For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Today’s sermon from the Church of St Michael Insanum will be based on a text from Galatians 6:7

“For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

On Wednesday this week, Dr Ania Szolucha of the University of Bergen launched her peer-reviewed research paper on “The Social Futures of Resource Extraction and Energy.” There was a full house of invited guests and those attending listened to presentations from distinguished speakers included Professor Anthony Ingraffea from Cornell University, USA and Professor Debra Davidson from the University of Alberta, Canada, both of whom spoke  via a live video link.

Professor of Global Energy, Michael Bradshaw, from the University of Warwick, spoke informatively on the energy trilemma that the UK faces and the limitations on shale gas development that might be imposed by the 5th Carbon budget. The event was chaired by Marc Hudson of the University of Manchester.

Audience interest was generally high (we’ll go into this a bit more deeply in a moment) with the chair having to restrict questioners to two sentences each in order to keep the event on schedule.

The conclusions reached by Dr Szolucha’s research are no doubt uncomfortable for the proponents of fracking as they add yet another layer to the research which questions the impact of fracking on local communities. In spite of this we were shocked to read the press release issued by the industry front group “Backing Fracking” the next morning.

In their press release they tried to suggest that two supporters of fracking teamed up and mounted a valiant defence of the industry at an anti-fracking event “ organised by Friends of the Earth and local anti-fracking groups.” which was “low-key and poorly attended with only 40 people in the room”

We know that Stephen Tindale was there, as he sat alone in front of me and did ask a question before falling asleep and then leaving 30 minutes early.

John Baldwin claims to have been there “to argue that extracting shale gas in Lancashire is better than continuing to import so much gas from abroad. “.  Strangely he certainly didn’t say anything when given the opportunity if he was indeed there. Hardly a proud and brave defence of the industry.

The event was in fact organised by Dr Szolucha herself without involvement from any NGO or local group of any kind, so the allegation that is was an anti-fracking event, organised by FoE ,that Backing Fracking had somehow infiltrated is quite  ridiculous.

The suggestion that its was badly attended and low-key is a classic Backing Frackingism – I think their working principle is “Tell a lie and somebody will believe it“. In fact the event was invitation only, was fully subscribed and was attended by a capacity audience of at least 65. This can be validated with the Harris Museum where the event took place.

So there we had it – an independent academic has her launch event trashed by an industry front group who hope to water down its impact by casting unfounded allegations at and about her.

I imagine that they thought the local press, wary of prejudicing potential advertising revenue, would have dutifully published this pap and they would have received whatever thanks, in whatever form they normally get it, from the industry for having defused a potentially embarrassing situation.

Sadly for them Mr Tindale fell asleep and left 30 minutes early, a fact which they were presumably not aware of. When questioned about this  on Twitter his rather graceless (and frankly incredible, given that he had been heard snoring) response was as follows:


Sadly also, Backing Fracking had gone too far by lying about several , easily verifiable, things as outlined above.

As a result, instead of simply rehashing the Backing Fracking press release, the Blackpool Gazette , who clearly have more  integrity that Backing Fracking thought, ran this piece.

backing fracking szolucha

What promised to be a simple PR exercise in defusing an inconvenient report has now blown up in their faces.

And finally, we hope that Stephen woke from his slumbers suitably refreshed. It’s a pity that he didn’t stay for the end of the presentation and the wine reception afterwards as I would have liked to engage him in conversation about Carbon Capture and Storage. Still at least he is starting to keep better company – after all as Proverbs 13:20 tells us:

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

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