by Natalie Bennett
We had at our members’ meeting this week a great speaker from Frack-Off, the fast-growing campaign against “extreme energy”. They’re best-known for their work, as the name suggests, against fracking – yes that strange and destructive method of shale gas extraction that caused an earthquake in Blackpool, but also covering a whole range of other, possibly even worse, technologies, ranging from coal-bed methane and underground coal gasification (effectively setting fire to coal underground) – and also including tar sands, mountain top removal and deep water drilling (of the type for which the UK has just provided a $1bn line-of-credit to the Brazilian state oil company).
This map shows the sites where activity is under way or with licences likely to be let in the UK, but a map supplied on the night shows how a majority of the UK is under threat (the “under review” areas are where licences are being considered) ….
(Map by Paul Mobbs)
We did an interesting, if depressing, exercise, trying to rank the most significant negative impacts of fracking. These ranged from climate change to methane, heavy metals and other contaminants in underground water, to the industrialisation of the countryside and an average of 30,000 lorry movements for each well.
There is, however, a strong fightback going on, with Frack-Off providing help and support to strong local groups – and some of those who have been fighting back are now on trial (Follow #frackingontrial on Twitter for the latest on that.) It’s pleasing to know that Caroline Lucas has made representations to the trial, saying non-violent protest should not be criminalised.
An interesting fact we learned was that had BP’s Deepwater Horizon not blown up, with all of the human and environmental consequences, and had the well’s oil been fully utilised, it would have provided between 12 and 24 hours of the world’s total usage, at current rates. Not much for all of that destruction.
That took us on to Frack-Off’s broader point, and it is a truly terribly important one – that we need to greatly reduce energy demand, as its largely only these extreme energy sources available – and we can’t afford to use them because we must stop pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It’s why they are a particularly interesting organisation – linking the local and the global. We agreed as Camden Green Party to work with them on local and London campaigns.
I’m not sure who was being quoted, but had to agree with the line: “At the moment we’re failing to outperform yeast in the intelligence of our approach to resource use”.