fracking is just the latest. Tomorrow it could be tidal barriers.
The sensible option would seem to be nuclear for the backbone of power generation, with green generation – offshore and on-shore turbines, solar – being used as much as possible and whenever possible. But governments, whose little piggy eyes can see no further than the next election, are hog-tied by the constant moaning into doing nothing. Whatever they do will lose votes, because everyone is mostly opposed to everything.
Then there’s drugs, another area where we have no policy. That’s because people moan about dope fiends, drug-related crime and smackheads, but also any serious attempts to discuss the issues, again whipped up by the tabloids. Any politician who suggest a serious drugs debate would be pilloried by the Daily Mail. So we currently allow drugs industry to be managed (in many cases) by violent psychopaths, and while one drug (smoking) kills 50% of users, the tabloids go into a feeding frenzy when the odd person dies from a recreational drug.
Housing policy? People moan about banks, high house prices and the cost of mortgages but then moan about most plans to build new houses.
Roads? Almost as bad as energy. People moan about traffic jams and pollution, as well as new roads that might alleviate the issue, then moan about being overweight and not getting enough exercise while moaning about having to pay to park, a move that in part was intended to make people exercise more.
Moan, moan, moan.
Never mind fracking: if we could harness the hot air produced by the English moaning about everything, we’d solve the world’s energy problems at a stroke.