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…