Simple thinking about complex questions

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I had an email the other day which assumed that just because I favour alternative technologies – I engaged in some mild-mannered activism in relation to Wiltshire Council's policies on (that is to say, against) wind farms – I must, therefore, be absolutely against in all circumstances the extraction of gas by hydraulic fracturing of rock.

How simple people's minds can be, even as they go on and on about how complex the world is.  Fracking may be a complicated and controversial process, but so are people's opinions about it, and it seems clear from listening to many anti-fracking activists that it is not so much the technology and process they object to, but the gas itself, thinking that burning more natural just gas adds to our problems; others say it buys time.  Meanwhile, others who are more or less worried about the technology, think the process might be worthwhile if it relaxes the iron grip that corrupt russian oligarchs have on our gas prices.  Some hope, I suspect.

Here's a sobering chunk of data to chew on.

  • According to the Economist this week, China will emit as much CO2 between 1990 and 2050 (at presents rates) than the whole world did from the start of the Industrial revolution to 1970.  That is, 500 bn tonnes.
  • The current global annual emission rate of CO2(e) is ~50 bn tonnes.
  • According to the IPCC,  to have a >50% chance of keeping warming below +2oC, further total emissions will need to be below 1,210 bn tonnes of CO2(e).

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  • Yep. This is quite the hot topic where I live. FWIW, I've got a recent co-authored piece out on the educative dimension of this topic that you might find useful:

    I've becoming highly ambivalent about hydraulic fracturing, which is an unsatisfying stance to those who are highly motivated in either direction on this issue. So it goes, I guess.