The RSPB, always rather a suspect organisation in terms of its political activities, has excelled itself. It has formally objected to plans by Cuadrilla to drill for shale gas, on the grounds of potential damage to birds.
Remember that the RSPB is a knee-jerk supporter of green policies and “action to prevent climate change”. As part of its approach, it is a vocal supporter of wind turbines, apparently oblivious to the fact that wind turbines, on many estimates, kill millions of birds (and bats) every year, and are very ineffective at reducing emissions. The industry responds that cats, and traffic, kill more birds than wind turbines. This may be true, but turbines preferentially kill rare birds, raptors, and migrating birds.
So let’s get this clear: the RSPB is a charity for the protection of birds. The clue is in the name. Well-meaning elderly folk leave the RSPB generous legacies to protect birds. Yet this charity supports a technology which kills literally millions of birds, but chooses to oppose an alternative energy technology which has never harmed any bird at all. If you want to leave a legacy to an organisation which protects birds, you’d do better to leave it to UKIP, which campaigns against wind farms.
Meantime on Channel 4 News on Aug 16th, we had an interview with the improbably glamorous Ewa Jasiewicz of “No Dash for Gas”, one of the eco-warrior organisations seeking to hi-jack the local protest in Balcombe. She trotted out the usual myths about fracking (do read Matt Ridley’s magisterial rebuttal of this nonsense). She insisted that gas would not help to reduce emissions, ignoring the clear evidence from the USA. She worried about global warming — although there has been no global warming for best part pf two decades. Not since Ewa was seventeen, in fact.
But I was particularly struck by her reference to Germany, which was either ignorant or disingenuous. She quoted Germany as a fine example of a country which has largely switched to renewable energy. Perhaps she is not familiar with the study by Bjorn Lomborg, showing that (even accepting the Al Gore position), Germany’s huge investment of $110 billion in solar panels would, by the end of this century, have delayed global warming by only 37 hours. Perhaps she doesn’t know that the German energy system is facing severe difficulties, and that the output from their huge renewables investment has been disappointing. Perhaps she doesn’t know that Germany is having to build or refurbish twenty-five coal-fired power stations to meet demand. And it’s importing cheap American coal. If Germany is the best example of the success of renewables, heaven help us.
Of course the only rationale for the RSPB position is the theoretical damage that global warming could do to wildlife. They too ignore the failure of the climate to follow the theory. And the fact that birds have survived very nicely, without the help of the RSPB, through repeated climate changes and ice ages over a hundred million years.
One other organisation with a position on fracking (although a conflicted position) is the Church of England. Last week the Diocese of Blackburn declared that fracking “posed a threat to God’s Creation”. But today the position has changed. We read that the Church of England has declared that fracking protesters are “like MMR scare-mongers”. So nul points for consistency. But as the Good Book says, there is Joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth.
In fact the Church has come up with a powerful, cogent and relevant simile. Both the anti-fracking movement, and the MMR scare-mongers, were irresponsibly raising unnecessary and unjustified public concerns, in a way that damages the people. In the MMR case, children may well have suffered and died as a result of parents’ understandable worries about the MMR vaccine. In the fracking case, the British economy, British prosperity and energy security and jobs will suffer quite unnecessarily because of mendacious scare stories. Time to get the issue into perspective.