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Thursday, 20 December 2012


 Blogging is my hobby. I love it. But hobbies can hurt you. If my hobby had been cabinet-making, I can expect to have hit my thumb with a hammer more than once – fell running, the occasional sprained ankle. In a recent rant I accused anti-frackists of being diabolical. This turns out to include someone I love and know not to be diabolical. So, I withdraw the epithet unequivocally, with apologies. I shall be more circumspect in future.

This is not to say that I have changed my opinion on fracking. I'm for it because I am for cheap energy (for industry), cheap heat (especially for poor people) and jobs for people in NW England and Pennsylvania.

But fracking is not a new or unique phenomenon. Milton Friedman and Walter Block bang on about externalities. They know what they are talking about. In a society in which the rule of law prevails, if you pollute my water, dirty my shirt or keep my baby awake, I have the moral right (and almost certainly the legal right) to demand that the authorities intervene and make you desist or compensate me.

Incidentally, I expect soon to see court cases in which wind farms are prosecuted. On the one hand there are allegations that wind farms have bad effects on health and bad effects on property prices, on the other that wind farms slaughter thousands of birds and bats. Birds and bats can’t sue; but we have many instances of individuals and companies being sued for damage to the environment. In principle, I think that if the moral and legal case can be made, wind farmers and frackers should be made to desist or to pay compensation.

It baffles me that “greens” take opposite points of view on these technologies. Wind farms contribute next to nothing to our energy needs. They require the back-up of other technologies. They are fabulously expensive to construct. They could not exist without subsidies. They take money from ordinary people and pay rich landowners – like Cameron’s father-in-law (£1000 per day). The opponents of fracking allege that the fact that lighting your water has been possible for centuries is “irrelevant”. In the mountains of Taiwan, I remember a tourist spot where water and gas emerged from subterranean systems simultaneously. The gas burned and the water bubbled. A restaurant was built around the spot, at least sixty years ago, probably much more.

It seems to me that forensic science is well placed to identify those cases where your fracking is polluting my water or where your fracking is causing tremors which damage my property. If it is proved, you are going to have to stop, or at least to compensate me.

Check out Fracknation on YouTube – Gasland too, if you want the antifracking view.

I blog because I enjoy the thinking, the research and just the writing. I have promoted it to a tiny group of people, some of whom turn out to be on the “other side” of every question I address. I am going to have to think again. I had one comment on my Lewontin post which compensated (a bit) for some very harsh words on my Fracking post.

Next up, as the media has it, Geoff’s response to my Newtown, Connecticut post.

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