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Sunday 2 October 2011

Booker Shills For Shale

It took him more than a week to wake up and smell his own particularly pungent blend of coffee, but Christopher Booker has at last followed his protégé James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole in hailing the announcement by Cuadrilla Resources that they have discovered a resource of gas embedded in the shale a long way from where he lives.

Last month, it was announced that 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas had been discovered” Booker tells triumphantly, and not for the first time, wrongly: Cuadrilla had said “that its tests showed there could be as much as [200 trillion cubic feet]”. Moreover, the amount that could be extracted would be far, far smaller: between 10% and 30% is a typical range of extraction rates.

But Booker does not mention this detail, nor that shale gas extraction is banned in France and some US States. He does, however, perform the mandatory rubbishing of the film Gasland (he doesn’t name the film, but in a field of one it is not difficult to figure out) by calling it “an absurdly mendacious propaganda film produced by US global warming zealots vilifying shale gas”.

Booker then goes off on his usual dishonest riff about wind power and stand-by gas plants, and so fails to address the issues surrounding the Cuadrilla press release and the brief history of shale gas extraction near Blackpool. So his readers are not told that the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was stopped after two similar earth tremors in April and May.

No mention is made of the millions of gallons of water that is needed for each “frack”, or the process of fracking, breaking open the shale under pressure to release gas. That disturbing the sedimentary rock under an area may lead to earthquakes seems so obvious – as does the potential of all that water, along with its mix of chemicals, to pollute the groundwater – does not seem to occur to Booker.

Nor is there any mention of the possibility that shale gas is a dirtier fuel even than coal, especially when one considers the uncontrolled release of methane that is yet another side-effect of the process. And Booker does not pause to think of the effects of all of this on the resident population, such is the desire – which he shares with Delingpole – to promote shale gas and thereby attack Government policy.

Those who revere Booker – and there will be some Telegraph readers who believe him – would do well to remember that this is the hack who said white asbestos was harmless, passive smoking didn’t cause cancer, and that Darwin was, effectively, wrong. He and Delingpole are good at shilling for something that will harm the health and wellbeing of those a long way away, and that’s not good enough.

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