Sunday, 11 March 2012

More negative public perception for shale gas

<inserts tongue int cheek>Hate to say I told you so, but even Dilbert associates fracking with earthquakes and water pollution: www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/2012-03-02/ </removes tongue from cheek>. I must admit, during my teenage years I was a bit of a Dilbert fan (my brother had all of the books, which I used to borrow).

While I appreciate that a Dilbert cartoon is hardly something to get worked up about, a worrying trend is developing (as noted in my previous post about the UoT study) where shale gas becomes connected in the public sphere with earthquakes and pollution, and little else of benefit, with obvious consequences for the future development of this potentially valuable resource. This despite only one properly documented and evinced (albeit still hotly disputed) example of water contamination (Pavilion, Wy), and one incidence of the generation of a small earthquake (Blackpool, UK) amid the now millions of hydrofractured wells.

I'll stop here for an aside, which made me doubly chuckle when I saw the Dilbert cartoon. During my teenage years I was also a bit of a Clive Cussler fan (again, my brother had the books, I borrowed, etc etc etc......). One book, 'The Treasure of Khan' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_of_Khan) featured a Mongolia oil mogul as the baddie, who'd got his hands on a machine capable of creating earthquakes. If memory serves, apparently it worked in a manner not unlike fracking. Obviously, in this work of FICTION, Dirk Pitt battles through heroically to save the day. In reality, of all the fracking in the US and UK, only two fracks (at Cuadrilla's Blackpool site) have ever produced felt quakes. But it's good to see that Mr Cussler was well ahead of the curve on this one.......

Aside over - how big were the earthquakes produced at Blackpool? While I've not seen any raw data myself, I'll warrant that they wouldn't have been as significant as those produced by Rihanna et al during concerts in Hyde Park. I look forward to seeing all those anti-fracking activists spending as much time trying to get Rihanna banned from these shores as well (and if you want to talk about local contamination, I've seen the aftermath of the Reading festival, and it ain't pretty!).

Net benefits of a rock concert in Hyde Park: some people get to pay lots of money to an already wealthy artist to have a good time for a few hours. Net benefits of shale gas development in the UK - the potential for hundreds of new jobs created directly, billions for the exchequer to help pay off our deficit, economic stimulation provided by cheaper gas prices providing a stimulus to our manufacturing industries, and facilitating a switch from coal-fired to gas-fired power stations, reducing CO2 emissions. Yet if I tried to get Rihanna banned I'd be (rightly) considered a weirdo, and a massive kill-joy, but pushing for an outright ban on shale gas some people would consider me a hero.

Still, I do love a bit of Dilbert ;-)

4 comments:

  1. I'm fairly sure the Dilbert books were Dad's, actually. No comment on the trashy Clive Cussler stuff, except that I think they were mostly Christmas presents from Mum rather than anything I chose myself :-)

    Best of luck with getting the world to listen to science rather than media hype though. Especially media hype with explosions and earthquakes in it. You need all the help you get for that one.

    Pete

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  2. No need to make excuses - let's face it if I can remember the story then it can't have been that bad

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