FRACKING – Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Independent 26 March, 2012

Published with only slight modification on 17 April, 2012.–only-a-ban-will-do-7654717.html

Lord Browne, the former head of BP and now head of Cuadrilla, has joined a  list of powerful but scientifically illiterate individuals who have been persuaded by the fossil fuel lobby that Shale Gas is the answer to the world’s future energy needs.  (“Fracking could bring UK 50.000 jobs”, says Browne 26 March.)  In his State of the Union address in January this year, President Obama stated : “We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.”

Osborne followed suit in his budget statement last week: “Gas is cheap, has much less carbon than coal and will be the largest single source of our electricity in the coming years”.

The problem with shale gas is that fracking 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.  It appears that they have the key politicians on their side.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath

Friends of the Earth Advert

Letter to the Independent, 15.04.12


It is testimony to how far climate change has sunk down the political agenda that an environmental pressure group feels it necessary to pay for a full-page ad in the Independent in order to rebut the nonsense being propagated by the Daily Telegraph (Advert by Friends of the Earth, 14 May). The truth is that the climate change contrarians, led by Nigel Lawson and his shadowy think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, have outfought, outwitted and out-manouvered  scientists world-wide and the NGO’s in this country.  Now even the BBC seems scared to touch the climate change issue, or if it does it seems to think that a balanced debate is the best approach. So the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and all of the reputable scientific journals in the world say that two plus two makes four. Then along comes Lawson and says “no it’s not. The answer is five”.   And the BBC behaves as if the answer is four and a half.  As the editors of the British Medical Journal and Lancet wrote on 24 January (Guardian Letters): “Denying the link between greenhouse gas emissions and  man-made climate change  is akin to denying the link between HIV/Aids and unprotected sex, smoking and lung cancer, or alcohol consumption and liver disease. In each of these cases, well-funded deniers have had to be exposed and confronted before appropriate health-promoting legislation was put in place”.

Yours sincerely

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath

Chair Planetary SOS