Drop support for fracking to protect climate, urge academics

pnr 180828 fence slider

Fencing outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site, 18 August 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

Twenty-nine academics have called on governments and scientists to withdraw their support for fracking because of its climate change impacts.

Writing to this morning’s Times newspaper, they say climate change is already causing extreme weather events and driving accelerated melting of ice sheets and glaciers.

The letter says a major cause is burning fossil fuels and rising methane emissions from fossil fuel extraction, particularly fracking.

This coincides with what the signatories say is a “new era of cheap, clean renewable energy and storage”.

190227 The Times

Letter to The Times newspaper, 27 February 2019

Effect of fracking on climate change, The Times, 27 February 2019 (pdf)

The letter asks:

“Is it not time that our leaders and scientific community withdrew their support for fracking and engaged in the challenge of transforming our society to meet this existential challenge?”

190217 signatories

Signatories of the letter to The Times, 27 February 2019

The signatories include 12 professors attached to universities in the UK, Australia and the UK.

Some are well-known critics of fracking, including Emeritus Professor David Smythe, of Glasgow University, Professor Robert Howarth, of Cornell University and Emeritus Professor Nick Cowern, of Newcastle University.

The list also includes social entrepreneur Jeremy Leggett, who runs a solar energy company, and the environmentalist, Sir Jonathan Porritt.

Today’s letter has been supported by the campaign network, Frack Free United. It said the UK government’s backing for fracking would “only serve to increase dangerous climate-changing emissions.

A spokesperson said:

“The global climate change breakdown we currently face requires urgent action and a need to divest from fossil fuels. Fracking is not a ‘bridge’ to a carbon-neutral future: it is yet another fossil fuel cheque that our climate cannot afford to cash. We are in a climate crisis and the UK government should declare it as one.”

Earlier this month, a group of geoscientists, many with links to the oil and gas industry joined calls for a review of the rules on fracking-induced seismicity.

117 replies »

  1. Great to see such knowledgeable scientists weigh in on this matter. The methane issue is serious. Shame to see the nonsense and predictable attempts at belittling of credibility, and otherwise desperate character assassinations by those who either get their livelihoods from the industry (or have done, or have other reasons to maintain these blinkered responses). Climate change and its effects are accelerating and it has become the defining challenge of our time.

    • You are so right Philip.

      The reality is, no one is taking any notice of the PR team’s latest script and as the tipping point is fast approaching, the me, me, me brigade will finally wake up and smell the me-thane.

      The good news is that the more fossil fuel is burned and wasted, the hotter it gets, so the less gas is needed….a bit of a conundrum or as ‘Simon sez’ as the joker is played ‘shit, didn’t see that one coming’…

    • Philip, I’m not sure what was belittliing about asking someone to post a link to an original paper instead of an opinion piece about the said paper. As Jack doesn’t seem to understand the difference I can help him out – here is the paper that he should have cited (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02246-0) – it’s by John Worden of the the Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA. I happened to have read the article when it first came out – I have a subscription to the journal and generally read to cover to back.

      Anyhow, as you will see, it does indeed argue that methane from fossil fuels as been rising while at the same time methane from burning biomass has decreased. Contrary to what JacktheLad claims, it does not point the finger at the oil and gas industry – it just mentions fossil fuel consumption. Now the article the paper that I posted for Jack to read (see thread above), presented a little more granularity regarding which fossil fuel the methane was sourced. Guess what? The methane released as a result of oil production stayed the same over the last 30 years, the methane from coal production went up and the methane from gas production went down. This is the opposite to what would have been the trend if fracking was responsible for the increase in methane production as claimed by those writing to the letter to Times and as supported by our resident little genius, JacktheLad.

      So the lesson from this is don’t listen to people who only read the summaries of articles written by people with an agenda – read the articles yourself and then make up your mind. Also don’t engage with JacktheLad because he’s a complete waste of space.

      • NO SIMON ,

        Your the one who does not understand.

        I’ve proved you wrong , all can see it and you don’t like it .


    Let’s refresh our memories as to where all this bitterness and anger that SIMON has towards me is coming from .

    SIMON says, 27th February 9.37pm on this page , quote, ” It’s also wrong to say that methane emissions are rising because of fracking. The fact is that methane emissions associated with natural gas production have been going down over the last 30 years whereas methane emissions from coal production have been rising ” THESE ARE YOUR WORDS SIMON.

    Now SIMON has been proved wrong about this , please see my previous links on this page which I submit as evidence . Remember PHILIP, these are links from NASA and the United Nations and they are on their own websites .

    For some reason and this is going to make you laugh , this high quality evidence from the world’s leading scientists at NASA is not good enough for SIMON and JUDITH.

    Just for good measure, here is another link which I submit to you all as evidence.

    Harvard University study ……… US ‘likely culprit’ of global spike in methane emissions over last decade


    • Jack, you were incapable of finding the NASA article so I found it for you. So no it eeems you are even incapable of reading the said article. Why not get a screen grab from the actual price of science that the NASA scientists wrote and outline where it says methane emissions are rising due to the oil and gas industry. I won’t hold my breath.

  3. Can’t have someone with scientific knowledge commenting upon science, can we, Simon!?

    Giggle brigade unhappy with that. I wonder why?

    But, you managed one correct point Jack. A really good laugh.

  4. Simon Maynard. You have read that article misunderstanding it is actually saying. Please try harder – without making assumptions or leaping to conclusions. You’ll find it saying the opposite of what you think. That analysis was given a good airing on this site about a year ago. It adds a few more pieces to the very complex jigsaw puzzle – of an overall methane budget – and it supports the (previously unaccounted) explanation of the discrepancies which led to a balance made up by increases in the FF contribution.

    Jack. I’d just ignore counter arguments that attack character or knowledge (personally) . Unfortunately it’s the habit of industry payees, and the otherwise confused, to use such tactics. Their livelihood is at stake. Also it leads to endless column inches in these threads being filled with people just trying to get under each other’s skin … very tedious.

    I guess tolerance is needed for the genuinely confused also, e.g. people introducing red herrings like stories about the reductions in smelly, choking, visible pollutants in the last half century. That’s a great achievement but is off the map here – an entirely different debate compared to the issues we’re discussing around the human-caused release of the colourless and odorless CO2 and Methane gases – deemed pollutants only in the context of the measurable imbalances they’re causing in relation to the overall climate system due to their energy trapping potential.

  5. Philip, you don’t seem to be explaining yourself particularly well. Simply telling someone that they have misread something is a complete waste of time. What particularly have I misread? – the graphs from the supplementary data in https://www.nature.com/articles/nature19797? Or the fact that John Worden in his paper (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02246-0) which is what the link that Jack posted is based upon doesn’t hasn’t actually mention the oil and gas industry as the cause of the increased CH4 emissions from the FF industry? Indeed, the famous paper by the NSAS scientist doesn’t mention the words “oil” or “gas” once let alone fracking.

    BTW – it’s typical of Greens to assume that because someone has a different opinion to them that they must be being paid by the industry to ave that opinion. It provides a good example of how you tend to jump to conclusions without knowing facts.

    • That’s an amusing spin you’re attempting there Simon. When Fossil Fuels are part of the title, as in “Upward revision of global fossil fuel methane emissions” … to try suggesting that Oil and Gas let alone Fracking may not be implicated is a semantic trick worthy of Ken Wilkinson. To then point to the latter article which is dealing with the supplementary issue of Biogenic Gas and its part of the overall calculations is quite an evasion.

      At least you seem to have impressed Martin!

      Tell me which part of the Fossil Fuel industry do you think has revolutionized the production of oil and gas from 2007 till now (the period the studies are mostly dealing with)?

      • Philip – read the article and look at the graphs. I’m not actually saying that methane isn’t being released as a result of the oil and gas industry – what I’m saying is that methane released from gas production over the last 30 years as gone down which is the opposite to what would be expected to happen if shale gas production was responsible. As I suggested to Jack, the article that he posted from the journal Science shows that methane emissions from gas production could have been underestimated by 4 Tg/y – this is a small amount compared to global methane emissions. However, the article that Jack pointed to is interesting in that it points out that much of these underestimates are due to large point sources and particularly points the finger at storage tanks used in liquid-rich or light oil shale plays. This is extremely consistent with the increased levels of ethane that have been measured in the atmosphere. The latter not present in large amounts in thermally mature shale gas plays but its content increases as the thermal maturity of the shale decreases (i.e. liquid-rich and light oil plays).

  6. Ahh Simon, these “Greens” could really be sales people for wind turbines and solar panels who are trying to trash their competitors behind a façade!

    But, quite a compliment when posts are suggested as being so professional that they are worthy of financial reward. Indicates something of the reality when such fiction is speculated. Not sure that is realised by those who post it though.


    The link that I posted, taken from the United Nations own website . Makes the point CRYSTAL CLEAR that the information on their webpage , supplied by NASA, squarely puts the blame on the steep increase in greenhouse gas emissions is tied to , quote, ” Oil and Gas ”

    Here is that very LINK , from the United Nations, that I have previously posted on this page .

    NASA Confirms Methane Spike Is Tied to Oil and Gas


    Now you can wriggle, twist, turn and flap about like a fish out of water, BUT

    ( A) trying to distort what you have previously posted on this very webpage.

    ( B ) Trying to say information contained within webpage LINKS I’ve posted isn’t there ……. When anyone clicking on to these LINKS can clearly see it is .

    ( C ) Trying to downgrade information supplied by the world’s leading scientists at NASA.

    ( D ) Trying to discredit jackthelad ( SHOOT THE MESSENGER ) for bringing this information to the attention of other forum members …… AS IF THAT is going to have any bearing on the quality of the information on the NASA website.

    IS ONLY going to make you look foolish and become a source of much amusement and laughter to other forum members .

    I thank you for your contribution PHILIP JAMES . The points you make regarding regarding the tactics used by ” some ” supporters of the Oil and Gas industry are spot on. I take note of what you say .

    • Jack – why read an interpretation from the paper actually written by the NASA scientist. I gave you the link to the actual paper that the NASA scientist wrote and you either can’t be bothered reading it or don’t understand it. The fact is that I’m not downgrading information from the NASA scientist – I’m up grading it by actually giving you the paper itself. Have you heard of a game called Chinese whispers? By reading peoples interpretations of a work instead of reading it yourself is exactly the same – you get downgraded information. So by refusing to read the persons work that you keep going on about it is you that is looking extremely foolish!

      Also, do you not know the difference between a UN and a NASA website??

      • Simon. You’re evading the crucial evidence. The NASA scientist’s article is about a different piece of the overall puzzle – I have been through it and not found the point that supports your argument… please refer to it directly (as I asked above). Perhaps Jack’s links are more relevant.

        • Philip, It’s Figure 10 https://media.nature.com/original/nature-assets/nature/journal/v538/n7623/extref/nature19797-s1.pdf

          It’s the supplementary data to the nature paper that shows that methane emissions from fossil fuels usage have increased far more than decrease that occurred as a result in the reduced amount of biomass combustion (https://www.nature.com/articles/nature19797) . If you read the abstract, the last sentence reads “we also find that methane emissions from natural gas as a fraction of production have declined from approximately 8 per cent to approximately 2 per cent over the past three decades”

          • That commonly accepted 2% baseline figure is referring to overall Gas production itself, not in proportion to other kinds of emissions or greenhouse gases. It is not an antidote or answer to the fact that O&G from fracking has ramped up by several thousand percent since 2007 particularly in the USA. Yes, methods for mitigating against rogue emissions, leakages etc, and practices like ‘green completions’ have helped make the end-to-end process cleaner but 2% is still too high and a long way from zero when you consider how huge the industry is. As mentioned above also it will probably get revised upwards as improved top-down measurements (including new remote methane-sensing satellites) come on stream.

  8. Oh no it won’t Jack. We can make up our own minds rather than you trying to do it for us. Maybe better to speak for yourself rather than assume-you do know what they say about that.

    By the way-they are NOT the world’s leading scientists. Maybe some of, maybe not. You do seem to have a problem sticking to the reality and trying to stretch the boundaries thinking no one will notice.

  9. It’s Figure 10 https://media.nature.com/original/nature-assets/nature/journal/v538/n7623/extref/nature19797-s1.pdf

    It’s the supplementary data to the nature paper that shows that methane emissions from fossil fuels usage have increased far more than decrease that occurred as a result in the reduced amount of biomass combustion (https://www.nature.com/articles/nature19797) . If you read the abstract, the last sentence reads “we also find that methane emissions from natural gas as a fraction of production have declined from approximately 8 per cent to approximately 2 per cent over the past three decades”

  10. Mr ” OPINION ” man ……. MARTIN , or is it BOT MARTIN ??????

    NOT world leading scientists at NASA.

    OK MARTIN , whatever you say ……. but then that’s your ” opinion ” and of course your ” opinion ” as usual will be backed up with the usual ZERO evidence .

    I wouldn’t expect to change your ” opinion ” in a month of Sundays, but the strong evidence I put forward may change the minds of others and I’m happy to settle for that .

    You talk about REALITY, I feel that you’re becoming so far removed from the real reality and the problems humans are beginning to face on planet earth.

    I’m beginning to question if you are a real human being, or a BOT.

    BOT meaning ………. an autonomous program on a network ( especially the Internet ) which can interact with systems or users

    It would of course account as to why you can’t post any LINKS and why minor spelling errors and grammar from forum members is such a big deal to you ……. A BOT has great difficulty in processing and understanding sentences with spelling errors.

    Is MARTIN real or not , answers on a postcard please .

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