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Don't Frack Lancs

Monday 22nd June, cool and rainy. The first two froglets of the season transferred from the nursery tank to the wildlife pond on Saturday (where we hope they are too big for the ferocious boss stickleback to tackle, but it isn't critical, we have plenty frogs this year); the first two tiger moths emerged, found each other and immediately began an endurance copulation stunt, and then we had a barbecue with rugs, two of our guests were returning from the Anti-Austerity march, only one made it to the feast, reporting a nice, party atmosphere up there (allowing for the usual ruckers) & no trouble from the police; happy Solstice.

My fracking round-up wakes up again in a brand new world. To put it simply, for the last few years opponents to the great plan to rip up the rural UK with thousands, upon thousands, of poisonous, dangerous drilling wells, for no b***dy good reason whatever except making some rich people richer, have called the government's bluff. We have proved, comprehensively, that if you subject the fracking industry to regulation, the fracking industry can't survive (a lesson the USA skipped, or the first well would never have been drilled). Francis Egan himself (Cuadrilla CEO) expressed this opinion. Environmental hazards, unacceptable industrial traffic, polluting development in rural areas, destructive effects on wildlife and natural beauty, overwhelming resistance from local communities; Environment Agency concerns about water table contamination & identified and unidentified poisons in the drilling fluids; irreconcilable with carbon emission targets, unacceptable etc etc. There was just no way forward. The fracking industry could always be stopped, and always would be stopped, by determined and well-informed opposition.

So, we are at stage 2. The government has called our bluff. The fracking industry can't survive regulation? Fine! We'll get rid of the regulation! The Infrastructure Bill is law, anything, any poison whatever can be pumped into the ground and into our water. We have no right to refuse. The National Parks are not protected. The government of the UK, that's any UK government*, is legally obliged to "maximise the economic recovery of oil and gas". The fracking industry will no longer be regulated. The public will not be consulted. The Environment Agency will not make inspections or assessments. Permits for exploratory drilling must be issued automatically. Actually, the Environment Agency is no more. It has been taken down to the cellar and shot in the back of the neck (with or without a blindfold, we don't know). Your Lib Dem MP's private opinion is overruled by his party's committment to fracking, and the same goes for Labour. Oddly enough, you might even be better off with a Conservative, but that's a postcode lottery, sort of. Here's Nicholas Soames on the subject

here's that "maximise the emissions" link again, worth a look and worth sharing, and a referenced version of the Ecologist article:

http://occupylondon.org.uk/the-infrastructure-bill-and-the-new-legal-duty-to-maximise-emissions/

http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/musings/2015/20150615-decc_media_misinformation.html

Has anybody here seen defra recently, by the way? You may have wondered why I stopped updating on ash dieback? That's because the tracking of the outbreak has been dramatically stepped down. There's not much to tell you, since most of the UK's rate of infection is now classified as "undefined". The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs may still be alive, but I'm not sure how many arms or legs the poor creature still possesses. Or where it's currently being detained.

Where do we go from here? Interestingly, there's been a correspondence in New Scientist (13th June) on the puzzle of human pain, giving scientific backing to the strategy that remains freely available. Why do humans make such a fuss when they're injured and vulnerable? Why scream, groan and carry on the way we do? Isn't that counter-adaptive? Maybe not. "External signs of distress," says Mr Peter White of Cardiff "caused by pain, must be strong enough to overcome (this powerful avoidance tendency) the revulsion we feel towards cues associated with disease-risk. We might feel pain more than other species because it is the way to get people to help us when they really want to get away from us. It's not easy being a social animal"

Do no harm. But make yourselves hard to ignore. Non-Violent Direct Action. It's worked before. I have the right to vote (currently!) to prove it.

http://www.unisonnw.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Dont-Frack-Lancs.pdf

I can't be in Preston this week (ironically, because I'll be in Manchester). But I'm afraid I'll have other opportunities. If you can't be there either, at least consider signing the petition. Fracking is not a minor issue. It's a wrecking ball through our hopes of saving the future, and our hopes of having a country worth living in.

Footnote on Sir Tim Hunt:

Just for the record, by his own report Nobel Laureate Sir Tim Hunt wasn't joking. At the time he confirmed that he'd meant what he said (about women being a menace in the lab, and segregated labs being advisable etc), but he did realise it had been foolish to make such remarks in front of the journalists. He was just being honest! The "I was only joking" spin arrived several days later, and is really creepy. He meant what he said, he has not apologised, and please don't tell me he's getting loads of support from Other Arrogant Male Scientists, and their female admirers (of course he is! Would you Fifty Shades Of Grey leave it out???); and expect me to be impressed. Or expect me to be less concerned.

Here's the top original witness-tweet

http://www.themarysue.com/sir-tim-hunt-sexist/

Distractingly Sexy news of a better kind here, in the latest issue of the International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology: You can get copies of all the papers for free. http://genderandset.open.ac.uk/index.php/genderandset
My seagulls did come back, by the way. Just fewer than last year, and fewer chicks being raised, but at least our colony is still with us. I hear them calling every morning now, at dawn and often in the night, and I don't mind the racket at all







*the Tories probably couldn't make this stick if the Greens won a General Election, but in that unlikely event so many bets are off, I suppose they decided not to worry. All other parliamentary parties are in agreement with this Maximum Extraction line.

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