Fracking – a gangplank, not a bridge

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fracking-a-gangplank-not-a-bridgeGas extracted from shale gas deposits is not a ‘bridge to a renewable energy future’, but a gangplank to more global warming and away from more clean energy investments, according to an article in The New York Times. It’s a brilliant, if worrying image. The article is all the more powerful because it has been written by someone who should know – Anthony R Ingraffea, an engineer who helped develop shale fracking techniques for the US Energy Department.

The problem (or one of them) with Fracking says Professor Ingraffea, is that leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, are unavoidable in the extraction process. Methane is a greenhouse gas said to be 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This is a fact I first learned when working on the launch of Love Food Hate Waste campaign at WRAP. Food waste rotting in landfill emits methane, and as we throw away 7.2m tonnes of it each year in the UK, it remains a serious issue.

But even this problem is dwarfed in size when compared to the scale of the fracking gold-rush and its potential for damage. Fracking is the ultimate quick fix. Like a chocolate bar we can’t resist (and I can’t resist many), it is the instant solution that may give a boost now, only to store up trouble in the future. While with chocolate, resistance is indeed futile, let’s hope that Professor Ingraffea is now able to put his considerable skills to working out how to stop the shale gas addiction – and fast.