I’m just reading a Commons debate on fracking. It’s amazing how many arguments are poo. Here’s a classic, a nice example for any student of Critical Thinking.
Dan Byles said this:
‘Impact on water resources has been mentioned as well. I am not talking so much about fears about pollution of water, but about access to and quantities of water. Again, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering assessed the impact of water use. They concluded:
“estimates indicate that the amount needed to operate a hydraulically fractured shale gas well for a decade may be equivalent to the amount needed to water a golf course for a month; the amount needed to run a 1,000 MW coal-fired power plant for 12 hours; and the amount lost to leaks in United Utilities’ region in north west England every hour”.
The idea that access to quantities of water is an issue is probably another myth that needs to be busted.’
Now, as we all know, two wrongs don’t make a right – and here are three! That golf courses take so much water is an offensive bad thing. We need to stop golf courses taking so much water (stopping golf courses would be even better). Coal-fired power plants are another known no-no. We are trying, however ineffectively, to get rid of them. Leaks in water systems are also an appalling situation, and one which water companies are trying to rectify.
I’m not sure that this is a firm foundation for arguing the water-efficiency of fracking.
And here’s another. In response to Caroline Lucas’ pointing out that the North Sea rigs had 55 leaks last month, Michael Fallon said:
‘Let us just deal with her slur on the North sea. The North sea has one of the most extensive safety regimes in the world. Of course, we have learned from the accident on Piper Alpha… Of course we have learned from that, but if she compares operations in the North sea to operations in other seas right around the world, she will see that we have one of the best and safest regimes there is. The proof of that is precisely the fact that the incidents that she referred to have to be reported to the Heath and Safety Executive, which is at present in Aberdeen.’
‘Incidents have to be reported’. So that’s all right, then! Also, ‘best and safest’ is relative, and not absolute – and when you’re dealing with dangerous substances, it might be felt that absolute would be the safest of the lot…