David Cameron is trying to convince the British public to “get behind fracking”. Here we have another example of short term economically driven values in direct conflict with more ecologically driven values. As so often the desire for a quick profit will certainly prove disastrous in the long term, and even in the short term and judged on strictly financial terms it may also be very unwise. If Tim Morgan is correct in his claims as to the short life of these wells they will be a terrible financial investment, and the nearly $2trillion invested in USA fracking would have got a better return if invested in renewables and energy efficiency.
There has been some good coverage of the threats to groundwater and the wider environment caused by fracking. (eg, Prof Ian Stewart BBC 2 Horizon programme ‘Fracking: The New Energy Rush’ and the Ecologist TV video ‘Fracking Hell: The Untold Story’) The cumulative impact of these local disasters will have enormous economic consequences as the law suits pile up. However the fact that fracking is probably even worse than coal from a climate change point of view gets very much less coverage. Three Cornell professors, having analysed the climate change implications of fracking sum up the situation with the warning that “shale gas is not a suitable bridge fuel for the 21st Century”.
Meanwhile the German policy of switching their economy to renewables and efficiency is a “fundamental ethical and cultural decision” according to the German Embassy. All countries should follow the German lead and create their own version of the Energiewende. We need to do this from a climate change point of view, and also from a local environmental perspective there should be benefits, and paradoxically those countries following this more ethical value driven path will almost certainly find that they reap greater economic returns than those pursuing the short term illusionary lure of quick profits that seems to obsess David Cameron, George Osborne and the fracking devotees.
Tim Morgan energy economist on the bad economics of fracking http://www.surplusenergyeconomics.com/newsblog.html?part_id=174896&post_id=14593&action=view_comments
See Howarth, Santoro and Ingraffea, 3 Cornell Professors on Climate Change aspects of fracking http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-012-0401-0
German Embassy on ethical and cultural roots of the Energiewende http://www.london.diplo.de/Vertretung/london/en/09/05/Energiewende.html
The Independent shows a worryingly close relationship between UK government and the fracking industry, which may explain why the UK is following this daft energy policy http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/revealed-fracking-industry-bosses-at-heart-of-coalition-8707589.html