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« Pielke Sr and the decline of the AGU | Main | Fracking far away - Josh 236 »

Greens back shale

This is a bit of a turnup for the books:

One [green] group in Surrey set up to encourage sustainable living has come out in favour of exploration and fracking, the process which may have to be used in future to extract the oil and gas.

Transition Dorking says it has surprised even itself.

But it looked at the evidence and came to the conclusion producing fuel locally may be less damaging to the environment than importing fossil fuels.

They should expect a visitation from the climate police, I would say.

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Reader Comments (56)

This is at the heart of the turn-up for such a group:

it looked at the evidence

Haven't they heard that the Royal Society's leadership has thrown Nullius in Verba under a bus?

Has Postmodern Science passed them by?

What about The Cause?

Whatever, the development is an encouraging one.

PS. I just found a quote that came to mind from Instapundit some years ago:

A SCIENTIFIC THEORY is judged by its predictive powers. Bah. Comrades, we must distinguish between mere bourgeois science, which is concerned with sterile facts and predictions, and Revolutionary Science, which is concerned with what will promote the Revolution.

Not quite as relevant as I'd hoped, but I fear this Transition Group might get accused of failing to promote 'right thinking' one way or another.

Aug 23, 2013 at 4:53 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

"They surprised themselves" - it sounds like they commented in a trance-like state and then awoke. Whatever they are on it seems powerful stuff.

Aug 23, 2013 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek

Local gas is not just better for the environment, it means we don't have to get mixed up with the Middle East's never-ending conflicts.

Think of the children: frack for peace.

I hope the stuff is really down there....


Aug 23, 2013 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

Caroline Lucas is on her way now...

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:00 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

I'm never one to say 'told you so' except when I clearly have:

The advent of a very public debate about fracking seemed a good moment to think again about some of these things, because, whether we realise it or not, we have gained new allies in the past few weeks.

I didn't know the first lot were going to be from Dorking. The surprising of themselves I could have predicted. How do we get Bishop Hill ready to welcome these folk?

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:01 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

"Transition Dorking"

From what to what?

Is it a verb? "What were you just doing?" "I was transition-dorking".

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

Most remarkable aspect of the story? That we should hear it through the BBC!

From an initial position of them having been relentlessly negative at the Beeb, I think I have recently noticed a very slight change of tack over fracking. Have arms been twisted?

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Jack Savage: It's been the gentlest of persuasion. An Appeal to Reason, as Nigel Lawson put it so well. How do I know? Because with the demonisation - deniers, fossil fuel conspiracy theories and the rest - came the need to be whiter than white in the way we operated, or total exclusion would be the result. Now we reap the rewards. There is a very real change. How we respond to it is also key.

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:12 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Time for a 'Downfall' video with Ed Davey in the bristle-face role?

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Richard Drake,

"How we respond to it is key."

I say we enjoy a drink and chill out. Mother Nature has the whole thing covered. There's absolutely nothing we can say that is as powerful as a graph that slowly limps downwards. We just need to point to it from time to time.

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

Amazing that fracking which has been going on for more than a century in America, (with the commercially viable hydraulic techniques since 1947), can still be described as "new".

With much new production coming from previously drilled sites, it surely fits the "conserve, reuse and recycle" doctrine. As fracked production will exceed non-fracked shortly, "unconventional" will have to be dropped as a scare word.

"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." Are Greens really prepared for this?

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

James Evans: Mother Nature is doing her part, to be sure. But there's always this gap between the 'is' and the 'ought'. Getting to the pub with Transition Dorking would be an art in itself. I want to be ready and not blow the chance. Because, without subscribing to panic, the time is short.

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:33 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


"How do we get Bishop Hill ready to welcome these folk?"

With spliffs..?

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:41 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

jamesp: Ha. I'm as open as the next man but having never even had a puff of a tobacco cigarette, let alone less legal substances, I'm going to have let you take the lead there. :)

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:48 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


"Because, without subscribing to panic, the time is short."

I think that's catastrophism. I don't think time is short. It's annoying that it takes some people so long to drop the clamour. But they'll drop it. And then they'll go on to protesting about how we're all going to die from evil-banker-disease or something.

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans


" I'm as open as the next man but having never even had a puff of a tobacco cigarette, let alone less legal substances, I'm going to have let you take the lead there."

You're clearly not as open as the next man. I am the next man. I have done hash, grass, speed, acid, coke, e, you name it. That's being open. Saying you're open and not doing anything beyond a glass of sherry is not being open.

Aug 23, 2013 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

James: I meant open to ideas on how to win over Transition Dorking. But I admire your commitment to experiment, in the true scientific tradition.

As for catastrophism, I admit that on the social and political implications of the power-seeking behind CAGW I think dystopias of various kinds remain possible. On the other hand history tells me that every individual matters. That's the way I read it. And right now I am very encouraged.

You are welcome to interpret everything differently. I've been arguing on Everyone on this blog that that's a deceptive phrase, because we are very different. The new front that's opened up over shale gas - and the new allies we've unexpectedly gained as a result - will reveal this more. Or I believe they should.

Aug 23, 2013 at 6:07 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves! You're all individuals!

Aug 23, 2013 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

I'm not.

Aug 23, 2013 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

Praise, where it's due.

Aug 23, 2013 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public


As a christian, you haven't crawled far from the crib. I take all your comments with that in mind.

Aug 23, 2013 at 6:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

James: I don't think Jesus lived a very safe life, given how often they tried to kill him. A hard act to follow but that's the idea.

Aug 23, 2013 at 6:33 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Dial it back a bit, eh? I doubt that Transition Dorking would be interested in Bishop Hill blog as "allies" in anything and I'm afraid you're coming across as a wee bit patronising here.
Yes, it's good news that an environmental group has come to the conclusion, based on the evidence, that fracking is not the bogeyman that Lucas and her allies want you to believe. [Not that she (or they) really believe it at all. Remember my mantra for global warming and for modern environmentalism in general: it was, is, and will be always about the politics not the science.
And precious little to do with the good of the environment either]
If you scratch any of the "concerned local citizens" that are running blogs or giving interviews to the Beeb you will find an activist lurking. The real people, which it looks as if this group are, will make up their own minds in due course and it only needs a couple of them and a couple of drilling operations, perhaps over local opposition, to be proved as safe and as unobtrusive as the supporters claim for the whole house of cards to come tumbling down.
If we try to interfere with that process by supporting groups that have "seen the light" we are essentially no different — though probably less invasive — than the Balcombe activists.
On the other hand if anyone cares to contribute their experiences or their doubts to this blog then I am sure we will all do our best to keep them on the right track as far as we understand it. This is a situation that calls for a reactive response rather than a pro-active one.
In my opinion.

Aug 23, 2013 at 6:37 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Are there many windmills in the environs of Dorking? Are any expected?

Aug 23, 2013 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterLuther Bl't


I think you have a very unscientific idea of what happened two thousand years ago.

I know you like to adore heroes, but I don't think you recognise feeble propaganda when you see it. I have spent many years studying the gospels. The early history of the Gospel of the Hebrews has been a particular fascination of mine. Jerome's comments in this area are rather aggravating, as I'm sure you'll agree. If you would like a private email conversation on all of this then let me know at thrib at btinternet dot com.

This thread will be snipped if we don't get back on topic soon.

Aug 23, 2013 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

James: I take the canonical gospels seriously as history and you are smart enough to work that out. Within that view the idea of Jesus as unadventurous is bollocks. Within yours he may have been as weak as water. I don't wish to enter debate on it. I can live with the fact you have a different view.

Mike: Don't worry, I'm not going to invade anyone's private space. But I do think we could work on our empathy here. That single word will do.

Aug 23, 2013 at 7:15 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


"James: I take the canonical gospels seriously as history..."

OK, I no longer need to consider your views. We each have our own axioms. According to mine, you are an idiot. Have you read and analysed the writings of the Early Church Fathers? Easily available on the interwebs. Google is your friend.

I'm talking about evidence and rationality. I think they're important.

Or you could just believe stuff.

My uncle was a unicorn who was the nephew of god.

Aug 23, 2013 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

Yes. These light greens will have the Press all over them too if they keep this up. Lets conjugate the verb transition dork ( I don't suppose that Wendy James is fronting it - she of the two arthritic hands).

Aug 23, 2013 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

I read that as "a bit of a turnip for the books" - thinking about vegetables I suppose.

Aug 23, 2013 at 7:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

[Not that she (or they) really believe it at all. Remember my mantra for global warming and for modern environmentalism in general: it was, is, and will be always about the politics not the science.
And precious little to do with the good of the environment either]

Mike, if you were to be guided by me, you would not try to tell us what people really believe, where this differs from what they say. It lacks respect. Further, it underestimates Man's capacity for self-delusion - or faith, if you prefer. If I have a particular world-view (as I do) I am not going to be immediately jolted out of it by a few inconvenient facts. I have a duty to assess those facts (they may not turn out to be facts at all, or they may have - or might have - a simple explanation, or a complicated one, or remain inconsistent with my position, but not so fundamentally as to compel me to abandon it). I may fail in my duty, and that failure may be understandable or blameworthy, but nevertheless I may maintain my original faith, however dubious it appears to you. Give me credit for that, and don't tell me I'm lying about what I believe!

I'm not saying you're wrong about the political motivation, though personally I doubt this is the driver. I think most people's prime motivation is to think well of themselves - one I understand and share. To tell them (or us, of them) that they don't believe what they say is too like their accusation of us that we're paid by BIg Oil.

Aug 23, 2013 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

I know a few of the Transition Cheltenham folk. They are very keen on permaculture. And they adore the idea of locally grown food and clothes.

This isn't isolationism or even survivalism. It is a cultural belief that taking responsibility for your own consumption of resources is a good thing.

I disagree with them only on account of the benefits of trade.

But I agree with them in terms of locally produced energy. The difference is they want solar panels (made where?) and windmills (ditto) while I want reliables.

But the Transition - localist - principles do lead to support for the UK fossil fuel industry.
At least in the short term.

Aug 23, 2013 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterM Courtney


Further, it underestimates Man's capacity for self-delusion - or faith, if you prefer.
I don't prefer. If you do not see a difference between faith and self-delusion then there is no purpose in my trying to engage with you since we are never going to be in the same wavelength..
My experience of environmentalists, and especially the modern political incarnation, is that they are determined to have their way regardless of the effect on the rest of humanity. The origins of the global warming cult lie firmly within the realm of politics. The scientists and their "science" (which as we know is increasingly calling itself into question) followed.
Rather like the relationship between CO2 and temperature, no?

Aug 23, 2013 at 8:22 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

All ideological/political movements have orthodoxies. However, and ultimately, people mob up because they agree on something, not because they agree on everything. These greenies are changing their minds on fracking as others have on nuclear and many other topics. This only appears unusual in terms of the Green orthodoxy but is just one of the many ways in which humans function socially.

Aug 23, 2013 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

If you do not see a difference between faith and self-delusion then there is no purpose in my trying to engage with you..

Mike, I'm very ready to believe that there is a difference between faith and self-delusion, but much less confident that I can detect which is which - particularly in other people. Wimpish, I fear!

Aug 23, 2013 at 9:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

This thread is about the change of heart of the Dorking Transition people. Please stick to the point.

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:25 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

It's a fair cop, guv.

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

The full Transition Dorking column on fracking does slightly put a different slant on things but is worth a read

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnockJohn

There is a good sprinkling of common sense on their website and it would appear that they have done their research well.(no pun intended)
Rather than welcoming fracking with open arms, they take a very practical approach to the energy situation and realise that fracking is a relatively good option in the short to medium term.
I am impressed.

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

These sort of groups existed long before the current "green" fad. Perhaps some of them are beginning to realise that associating themselves with the watermelons is not in their long term interests.

This could be an encouraging sign that enough cracks are beginning to show in the green façade for groups like this to start looking for ways to disassociate themselves from it lest it take them down with it.

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

KnockJohn (named after the Thames estuary fort, I presume?): Curious to note that the pretty little banner at the top of the Transition Dorking site show no windmills.

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Every religion has heretics. Could this be the first Greenie non conformists?

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

10 out of 10 Radical Rodent - and congratulations, you are the first to make the connection.

Oddly enough, the pretty little banner includes everything that a good community would aspire to - Industry, a road traffic system, grow-your-own, a sense of place, verdant countryside, housing, a church BUT NO WINDMILLS :-)

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnockJohn

Would be interesting to watch a debate between Transition Dorking and, say, Transition Totnes had they arrived at differing positions on fracking. Gentle and reasonable folk all, I am sure, yet I wonder how long before the motivations of each side might be impugned.

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”
― Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrcrinum

Oooh! Can I claim the ten pounds? Maybe I should start calling myself RedSands.

Back o/t: this is the irony of a lot of these aspirational groups – their dreams carefully edit out the results, and replace it with images that are only achievable through the very ideas they oppose!

At least TD seem to have some grip on reality, with their concerned acceptance of fracking.

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

One small step for fracking, one giant leap for research.

Aug 24, 2013 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Radical Rodent

"Concerned acceptance"

That is the box I would tick.

Aug 24, 2013 at 1:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

It is worth noting that in the Dorking constituency of Mole Valley Labour polled a derisory 7%. In such rarefied blue air watermelons don't grow very well. Neither, incidentally, do windmills.

Aug 24, 2013 at 1:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterCarnwennan

M Courtney
But I agree with them in terms of locally produced energy. The difference is they want solar panels (made where?) and windmills (ditto) while I want reliables.

How locally produced is local? Seems to me that for Dorking there is not a lot of difference between gas produced in Lancashire and electricity coming down the Beauly-Denny connector (assuming that there is usually more wind in the north than the south for the UK). I do think that the UK is particularly well blessed with gas and oil which has been exploited commercially for 150 years now, and in that sense energy could be sourced locally and not in the middle east, USA or Russia. For me the UK is local, and the EU not local perhaps with the exception of electricity produced in Picardy being used in Kent;-)

Agree about reliable though, wind less than 1GW currently.

Aug 24, 2013 at 8:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I'm with Transition Dorking and pesadia on concerned acceptance. What an good phrase to have in the back pocket as the debate goes on in local communities across the country.

I was also amused to realise how the BBC headline writer had treated this story:

Dorking 'green' group in favour of fracking

Those quote marks speak so loudly. He really wasn't sure, was he? (Or she. Some of my best friends are female sub-editors. But they tend to be sensible.)

I also find very amusing the following interaction on this thread, between what I'll call person A and person B. Person A ended up with this:

I do think we could work on our empathy here.

In the very next comment person B said this to person A:

I no longer need to consider your views. We each have our own axioms. According to mine, you are an idiot. ... I'm talking about evidence and rationality. I think they're important.

Person A obviously didn't think they were important.

Someone could do a whole course on that.

Aug 24, 2013 at 8:14 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

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