If only he had not spent all that time asleep during sessions of the European Parliament, UKIP MEP Roger Helmer might have been a little quicker at spotting a flagrantly dishonest headline when he saw one. Instead, he has converted himself, in just one Tweet, from mildly controversial man of the people to a combination of gullible fool and certified laughing stock.
Not engaging brain before shooting gob off
“Wow! Estonia becomes the first country to get all its power from shale gas ... and much cheaper than Russian gas” he enthused, which will raise a few eyebrows, not least in Estonia, because there is no shale gas extraction there. None. Not a sausage. Nada. Bugger all. And, had Helmer bothered to read beyond the headline of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s article, he would have found out for himself.
That headline, “Estonia becomes self-sufficient on shale gas boom”, was fraudulent. What Evans-Pritchard is describing is the use of oil shale, a rock which can be dug out of the ground, pulverised and then heated to yield energy. It is a particularly crude and inefficient way of doing so, and the technology was bequeathed Estonia by the former Soviet Union.
Lots left over? They import natural gas ...
Moreover, the idea that there is lots left over after using oil shale for power generation is an interesting one. The country, certainly until 2012, imported all its natural gas – from Russia – despite Evans-Pritchard suggesting otherwise. Estonia also imports electricity. It also imports crude oil. So the Telegraph piece is about rather more than a dishonest headline.
... they import electricity ...
What the Tel is also not letting its readers know is that Estonia produced as much as 17% of its power from renewable sources as far back as 2004. That’s rather better than many other EU member states, such as, oh I dunno, the UK for instance. And the continued use of oil shale in Estonia is controversial, which the Tel article manages to mention towards the end.
... and they import crude oil
As a former environment manager for Estonia’s state power company put it, “We inherited this infrastructure from the Soviet Union so there was some justification at first, but now it doesn’t make any sense. We are linked to electricity from Finland and we can offset wind intermittency with Nordic hydro-power. We should be switching everything to offshore wind and biomass”.
He also pointed out that, while he was in that job, he was his country’s biggest polluter. Energy from oil shale, despite recent improvements in filtering out the worst emissions, is not exactly a clean technology. But none of this has concerned Roger Helmer, who has seen the headline and allowed the Tel, together with it being the kind of news he wants to see, to con him something rotten.
Something to think about when you even consider voting for these clowns.