Effect of fracking on climate: Letter to The Times from UK academics and environmentalists

Letter published in The Times


Recently Ineos and Cuadrilla, which both have significant interests in the hydraulic fracturing of shale gas, have demanded that the “traffic light” system that monitors seismicity at fracking well sites should be relaxed to allow larger earthquakes (reports, Feb 5 & 7). Following this a group of geoscientists signed a letter to The Times (Feb 9) in support of this demand.

This month the UK Institute of Public Policy Research reported that as a result of climate change “a new, highly complex and destabilised ‘domain of risk’ is emerging, which includes the risk of the collapse of key social and economic systems, at local and potentially even global levels”.

Climate change is already causing an increase in extreme weather events and driving accelerated melting of the polar ice sheets and Himalayan glaciers. Its primary causes are carbon dioxide emissions from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels and rising methane emissions from fossil fuel extraction — particularly fracking. Meanwhile a new era of cheap, clean renewable energy and storage is arriving, with volumes doubling every two to three years. Is it not time that our leaders and scientific community withdrew their support for fracking and engaged in the challenge of transforming our society to meet this existential challenge?

Nick Cowern, Emeritus Professor, School of Engineering, Newcastle University
Professor Peter Strachan, Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University
Keith Barnham, Emeritus Professor, Dept. of Physics, Imperial College, London
Professor Andrew Blowers, The Open University
Dr Adam Broinowski, Visiting Research Fellow, Australian National University
Dr Matthew Cotton, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Environment and Geography, University of York
Professor Richard Cowell, School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University
Professor Mark Diesendorf, University of New South Wales
Dr Paul Dorfman, The Energy Institute, University College London
Professor Geraint Ellis, School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr Ian Fairlie, Scientific consultant, UK
Denis Hall, Emeritus Professor, Heriot Watt University
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, FRSE, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh
Robert W Howarth, Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology, Cornell University
Professor Mark Z Jacobson, School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University
Dr Phil Johnstone, Research Fellow, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex
Professor Calvin Jones, Professor of Economics, Cardiff Business School
Dr Peter Kalmus, Associate Project Scientist, Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science & Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles
Dr Dominic Kelly, Dept. of Politics and International Studies, Warwick University
Dr Jeremy Leggett, social entrepreneur and writer, director at Solarcentury
Dr David Lowry, Institute for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Professor Bill McGuire, Professor Emeritus of Geophysical and Climate Hazards, University College London
Professor Majia H Nadesan, Risk Innovation Fellow, Arizona State University
Sir Jonathon Porritt, environmentalist and writer
William Powrie, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering, Southampton University
Andrew Simms, Research Associate, Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, University of Glasgow
Dr Matt Watson, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Sheffield
Professor Andrew Watterson, Public Health and Population Health Research Group, University of Stirling

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