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Don’t Let The Watermelons Kill The Shale Gas Revolution

Imagine if we were to discover a new form of cheap, clean energy so abundant that it will provide our needs at least for the next two centuries, freeing us from the pervasive early 21st century neurosis of having to worry about “peak oil” or “conserving scarce resources”, causing a worldwide economic boom and with the added side-benefit of creating more fertiliser so that we can not only heat our homes more cheaply than ever before but also eat more cheaply than ever before.

Imagine how Environmentalists would react if such a miracle came into being.

Actually we don’t need to imagine for the miracle is already here. It’s called Shale Gas and is the subject of a thrilling new report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation by Matt Ridley with a foreword by Professor Freeman Dyson. Neither Ridley nor Dyson is in much doubt that shale gas is the answer to our prayers.

As Dyson puts it in his foreword:

Because of shale gas, the air in Beijing will be cleaned up as the air in London was cleaned up sixty years ago. Because of shale gas, clean air will no longer be a luxury that only rich countries can afford. Because of shale gas, wealth and health will be distributed more equitably over the face of our planet.

And how have the Environmentalists reacted? Why they’re trying to kill the whole thing stone dead, of course.

First, like activist director Josh Fox, they make a Michael-Moore-meets-Al-Gore-style polemic called Gasland.

Then, they pile in with a scary-sounding study from Cornell University warning of hideously increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Then our very own purveyor of pseudo-scientific eco-doom the Tyndall Centre comes up with more scary warnings, gleefully reported by theiramen corner in the MSM (Roger Harrabin et al)

And hey presto, before the shale gas industry can properly take off the image has already been planted in a susceptible public’s brain: shale gas is bad because it involves a process called “fracking”, which sounds unnatural and frightening and a bit swear-wordy, and because it involves gas leaks into the water table and methane leaks into the atmosphere or something like that, and because all the “experts” say it ought to be investigated further (ie delayed indefinitely) on the “precautionary principle.” We have been here before, haven’t we?

Look, I really didn’t want my first blog after my break to be about environmentalism or global ruddy warming or energy issues of any kind (I’d meant to write about Texas, but Texas will have to wait). The problem is this is the most important story of our time. It’s bigger than the Royal Wedding; it’s far, far more enduring than Osama Bin Laden; it will benefit our lives (and those of our grandchildren and great great great grandchildren) in almost unimaginably myriad ways. Yet how many people turned up to the GWPF’s press conference this morning? About a dozen. And how much space will this wonderful, positive, uplifiting story be given in the mainstream media? Far, far less than the space given to Fox’s tendentious agitprop flick, or the (roundly debunked) reports by Cornell and the Tyndall centre, that’s for sure.

I leave it to Matt Ridley to explain in his report why the advantages of shale gas vastly outweigh the (very minor) disadvantages.

What I simply want to do here in my first blog back (and no, my health thing hasn’t got better yet, I’m afraid, so please don’t expect me to be too Stakhanovite in my production rate) is remind you of the horrendous socio-political crisis we in the free world are facing today: one in which economic progress and commonsense threaten to be undermined at every turn by an insidious, mendacious and terrifyingly powerful global green movement which has its tentacles in almost every pie from the Obama administration to David Cameron’s Coalition to the EU to the UN to the MSM to the schools, universities and NGOs. The ideology of these Watermelons has virtually nothing to do with saving the environment (if it were, they’d be embracing shale gas wholesale) and almost everything to do with an instinctive loathing for economic growth combined with a bullying, puritanical urge to impose energy policy by diktat rather than by allowing the market to decide the most effective method.

Shale gas won’t die: the economic arguments in its favour are too powerful for it to be ignored (especially in countries like Poland, which has massive shale gas reserves and, like most of the former Eastern Bloc really has no desire to be blackmailed by Vladimir Putin’s Russia any longer than is necessary). But what we are going to see in the next few months and years are very concerted efforts by green campaigners and their sympathisers in the EU to besmirch the name of shale gas in favour of their preferred (and – of course – disastrously expensive and environmentally destructive) power source, renewable energy.

We mustn’t allow them to get away with it. Our economic future – not to mention the size of our fuel bills – depends on it.

The Daily Telegraph, 4 May 2011