Helen Savage, a Balcombe villager who campaigns against fracking, has replied to comments by Averil Macdonald, the new chair of the industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas.
Ms Macdonald told The Times yesterday that women opposed fracking because they were “always concerned about threats to their family more than men.” She said women didn’t know about or understand fracking and didn’t want to take things on trust.
In a letter to Mc Macdonald, Ms Savage said she had done her own research into fracking.
“The more research I did, the more I realised fracking is an extreme form of energy production, the risks of which are far too high.”
She said she and other villagers had had the chance to study Cuadrilla’s activities in Balcombe and elsewhere at first hand.
“We don’t take something on trust”
“We have found out just how dangerous this process is”.
Here is Helen Savage’s full letter to Averil Macdonald. At the bottom of the post you can see what Ms Macdonald told The Times.
Helen Savage’s letter to Averil Macdonald
Dear Averil Macdonald,
Your sweeping generalisations do a grave dis-service to your sex.
You made one good point in your statements about women and fracking, that women don’t ‘want to be taking (something) on trust’.
When Cuadrilla arrived, I heard the shocking stories about how fracking not only causes earthquakes, but also pollutes and creates health problems. So I started researching. Like many others, male and female, the more research I did, the more I realised fracking is an extreme form of energy production, the risks of which are far too high.
I have read the government’s own AMEC report (stark enough reading in itself) as well as the MEDACT report by concerned health professionals; The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health report; the Public Health review of Fracking in America by the New York State Health Department, the Chemtrusts’ report; the recent report by Physicians for Social Responsibility and many more.
It would appear that these reports are written by both male and female doctors, environmental health experts and scientists.
You forget also Mrs Macdonald that we that oppose fracking have studied very closely Cuadrilla’s actions, in which they have:
- Lost air samples;
- Exceeded noise levels;
- Missed gases off air simulations;
- Caused an earthquake
- Failed to report when they had cracked a well casing.
What silly women (and men) we are, not to take their word on trust that they were self-regulating effectively, but to investigate further. How annoying for you, and the oil and gas juggernauts doing your best to bulldoze us, that we don’t take something on trust, but we have found out just how dangerous this process is.
We have also found out it is not economically preferable to renewables, (we can actually count as well) and not compatible with our climate change targets.
Apparently your research has shown you that men are more in favour of fracking than women. How useful (for your purposes).
Meanwhile, we have been researching the pros and cons of fracking.
Oh dear, Averil, your ability to persuade other women is obviously part of your remit. Trouble is, most women are more intelligent than that.
I’m afraid we would look much, much, further than your sex, before we decide whether we trust you or not. Thankfully you’ve just answered the question. How much is UKOOG paying you for your 40 days work a year?
Helen Savage, Balcombe
‘Frequently the women haven’t had very much in the way of a science education because they may well have dropped science at 16. That is just a fact.
‘Women do tend not to have continued with science. Not only do [they] show more of a concern about fracking, they also know that they don’t know and they don’t understand. They are concerned because they don’t want to be taking [something] on trust. And that’s actually entirely reasonable.
‘More men on the other hand will look at the facts and be persuaded because ‘fair enough, (I) understand’
‘We are keen to ensure the facts around fracking are presented in a digestible way so that everyone is able make informed decisions.
‘Why are men persuaded? That’s because an awful lot of facts have been put forward,’ she said. ‘[Men] will say, ‘fair enough, understand’. But women, for whatever reason, have not been persuaded by the facts. More facts are not going to make any difference. What we have got to do is understand the gut reaction, the feel. The dialogue is more important than the dissemination of facts.
‘Women are always concerned about threats to their family more than men. We are naturally protective of our children. I would similarly be concerned but I read the literature and I feel comfortable that I understand. What I hope is that I can make the women who are concerned comfortable that the myths they are worried about are myths.’
‘As a scientist I have read all the relevant studies and this allows me, as a mother, to be convinced there is nothing that could harm my, or any other, family. We know from research and experience that men and women tend to react to information in different ways, and that this has led to more men being in favour of fracking than women. Our job to alleviate people’s fears by dispelling the myths that have been spread, and show why shale gas can be part of delivering an ultra-low carbon future for Britain.’