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« A right royal contradiction | Main | First day in court »

To frack or not to frack?

Yesterday MPs had a short debate in Westminister Hall on the subject of fracking. The proceedings were led by the Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, who provided - presumably unintentionally - a handy list of every piece of misinformation on the subject of shale gas extraction that is still doing the rounds. There was also this amusing intervention from Graham Stringer, referring to Caroline Lucas's contribution:

The hon. Lady uses as a basis for opposing fracking the fact that we will not meet our emissions targets. So what? We are hitting our emissions targets—[Interruption.] Well, I will explain it to the hon. Lady, because she is in a fantasy world. In hitting our emissions targets, we are responsible for more carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere than we were before, because of embedded carbon coming in through industrial manufactured goods from China and elsewhere. The hon. Lady’s policy does not help the climate or reduce carbon dioxide. Her policy is about deindustrialisation, which is responsible for increasing the costs of industrial goods in this country by 9%, putting people out of work, and for increasing the cost of domestic energy, depending on how it is counted—by and large, it is not counted properly—by between £50 and £120 a year. The hon. Lady is concerned about carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere, but that is increasing because we are effectively subsidising imports from China and India.

I'm not sure that the debate went anywhere, but it was interesting nevertheless.

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Reader Comments (28)

Very succinctly put.
I look forward to the Hon. Mr Stringer given a platform on the BBC to make his point.

Nov 26, 2014 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

I cerainly couldn'y have put it better myself - not by a long chalk..

And the Hon Lady's response was...?

Nov 26, 2014 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Stupid boy - read your post before you press 'Create Post' - should of course read 'couldn't'....

Nov 26, 2014 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Don't worry about it Sherlock. I just thocht it wis the Scotsman in ye comin' oot!

On the main point ... Stringer is in danger of becoming some sort of national treasure if he keeps this up. Surely he and Lilley can't be the only ones prepared to let a bit of their eyebrows at least show above the parapet.

Nov 26, 2014 at 1:39 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Yes, Graham Stringer. One of the few MPs with a science background, he has a degree in chemistry. It is a shame that we don't hear more from him. Of course it could be that is reason why we don't hear more from him?

Nov 26, 2014 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Interestingly, only one green party hominid got nominated in this year's pratties. They really have moved out onto the who-gives-a-damn fringe of politics.


Nov 26, 2014 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

The saddest bit is not having to listen to the excruciatingly slow debate on fracking, but that they are having it at all with no seeming progress.

When a local by-pass is proposed, does the national government debate whether roads in general are a good thing or not?

Nov 26, 2014 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Graham Stringer is on a roll! He also said recently that he would scrap the IPCC, see Col 159WH at

Nov 26, 2014 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Brodie

This is the issue with carbon trading/off-sets, and the reason why it has always been little more than a scam.

There is no reduction, on global basis, as to CO2 emissions, merely a redistribution as to where those emissions are being emitted from.

Indeed, off-shoring industry may well lead to even greater emissions since the manufactured goods need to be shipped back to market, and most ships are not particularly fuel efficient, and certainly pollute even with low sulphur fuels. Environmental standards in China, India and elsewhere are not as stringent as in the EU so from the environmental perspective, it is worse to have goods manufatured in China and India than here in Europe.

The same applies to windfarms/solar, they do not reduce CO2 emissions since they require up to 100% backup from fossil fuel generators which have to be used in ramp up/ramp down mode when consumption is least efficient and hence results in more CO2 being emitted.

If CO2 is a truly problem, none of the polices do anything worthwhile to address the issue, and they merely add inefficiency and expense.

Nov 26, 2014 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

I know I can get as tedious on this subject as AlecM on his hobby horse but CO2 is only a problem to those people who wish us not to have cheap and abundant energy. The fact that CO2 may have an incidental effect on the recent slight increase in the earth's temperature has been a godsend to the likes of the environmental NGOs, various assorted other greenies (like our friend Caroline Lucas), supporters of the "Limits to Growth" philosophy and the neo-Malthusians.
Of course none of the world's policies, taken in the round, will do anything in the medium term to reduce CO2 emissions and all the AGW groupies know that. If they genuinely believed in any of it there would be a marked decrease in the number of high-level conferences in sunny resorts and earnest conferences with speakers from half way across the world.
It's all about control and money — like most things that politicians and big business are involved in.

Nov 26, 2014 at 5:03 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

You Brits just keep on debating and we Americans will just keep on drilling.

Nov 26, 2014 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterPathway

Richard Verney: might I take issue with you on one point: “…most ships are not particularly fuel efficient…” If you look at it in litres per tonne-mile, ships are very fuel efficient; a 40-tonne lorry at 8 mpg is burning 1.4 litres per tonne-mile; a 40,000DWT ship burning 45 tonnes per day (tpd) at 15 knots is burning 0.3 litres per tonne-mile. Now, whether that tonne needs to be transported by ship in the first place is another matter, though it is an empty argument, anyway – even if the item is produced locally, the raw materials and manufacturing energy will have to be shipped in, one way or another.

Nov 26, 2014 at 5:29 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

@Mike Jackson: in support of AlecM, perhaps you should look at Figure 2.5 of Houghton's 'Physics of Atmospheres'.

It proves the Enhanced GHE cannot exist because Lapse rate convection and lateral advection always ensure near zero temperature difference between any surface element of the Earth and the local atmosphere!

If there were 157.5 W/m^2 atmospheric warming by surface IR, for an emissivity of 0.75, mean atmospheric temperature for a 16 deg C surface would be about 0.5 deg C and we'd have to wear gloves and scarf in the night time tropics!

As we don't, the EGHE does not exist......!

Nov 26, 2014 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E


You all make excellent points that show how the CAGW hypothesis has resulted in actions that are probably counter productive to the publicly stated objectives of the proponents of anthropogenic CO2 driven climate change to reduce the combustion of fossil fuels.

More interestingly they suggest that unless there is total adherence by the entire human race to the objective of a global reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions all that will happen is that the sources of such emissions will move to those regions where that objective is not shared, or the hypothesis is not accepted or there are overriding economic objectives or some combination of all.

The outcome is most likely to be that anthropogenic CO2 emissions will be larger than they might well have been if no attempt was made by " climate alarmist" governments to reduce them in economies which are already less intensive in their use of high carbon fossil fuels - specifically coal.

"The best is the enemy of the good".

Nov 26, 2014 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterGlebekinvarale

I do like Graham Stringer - anyone who can dismantle the arrogant muppetry of the appalling Lucas gets my vote.

Some years ago when I believed that AGW really was a severe problem I attended a meeting where Caroline Lucas was introduced as "Dr" Caroline Lucas - Climate Change expert. I expected hard science and objective analysis.

Lucas was unable to produce either - in fact I left the meeting wondering what the hell Caroline Lucas had achieved her PhD in because it certainly did not come across that she had any science credentials at all.

I quick search revealed that her PhD was :-

"She (Caroline Lucas) earned her PhD from the University of Exeter in 1989 with a thesis entitled Writing for Women: a study of woman as reader in Elizabethan romance.[6]"

You really could NOT make this sort of thing up.

Nov 26, 2014 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug UK

Doug UK,
Someone should make certain to find the opportunity to discuss her academic achievements and her pretense in being called 'doctor' . Preferably in a public unfiltered forum.

Nov 26, 2014 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Radical Rodent:

You may wish to re-check your arithmetic. 8mpg=0.473litres/mile, /40tonnes = 0.01183 litres/tonne.mile

45tonnes= 53,550litres:360nm is 414 miles, so consumption is 0.0032litres/tonne.mile

Nov 26, 2014 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

David Mowat also made some good contributions - starting by hinting at Norman Baker's proclivity for conspiracy theories:

I am listening carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman says. For the avoidance of doubt, will he tell the Chamber whether it is his position that fracking has caused cancer in the United States?

His main contribution is here.

His final contribution was during Stringer's speech quoted above:

David Mowat: The point about embedded carbon is not mentioned enough in such discussions, so it is worth noting that, this year, emissions per head in China exceeded those of the UK, which is an interesting statistic.

25 Nov 2014 : Column 212WH

Mr James Gray (in the Chair): In the context of fracking in the United Kingdom.

David Mowat: Yes, in that context.

Graham Stringer: It is very interesting in the context of fracking, Mr Gray.

Nov 26, 2014 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

It doesn’t add up…: meh… Just a few decimal points out (what’s a hundred-fold, here or there?). Thought it seemed a bit high, but was in a hurry, so I blame Excel (it works for “real” scientists; why not for me?). Anyway, the point of the argument is still valid.

Nov 26, 2014 at 8:43 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Nov 26, 2014 at 5:03 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


My personal view is that there is no high quality data that when scientifically scrutinised supports the contention that the climate has any significant sensitivity to CO2. The signal, if any, is buried within the noise of natural variability.

Personally, I do not accept that there is even climate change. But that depends upon how you view climate. For my part, I consider that climate is regional (globally the planet is either in a glacial or inter glacial mode) and is a band in which there are fluctuations of a whole gambit of parameters and warmth is only one of these parameters.

Since climate is a band, one would expect to see within bounds periods of warm temperature, periods of cold temperature, periods of floods/heavy rainful, droughts/low rainfall, heavy snow/not much snow, warm & wet summers, warm & dry summers, cold & wet summers, cold & dry summers, mild & dry winters, mild & wet winters, cold & wet winters, cold & dry winters, stormy weather etc. etc.

If one looks upon climate along the Koppen (or more modern equivalent) classification nothing that we see today is out of the bounds which these climatic areas have experienced in the past, and as far as I am awarwe, not one single country has in my life time moved from one Koppen classification to another, nor is any country on the cusp of so doing. All that we are presently witnesses is the bounds of natural variability which should be viewed not on a 30 year period, but rather on a multicentenial basis.

Further, I consider that all the evidence suggests that a warming world (if that is actually happening) would be a God send. Life likes warmths and maximum bio diversity is in warm and wet conditions, and least bio dio diversity is in cold & frigid areas. Man is very adaptive and has inhabited most of the globe, but even man has difficulty in adpating himself and/or the environment in cold areas. There may be outposts in alaska and Siberia, but no major cities such as seen in the gulf states etc. If you look at the history of mankind, you will note the advancement of civilisations (indeed the bronze age, iro age) bears a close correlation to warmth, the warmer the environment the quicker man developed. It is no coincidence that the Egyptians could build the great pyramids whilst here in the UK man was only capable of building stonehenge (I am not be littling that construction) because here in Britain man spent most of the day simply surviving, whereas in Egypt it was a time of plenty so man had free time to educate himself and pass on that education down the generations. One can see the pattern by looking at the cradle of civilisations around the Med, and how these spread around that basin.

One of the greatest errors in this debate is the fear and misinformation about the consequences of a warming world. For mst countries it would be a God send, especially since for most countries the warming is predominantly that winter is becoming shorter, and night time temperatures are not falling quite as low. What is there not to like about that, especially since higher levels of CO2 are assisting agriculture?

Nov 26, 2014 at 5:29 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Nov 26, 2014 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

Nov 26, 2014 at 5:29 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent.

I have been in shipping for 30 years, so I am well acquainted with the carrying capacity of ships (incidentally a 40,000 dwt ship does not necessarily have a 40,000 tonne cargo carrying capacity for a variety of reasons, depending upon definition one has to subtract the displaced deadweight of the ship itself and the stores which of course can include 1000mt of fuel or more, and there may be tank top/hull strength issues, draft limitatione etc all of which have a bearing on the amount of cargo being carried), and their fuel consumptions, but my point was not about the per tonne/mile consumption. Shipping is very efficient on a per tonne/mile consumption, but large mileage is involved.

My point is that it is estimated that about 3 to 4% of human emissions of GHCs is due to shipping, and that percentage is expected to increase as efficiencies are found in other areas (low consumption cars, more fuel efficient aeroplane engines, switch from coal to gas etc), and a substantial part of shipping is caused by the relocation of industry to far distant places. When considering this, one is not simply talking about transporting the finished goods to market, very often the raw materials have to be transported to the country of manuacture so there is double handling. In the days of the industrial revolution, industry was based upon the top of its raw materials (on coal fields, iron ore sites etc) so much of the raw material required little transport and goods were manufactured close to their consumer market. That is a more efficient set up.

The de-industrialisation of the developed world, and relocating it to the Far East/developing world is inefficient and does not result in the reduction of global GHGs emissions, in fact it adds to it. That is the point that I am making.

Nov 27, 2014 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

Richard Verney

"Personally, I do not accept that there is even climate change. But that depends upon how you view climate."

It must be agreed that we humans tend to make judgements about climatic variation in terms of periods as short as recorded history or our own lifetimes

In a geological perspective it is clear that Stadial and Interstadial temperature changes show a saw tooth profile superimposed on the major cycles of glacial and interglacial eras. There are many finer gradations like the Minoan, Roman, Medieval and 20th Century warm periods and cold eras such as the Dark Ages the Little Ice Age . Although sometimes centuries long these are minor variations in the succession of major glacial and interglacial climate cycles.

There is also degree of random variation of temperature over even shorter time periods. In the short to medium term - a few decades to a few centuries - warmer and cooler periods similar to those historically recorded have been a normal feature of high latitude climates and their repetition can be confidently expected. We are not currently capable of accurately predicting the timing and scale of these shorter cycles. The failure of climate models to anticipate the present stasis in atmospheric temperatures is clear evidence of their failings in this respect.

Based on geological history, predictable evolution of the earth’s orbit, precession of the equinox and obliquity of the ecliptic - the geological prognosis for the longer term is for continuation of the "Late Holocene" cooling which started 4-5000 years ago and will eventually lead to a return to glacial conditions, albeit probably not for 5,000 - 15,000 yrs. An extended period of up to 100,000 years of warm climate is always a possibility as evidenced by the " Great Interglacial" in which warm conditions persisted for several times the average length of other interglacial periods but predicted Milancovic cycle evolution is not persuasive of this I understand .

It seems that Climate " scientists" have concluded that the Pleistocene/Holocene era - in which glacial and interglacial periods have succeeded each other for the last 2.3 million years has been brought to an end by a very minor increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration. I do not think many Earth Scientists would subscribe to this view.

This is a perverse conclusion because ALL previous interglacial warm periods since the Mid Pleistocene Revolution ( which occurred 1.0mya) have ended when both temperature and CO2 concentrations were at their highest levels in the temperature cycle. CO2 concentrations then declined in response to high latitude sea temperatures falling and the absorbtion of atmospheric CO2 by cooling ocean water.

I wonder what odds we could get from Paddy Power on their prediction being wrong!

Nov 27, 2014 at 1:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterGlebekinvara

AGW is best thought of as a banking scam.

Not only the multi trillion dollar carbon market, but the vast opportunities to lend money to build factories in India and China. This is the latest Klondike.

Nov 27, 2014 at 2:10 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

O/T Andrew but ...........on a theme.............

Climate change and population growth will hugely increase the risk to people from extreme weather, a report says.

The Royal Society warns that the risk of heatwaves to an ageing population will rise about ten-fold by 2090 if greenhouse gases continue to rise.

They estimate the risk to individuals from floods will rise more than four-fold and the drought risk will treble.

The report’s lead author Prof Georgina Mace said: “This problem is not just about to come… it’s here already."

"it's here already"

All over beeb 'noos24' this morning, learned and all earnest looks Prof' Georgina Mace at the ready and with tales of doom and................... Armageddon is just around the corner..............ooops - maybe it's already here....................

you have been warned!

Nov 27, 2014 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Well said m'am. Of course we don't want fracking. It costs less than the other energy sources we presently use, and emits far less CO2.

Nov 27, 2014 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterTuppence

We (have been) warmed. And now Warmists are has-beens.

Nov 27, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoseph Sydney

esmiff: "AGW is best thought of as a banking scam."

Yet another of those few occasions when I whole-heartedly agree with you smiffy.

The powers-that-be (the real ones) are only too happy that we dance on the heads of pins over what is or isn't AGW and how much/little CO2/Carbon we are releasing into the atmosphere. While we're doing that they are building their carbon markets and structuring the wealth of the planet for their benefit, not ours.

There are two precedents for this:

1: The EU started life in the fifties (late forties?) as the Iron and Steel community; then it became the Common Market; the EC; the EEC; and then the EU. It was a long-planned evolution and is finally starting to collape, one hopes.

2. OPEC thought they could run the world based on the control they had of oil. In the '70s they nearly wrecked the western economies with their fuel pricing. But now, by virtue of their high prices they have enabled shale to become relatively more economic, to the point that OPEC are no longer in control of global oil prices. So now they seek to drop the price to force out shale, but that isn't working as many countries need a stronger oil price to make their budgets work. Shale oil - and, as Richard Verney says, access to cheap power - is the thing that will do for the AGW alarmists: the banksters.

That said, I am in agreement with Richard in that we should never engage in the warmist argument on their terms. We should always start from the point that they haven't proved a thing, and such things as GATs etc are meaningless.

Nov 27, 2014 at 10:41 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Harry Passfield "GATs are meaningless"

Especially so as there is virtually no change in surface temperature and humidity in the tropics even in the depths of the glacial cycle when GAT is around 8º C lower than during Interglacials. The lower GAT is merely the reflection of High Latitude drop in temperature of around double that amount.

All of which makes the lunatic assertion that a 2º C rise in GAT would have catastrophic consequences for mankind. It would not be noticed by inhabitants of the tropics and would be most welcome to those of Northern Canada and Siberia.

Nov 27, 2014 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterGlebekinvara

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