guest post

Guest post: It’s time for consultants to take the ethical high road and not back fracking

Professor Andrew Watterson, public health researcher at Stirling University, argues that in a time of global climate crisis the facilitation and support of the fracking industry must stop.

To operate and develop, fracking companies rely on inhouse and external advisors and consultants, as well as planners in local and central government. The consultants include lawyers, engineers, scientists and environmental impact assessors.

After the COP26 summit, it is no longer possible for these advisors and facilitators to continue to publicly deny the catastrophic impacts that the fossil fuel industries, including fracking, have had and will continue to have on the world’s climate. Many will already have been aware of the decades of research and reports that revealed the industries’ role in global climate change (in addition to contributing to air pollution morbidity and mortality).

The industries acknowledged this themselves on camera in 2021. Ignorance of the human health and environmental effects of fossil fuels can no longer be used as defence for their work. Some advisors and consultants, however, may continue to support the industry through wilful ignorance when it is visible to the rest of the world.

Those continuing to advise and support fracking and its development are usually members of professional organisations. These professional bodies have codes of conduct or codes of ethics and practice that sometimes do address environmental matters in general terms and occasionally refer to the ‘public good’. Most, however, do not directly address the ethical dilemmas of working for, or with, industries that contribute to adverse climate impacts and climate change. They should now.

The defences frequently used by some of these professionals to support their position ranges from “it’s legal to do this work”, through to “it’s necessary”, and “someone has to do it”, to the last resort of “we were just obeying orders”. Such arguments no longer convince when we are faced with an urgent existential crisis, created by fossil fuels, that has already destroyed many lives, livelihoods, and environments.

Codes that do touch on the ethical dimension sometimes “suggest”, sometimes “advise”, sometimes “recommend” but occasionally “require” members to act sustainably and protect the public, the environment, and future generations.

In this article, I examine the ethical statements in a selection of national and international codes from some of the key professional groups.

Engineers

The 2017 UK Code of Ethics produced jointly by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Council indicates engineers should respect the environment and the public good: one of the code’s four underpinning fundamental principles.

Engineers “should protect and, where possible, improve the quality of built and natural environments” and “take due account of the limited availability of natural resources”. Engineers should also “maximise the public good and minimise both actual and potential adverse effects for their own and succeeding generations”.

These statements of ethical principles should make it impossible in 2022 for engineers to support fracking developments. However, the code makes clear it is neither prescriptive nor a regulation or standard. It should now be altered to do so and all other professional bodies could usefully include similar explicit reference to protecting succeeding generations and the ‘public good’.

The UK Institution of Chemical Engineers Code of Professional Conduct states members “must act in accordance with the principles of sustainability, prevent avoidable adverse impact on the environment and society, and protect, and where possible improve, the quality of built and natural environments” The code should be applied because, for this professional group, it is not optional. The principles of sustainability and avoidance of adverse social and environmental effects do include climate change and can be used to ensure chemical engineers in the future do not support new fracking developments.

In 2020, the American National Society of Professional Engineers Code of Ethics stated engineers should “strive to serve the public interest” and should be “encouraged to adhere to the principles of sustainable development in order to protect the environment for future generations”.

In 2015, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers approved a Code of Ethics requiring firstly that “members shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public and protect the environment in performance of their professional duties”. Secondly, members should “formally advise their employers or clients (and consider further disclosure, if warranted) if they perceive that a consequence of their duties will adversely affect the present or future health or safety of their colleagues or the public”. Both US codes would seem to preclude support of fracking on climate change grounds.

Environmental consultants

Risks of bias have always existed when environmental consultants are contracted and paid to do environmental risk assessments for various parties and hence are not perceived as independent. These risks have also been long been debated and openly acknowledged by some practitioners in the field, who nevertheless believe there are effective mechanisms to ‘de-bias’ such assessments. With climate change, it is difficult to envisage any work by such consultants for new fracking developments that would not be viewed as clearly biased against the public interest, sustainability and global public health. 

A range of guides, codes and principles may apply to these consultants who prepare environmental statements and impact assessments for the fracking industry, appear at public enquiries and planning appeals and, in some instances, also work full-time for fracking companies.

However, no independent regulatory body exists to effectively ensure the conduct and practice of all members of this professional group. Guidelines exist for some but it is unclear the extent to which they have been applied.

In contrast to the engineering professions, environmental consultants surprisingly often have lower ethical requirements to protect the public good.

The American National Association of Environmental Professionals produced a Code of Ethics ands Standards of Practice in 2018 that failed to mention sustainability as such or climate change, although members had a duty to interest themselves in ‘public welfare’.

The UK Society for the Environment has chartered environmentalists and registered environmental technicians among its members and has a very brief Code of Professional Conduct that is available on its 2022 web site. This makes a woolly and weak reference to requiring its members “to act in accordance with the best principles for the mitigation of environmental harm and the enhancement of environmental quality”. How exactly it could be applied is not clear.

The Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) produced a much more useful Code of Professional Conduct in January 2019. Objectives for members include advancing “the understanding and the standards of practice of ecology and environmental management for the benefit of the natural environment and the public good”.

It is difficult to envisage how members’ knowledge and skills can be used to facilitate or support the fracking industry and its development, although the code does not specifically mention sustainability and climate change challenges.

Key values have, however, been identified by the World Health Organization for those who might carry out environmental health impact assessments, including “democracy, equity, sustainable development and ethical use of evidence”.

The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) over the years has produced and updated a professional Code of Conduct and Ethical Responsibilities that discusses values too. Its membership is voluntary but it covers many involved in environmental stewardship and sustainability projects.

The IAIA 2020 Code starts with a vision statement for a “just and sustainable world for people and the environment”. In 2022, such a vision cannot be consistent with enabling continued fossil fuel extraction. The Code then lists professional responsibilities, including the promotion of “sustainable and equitable outcomes from human actions that affect ecosystem and social functions” and giving “due regard to the rights and interests of future generations”.

Again, these responsibilities would seem to preclude working for, or with, the fossil fuel industry in the future. IAIA professional members are also expected to “not advance our private interests to the detriment of the public, our clients or employing institutions”. How this guidance will tally with future professional practice is unclear, particularly in circumstances where consultants’ reports are commissioned and financed by shale exploration companies.

Scientists

No single code covers scientists working in industry or as consultants, although there are detailed codes of ethics for research scientists.

However, we know how some industries and companies can manipulate and skew science to protect their own interests.

The epidemiologist David Michaels said in his book Doubt is their product: how industry’s assault on science threatens your health (2020). He found that industries can deliberately create uncertainty to protect their products, including fossil fuels, and can skilfully use scientists, consultants, and researchers to present their case in quite complex and sophisticated ways.

Professional codes of conduct and ethics should preclude such abuses but to date they have not.

The 2015 UK Royal Society of Chemistry Professional Practice and Code of Conduct states members “should have a duty to minimise adverse effects on health, safety and the environment and to recommend the use of best health, safety and environmental practice and give appropriate advice”. There is a separate sub-section relating to serving the public interest that further states members “are expected to advance the welfare of society, particularly in the field of health, safety and the environment” and “use knowledge and experience for the protection and improvement of the environment”.

In this connect, it is difficult to identify how chemists can do this if they work to maintain and develop fossil fuel and fracking companies that have not shifted to just transition, sunsetting green chemistry initiatives to reduce global climate change impacts.

Geologists have various codes of ethics. The European Federation of Geologists identified “professional conscience and moral responsibility” as a key general principle. This would today be interpreted as covering the public good, public interest and the need to consider the impact of UOGE on climate change.

The Geological Society of the UK issued a Code of Conduct in 2020 covering all its Fellows and linked to regulations. This states Fellows “must take all reasonable precautions to avoid any act of commission or omission which might endanger life, adversely affect the health and safety of others, result in needless financial loss, or endanger or damage the natural and/or built environment”.

This is a requirement not guidance. The interpretation of “reasonable precautions” in the light of current evidence about fossil fuel extraction and their impacts on the global climate would seem to preclude geologists acting for fracking companies to develop new sites or extend existing ones in the UK. A further clause strengthens such an interpretation as it states Fellows “must consider the implications of their conduct in the context of the public good”.

Lawyers

These are not a homogenous group. They contain special interest groups in practice. such as environmental lawyers, as well as commercial lawyers. There are also academic lawyers and even a Lawyers for Extinction Rebellion group.

Lawyers do recognise the urgent need to debate what they should do when “the interests of their clients conflict with generally accepted public policy” on climate change. Some will be concerned with climate change law and issues of disclosure and client confidentiality. The ethical position, is of course, why should lawyers choose to work for industries that cause global climate change. The law profession defence would be that everyone has a right to representation regardless of what they do but no lawyer is surely compelled to accept such work and would the industry be able to function if lawyers did not represent them?

UK Solicitors’ professional codes of conduct do not touch directly on climate change or environmental issues. Nor do codes of conduct for UK barristers that anyway specifically require, as a core duty, the barrister to act in the best interest of each client.

In contrast the American Bar Association has called on all lawyers “to do what was in their power to reduce harm from climate change”. There is also a global view, at least on paper, that lawyers should work for the public good and so do have responsibilities to address climate change.

Planners

Planners may come from a range of professional backgrounds including law, engineering, environmental sciences, as well as planning. They may work independently for commercial interests or for environmental and community groups. They may also work for local authorities or for central government in the UK as planning inspectors.

The UK Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) produced a Code of Professional Conduct that became effective in 2016. It contained no specific references to how the code could or should apply to questions around the environment, climate change, sustainability, public interest or the public good. However, a further RTPI document, updated in 2017, offered advice for its members relating to ethics and professional standards. This advice recognised the tensions that existed for planners relating to acting in the public interest but “reconciling the competing interests of protecting public health, public amenity and the environment from harm having regard to the expectations of clients, employers, the local community and politicians as well as future generations”.

Surprisingly, there is no guidance here on prioritising or ordering those competing interests. To those outside the profession, it would seem client and political interests might legitimately over-ride the public interest. Again, there is no reference specifically in the document to climate. The RTPI has been doing good work on climate change issues and climate justice but this does not yet appear to be reflected in its ethical and conduct codes and advice for members who may be employed by or consult for the oil,  gas and fracking industries.

The ethical position of local authority planners currently approving fracking developments looks untenable in the context of global climate change and is being challenged legally. They have on occasions, defended their decisions by salami slicing environmental impacts and stating the immediate and local effects of a specific developments will be minimal. The fact that these developments will contribute to the local, national, and international fossil fuel burden is lost. The argument is rather like a company that provides the metal plates for a bomb pretending it has no responsibility for the complete bomb. The climate ‘bomb’ should mean planners must be ethically responsible for any decisions they take that will increase the magnitude of the climate explosion that  is going on.

Planning inspectors in England and Wales are covered by a Code of Conduct that was published in 2015 and updated in 2017. It makes no specific mention of the environment or sustainability. However, it indicates that those taking formal decisions in the course of their duties should apply the following principle:

“Decisions and recommendations must be made fairly and in the public interest. Decisions and recommendations should be made solely on merit, in terms of the public interest”.

In the context of the state of knowledge made public in the last few years, it looks impossible now to argue that approving fracking projects contributing to global climate change could in any way have been in the public interest.

Conclusion

The public health and environmental grounds for no longer supporting new fossil fuel developments, including fracking projects, is incontrovertible, based on the climate change and other evidence available.

The associated ethical grounds look equally strong for engineers, scientists, environmental consultants, planners and lawyers no longer supporting fracking developments.

The professional bodies representing them should, therefore, now ensure their codes of conduct, practice and ethics always include requirements to address climate change, sustainability and public good considerations for present and future generations.


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42 replies »

  1. Interesting article but will not change anything. Pie in the sky. The real world continues. Planners & Planning Inspectors follow planning law and rules. Until these state zero hydrocarbon developments in the UK can be approved things will continue as normal with approvals being given to applications which are in accordance with planning regulations and those that are not being refused.

    As I mentioned in a post on a another article today, it would appear that the EU is about to recognise natural gas as a “green” energy in certain circumstances i.e. if it goes in one end of a pipeline and comes out in Germany etc., when it’s not windy etc etc.

    • Fortunately UK is no longer a member of the EU? Aww? Shame!

      A little case of grasping at (plastic) straws by the EU, or is that EUK?

  2. Paul, the “Real world” as you put it is changing, the pressure is mounting on councils and planners. Cop 26 has shown a thirst for change, the evidence has been mounting daily and the extreme weather patterns around the globe are testament that change has to come now. You and like many other pro oil and gas fans are simply in denial. Life will not go on as “normal” whatever that means.

    • You miss my point R.P.McMurphy. I am only stating what the reality is. Councils and planners have to follow Planning Law / Regulations. What is required are changes to that Law / Regulations which have to be made by Government. No doubt this will eventually happen, as it should. Planning will continue as normal with approvals being given to applications which are in accordance with planning regulations and those that are not, being refused. Same applies when the regs are changed i.e. normal. It has nothing to do with me or you being pro oil and and gas or not, the weather or climate change. It has to do with the regulations in place at the time of the planning application or appeal. Local Plans can help however these must first be approved by a Planning Inspector and must be in accordance with National Regulations and Guidance.

      Of course the most important way to reduce oil and gas production is to reduce demand.

  3. The law and therefore professional codes of conduct should where appropriate – certainly in the planning sector – provide a presumption against permissions for fossil fuel developments being granted, the burden of proof that no harm would ensue falling on the applicant. Paul however might be right about “pie in the sky”, notwithstanding the merits of this article and its conclusions, unless Johnson can acquire the backbone (and conviction?) to stand up to the likes of those who contributed to the recent Telegraph letter, the Bolsonaros, Trumps, Modis etc. of U.K. politics.

    • It is indeed fascinating looking at the posts of the “greed and profit at any cost” prevaricators on Drill or Drop? Who appear to want to avoid being responsible to the various institute codes of professional ethical and moral conduct for the professional bodies indicated in the text of the guest post by Professor Andrew Watterson, public health researcher at Stirling University.

      The question is why there is such an indigestible negative attitude to professional ethical and moral responsibility by the actions of the fossil fuel oriented posters? And why are they so driven to denigrated their own professional practices? Similarly, by non-professional associated adjuncts opinions of engineering practices that seek only to profit from such activities, regardless of ethical and moral considerations?

      However, as stated by Professor Andrew Watterson, the activities of any engineering operations are professionally bound to adhere to the ethical and moral code purely by membership of their various professional institutions. Whether that be by means of their training, their qualifications, and their own subsequent activities whilst acting under their individual professional membership. Even those who post that are not affiliated by remote professional association by default. The professional members are still bound by professional codes by means of their professional memberships. Which state quite clearly, as shown, that they must not be influenced by corruption and unethical profiteering by any means.

      The inevitable conclusion, is that those very same codes of ethics and morals still apply, even to those who declare they are not bound by any such professional codes. To declare that such professional codes of morals and ethics can be ignored as being irrelevant, clearly contravenes their own professional institutional validity, and essentially disqualifies them from practising at all without censure or excommunication with their own professional body.

      It is not difficult to research why such professional codes, are so clearly stated and set out by agreement, locally and internationally. Failure to obey those codes has been only too well demonstrated in the 1930s in Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, China, and elsewhere. It seems that the reasons for all those attempts to correct any previous failings in professional conduct are having to be raised due to the old failings resurfacing yet again.

      This time worldwide. The Geneva Convention, Helsinki Agreements and the Nuremberg Codes sought to institute and set out even more profound codes of ethics and morals that all signatory countries are bound by. Has all that social and political, moral and ethical deeply damaging recidivism to be gone through and reinstated yet again? It seems so.

      • It would be interesting to enquire, of the listed professional bodies, how they would consider those who refuse to be bound by their profession’s ethical and moral codes of conduct in the operation of their professions.

        Would the professional institutions withdraw the offender’s qualifications if they persist in contravening the professional codes of practice and ethical operation during their activities, pre, or during, or post professional life, perhaps?

        Would the professional institutions declare that any member, past, present or future, be withdrawn from the list of membership and instructed not to operate in any professional way in the future. Should it be declared that those who no longer wish to be bound by professional codes of ethics and morals, be no longer considered to be a member, or to be accepted as representing the professional body or institution in any way? And hence lose their position, their status and their livelihood?

        Should such individuals be shunned and excluded from declaring any professional association whatsoever. As that would bring any professional body or institution they claim to be affiliated with, or to be members of, into disrepute by their actions?

        These are quite fundamental questions that all professional bodies should begin to ask all of their members operating throughout their professions and activities.

        I thoroughly agree with Professor Andrew Watterson. As should all who claim to be members of professional organizations, institutes and professional bodies worldwide.

        • Typo in last sentence. “i” thoroughly agree with Professor Andrew Watterson. As should all who claim to be members of professional organizations, institutes and professional bodies worldwide.”

          Could that first “i” be made a capital letter “I” please? There, you see, I wouldn’t want to be considered an anti-capitalist, would I? Ha! Ha! [Corrected]

          Thanks

          • Yes, it would be interesting as to who should set the rules for professional bodies. Usually the existing members.

            If there were enough to exclude members from some employment, that is an option a professional body could take. What then happens? In the real world another professional body is usually created to enable those members to be employed as long as the employment is legal. It is already in operation, and has been for many years. Then all that happens is a discourse as to which professional body is the “best”.

            I am pretty sure there is no way I am likely to be excluded from my professional bodies due to my activities, even if they modified their positions. However, others may not be so secure, but would probably find a new body they could join very quickly.

            Interesting debate going on at this moment in H of C relating to European reliance upon the Russian State. Guess what? European production of energy, including gas and oil, should be maximised! Shock/horror. Threaten to remove their positions within professional bodies if anyone agrees?

            Nope, not a good idea. A very dangerous one, but fortunately, academic.

            • What is fascinating, looking at the resulting comments by a few, following Professor Andrew Watterson’s guest post, is that there are those who claim to represent the fossil fuel industry in the UK, on Drill or Drop? Who consider any professional bodies codes of conduct, practice and ethics, both professionally and one assumes privately, to be merely “academic” and therefore of no importance or relevance. Is quite revealing.

              Once again, that proffered response to the subject, is reminiscent of the collapse of civilized behaviour by those infamous totalitarian regimes in Europe and elsewhere over 70 years ago and since. The intent by those who, similarly, consistently refused to operate ethically and professionally in their own practices, except in their own interests, to export those reprehensible unethical and immoral practices across the world for their own greed, profit and self-interest. It has never resulted in any improvement of the human and life processes on planet Earth. Quite the opposite. It has always led to shattered civilization and destruction of entire populations.

              To see that admission being blatantly admitted in black and white on the pages of Drill or Drop. That such lack of intention to operate any professional codes of practice, ethical and moral responsibility. It is somewhat revealing of just how far those elements have regressed into the past darkest years. Even when that led to the cost of millions of lives and the destruction of entire countries and communities worldwide.

              Present predictions and recent events, seem to be no better, if not worse by comparison.

              One would have thought that such a regression was a dark period in our past history. That lessons were learned. Apparently not, at least by some.

              That failure to think and operate responsibly, ethically and professionally in any capacity. Clearly explains the fact, that 1 in 5 human lives are lost every year worldwide though fossil fuel pollution, and that fact appears to be of no import or interest to those who profess such considerations to be merely “academic”. The fact that anywhere between 7 and 20 million deaths yearly are due to fossil fuel pollution, appears to be of no interest whatsoever?

              How often have those who profess such views, said that there are too many people, that the only answer is population reduction? Population increase, is, however, a totalitarian myth, constructed by pseudo statistics and wild extrapolations of fake mathematical assumptions. The population in the west, at the very least, is reducing. Also, the question of how that reduction in the mythical “surplus population” is never actually stated. Maybe that is now clear for all to see. You will no doubt have noted that such claims are always accompanied by accusations that it is always “people” who are the problem. Whereas, the inconvenient fact is, that it is government and corporate industry that creates most of the issues that beset all life on this benighted planet.

              As for those of us who instinctively think and act as responsible human beings in any social, private or professional manner, expected to consider these fossil fuel protagonists capable of acting at all professionally, morally and ethically in any of their practices?

              No. I think not. The catalyst for change from that recidivist regressive behaviour, is well and truly out of the bag.

              • Who are these mythical beasts who claim to represent the fossil fuel industry in UK that appear on DoD? Perhaps conflation with those who use fossil fuel in UK that post on DoD, but that is everyone. Or maybe conflation with those who know something about the fossil fuel industry in UK who post on DoD, which is a much smaller number? (But good of them to do so to offer some reality.)

                Yes, it is academic. There is no fracking for oil or gas in UK, there is a moratorium. Elsewhere, there is increasing fracking for both oil and gas and they will be perfectly able to continue that with or without current professional bodies. Even airports are being built throughout the world without what would be accepted as professional body qualifications here in the UK. They get built and function. The market is not a closed shop.

                As stated, if a gap in the market is produced, it would be filled by other bodies, or none at all. Has been before, and that will continue.

                Sorry for the reality check, but I would suggest that with the Christmas break offerings now in the past, the fantasy world can wait another 12 months.

                • Oh, Dear! Oh, Dear! Unfortunately, those cracked mirror reflections are so inconvenient and revealing, aren’t they? For those who claim to represent the fossil fuel industry in the UK, on Drill or Drop? One of the signs of sentience in any species, is that one can recognise their own reflection in a mirror. The reflected image may be distorted, or even fractured, particularly when the reflectee is so similarly distorted and fractured? But still recognisable to those with eyes to see, and the sentient ability to discern fact from fantasy. Apparently an only too rare ability amongst those who can only myopically perceive a one-sided reflection, but cannot discern between reality and fiction? Such a one may look behind such a mirror, in search of the origin of the reflected image. But that will not reveal the truth. Just a blank wall. Which kind of explains the looker in certain cases.

                  And there you see it in black and white, clearly stated yet again. As stated by Professor Andrew Watterson, the activities of any engineering operations are professionally bound to adhere to the ethical and moral code purely by membership of their various professional institutions.

                  Denial that the activities of any engineering operations are professionally bound to adhere to the ethical and moral code purely by membership of their various professional institutions are only ignored by those who claim to represent the fossil fuel industry in the UK, on Drill or Drop?

                  In particular the inconvenient fact of the 20 million deaths per year from fossil fuel pollution, and the even more inconvenient fact that those deaths exceeded those from SARS Cov-2 in 2020, by a factor of between 7 and 12, depending upon which statistical analysis you look at. Not to mention the countless billions of animal life and species extinctions in the sixth major extinction event in the Earths History, that are also due to fossil fuel pollution and general greed and profiteering every year.

                  No mention of that, of course, just the usual empty rhetoric and avoidance of the facts in favour of fantasy. No change there.

                • Fascinating isn’t it. There are no answers to the facts of the 20 million deaths due to fossil fuel pollution every year, and countless billions of animal life deaths worldwide, due to the criminally preserved monopolies created by the fossil fuel corporations. And the increasing dangers to all life from the increasing temperature of 2.4 degrees Celsius or more worldwide due to fossil fuel pollution that will cause sea rise due to melting polar ice caps, resulting in the drowning of island communities and cause even more destruction from climate deterioration.

                  As we see, there are also the Blah! Blah! Blah! Humbuggers! Not withstanding, of course. 20 million ghosts of past, present and future, clearly had no redeeming effect. But as usual, the Anti-Crisis acolytes and subservients of Satan Klaus will never understand anything but their own miserly, miserable fantasy fake obsessions. Even if it had transformed their miserly misery, into Joy? But there again, Joy comes from the heart. A necessary requirement in order to appreciate the gift of life, love, and the sheer joy of existence. The trick, of course, is to actually possess a heart, (Preferably one’s own? And not in a jar?) By which I mean, not just the physical muscular pump, but the appreciation of the heart’s joy of just being alive and happy amongst family and friends. To enjoy the day, and more, of peace and good will to all men, women and children.

                  Sadly, apparently there are none so blind, as those who refuse to see anything but their own Scrooge like suppressed miserly miserable self centred myopia?

                  Twas ever thus.

                  So many Tiny Tim’s and Tiny Tina’s to be given the Joy of Christmas and the New year? Scrooges will never appreciate the Joy of Giving. Only the miserly misery of taking, and giving nothing back.

                  More inconvenient mirrors, more fractured myopic blindness.

                  Aww! Shame?

                • As posted, which professional bodies?

                  There is no limit to professional bodies.

                  I have employed quite a number of engineers in the past. They all had different qualifications and many belonged to different professional bodies. My real interest was whether they could do the job. I would still have employed one who did not belong to a professional body and did. He happened to have worked on nuclear subs.so had a depth of experience and knowledge greater than that of others who did belong to professional bodies. I knew he was ethical and moral etc. etc. but he did not belong to a professional body. Was he an engineer? Yes, and a very good one. And, if a business wants competent engineers who can work independently and use their initiative there are plenty more where he came from. A fracking business could quite easily employ such personnel and provide any internal training in specific areas.

                  No need for consultants if those doing the job have the experience and the knowledge.

                  Sorry that the real world keeps on cropping up, but it is really not that scary.

                • Seek and Ye shall find: Just look above to do some, apparently, quite necessary research.

                  Guest post: It’s time for consultants to take the ethical high road and not back fracking
                  By Ruth Hayhurst on January 3, 2022

                  Professor Andrew Watterson, public health researcher at Stirling University, argues that in a time of global climate crisis the facilitation and support of the fracking industry must stop.

                  In my fourty odd years of professional life, there were often candidates for various engineering positions. There were always at least three qualified, experienced professional engineers to interview each one. One of my duties was to sit in as the representative of my professional qualifications, mainly Civil Engineering. But occasionally others too. Consultants from other companies were a common feature during these interviews, since a wide and varied experience from another perspective was highly valued. The interviewee was always given far more scope to express his or her interests and future expectations and ambitions for any direction in which they wished to pursue their career.

                  But never once, would we allow an unqualified manager to either interview alone, or adjudicate alone at any interview. The closest we ever came to that was for a personal secretary to be present to take notes. The possibility of an unqualified interviewer was not even considered. That was not only out of respect for the interviewee, but also for the professional and ethical codes of conduct of the profession itself. Such a travesty would be, as such, an insult to the prospective candidate for the post, and practice would lead to the profession being held in disrepute. That would never even be contemplated, let alone considered as a possibility.

                  So, in order to drag the subject back from the various attempts at diversions and prevarications. It is necessary to remind readers of the content and the purpose of the guest post by Professor Andrew Watterson, public health researcher at Stirling University.

                  It has also become necessary to prevent the unqualified unprofessional opinion of a few fossil fuel protagonists to denigrate our guest and to seek to obscure and deny the importance of Professor Andrew Watterson’s very timely and extremely important guest post.

                  The quote here is to redress the balance.
                  Conclusion
                  “The public health and environmental grounds for no longer supporting new fossil fuel developments, including fracking projects, is incontrovertible, based on the climate change and other evidence available.
                  The associated ethical grounds look equally strong for engineers, scientists, environmental consultants, planners and lawyers no longer supporting fracking developments.
                  The professional bodies representing them should, therefore, now ensure their codes of conduct, practice and ethics always include requirements to address climate change, sustainability and public good considerations for present and future generations.”

                  Thank you, Professor Andrew Watterson for your guest post.

  4. Anyone who has worked in the real world, ie outside academia, will find such comments rather humorous and, as Paul describes, pie in the sky. Engineers unable to build airports, motorways next?? Scientists unable to work within the defence industry?

    By the way, I suspect this will not go down well with others in academia! Goodness, where do many consultants come from who “sell” their qualifications to those who are willing to supplement their pensions? All well and good for those towards the top of the heap who have their incomes sown up, but what about those who are not? No one been to reunions where the subject of who has retired, and what are they doing now has been discussed? And the surprise that Joe has found work as a consultant, even when Joe was thought to be a bit of a weak link during his working life?

    Then there is the support of Big Oil this sort of policy would facilitate, who can just employ the top people and have little need of consultants.

    Amusing that the anti capitalist posters find such a suggestion worthy!

  5. Hmm.

    [Edited by moderator]

    So, there should be no Nobel Peace Prize? I happen to believe that to be quite a worthy award and do recognize how it has come about. Those who wish to protest about anything will undoubtedly claim it is greenwashing and should be banned.

    But, with efforts also to stop the free press, there is obviously a weakness within some propositions that require control and censorship of alternative positions. Bit odd that comes from Academia as well. My memory reminds me that one of the bastions of UK universities was the ability to discuss and consider all views and opinions.

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