“Flat Earth Politics”

What is the connection between the referendum on our membership of the European Union, climate change denial and fracking?

Well, by and large it is the same set of politicians who are engaged in the Brexit campaign who do not accept climate science and who promote hydraulic fracturing for unconventional gas.  Climate science is uncontentious mainstream science which shows that the Earth is warming and that the current warming trend is caused by humans burning fossil fuels – including unconventional gas – and that it is potentially dangerous. Misrepresenting climate science to the public, and indeed Members of Parliament, subverts our democratic process which can only function based on good information.

The scientific consensus on climate science is challenged by some politicians such as Lord Lawson and Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg MP .  Indeed, it is UKIP policy to deny climate science and burn more fossil fuels. The vested interests of the fossil fuel industry have for decades secretly funded climate scepticism and a sector of politicians have picked it up and run with it. For example,  Dr Julia Reid MEP  (UKIP) regularly berates the European Parliament with climate change myths. Roger Helmer MEP (UKIP) has spoken twice at the Heartland Institute’s climate change denial conference presenting climate science as a EU power grab, as has local journalist Christopher Booker.  Christopher Monckton (formally of UKIP) goes so far as to equate climate science with “global communist tyranny”.  These misrepresentations of science are well and truely in Flat Earth territory.

The funding of science denial by the fossil fuel industry is starting to unravel with Exxon Mobil’s role now being legally challenged.  Peabody Energy’s recent filing for bankruptcy is uncovering another can of worms with funding of organisations and individuals to promote climate change denial. Closer to home Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is embroiled in similar accusations.

Lord Lawson is the chairman of the GWPF and was formally chairman of the Vote Leave campaign. The GWPF is regarded in the science community as a dangerous joke with the President of the Royal Society saying on climate change Lawson has “lost his way” whilst Sir David Attenborough says “I think that most people would recognise that Lawson is up a gum tree“.  FFCV analysis has shown that the GWPF is as much about promoting shale gas as it is about global warming denial.  Judging from the content of the VoteLeave leaflet which dropped through doors the other day, Lawson is bringing his considerable skills at spreading misinformation to the Brexit debate. Nissan is apparently taking legal action over the same leaflet.

Further reading:

Guardian: Neocons linked to Tea Party paid for Andrea Leadsom’s flights to US

EuroActive.com: Brexit campaign leadership dominated by climate-sceptics

University of Bristol:  Consensus on consensus confirms 97 per cent of experts are convinced people are changing the climate

The Independent: The address where Eurosceptics and climate change sceptics rub shoulders

The Economist: Where Brexit and climate-change scepticism converge

DesmogUK: Brexit Climate Deniers

The Guardian: Brexit voters almost twice as likely to disbelieve in manmade climate change

The Independent: EU referendum: Brexit will lead to fracking free-for-all as environmental regulation will be up for grabs, experts say

For a more detailed analysis of these issues we are republishing the following article by John Cook of the University of Queensland.


A brief history of fossil-fuelled climate denial

John Cook, The University of Queensland

The fossil fuel industry has spent many millions of dollars on confusing the public about climate change. But the role of vested interests in climate science denial is only half the picture.

Interest in this topic has spiked with the latest revelation regarding coalmining company Peabody Energy. After Peabody filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, documentation became available revealing the scope of Peabody’s funding to third parties. The list of funding recipients includes trade associations, lobby groups and climate-contrarian scientists.

This latest revelation is significant because in recent years, fossil fuel companies have become more careful to cover their tracks. An analysis by Robert Brulle found that from 2003 to 2010, organisations promoting climate misinformation received more than US$900 million of corporate funding per year.

However, Brulle found that from 2008, open funding dropped while funding through untraceable donor networks such as Donors Trust (otherwise known as the “dark money ATM”) increased. This allowed corporations to fund climate science denial while hiding their support.

The decrease in open funding of climate misinformation coincided with efforts to draw public attention to the corporate funding of climate science denial. A prominent example is Bob Ward, formerly of the UK Royal Society, who in 2006 challenged Exxon-Mobil to stop funding denialist organisations.

John Cook interviews Bob Ward at COP21, Paris.

The veils of secrecy have been temporarily lifted by the Peabody bankruptcy proceedings, revealing the extent of the company’s third-party payments, some of which went to fund climate misinformation. However, this is not the first revelation of fossil fuel funding of climate misinformation – nor is it the first case involving Peabody.

In 2015, Ben Stewart of Greenpeace posed as a consultant to fossil fuel companies and approached prominent climate denialists, offering to pay for reports promoting the benefits of fossil fuels. The denialists readily agreed to write fossil-fuel-friendly reports while hiding the funding source. One disclosed that he had been paid by Peabody to write contrarian research. He had also appeared as an expert witness and written newspaper op-eds.

John Cook interviews Ben Stewart, Greenpeace at COP21, Paris.

The bigger picture of fossil-fuelled denial

Peabody’s funding of climate change information and misinformation is one episode in a much larger history of fossil-fuel-funded misinformation. An analysis of more than 40,000 texts by contrarian sources found that organisations who received corporate funding published more climate misinformation, a trend that increased over time.

The following figure shows the use of the claim that “CO₂ is good” (a favourite argument of Peabody Energy) has increased dramatically among corporate-funded sources compared with unfunded ones.

Prevalence of denialist claim from corporate funded and non-funded sources.
Farrell (2015)

In 1991, Western Fuels Association combined with other groups representing fossil fuel interests to produce a series of misinformation campaigns. This included a video promoting the positive benefits of carbon dioxide, with hundreds of free copies sent to journalists and university libraries. The goal of the campaign was to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact)”, attempting to portray the impression of an active scientific debate about human-caused global warming.

ExxonSecrets.org has been tracking fossil-fuel-funded misinformation campaigns for more than two decades – documenting more than A$30 million of funding from Exxon alone to denialist think tanks from 1998 to 2014.

Exxon’s funding of climate science denial over this period is particularly egregious considering that it knew full well the risks from human-caused climate change. David Sassoon, founder of Pulitzer Prize-winning news organisation Inside Climate News led an investigation into Exxon’s internal research, discovering that its own scientists had warned the company of the harmful impacts of fossil fuel burning as long ago as the 1970s.

John Cook interviews David Sassoon from Inside Climate News.

Even Inside Climate News’s revelation of industry’s knowledge of the harmful effects of climate change before engaging in misinformation campaigns has precedence. In 2009, an internal report for the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing fossil fuel industry interests, was leaked to the press.

It showed that the coalition’s own scientific experts had advised it in 1995 that “[t]he scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO₂ on climate is well established and cannot be denied”. Nevertheless, the organisation proceeded to deny climate science and promote the benefits of fossil fuel emissions.

Ideology: the other half of an “unholy alliance”

However, to focus solely on industry’s role in climate science denial misses half the picture. The other significant player is political ideology. At an individual level, numerous surveys (such as here, here and and here) have found that political ideology is the biggest predictor of climate science denial.

People who fear the solutions to climate change, such as increased regulation of industry, are more likely to deny that there is a problem in the first place – what psychologists call “motivated disbelief”.

Consequently, groups promoting political ideology that opposes market regulation have been prolific sources of misinformation about climate change. This productivity has been enabled by the many millions of dollars flowing from the fossil fuel industry. Naomi Oreskes, co-author of Merchants of Doubt, refers to this partnership between vested interests and ideological groups as an “unholy alliance”.

Reducing the influence

To reduce the influence of climate science denial, we need to understand it. This requires awareness of both the role of political ideology and the support that ideological groups have received from vested interests.

Without this understanding, it’s possible to make potentially inaccurate accusations such as climate denial being purely motivated by money, or that it is intentionally deceptive. Psychological research tells us that ideologically driven confirmation bias (misinformation) is almost indistinguishable from intentional deception (disinformation).

Video from free online course Making Sense of Climate Science Denial (launches August 9).

The fossil fuel industry has played a hugely damaging role in promoting misinformation about climate change. But without the broader picture including the role of political ideology, one can build an incomplete picture of climate science denial, leading to potentially counterproductive responses.The Conversation

John Cook, Climate Communication Research Fellow, Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

South West & Wales Fractivist Network Gathering

Frack Free Somerset is holding a gathering for fractivists (aka concerned citizens) in Weston-super-Mare on the 19th March 2016. Details below…

Network, drink tea & eat cake, whilst assimilating knowledge and inspiration to support South West anti-fracking campaigns. An opportunity to meet with local campaigners and groups from across the South-West, Bristol and Wales.

Opening presentation from Tina-Louise Rothery – Lancashire Nana, writer, occupy activist & inspirational woman.

The day is designed to be participatory, and will include diverse and engaging activities.
Taster below:

  • Local fracking update
  • Info exchange on national fracking situation
  • Reclaim the Power – Groundswell info
  • Underground Coal Gasification workshop with Frack Off

Doors open @ 10.30 am for informal Frack Free Somerset welcome, with tea.

Lunch @ 1pm followed by presentation from musician & environmental activist Theo Simon, who plays with the band Seize The Day

Networking, workshops, & short films until 6 pm

Stay for as long as you choose…

To Book:  Please send an email to info@frackfreesomerset.org

Admission free

Donations invited to cover costs

Anti-Fracking Gathering, 19th March 2016

Anti-Fracking Gathering, 19th March 2016

Sir Humphrey is up to his Obfuscating Shale Gas Antics (again)

 

Sir Humphrey ApplebyGCBKBEMVOMA (Oxon)

Having exposed Sir Humphrey’s role in telling half-truths about unconventional gas in the Bath/ Mendip area we wrote to DECC asking them to confirm the other half of the truth – that Coalbed Methane (CBM) is the primary mineral in the area, that CBM isn’t covered by the Infrastructure Act (including it restrictions of drilling depths, other safeguards and restrictions on drilling in protected areas such as the Mendip AONB), that is it done at shallow depth, etc, etc, etc. Sir Humphrey replied and confirmed these other essential pieces of information or carefully obfuscated to avoid excruciating embarrassment.

We also asked what the Government is doing to protect the climate given that climate change and sea level rise is such a massive issue in Somerset and considering that their very own Chief Scientific Advisor had reported to them that “The production of shale gas could increase global cumulative GHG emissions if the fossil fuels displaced by shale gas are used elsewhere” (NB DECC has no way to keep displaced Qatari gas in the ground).

Given the very carful wording of Minister Andrea Leadsom’s letter to Ben Howlett MP we though that we should check Sir Humphrey’s reply, in which he said:

The Government is committed to a low carbon and affordable future for energy. Gas – the cleanest fossil fuel – still meets a third of our energy demand and we will need it for many years to come. As the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said in 2013, the UK will “continue to use considerable, albeit declining, amounts of gas well into the 2030s” and “if anything, using well-regulated UK shale gas… could lead to lower overall greenhouse gas emissions than continuing to import gas”. Developing home-grown sources of gas can create a bridge while we develop renewable energy, improve energy efficiency and build new nuclear.

(NB The CCC is the Government’s statutory advisor on climate change)

What the CCC has said about gas is that gas “cannot be regarded as a low-carbon fuel source”. So much for the ‘cleanest fossil fuel’ – let’s call it the least-dirty fossil fuel instead.

But where have the 2013 CCC quotes come from? A report from the CCC to the Government? Err, well apparently not, they seem to have been cherry picked from a note to a CCC blog post.

The first part of the quote does not refer to the UK as a whole but is specific to the “building and industry sectors” in a “virtually” decarbonised power sector supplied by renewables, new nuclear and gas with Carbon Capture and Storage – now effectively cancelled by Sir Humphrey’s own department.

The second part of the CCC quotation seems to have been edited.

The CCC’s words are: “As outlined above, if anything using well-regulated UK shale gas to fill this gap could lead to lower overall lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than continuing to import LNG.

Sir Humph’s version :if anything, using well-regulated UK shale gas… could lead to lower overall greenhouse gas emissions than continuing to import gas

The word ‘lifecycle‘ has been removed and the word ‘LNG‘ has been changed to ‘gas‘.

The CCC quotation used by Sir Humphrey is about Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) (e.g. from Qatar) not about gas in general. The self-same CCC note shows that conventional ‘gas’ from Norway has lower lifecycle emissions that UK shale (with green completions). LNG has marginally higher emissions than UK shale gas with green completions and about the same emissions as UK shale gas without green completions. The CCC note says “So, at the margin, meeting a given amount of UK gas demand via domestic shale gas production could lead to slightly lower emissions than importing LNG“. Hardly the basis for a national shale gas policy.

Illustrative livecycle emissions of natural gas

Illustrative livecycle emissions of natural gas, Source CCC 2013

The relative emissions from different gas sources is interesting but it doesn’t tell you about cumulative greenhouse gas emissions (what actually matters in terms of global warming) and whether a new fossil fuel source is increasing or decreasing those emissions. If a new fossil fuel displaces an old one but the old one is simply burned somewhere else, rather than leaving it in the ground, then the new source is part of the problem or at best is an ineffective solution.

So there is no justification in Sir Humphrey substituting the word ‘LNG’ with ‘gas’. Nor is there justification for removing the word ‘lifecycle’ because CCC was talking about comparative lifecycle emissions. And of course there can be no excuse for editing the CCC’s note in the first place, presenting it out of context and passing it off as CCC’s words in order to justify the exploitation of shale gas as a ‘clean’ fossil fuel.

Considering that:

  1. Sea level rise is an undeniable and measurable consequence of anthropogenic global warming caused by fossil fuel combustion
  2. Sea level rise and drainage are massive issues in low lying areas of Somerset
  3. That the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor on energy and climate change says that any new fossil fuel will probably lead to further global warming

then the licensing of large areas of Somerset that are vulnerable to sea level rise for unconventional gas or oil exploration is a grotesque nonsense.

We have asked Sir Humphrey to explain his portrayal of gas as ‘clean’, for his cherry picking of CCC blog posts to justify unconventional gas exploitation and for editing and misrepresenting CCC quotations. We have also asked why these self same edited words have been used repeatedly by the DECC Correspondence Unit and by the Minister Andrea Leadsom in a debate in the House of Commons. Amazingly the Hansard transcribers managed to get the “…”s and the ” ” marks in the right place – how does the Minister do that? She must be doing that annoying quotations thing with her fingers as she speaks.

We are looking forward to Sir Humphrey’s reply.


Hacker: Humphrey, do you see it as part of your job to help ministers make fools of themselves?

Sir Humphrey: Well, I never met one that needed any help.


 

 

 

South West MEP Julia Reid repeats climate myths (again)

In the South West we are represented in the European Parliament by six MEPs one of whom is Dr Julia Reid who is also the UKIP science spokesperson. MEPs represent us in the parliament and are responsible for passing European laws, establishing the EU budget, etc.

UKIP policy is not just Euro-sceptic it is also climate-sceptic and firmly rejects climate science and advocates the use of fossil fuels including fracking. In the European Parliament debate on the outcome of the recent Paris Climate Conference, at which the world’s nations committed to act to avoid dangerous climate change, Dr Reid gave a speech in which she repeats a number of well known climate myths frequently used by UKIP and the fossil fuel PR machine.

 

Let’s see if Dr Reid’s assertions have any basis or if they are well known myths debunked by the scientific community.


Since 1880 the 16 hottest years on record are the last 16 years.

Dr Reid’s Myth 1 – “… there has been no warming since 1997… ”

This is a well worn climate myth championed by Lord Lawson’s fossil fuel lobby group the Global Warming Policy Foundation quoted in the UKIP policy documents.

The myth cherry picks by using a starting point of a hot El Nino year (it is normally 1998 not 97) and ignores the fact that the land, the atmosphere and melting ice only account for about 3% of total warming with most of the rest being taken up by the oceans.

Source Met Office

From Nuccitelli et al. (2012)

But let’s hear it from a geeky climate scientist:

Not enough?

NB in February 2016 we are towards the end of the latest El Niño event.



To study climate we have direct climate measurements for the past 250 years or so and we also have proxy measurements covering millions of years.

Dr Reid’s Myth 2 – “Current records are all too brief, even 250 years is insufficient time for a meaningful assessment of long term climate patterns

This myth ignores the fact that we have a multitude of climate data sources in addition to recent direct measurements, including ice cores, tree rings, lake sediments, knowledge of orbit variations, etc.

Paeleoclimatology https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/paleoclimatology-data

Let’s hear it from another climate scientist:



The climate has changed greatly over geological time and science has a good idea of why these changes have taken place.

Dr Reid’s Myth 3 – “I don’t dispute there has been climate change, there has been for thousands of years. A thousand years ago we had the Medieval warm period, before that we had the Roman warm period, before that we had the late Egyptian warm period and before that the Minoan warm period.“.

These warm periods were caused by a combination of factors including the Earth’s orbit, volcanic activity and solar output and are understood by science. Science also understands that the dominant factor causing warming now is the greenhouse effect caused by manmade CO2 emissions and that the other natural factors are currently secondary.

Let’s hear it from a climate scientist:



Variations in the Sun’s output are an obvious factor in the Earth’s climate but science knows that a) the current warming is caused by atmospheric CO2 concentrations not the Sun and b) the Sun is currently entering a quite cooling period, not a warming period.

Dr Reid’s Myth 4 – “All these [warm periods] actually coincide with the Sun’s activity. We’ve seen that cooling has actually started to happen since the solar cycle 24 decreased and the sun is very inactive at the moment in fact some solar scientists forecast that we are actually heading for another Maunder minimum

Dr Reid is attributing past warm periods to variations in the Sun’s output whilst at the same time ignoring the fact that despite the Sun currently entering a cool phase temperatures are rising. She rationalises this by denying that temperatures are rising.

Source: skepticalscience.com

But let’s hear it from a climate scientist:


Dr Reid’s climate scepticism is not just her opinion, it is stated UKIP policy. It is also a counter narrative to the global science community’s robust analysis of the full range of evidence which has been accepted by the nations of the world in the Paris Climate Agreement which aims to avert dangerous anthroprogenic climate change.

Are you happy to be represented in the European Parliament by proponents of climate ignorance, no matter what party they come from?

The science videos in this posting are all from the University of Queensland, Australia.

Let’s hear it from Sir David Attenborough:

Alternative views are available:

also:

Jacob Rees-Mogg Timsbury Environment Group Interview

Sir Humphrey’s Role in Somerset Fracking Obfuscation

It has recently been reported in the local press that the Chew Valley, Bath and Mendip will remain free from fracking for Shale Gas. This is based on an announcement by Ben Howlett MP (Bath) following a meeting that he and James Heappey MP (Wells) had with the responsible Secretary of State the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom. Ms Leadsom wrote to Mr Howlett saying that “Bath and the surrounding areas are not located in the British Geological Survey’s ‘shale prospective area’.

NB – Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg doesn’t seem to have been invited to Ms Leadsom’s tearoom surgery.

Ms Leadsom’s letter to Mr Howlett is reproduced on his web site and is reproduced below in blue italic.

Mr Howlett commented “As the Minister, Andrea Leadsom, said in her response to me I regret that this situation has been unclear both to me and my constituents and am relieved and reassured by her response“.

However, Ms Leadsom seems to have persuaded Sir Humphrey Appleby GCBKBEMVOMA (Oxon), (a “master of obfuscation”) to draft the letter for her as it is simultaneously both truthful and utterly disingenuous. Let’s see what Sir Humphrey had to say and whether what was unclear is now clear and whether we can also feel “relieved and reassured”.

Sir HumphThank you for attending my tearoom surgery recently. I hope you found our discussion about the shale reserves in Bath and the Mendip Hills helpful and thank you for raising this matter with me.

Not a good start. Why was the conversation about ‘shale reserves’ rather than the ‘coalbed methane resources’ that the gas companies have been searching for in this area for the past 20+ years?

These companies (include Pendle Petroleum in 1985, Union Texas Petroleum Inc in 1995, GeoMet Inc in 2000 and UK Methane in 2014) were all looking for CBM according to the licence applications and relinquishment reports filed in Sir Humph’s filing cabinet.  Considering that these companies all delivered their reports to Sir Humph’s Department saying they were looking for CBM it is odd he didn’t bother have a peek to find out and so save embarresment.

Also Shale Gas ‘reserves’ (what can be technical and economically extracted) certainly don’t exist because the economic value of any Shale Gas in the area have certainly not be calculated. The dextrous use of the word ‘reserve’ rather than ‘resource’ is a careful double blind to hide behind. So they were discussing something that hasn’t been calculated (reserves) for something that isn’t of primary interest in the area (Shale Gas).  Of course Sir Humph knows all about this because his Department has published a note on this very point in order to prevent, rather than create, confusion – Resources vs Reserves: What do estimates of shale gas mean?

And what about the tearoom cake reserves?

Sir HumphBath and the surrounding areas are not located in a ‘shale prospective area’ according to shale resource estimates by the British Geological Survey.

So what? The companies are not primarily looking for Shale Gas. Opps – there is the word ‘resource’ instead of ‘reserve’. This is because BGS has got a map of Shale Gas resources but it hasn’t got a map of Shale Gas reserves – because it hasn’t calculated any.

In addition, Bath (as a World Heritage sire) and the Mendip Hills (as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) are afforded the highest level of protection within our planning system.

The highest level of protection is afforded to hydraulic fracturing for Shale Gas at the exclusion of CBM.  The definition of “associated hydraulic fracturing” and related protection in the Infrastructure Act 2015 is specific to shale and stuff “encased in shale”, which does not include coal – as confirmed in writing to us by Sir Hump’s very own Department.

Sir HumphIn addition, there are currently no active Petroleum Exploration and Development Licenses (PEDLs) in the Bath area. In 2008 the Government issues PEDLs in Bath and North East Somerset, as part of the 13th round licences. In July 2014, three of the PEDL licences in this area were relinquished by the licence holders and another licence was extended for further year until July 2015 but has since been relinquished.

PEDL 227 covering the most prospective area for CBM was not available in the 14th Licensing Round because the previous licence hadn’t been relinquished in time. There is nothing stopping the Bath and Mendip area being licensed again in the 15th Licensing Round if anyone were interested – as it has been in the past. Sir Humph obviously hasn’t looked at the 2008 PEDL licence applications or the relinquishment reports otherwise he probably wouldn’t have even drawn attention to them considering what they contain – a plan to comprehensively extract the entire hydrocarbon resource in the area using a combination of fracking, mining and underground coal gasification.

Sir Humph:  “Even if there were shale gas reserves, the recent announcements on fracking would make obtaining permissions for drilling at the surface extremely unlikely.

Note the use of the word ‘reserves’ again – there aren’t any Shale Gas ‘reserves’ because they haven’t been calculated and nor have the ‘resources’ from which you would calculate the ‘reserves’.

What has been estimated by GeoMet Inc and others is the CBM ‘gas in place’ – i.e. the CBM ‘resource’ from which you might calculate a CBM reserve.

The recent announcement on fracking don’t apply to CBM anyway.

Sir Humph: “Thirteen blocks located to the west and east of Somerset are being considered as part of the 14th licensing round, subject to the Habitats Regulations Assessment consultation. A map of licences being considered in the 14th licensing round can be found here.

Ah, right. Thirteen blocks in west and east Somerset are being considered as part of the 14th Licensing Round even though they are also not in the BGS shale gas prospective area either. Err, so they must be being licensed for something else other than shale gas, something like CBM and Shale (Oil) – as stated in Sir Hump’s list of licences.  So, not being in the BGS shale gas prospective zone is a good thing in Bath, but not in any way relevant in Weston, Frome or the Forest of Dean – based on the same criteria of not being in the BGS shale gas prospective zone (Ed. Has Sir Humph got that right, it sounds like nonsense?).

Sir Humph’s Department has actually licensed 1,200 square kilometres in the Forest of Dean (CBM), Wiltshire (CBM) and the Somerset coast (Shale but not Shale Gas) that is not in the BGS Shale Gas prospective area. So the talk about not being in the BGS shale gas prospective area and the careful use of the words ‘reserve’ and ‘resource’ is just a meaningless ruse that only Sir Humph could articulate to make everything sound OK?

Sir Humph also forgot to mention that the Habitats Regulations Assessment consultation had three possible outcomes all of which resulted in the licenses being issued, no matter how sensitive the area or the consultation response.

Sir Humph: “PEDLs do not give permission for specific operations, such as drilling. Rather, they grant exclusivity to licensees, in relation to hydrocarbon exploration and extraction (including for shale gas but also for other forms), within a defined area. Any licensee looking to explore for hydrocarbons would have to apply for planning permission and various permits in advance of any drilling.

Sir Humph is fixated on only articulating “Shale Gas” at the exclusion of the “other forms” such as CBM and even Underground Coal Gasification. Why would Sir Humph not want to say CBM or “Underground Coal Gasification”?

Sir Humph: “I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss this matter with you and with James Heappey MP recently, and hope that this brings assurance that there are no known shale reserves in your area and currently no plans to explore for any.

Phew, so now we know that there are no shale ‘reserves’ in the area (the ones that haven’t been calculated, so how could there be any?). But what about the CBM ‘resources’ – the ones that have been calculated and the ones that UK Methane recently said in their relinquishment report (filed in Sir Humph’s office) were “probably prospective” and which any company can apply for an exploration licence for the next time around.

Sir Humph: “I regret that this situation has in the past been unclear to some of your constituents, and I hope you can take the necessary steps to alleviate their concerns.

Glad that Sir Humph has cleared up that confusing mess by providing a carefully worded explanation of what isn’t significant in this area. Pity he didn’t mention anything that was of primary interest even if it isn’t covered by recent reassuring legislation.

Bernard: “But surely the citizens of a democracy have a right to know“.

Sir Humph: “No. They have a right to be ignorant. Knowledge only means complicity in guilt; ignorance has a certain dignity“.