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« Building a crony capitalist society | Main | Another witchhunt »

Worst fracking paper ever?

Richard Black's Energy and Climate Change Information Unit has published what must surely rank as one of the most outrageously misleading contributions to the unconventional gas debate since Frackland.

The image explaining the unconventional drilling process is simply jaw-dropping, with readers invited to believe that aquifers are just a few feet below the surface and that shale seams are just a few feet below that.

I had previously thought that the BBC's equivalent diagram was pretty dishonest, but that did at least mention in a very small typeface that the details were not to scale.

Take a look at the rest of it too. Black has even raised the "flaming faucet" story again, if you can credit it. Simply astonishing that anyone could be so brazen.

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Reader Comments (57)

Bad link, Bish.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

What do you expect from Richard Black. Former BBC green zealot with no understanding of the science.

He is saving the planet so he can do no wrong. The end justifies the means - no matter how big the lies are!

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Who funds his lifestyle?

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Harry Passfield 11:02

Try clicking on the first link: outrageously misleading contributions

Works for me.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Bates


Black's ECIU is funded by the European Climate Foundation, who in turn are largely funded by liberal US foundations.

David Rose did an exposee of this green blob last year.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

'Disinformation Unit' unit would seem a more accurate title.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Alan Bates: I should have been more precise. The first link works fine. It is the link "take a look at the rest of it too" that failed.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Hi Andrew - why not add an update, with an accurate graphic..

Didn't Josh do one a while back?

[J: Yes, it was this one ]

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Someone should get citizens advice on the case:

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Prescott...good for head banging. Banging/Wick Dipping more like.

Fun times arriving soon and Climate is Unchanged.....oh dear.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

I do believe some eco-zealots live in a vivid world of their own imaginings. The above diagram comes from that world and portrays things just as they see them. They do need help, but first priority has to be reducing the damage they can do to our society in the meantime.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:51 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

I would expect no less from that ill educated man.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

I see there is no opportunity to comment on Blacks piece. What a surprise.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterStu

Interesting he should mention the flaming taps. Last week we were grandchildren sitting for half-term back in Derbyshire. There's a programme which follows the morning children's TV on Channel 5 called "The Wright Stuff", a panel/phone-in discussion We just left the TV on while pottering and entertaining small boys. One of the topics covered one of the days we were there was fracking. Mr Wright (no idea of his first name or anything about him) mentioned the flaming taps, he was firmly put down by a comedienne called Zoe Lyons who said it was nonsense and she was sorry to "burst his bubble" but she was interested in the subject and had talked to a fracking expert. I've no idea how funny she is but as someone in the public eye she went up in my estimation for not repeating unconfirmed nonsense.

She probably knows more about fracking than Richard Black.

Feb 22, 2015 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Scales on graphs and diagrams have never been the strong point of the green lobby to put it mildly and this is another classic example. I always told my students in interpreting any graph to look at the scale first. However, we are inhabiting an age when any explanation longer than a tweet is judged too difficult for the public, especially the young. Frightening really!!

Feb 22, 2015 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

Here is a realistic diagram of the fracking process:

Feb 22, 2015 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

There's only so much of that gut-wrenching drivel over at ECIU one can stand on a Sunday. Maybe we should re-brand relentlessly one-sided sites like theirs as extreme propaganda.

Feb 22, 2015 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Hi SandyS,

The flaming taps are a known hoax as is the hose pipe, which instead of being attached to the water supply as claimed, was actually attached to a gas tap so no wonder flames came out the end.

Feb 22, 2015 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterStu

I notice the links for supporting evidence of negative claims all appear to be produced by Greenpeace et al, how strange?

Feb 22, 2015 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

It was the first time i've ever heard one celebrity tell another that it's nonsense. Progress of sorts?

Feb 22, 2015 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

When should Black change his old habits when they proved so profitable?
I would call him a master BS artist , but like Bob 'fast fingers' Ward the oddity is that they keep getting paid despite being actually rubbish at their job.

Feb 22, 2015 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

I see it is actually titled "Energy and Climate Change 'Intelligence' Unit" - yes another inaccurate title.

If you click on the links to board members and team it is the 'usual suspect' Grantham Institute merry go round.

Feb 22, 2015 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterHot under the collar

I love the idea that Black is running the "Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit" - I guess the "intelligence unit" is the level of IQ to be found in its author!

Feb 22, 2015 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Interesting. Zoe Lyons used to be on Mock the Ukip quite a lot, wonder if she will be invited back after publically going off message?

Feb 22, 2015 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

I suppose a similar diagram demonstrating the close proximity of communist idealism and its funding, to Green party idealism and its funding, would be met with accusations of "Big Oil" funding, even if links could be readily proven.

Did Richard Black leave the BBC, for more money, or was his mission there deemed " accomplished"? Or both?

Feb 22, 2015 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

GRU was the Soviets supreme military intelligence unit, for destabilising its enemies.

Has it been reincarnated as the Green Radicalization Unit?

Feb 22, 2015 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Appalling acts of rape, murder, extermination etc are blamed on extremists who have been radicalised by distorted beliefs in faith, targetted at anyone not sharing those beliefs.

The trials at Nuremburg, over 70 years ago were full of such people.

Meanwhile, radicalised Greens are just really nice people, who think everybody could live happily ever after, by returning to a pre-industrial life style. Anyone with a different vision of the future deserves demonisation.

Feb 22, 2015 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Please see handout at

for a scale version of a typical US Fracking site.
It may be an industry based sketch but it is so much more realistic than the twoddle put out by the " Energy and Climate Change Information (Intelligence?)Unit"

Feb 22, 2015 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterCPSJ


Possibly but i'm not holding my breath :-)

Feb 22, 2015 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterStu

Utterly pathetic, undisguised propaganda: and needs exposing as such.

Feb 22, 2015 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Absolute staggering sycophancy. Elsewhere, this self-proclaimed so-called 'Intelligence Unit' suggests projected sea-level rise at 1.5 feet over the next 20 to 50 years. Minimally, that's 9mm or 22.5mm/yr worst case. Just how do these canutes believe they can justify such patent nonsense? And the US Navy top brass is in on this?

Feb 22, 2015 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterdc

It is disturbing how the Green Blob thrives by deliberately contaminating science, and poisoning the minds of the innocent.

It is profitable though. Most of their supporters only require petrol money to get where they are told.

Feb 22, 2015 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Oh I dunno Bish, how about this paper form the United States Geological Survey one of the most partisan pieces of anti fracking propaganda that has been "knocked up", ever.

Feb 22, 2015 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterc7777

Independent studies (Durham University) indicate that man-made fractures extend to around 588m towards the surface whilst NATURAL fractures extend 1106m. Quite obviously the man-made efforts pale into insignificance when compared to those experienced in nature. Not a lot of advertising is made of this fact though....

Feb 22, 2015 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

These "cult members" need psychological help, where are the psychologists who are studying them ?

By coincidence both20 miles south of here and 20 miles north there is methane flaming out,of the ground it's a natural phenomenon .. People dont panic and homes are within 3-400m

Feb 22, 2015 at 5:00 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

CPSJ: "Please see handout at..."

Such irony that the handout is by PennState.

Feb 22, 2015 at 5:06 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

DC: "And the US Navy top brass is in on this?"

But, they don't know they are. They have been 'persuaded' by the EPA that a large proportion of the navy should be bio-fueled. And, having converted their boilers to run on bio, and war breaks out, and they need their ships - but they can't get bio - or reconvert the boilers - how many ships does that put out of action.

Yeah...OK...I may have run out of tin-foil. But it's a thought....

Feb 22, 2015 at 5:13 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Richard Black, didn't he once live off the immoral earnings of the Jimmy Savile fan club

Feb 22, 2015 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill Wagstick

So what's new? We all new that Black was and is a liar.
The real question is how are we going to expose Black, publicly for the piece of dirt he is?

Feb 22, 2015 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterNBitter&Twisted

"The Team" Dr Helena Wright, Principal Analyst, 20 something....

"Helena completed her PhD on climate change adaptation at Imperial College London."

No doubt Hoskins' Grantham Institute at Imperial, the one most people forget, because of Stern's more quoted LSE GI. Bob Ward serves both.

Feb 22, 2015 at 6:43 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Nothing exposes the Greenies' claim to be on the side of "the" science more than their ridiculous claims about shale oil & gas extraction.

That they're bone-ignorant backward Luddites is fair enough. That the BBC et al treat them as go-to experts is disgraceful.

Feb 22, 2015 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

Actually, I think this is great.

So long as the ECIU keep repeating 'over the top' assertions like this they will be easy to counter. Let us hope they stay doing this, and don't start doing the hard work necessary to make good, well-argued cases against fossil fuels.

Feb 22, 2015 at 8:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterdodgy geezer

I don't remember how much I paid for "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" by Edward Tufte, but even in the mid 1980s it was a lot. It's still in my book collection. That graphic immediately brought it to mind.

That graphic - (shudder).

Feb 22, 2015 at 8:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterCrossBorder

kellydown I said the Green total opposite to GM and Nuclear are right up there , along with their support of homeopathy as an indication of the Greens true outlook on the value of science . In short its totally rejected when fails to support their dogma .

Feb 22, 2015 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Yes, the graphic is crap.

I'm following the shale fracking developments closely and doing some related work. Attended a London meeting recently on the subject, and will attend some in Brussels this week.

The subject has a lot of parallels with the AGW scare, but so far, at least, the scientists and policymakers are staying on the side of sound science, evidence and common sense. Its rather refreshing.

Feb 22, 2015 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

Perhaps they got the graphic from Putin? That would explain a lot!

Feb 22, 2015 at 9:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

so far, at least, the scientists and policymakers are staying on the side of sound science, evidence and common sense

Are they?
Policymakers in Europe so far have obstructed shale development at every turn. I include supposedly frack-friendly Poland in this, since they allow a virtual "permitorium" by local authorities to hold up every application for 12x as long as a US/Canada one.

Feb 22, 2015 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown







scale ?

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

So, C7777, fracking causes microtremors along the faultlines, thus preventing the Big One. Yet another unintended benefit of fracking.

Feb 23, 2015 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Could this be prima facie evidence that Black is using child labour?

Because the only rational explanation I could come up with for that graphic was that it had been drawn by a five year old.

Feb 23, 2015 at 1:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpence_UK

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