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A Magazine for Sheffield

We're All Fracked.

Was ‘fracking’ supposed to sound rude, like masturbation, or is that just me? When the 2010 film Gasland indicated that ‘hydraulic fracturing’ poisons air and water with toxic chemicals and radioactive contamination, causing chronic health problems, it was shocking. Risky new technology. But that was then, this is now. There was a brief moratorium following those earthquakes caused by fracking in Lancashire. Then it was lifted, and now the government has slashed taxes to encourage fracking. Even Balcombe is old news. It’s happening. Get over it. Want to know why? Energy policy isn’t decided at local level, nor nationally. It’s global. The rich and powerful meet, agree and go ahead. You and I aren’t even a pebble in the road to these people. Energy is the economy, and we’re stupid. Lord Howell of Guildford, George Osborne’s father-in-law, chairs the Windsor Energy Group’s multinational business level meetings, stuffed full of former diplomats, sirs, lords and OBEs. Participants include British, Chinese and various other governments, NATO, Aegis, BP, Shell and British Gas. The results of meetings aren’t publicly disclosed. No surprise there. Plans are laid at summits held in the grounds of Windsor Castle. With connections like this, no wonder that sweet-sounding Cuadrilla, exploring for shale gas in Britain, is chaired by Baron Browne of Madingley, former BP chief and holder of more non-executive directorships than anyone could find time for. It gets worse. Cuadrilla is part owned by Riverstone Holdings, a multi-billion dollar private equity group, with one founder a former Goldman Sachs investment banker, and the massive, dodgy Carlyle group as a partner. Gosh, did Lord Howell really say that fracking should be done in the North East because it’s ‘desolate’? What a surprise. That’s called setting up a straw man. It’s the oldest tactic in the book to distract people from the real issues. Soon afterwards, David Cameron said southerners will have to accept it too. It’s all about cheap energy, and won’t damage the countryside much. See what they did there? Three complete distractions from larger, more important problems like public health and the environment. Blatant pre-meditated manipulation, obvious to anyone who knows about such things. But hey, we might get lower gas bills or free sweeties. The Sheffield Telegraph seems to have swallowed a government press release designed deliberately to calm fears; a survey shows there’s gas under the Peak District but don’t worry, they won’t drill there. Probably. What they don’t say is that licences have recently been granted to drill next door in Rotherham, and that planning permission was sneaked through under the radar with little or no public awareness, exactly as happened in many other cases. There’s no point in knowing that a global backlash against the fossil fuel industry is gathering momentum, a huge coalition of groups called Global Power Shift; that even South Yorkshire will be seeing protests soon. Nor is it worth considering the academic report ‘The Economics of Low Carbon Cities’, which concludes that investment in climate solutions could create over 6,000 jobs and add £300 million annually to Sheffield’s economy. Sheffield Campaign Against Climate Change have a link on their website. If you’re interested, there’s a free book, Fracking The UK, downloadable from the Defend Lytham website shown below, and you can see who’s planning to drill in your area on the Greenpeace website. But what’s the point? Of course we’ve got to ‘de-carbonise’, but slowly, like sucking on a liquorice stick. It takes time. Don’t let those loony environmentalists worry you. Zero Carbon Britain says that we could and should go carbon-neutral, but the problems aren’t technical, they’re cultural. So who listens to groups like that? Well, OK, actually the highly influential International Energy Agency says we could stop energy-related carbon emissions by 2020, and that it would be cheaper to act than not to, while recent research indicates that fracking could produce as many greenhouse gas emissions as coal production. But who are we to complain? Why should we think we know better than mega-industries and governments? We’re nothing but annoying fleas to them. And yet, as a Japanese proverb quoted on Refracktion’s website says, “Many fleas make big dog move”. )

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