By Paolo von Schirach
May 26, 2013
WASHINGTON – The universally accepted conventional wisdom is that in this super connected age, created by an ever faster internet, all information travels instantly. Whether you live in London or Capetown you can have immediate access to the same data. Well, yes and no. The data is out there alright. But that does not mean that it will be recognized, placed in context amd properly assessed by all in the same manner.
Indeed, it is remarkable how ideological blinders of all stripes filter information, coloring it the way one wants. Even within the vast proliferation of internet based information sources, depending on where you are, there are prevailing herd instincts. No matter what the new information coming via the internet may say, people rarely stray beyond the prevailing ideology.
Accepted bias: fracking is bad
Case in point: shale gas and “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking”. Abundant evidence to the contrary, the global environmental movement made up its mind long ago that “fracking” is bad, costly and very dangerous. It contaminates water, it destroys farming, it pollutes, and so on. Well, now we know very well that there is no evidence of systemic damage caused by fracking.
Sure enough, as with most other invasive human activities, one can do it well or badly. There have been several well documented incidents of damage caused by poorly built gas wells and substandard practices followed by the producers.
US regulators deem fracking to be safe
But there is no evidence that fracking is inherently dangerous. So much so that in the USA, where we have the only advanced, large scale shale gas industry operating at full throttle in several states, the environmental protection agencies both at the Federal and at the State levels have found no reason to stop the entire industry on account of its impact on the environment and on humans. Sure enough, regulators, working with industry, have created standards and protocols that energy companies must follow. And so they should. Meantime, the industry grows and thrives, with enormous economic benefits for America.
France will hear none of this
Well, as far as France is concerned consider as if none of this ever happened. The debates about the problems related to shale gas recovery identified, dealt with and overcome in the USA never happened. France decided, very much on its own, and without any real factual basis, that shale gas is dangerous. End of story.
Hence a moratorium on shale gas exploration in France on account of its well known dangers. And all this despite the fact that there is no scientific basis for this blanket prohibition. Look, one thing is to say: “This is a new field. We do not know much about it. So, let’s proceed with caution“. Quite another to say: “This is dangerous. And so it is banned“. By saying this, the French Government, acting as the modern version of a “Flat Earth Society”, denies the positive evidence produced by several years of fracking practice accumulated by the US energy industry and various American regulators.
Nobody says anything
What is remarkable in all this is that nobody says anything. No protest in France against this travesty sold as “science”. And why is that? Very simple. The fact is that in Europe the prevailing belief is that “all carbon based energy is bad“. Therefore no one is interested in challenging the pseudo science on which the government of France, a major modern nation, based its ban.
And you thought that the selling of totally non factual prejudice as science would be impossible in the age of the internet. Well, not so, unfortunately. The truth is that the internet at least in some instances is like a large buffet table prepared for very conservative eaters. There may be scores of new and interesting choices available. But people will go back to the offerings they are used to; happily ignoring all the others.