This week in Lancashire promises to be the shale gas version of the Scopes Monkey Trial. That was the trial in 1925 which pitted Fundamentalists agains Modernists over a Tennessee law that prohibited the teaching of evolution. There are certain similarities, and I won’t insult Lancastrians by alleging there are similarities between early twentieth century yahoos and the Lancashire County Council’s Councillors who voted against fracking and the advice of their own planning officers based solely on the braying of a mob outside the courthouse.
The recent DECC tracker survey has several fascinating sub-texts. Business Green, which goes out of it’s way to antagonise its many subscribers and advertisers among mainstream, grown up renewable industries who have no issue with the role of natural gas in the energy mix, trumpeted the story thus:
The more people know about fracking, the less they like it – Five things we’ve learnt from the latest DECC tracker poll
“Support for fracking appears to be inversely linked to awareness, as those who know more about fracking tend to be more likely to oppose it”
The second own goal by the Friends of the Earth team (and the occasional junior Greenpeace activists whose views are rarely shared at head office these days) was the rather embarrassing failure of the No Fracking Way National Gathering 2016 on January 31.
I could use ignominious, humiliating and mortifying as well, but let’s stick to some facts. According to the anti fracking network of activists, they are the mere tip of an iceberg of the anti shale gas movement that will successfully block onshore natural gas, often via an effort to discourage investors by exaggerating their numbers. The other side of the meme is painting the effort to designate shale as nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIP) as being anti-democratic.
That’s a bit inconsistent as FoE and Greenpeace think the Conservative’s government roll back of previously designating wind projects as NSIP is also somehow a blow to democracy. Hopefully we can all agree that democracy is all about the views of the majority. Antis are quick to use opinion polls as proof, and I’ll talk about this weeks DECC tracking survey later. One can have opinion polls galore, but it’s actual polls that settle the argument as the May 2015 election showed.
Friends of the Earth UK, either the charity which allegedly can’t take a stance on fracking, or the company which does and at some length, shot two goals into their own net recently that could well ensure a win for the UK onshore oil and gas industry. One was highlighting how serious the UK government really is about onshore natural gas. The other, more of which in the Part Two report, involves a truly embarrassing over reach in the alleged public opposition to shale.
Most of the energy conventional wisdom of the past few years, at least in the financial and government world, has a consistent track record of two things: Being wrong and still getting paid for it.
It’s very easy to be right after the fact, but before takes things more important than the always useful combination of luck or skill. It needs an open mind, a willingness to be wrong, and an ability not to think outside the box, but to say, we don’t even need no stinking boxes.
Here’s two examples, this today from the very smart people (and I mean that) at Timera Energy. They published this today: Five market surprises for 2016.