Debating the merits and dangers of fracking shale gas has become a major obession of those who worry about energy and the climate. Yale’s e360’s latest contribution comes in the form a forum that includes a wide variety of perspectives pro and con.

For me, the wisest observation, and the one that really trumps all others, comes from Kevin Anderson, who directs the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research’s energy program:

… the only responsible action with regard to shale gas, or any “new” unconventional fossil fuel, is to keep it in the ground — at least until there is a meaningful global emissions cap forcing substitution. In the absence of such an emissions cap, and in our energy hungry world, shale gas will only be combusted in addition to coal — not as a substitution, as many analysts have naively suggested.


It’s hard to argue with that. The UK has emissions-reductions goals but no caps. The U.S. doesn’t even have official targets, let alone caps. So even if shale gas doesn’t turn out to threaten to accelerate global warming the jury is still out on just how much methane fracking will let escape into the atomsphere the political reality renders such arguments moot.

Comments

  1. #1 Greg Laden
    June 20, 2011

    ” US President Obama’s administration has sometimes promoted shale gas, in part because of their belief that it releases fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than other fossil fuels. However, there is growing evidence that shale gas emits more greenhouse gases than does conventional natural gas, and may emit as much or more than oil or coal. In a May 2010 letter to US President Obama, the Council of Scientific Society Presidents[7] urged great caution against a national policy of developing shale gas without a better scientific basis for the policy.”

    I went to look something up about it (trying to find its earliest use, historically) and noticed this wording in Wikipedia. Just thought I’d throw it in.

  2. #2 Shane Dalzell
    June 20, 2011

    “For me, the wisest observation, and the one that really trumps all others,”

    Translation: “The opinion that most closely resembles my own,”

  3. #3 Wow
    June 21, 2011

    Well, Shane, if the opinion I have is that two plus two equals four, then the wisest observation that really trumps all others that says “2+2=4″ is also the opinion that most closely resembles my own.

    Your “comment” really doesn’t say anything other than the observation by Kevin Anderson is one you have most trouble accepting.

  4. #4 Steve Bloom
    June 23, 2011

    Just looking at the U.S. shale gas does seem to be displacing coal to a degree, mainly because building a new gas plant makes more sense than having to spend equivalent money upgrading and old coal plant. Unfortunately, that seems to just free up more coal for export.

    Extensive utilization of this new gas supply along with the tar sands oil is exactly the course of action that Jim Hansen warns about. Once again he was out in front, but it’s good to see other scientists making the point too.

  5. #5 Petrol
    June 26, 2011

    haha. Douche boy!!! Why do you continue with your pathetic irrelevance? Are you ‘making a difference’ in your mind? Or is there seriously just nothing worthwhile around to which you could apply your two brain cells?

    Continue on douche boy. It’s still fun observing your ongoing train wreck.

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