We need the same kind of analysis today, particularly about fracking. Drilling for shale gas, we are told, could pollute drinking water. But the US has drilled more than 40,000 wells and the regulator there has not found “any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water”. So while there is reason to be cautious, we should focus on better regulation.
Also, by highlighting the bad news, shale’s opponents play down the potential benefits. Natural gas is much more environmentally friendly than coal, which still powers a huge chunk of electricity production. Gas emits less than half the CO2 to generate the same amount of energy, and much lower quantities of nitrogen oxides, sodium dioxide, black carbon, carbon monoxide, mercury and particulates.
This feeds into climate policy. Despite the moderate predictions of the UN Climate Panel, many people, not least the MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee, have tried to spin the issue as threatening Armageddon.
The reality is that, by 2020, the cost of promised climate policies to the UK economy will be £21 billion annually. The net effect over the century – after spending more than £1.5 trillion – will be to reduce temperature rises by a pitiful 0.005C. Compare this to increased shale gas production, which would generate more than £6 billion annually in tax revenues, and reduce carbon emissions by about 10 times more than the current plan.
This was wrote by Dr Bjorn Lomborg who is an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center.
What are your views on this subject? Does it mean global warming is “good”? ……