Sunday, 26 January 2014

Frack This Green & Pleasant Land?

The UK's Greatest Treasure
One of the reasons I cycle, is because I live in a country famous for its beautiful green countryside. For years this countryside has been protected from construction and other threats, in order to preserve what makes Britain special as a place to live and visit. We are a small country and apart from things like the queen and a some pretty special old buildings and monuments, it is this largely unspoiled countryside that brings people here. The same can be said for other European countries like France of course. So why would we risk spoiling that, especially when we have so little of it compared to large countries like the USA or Canada? That's easy – profit, greed and short-sightedness.

 Image courtesy of The Daily Mail

 Image courtesy of Blue Flag

Image courtesy of

Why All This Fuss About Fracking?
Fracking is currently a hot topic of debate in the UK. Rarely a day goes by where I don't overhear someone talking about it or see yet another cliched newspaper headline – Fracking Crazy, Fracking Disaster etc. We hear arguments on both sides. It reminds me of the nuclear power debates back in the seventies:
"It's perfectly safe," "It's an environmental disaster waiting to happen," "It's unavoidable because we need to find more energy sources to meet our needs," "There are better, safer, cleaner ways to get energy by putting more investment into renewables."

We Could Learn From The French
We have all heard the arguments. I am mindful that France has heard the arguments too, and France has made fracking illegal there. Yet as I write, a French fracking firm is seeking a license to frack in England! Are our politicians really that stupid that they would allow this? You needn't answer that.

Misinformation Meets Mr & Mrs Gullible
What worries me most is that anyone would believe the misinformation put out there by oil and gas companies and the people in the pay of those oil and gas companies. Why on Earth would we trust them? Did we trust tobacco companies when they said there was no evidence that cigarettes caused cancer? Well, yes I think some people did. Let's face it, these are some of the most profit obsessed companies in the world we are talking about. They do not mine oil or gas for good, they are solely focussed on money – the same as tobacco companies. These companies have shown us time and time again that they put profit before any concerns over our environment or wellbeing. Their only thoughts regarding care or caution are about what they can get away with. Their spokespersons appear on TV and say, "Look folks, they've been fracking in the USA for years and it's been fine. And it's made the USA almost self-sufficient in gas. We'd be crazy to turn down the opportunity!"

Do you remember the smoking beagles? - Image courtesy of The Guardian

From Sea To Shining Sea
First thing is, the USA is a gigantic country compared to the UK. They can mess up quite a lot of their purple mountained majesty and fruited plains without too many people noticing. Second thing is, it's easy to make statements like "it's been fine there," without looking at the evidence, because the people who have had their local countryside ruined (for countess decades to come) are small voices in America. What chance do we have of hearing them over here? Well by chance I have a friend who lives in Ohio. She's pretty well balanced and well informed. She saw something I reposted on Facebook about fracking. She commented as soon as she saw it. Her words were "Don't any of you over there have any doubt about the devastating effects of fracking on the countryside. Large areas of Ohio have been left as filthy, uninhabitable swamps due to the devastation and pollution caused by fracking. She attached a photograph. Here it is plus a few more:

 Fracking causes minor local earthquakes - No problem, apparently

Tap water that catches fire is still safe to drink, apparently - tell that to the Smoking Beagles!

And the images from Texas are far worse. Have a good look: Texas Fracking Photos

I think we all know what to do. Let's not wait to find out the hard way, like the smoking beagles.

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