Under My Dead Body: Can Women Understand Fracking?

Recently Averil Macdonald, the chairwoman of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, created controversy by claiming that women don’t understand the science behind fracking.  They, or rather we – though Ms Macdonald does not seem to include herself in this scenario – are more likely to react with gut feeling and lack the scientific knowledge and rational detachment to appreciate the full scenario.  A Victorian misogynist could hardly have done a better job; here we have an alpha-female; a woman totally signed up to the commercial agenda, doing what men in her position have been doing for centuries.


There’s a lot I could say about this.  I could say that, sure, maybe women are more concerned about the environment.  And that’s a bad thing?  I could say that while women are more likely to be led by gut-feeling or instinct, men are often more gung-ho and testosterone-fuelled.  Is that better?

To be fair, I think Sister Averil partly meant that women need to be better-educated, but she comes off as patronising and misogynist.

But here’s the thing: I’m not a geologist.  Who is?  Well, geologists, obviously – but to expect all the electorate to thoroughly comprehend the science behind each policy is asking a bit much.  We have to understand what we can and for the rest we must rely on those experts whom we trust.  As far as fracking goes, I understand that it means pumping water at very high pressure into rocks in order to extract shale gas.  I also understand that they can frack under your house without your permission.  For the rest, if it comes to a choice between commercial interests and environmental concerns I know which I will plump for.  And the fact that the government are cutting subsidies for renewables whilst supporting fracking seems to me typical of a short-term, self-serving and money-oriented approach.

It may be that the environmental dangers are not as great as some say.  It may be that shale gas is a valuable resource which needs to be extracted, just as coal did in previous generations.  But let’s remember Aberfan; horrific monument to a nation’s indifference.  And let’s ask the key question here: cui bono?

And no, the answer is not ‘the lead singer of U2.’  The answer is Cuadrilla.

Not a bad name for a rock band.  Would that they were one, instead of a rock-breaking band…

Kirk out


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