Daniel Hannan examines why the Eurocrats and Greenies don’t want fracking going on in England (or anywhere for that matter). They don’t just dislike the idea of using fossil fuels; they don’t want progress. I particularly like his elicitation of the things that fossil fuels have brought us – that Greens apparently don’t want to have (my bold emphasis).
But here’s the difference. Despite the horrible dangers of eighteenth-century coalmining – pit collapses, floods, explosive gas – the industry was allowed to develop, gradually becoming safer and cleaner. In our own age, by contrast, an industry safer and cleaner than even the safest and cleanest coalmines is threatened by a coalition of envious Eurocrats and Greens.
I can just about see whats upsetting the Eurocrats: they don’t like capitalism, they don’t like fossil fuels and they don’t like Britain. Green objections are harder to understand: here is a clean, secure supply of power that will benefit everyone, but will disproportionately benefit the least well off, who spend a higher proportion of their income on energy bills. When I spoke in the European Parliament in support of fracking, most of the negative comments I received did not focus on specific safety concerns. Rather, they complained in general terms that fracking would poison the planet or bleed Mother Earth for no higher cause than greed.
What is meant here by greed is the desire for material improvement that has driven every advance since the old stone age. Someone sees an opportunity to offer a service that other people will pay for and, in consequence, wealth is created where none existed before. What happened with coal in the eighteenth century could happen again now: prices will fall, productivity will increase, and people will be released to new jobs, raising living standards for everyone. Greed, in this sense, is why we still have teeth after the age of 30, why women no longer expect to die in childbirth, why we have coffee and computers and cathedrals. Greed is why we have time to listen to Beethoven and go for country walks and play with our children. Cheaper energy, on any measure, improves our quality of life.
But this is precisely what at least some Greens object to. What they want, as they frankly admit, is decarbonisation, deindustrialisation and depopulation. They regard the various advances we’ve made since the old stone age – the coffee, the computers, the cathedrals – with regret. What society needs, they tell us, is not green consumerism, but less consumerism. Which is, of course, precisely what most Western countries have had since 2008.