The bizarre demonstrations in Lancashire, where protestors are trying to disrupt work at the Cuadrilla site on Preston New Road has bumbled along this week.
It’s absurd because the main fear of the residents is about traffic disruption impacting local residents. So the best way the allegedly local demonstrators show their displeasure is – to cause traffic disruption, What next? A free buffet to protest food waste?
One day this week they caused a four hour traffic jam by slow walking in front of two (2!) trucks. Under some obscure law, or their interpretation of it, they can always walk on the public highway and can’t get arrested for blocking traffic as long as one keeps moving, albeit as slow as you please. I haven’t heard of this technique on motorways and doubt it would work in front of the Prime Minister’s car either, but the absurdity of the ploy is making even old supporters roll their eyes. It’s also causing displeasure among local residents stuck in the very jams demonstrators are tying to protect them from.
It’s quite clear that the biggest impact of fracking on local communities is those demonstrating against impact. This is pretzel logic, not the great Steely Dan album, but defined by the Urban Dictionary as ” fallible, twisted or circular reasoning that when dissected is wrong, does not make sense or does not explain the situation rationally”
Strangely enough, the pretzel logic meme which first arose in the weapons of mass destruction debate in Iraq, is also often used by demonstrator’s favourite bêtes noires those climate deniers, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump. Strange bedfellows indeed.
Someone at least has had the sense to jump out of bed with the Lancashire and Yorkshire “movement”. The previously noisy anti fracking clique around Friends of the Earth have been remarkably less vocal, if not totally silent about the demos both online and in real life. Not one FoE placard has been hoisted in Lancashire, perhaps after they were recently hoisted on their own petard over the ASA affair. Has their been a falling out among fiends as one of my typos which ducked under spell check once inadvertently, if aptly, described them ?
As fountainhead of UK shale opposition, both the industry and the rest of the environmental movement should welcome any more grown up FoE emphasis on climate. Keep it in the ground is too simple. Keep coal in the ground, and either keep other countries’ gas in the ground or allow that gas to lower gas prices globally so coal is defeated worldwide, not just in the UK? Well that won’t fit in a hashtag. It’s called GLOBAL warming for a reason. Local actions might make those who stand by the side of the road shouting feel good, but on world basis, they actually cause demonstrable harm.
On that subject, a recent campaign co-sponsored by the Friends of the Earth , The Coal Action Network is long overdue.
Join Coal Action Network, Friends of the Earth and London Mining Network for a creative demonstration to demand an end to coal in the UK now.
February 8th 2017
12 noon – demonstration
10am-6pm public sculpture-making (drop-in)
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
3 Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2AW
It could be a creative way for the FoE to recycle some of the gas masks and left over smoke bombs so often used in anti onshore gas demonstrations. It would be far more creative to leave BEIS out of it. It’s already official government policy to remove coal from generation by 2025. In fact that policy is so successful coal use in the UK has fallen dramatically and even stopped entirely over summer 2016: a rare case of a UK government energy policy reaching targets early.
It doesn’t really matter if FoE churns out press releases with headlines touting the impact of renewables in the victory over coal while ignoring the role lower world gas prices and efficiency also played. FoE need a victory, and I’m happy to celebrate with them on this.
But BEIS are too easy a target. Why on earth, since this is about global warming, don’t they go instead to this London based organisation only 20 minutes walk away?
149 – 151 Regent Street
The World Coal Association invented Green astroturfing long ago.
Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by a grassroots participant(s).
Perhaps FoE are intimidated by the far larger financial resources the WCA have at their disposal? Or perhaps a handful of people demonstrating outside a government building on a side street is an easier target less likely to get a police response than slow walking down one of London’s busiest shopping streets? Karl Lagerfeld and L’ Occitane de Provence won’t like the FoE disrupting their customers to interrupt the WCA’s business on the fifth floor.