Yesterday marked a new first in our parliamentary history, and these are piling up fast.
The Mother of All Parliaments featured a fracas that almost came to fisticuffs, a scene more readily associated with legislatures in, shall we say, more temperamental nations. The occasion was the debate on Labour’s bill to ban fracking.
The combined pugilistic powers of Deputy PM Thérèse Coffey (heavyweight) and Secretary of State for Business Rees-Mogg (welterweight) won the day. They managed to force enough Tory MPs to vote against the bill to make sure it didn’t pass.
This added much redundant passion to the already febrile debates about the collapse of Liz Truss’s tenure today. These are debates I’m not going to join, averse as I am to all perversions, emphatically including necrophilia. Let’s just say that defeating that bill was the last, possibly only, favour she did her country.
I am more interested in the nature of the widespread hysterical opposition to hydraulic fracturing in a broad historical, psychological and anthropological context. Taking our cue from Aristotle, let’s arrive at that lofty plateau from the low ground of indisputable facts.
Such as: neither our industry nor our economy nor, consequently, our prosperity can survive without a reliable supply of affordable energy. We can get that energy either by producing it ourselves or buying it elsewhere or by combining the two.
Every sensible person realises that, though energy production methods popular before the Industrial Revolution (such as windmills by another name) may help, they aren’t going to solve the problem.
I’m skipping some intermediary steps for the sake of brevity, but everything I’ve read on the subject shows that, while it may be possible to heat a house with solar panels or even a town with wind farms, none of such virtuous contraptions can fuel modern industry.
This leaves only three realistic (as opposed to idealistic) sources of energy: hydrocarbons, coal with its derivatives, and nuclear.
Of these, coal is the clear loser, ideally to be relied on in emergencies only. It kills miners with black lung, and using it as a primary source of energy kills people with pulmonary disorders. The famous London fog, so beloved of Claude Monet, was in fact toxic fumes produced by burning coal in factories and homes. Once that practice disappeared, so did the smog, with cases of emphysema taking a plunge.
This gets us to hydrocarbons and nuclear. Let’s start from the latter.
Nuclear energy has an exemplary safety record. Not a single fatal nuclear accident has so far occurred in the West (including, for these purposes, Japan). That’s more than can be said for oil with its capsizing marine platforms and coal with its silicosis and collapsing pits.
Nuclear power has a practically inexhaustible supply of fuel, especially for us. The world’s three major suppliers of the global uranium are Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia, and at least two of these countries can be counted on as Britain’s friends (I’ll let you guess which ones).
Building new reactors is expensive, but it should be seen as long-term investment, not expenditure. More affordable is keeping the existing reactors going, resisting the urge to shut them down, about which later.
Supplies of oil and gas may run out eventually, but nowhere near as soon as the doomsayers are claiming. New deposits are being discovered all the time, although not so much in countries that are our friends for life.
This gets us to the vital aspect of energy supply: it must be domestic as much as humanly possible. This point has always been self-evident but never as much as now, when an evil regime is using energy as a blackmail weapon.
Having much of our energy produced domestically is an economic and strategic necessity. It’s economic because dependence on foreign suppliers puts us in a poor bargaining position, making energy prohibitively expensive. It’s strategic because many foreign energy producers are our adversaries, who can become our mortal enemies at the drop of a hat, or a bomb if you’d rather.
We, along with Norway, do have North Sea oil, but somewhere between 50 and 75 per cent of its reserves has been extracted already. Given our current emergency, we could and should step up production, but that would accelerate depletion.
However, the reserves of shale gas throughout the world, including Britain, can be confidently expected to last until the Second Coming, give or take. It thus ticks all the boxes: it’s plentiful, domestic and guaranteed to make us self-sufficient in energy.
Shale gas is produced by hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking – injecting a high-pressure water-based liquid into subterranean rock to release the gas inside. This produces some mild seismic activity, roughly equal in strength to the tremors caused by street traffic.
The resulting political activity, on the other hand, puts major earthquakes to shame – and here, by this circuitous route, we arrive at yesterday’s pushing and shoving in Parliament. For it’s neither science nor responsible environmentalism but politics that puts shale gas and nuclear energy in the same bracket.
Nuclear energy, for one, has no adverse effect on the environment. Radiation levels outside nuclear power stations are lower than outside coalmines, and, as I mentioned earlier, their safety record is unmatched by any other form of energy, of those that can realistically keep us going.
While science and empirical evidence can’t defeat nuclear energy and fracking, politics steps in, of the most pernicious kind. And here I am mainly interested in homemade subversives, not our foreign adversaries with a vested interest in continuing our dependence on foreign energy.
Just as the Soviet Union funded Western anti-nuke campaigns (including our own dear CND), today’s Russia funds the anti-fracking movement. There’s no need to ponder why: the country has self-evident economic and strategic reasons for preventing Britain from becoming self-sufficient.
But the Russians (and to some extent also Arabs) don’t create suicidal impulses in the West. They merely tap into the existing rancour, exploiting the boundless reservoir of resentment bubbling close to the surface.
They didn’t create the reservoir. They merely inject new impetus into it to bring the desired product to the surface, a process not dissimilar to fracking.
Political opposition to technological innovations goes back to the Luddite movement in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. The Luddites destroyed machinery in textile mills because they thought it threatened their jobs.
That was on the surface. Underneath it there were many people who detested the Industrial Revolution because they felt it threatened not only their jobs but also their status in life.
The Revolution reshuffled the pack of social cards, dismissing the King and Queen and replacing them with an up and coming meritocratic elite. Entitlement of birth was being replaced by entitlement of achievement.
For those outside that neonatal elite this was a hard pill to swallow. Before, they could just dismiss their lowly status as an accident of birth. With that off the table, if they still remained outside they had to ascribe that to their own failure, which is never an easy thing to do. Blaming ‘the system’ is so much easier.
This created that reservoir of envy and resentment, the troubled waters in which assorted subversives could profitably fish using utopian pies in the sky as bait. Socialism, the evil corrupting the resentful, was born and has since grown to maturity.
Hatred of the West has been lovingly inculcated and cultivated. Millions of today’s Westerners grow up believing that history’s greatest civilisation has no merit, nor has ever had any.
That’s why they clutch at any straws helpfully proffered by wicked propagandists. They are ready to believe any nonsense as long as it confirms their visceral bias.
Hating the West means also hating its material achievements, fuelled by coal, hydrocarbons and, more recently, uranium. This hatred doesn’t extend to rejecting the products of those achievements, far from it. But it certainly takes over tittle-tattle in pubs and salons, along with academic discourse at universities and coverage in mass media.
Hence, the masses so inclined happily gobble up any lie portraying our economic success, and the energy that has made it possible, as inherently evil. How this evil is supposed to manifest itself is irrelevant.
It may be the danger of a mushroom cloud spreading over the countryside after an explosion at a nuclear power station. Never mind that it’s impossible even theoretically for the low grade of the uranium used there to produce such an effect. It’s also impossible for a chap to become a sex god simply by switching to a new deodorant, but he still goes out and buys the brand advertised on TV.
Anti-nuke propaganda has already caused many countries to scale down, and some discontinue, their nuclear energy programmes. Putin is helpfully demonstrating this suicidal folly for what it is, but no one is capable of listening any longer.
Such is the nature of the wide acceptance of the totally unscientific theory of anthropogenic global warming. After all, if the West has built its prosperity on raping the domestic and foreign underprivileged, it’s credible that it should now be raping ‘our planet’ to the same end.
Fracking is an even easier target for being relatively new. Tell the people it causes earthquakes, start a massive campaign to that effect, illustrate it with pictures of gruesome hypothetical devastation, and Greta is your aunt.
Liz Truss tried to fight rearguard action against the onslaught of subversive madness going by the name of modernity, and modernity crushed her. She contributed to her own downfall by being chaotic, politically inept, impetuous and, on balance, perhaps not excessively bright.
Therefore she did untold harm to her cause, if she indeed had one. That, however, is partly redeemed by the stay of execution she managed to secure for fracking, our major hope for survival. For that she deserves our thanks – on the last day of her tenure.