The extraction process alone would generate tens of thousands of jobs in parts of the country that desperately need them. And above all, the burning of gas to generate electricity is much, much cleaner – and produces less CO2 – than burning coal. What, as they say, is not to like?
In their mad denunciations of fracking, the Greens and the eco-warriors betray the mindset of people who cannot bear a piece of unadulterated good news. Beware this new technology, they wail. Do not tamper with the corsets of Gaia! Don’t probe her loamy undergarments with so much as a finger — or else the goddess of the earth will erupt with seismic revenge. Dig out this shale gas, they warn, and our water will be poisoned and our children will be stunted and our cattle will be victims of terrible intestinal explosions.
Which is all very good except that, as Tim Worstall is forever pointing out, jobs are a cost. I can see why Boris, a politician, would see votes in talking up the thousands of jobs, but I hope he understands this. When he chooses between scheme A and scheme B, I would hope he does not pick the most expensive, more labour intensive one.
And it is unadulterated good news. The greens’ opposition to fracking may be working now, but the political will will be there the moment the first blackouts hit. So I do not imagine things will get much worse than that, and then there is enough energy for a few more technological revolutions.