Should humanity pull back from – take your pick – environmental disaster, nuclear annihilation or both of these logical consequences of capitalism’s relentless addiction to ‘growth’, how will future schoolchildren, in their history classes, judge the injection by private interests of a highly pressurised liquid to crack deep-rock formations and so release gas or oil?
Also known as fracking.
Who d’you suppose these children of tomorrow will deem the bad guys? Three men – Simon Roscoe Blevins, Richard Roberts and Richard Loizou – jailed last week for more than a year apiece for acts motivated by the iniquitous desire to safeguard that tomorrow?
Or Judge Robert Altham, who told the men that, informing the severity of his sentence, was the fact none of them had shown remorse?
One point the twittersphere has focused on is the comparison of the same judge’s more lenient decision the case brought before him of inappropriate images of minors.
However, the question goes wider than this one case. How do we judge, as opposed to history, those who push fracking like street corner crack sellers right now? Having spent the last several years not just campaigning on the issue but assessing the available research to produce themed self click through PowerPoint fact packages the stance of my local MP, for example remains not so much a mystery (because no one can be that myopic or, in the case of those involved in ‘research’, obtuse without substantial encouragement) more of an indictment on the elite corporate infiltration and control of the political system and the political parties.
How does one assess & judge those who insist their opinion trump’s the facts? Like the denial of the amount of water used in the fracking process, (not forgetting the volume of waste water/chemical/radioactive flowback) to a local constituent who happens to be more qualified to assess the science? Particularly from someone who claims to be concerned about water stress?
Or the level of willfull ignorance which ignores the basic energy science which demonstrates the piss poor Energy Input Output Ratio of shale gas extraction?
The level of cognitive dissonance existing in such people highlights the problem that too many people are in positions of power and influence which makes them a clear and present danger to the survival of the species. They are either too wrapped up in their own bubble of elitist ego or have been bought and paid for. Either way, such people should be let nowhere near the tools.
As an engineer, when I have a screw in my hand the tool I need to use is a screwdriver. When someone comes along and insists the screw is a nail and we should be using a hammer they may be ‘entitled’ to an opinion (and the maxim of Harry Callaghan is pertinent: “opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one” – though it’s rare to find d both elements of that observation in one place at the same time) but they are still talking bollocks and have no business near the job which needs to be done as going their route results in a bodge job.
Profits depend on ‘growth’. Growth requires profligate hydrocarbon consumption, not least to propel people from A to B in the streams of singly occupied cars clogging our streets and choking the air we breathe. Hydrocarbons, besides fuelling the rape of the middle east in the risible name of supporting democracy, are running out. Ergo the need for fracking. Ergo the “people in positions of power … too wrapped in the bubble of elitist ego or bought and paid for”.
What’s problematic about the argument the frack pushers put forward on UK energy security is threefold:
Firstly, any energy taken out of the ground is traded on the open market rather than being ring fenced for UK energy consumption. Think of Milo Minderbinder’s syndicate in Heller’s Catch 22.
Secondly, the economics don’t make sense for the Country (the private companies are a different matter as I ‘ll explain). I recall throughout the 1980’s we were told constantly that private companies, unlike the public sector, stood on their own two feet and did not need public subside.
Looking first at the US, a year or so ago (reported in the NYT back in December last year) large investors were getting edgy because in all he time fracking has been operating in the US it has not made a dime. The companies which make up the industry are something in the ball park of $280b in debt. Funding operations via junk pension funds and State subsidies.
Likewise in the UK. The carbon industries are regularly fed huge subsidies and tax breaks which are staggering. Thatcher would have been screaming the roof down if his had been the public sector.
So, not even any money coming into the UK economy from this. Quite the reverse.
Finally, the largest company involved in fracking don’t actually want to use it for energy production. At least not in any significant degree. They want what’s there to produce more plastics, an industry of the past. Such continuation of old industries past their sell by date stalls new industries such as those introducing what might be inadequately termed ‘bio- plastics’ as well as clean energy technologies which produce more longer term, better paid employment.
This is pure rentierism and goes against the best interests of maintaining the Capitalist system (as described by Kondratiev in the 1920’s and 30’s). It’s almost as though those involved are trying to freeze a set of arrangements in time and prevent any kind of further progress?
Much to chew over here. (For the benefit of other readers, I know Dave as a Labour Party activist unusually well informed – a rare combination in my experience – on international affairs, as well as an anti-fracking protestor.)
Just to pick up on two of your points. First, capitalism always brings economic chaos precisely because its driving engine of production is profits not usable wealth – hence distortions like the diverting of this fracked energy not into heating homes but plastic manufacture. Nevertheless politicians, with media collusion, will obfuscate on the point.
Second, you show as risible the notion of capital as patriotic.
Ditto, I might add, that of a fiercely non partisan judiciary …
Now you’re being too lenient with me.
I’m really a Groucho Marxist – I don’t normally join a club that would have me as a member. However, when the inner engineer sees a workable tool they are going to pick it up and see if anything practical and useful can be done with it.
Besides, retirement gives one the opportunity to more productively engage in one’s favourite hobby, which in my case is being a bloody nuisance (or as one old colleague once put it “a foot blister” (irritant)).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. An excess of kindness is my one and only fault.