Letter to the Times, 15.04.12
It is pretty obvious that big business prefers Shale Gas and Nuclear rather than Energy Conservation and renewables as an answer to the world’s future energy requirements.(The Nuclear Option, April 10 and American Fears Over Fracking Make Weir Group Investors Tremble, April 14). However, it is not just earthquakes that render Shale Gas unacceptable. The problem with fracking is that it results in atmospheric releases of methane twice that encountered with conventional gas. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 70 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. In order for shale gas to be environmentally friendlier than other fossil fuels, it is necessary to keep methane emissions from fracking below 2%. Current operations release around 10% and in the US the fossil fuel industry is strenuously resisting methane control legislation by the EPA.
As for nuclear, it is prohibitively expensive to the tax-payer. Official figures put the cost of disposing of our current nuclear waste in the UK in excess of 100 billion pounds. In addition, HMG has recently agreed to underwrite the costs of medical claims arising from a nuclear accident in the UK. In any other business that is called a subsidy.
Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath
Chair Planetary SOS