Horizon: Fracking – The New Energy Rush

Wed Jun 19, 9-10pm, BBC2

‘It was a gift from the good lord.’ But then American farmer CB Weatherspoon would say that. Firstly because he’s an American farmer. And secondly because he’s sitting on a cheque for $434,000 as a result of selling mining rights to his farm. But how about everyone else? Is fracking – or hydraulic fracturing, as geologists would call it – an energy gamechanger? Or is it leading us towards environmental degradation while enabling us to maintain ruinous consumption habits?

Iain Stewart’s investigation feels somewhat superficial – but that’s at least partly because so little meaningful data has been gathered on the subject. Also, mining companies seem unbelievably secretive, which is hardly a good sign in itself. This feels pretty even-handed: horror stories are balanced against wider benefits. But it’s hard to escape the suspicion that we’re racing, headlong and unregulated, into something that we don’t really understand. Not in any way conclusive, but a useful primer to an increasingly urgent issue.


Nick Grealy

I guess the rest of us will have to actually watch the show before we criticise it! On the subject of alleged secret lawsuits, you may find this instructive. http://www.nohotair.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2766:the-hidden-shale-pollution-lawsuit-myths&catid=199:energy-policy&Itemid=417 Simply put, public companies cannot hand out secret sums of money to pay off damages without informing shareholders. That, is most definitely illegal. The conclusion then is that the problems of shale gas have been negligible and no more so than in multiple other industries. Weighted against the substantial environmental plus of lower carbon (you neglected to mention gas has 50% less CO2 than coal), and the fact that importing energy is exporting money, shale gas is not perfect, but not perfectly evil either. I have no idea whats in the show, but if it's science based, then it's good enough for me. After all science tells us that climate change is happening and no one can deny that.