Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

Greenpeace responds to end of UK fracking moratorium

with 13 comments

Thanks to Twitter, I was alerted to an online discussion on the Guardian website yesterday, prompted by statements of opinion by Mark Lynas (freelance journalist/author) and Dr David Santillo (Greenpeace Scientist).

As discussed with a commenter on this blog (Lionel) yesterday, I decided to get involved; and to try and contact Dr Santillo personally, via email:


Dear Dr Santillo,

Re: The discussion on the Guardian website today regarding Fracking

I am 100% opposed to fracking; but I think Greenpeace should move on from discussing the possible immediate environmental risks of doing it. Hence the comment that I posted earlier.
When will environmentalists stop arguing about whether fracking is inherently dangerous (because of its immediate and localised impacts when poorly engineered and/or executed)… and start focusing on the fact that it is intrinsically dangerous (because we need to stop finding evermore esoteric and unconventional fossil fuel sources to exploit)…?

Apart from this, whilst I would not want to condone the way in which at least one commenter on the Guardian website today has questioned the relevance of your background, this does beg the question as to whether Greenpeace could make use of someone with my qualifications and experience?

Yours hopefully, etc..


Having failed to get a response, I telephoned Greenpeace today, and was referred to a Press Release published on their website yesterday, which is indeed very interesting – because it includes information obtained via Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.  ‘Greenpeace on lifting of fracking moratorium’ is worth reading in full but, if you are short of time, here are the highlights:

  • Fracking is a dangerous fantasy.
  • Just because it may be viable in the US does not mean it will be viable here.
  • Energy analysts agree that shale gas will do little or nothing to lower bills.
  • It is a massive gamble and consumers and the climate will end up paying the price.

Greenpeace FOI requests have established that, as early as last Spring, the Environment Agency issued a high-level briefing to the Prime Minister regarding their concerns of threats to drinking water near proposed fracking sites in Sussex.  Clearly, such concerns have been trumped by the climate change sceptics and/or economic rationalists in the Conservative Party.

A full Greenpeace briefing on fracking can be found here:


UPDATE: 17 Dec 2012 – Greenpeace UK also advised me to keep an eye on their Energydesk page – for updates on all things related to UK energy policy.

Written by Martin Lack

14 December 2012 at 16:10

13 Responses

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  1. Martin- you are qualified and a great opportunity to do research. I would even add that with a small amount of kit -[see my blog Punk 2.0] or a techy friend, a great place to start is articles on youtube. [check out my channel julesdingle – I started late and 10 years on it is a very rewarding hobby]. Perhaps we could collaborate in 2015 with UK gasland, do the research and we could do a little indy movie.


    14 December 2012 at 16:37

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jules. Ahh yes, a YouTube channel; this is not the first time I have thought about it.

      One of the things to come out of my perusal of the Guardian debate was that, in Gasland, Josh Fox did not disclose that people in the US have had problems with flammable methane in their water supply for decades. Although this does not make fracking any less inherently dangerous, it undermines the argument that it is. However, in his second movie, The Sky Is Pink, with expert help, Josh Fox specifically addresses the problem of pre-existing methane contamination of water supplies (which fracking obviously exacerbates).

      Martin Lack

      14 December 2012 at 17:10

      • Methane contamination pre-fracking? Very interesting, I did not know this. Note: spontaneous burning of methane has been known for thousands of years. If highly conservative and conservationist Swiss cantons start to frack (we are not yet there) ecologists should get in a bargaining position rather than brute opposition.

        Patrice Ayme

        15 December 2012 at 17:54

        • I was alluding to the fact that Josh Fox did not acknowledge that flammable methane venting through fawcetts (taps) have been known in the USA since at least the 1930s. What is that if it is not methane contamination of water supply? Therefore, as Josh Fox makes clear in his second film, if methane is already in circulation, fracking will drive it to the surface; thereby making a natural problem much worse.

          Martin Lack

          16 December 2012 at 10:40

    • Great ideas.

      Paul Handover

      15 December 2012 at 14:31

  2. Following your link ‘Greenpeace on lifting of fracking moratorium and opening the there I tried to download the ‘Original Document (PDF)‘ but the PDF threw up some errors and some pages were corrupted with an message about errors on a page and then when trying to view page 5 (which looked problematic in the thumbnail view) another error popped up referring to ‘Cannot extract the embedded font ‘EVASOJ+……. I see what looks like blue and black ink splurges down the page.

    The downloaded PDF is incomplete compare to the online readable version.

    Anybody else experience this?

    Lionel A

    15 December 2012 at 16:42

  3. OK I have discovered the way to do it. When opens select the PAGES tab at top, wait for all pages to fill and then download PDF.

    Lionel A

    15 December 2012 at 17:04

  4. spike25 after that Guardian article cited a work by Tom Wigley and provided a link to a NCAR article on this. The Climate Change Letters PDF of Wigley’s article is here.

    Lionel A

    16 December 2012 at 17:21

    • Thanks Lionel – Wigley’s research looks very useful. However, what I would like to see is some number crunching of all the consequential carbon emissions that will arise from getting shale gas from [small physical footprint] wellhead to [CCS-free] power station (etc)…

      Martin Lack

      16 December 2012 at 17:30

  5. […] 2012/12/14: LoE: Greenpeace responds to end of UK fracking moratorium […]

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