'14th Oil & Gas Licensing Round' map from the
'Jam Tomorrow' presentation, 2011
'Extreme energy' has been my major project for the last six years (2009-2015). When I started working on this in 2009, unconventional gas and oil production appeared a seeming irrelevance. Today this issue dominates the grassroots environmental movement in Britain, as well as the USA, Canada, Australia and many other states.
Going to Extremes – The projects to develop unconventional gas extraction in Britain
In terms of the whole body of evidence around 'unconventional' fossil fuels, what we see discussed in the media often only scratches the surface of this complex issue. This workshop looks at the Government's UK unconventional gas and oil agenda, but more importantly it examines how this highlights so many tensions at the heart of our political and economic governance today.
Beyond Fracking – The next steps in the 'extreme energy' debate in Britain
Is the debate over "extreme energy" in Britain just about energy?, or is it something more fundamental? This workshop examines the public debate over "fracking" and other forms of extreme energy as a question of political representation, civil rights, and an economic process which has become increasingly something which is done "to" the public rather than something which acts as a benefit "for" them.
Presentations – Extreme energy
This subsection lists presentations around the theme of 'extreme energy' – tight oil and gas, shale oil and gas (aka. "fracking", coalbed methane (CBM, aka. 'coal seam gas'/CSG) and underground coal gasification (UCG).
Fracktured Accountability: A study of political decision-making and unconventional fossil fuel interests in the Coalition Government
You may of heard of my arrest outside Downing Street. Find out about the research behind that event, and the evolution of the "frackogram" describing the questionable corporate-Government relationships are the hear of the UK's unconventional gas and oil policy.
"Frackademics": A study of the relationships between academia, the fossil fuels industry and public agencies
Frackademics is a research study for Talk Fracking, examining the relationships between fossil fuels and UK research funding, especially that related to fracking.
The Environmental Risks of "Fracking" – A submission to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry
A submission to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee's inquiry into the environmental impacts of 'fracking' – see their report for the response to my submission.
Extreme Energy and Climate: A critical review of the UK Government's policy on unconventional fossil fuels and climate change
This report provides a critical analysis of the evidence supporting Government's recent policy announcements on the issue of 'extreme energy' sources in the UK – and the implications that the development of these energy sources may have on climate change.
A critical review of Public Health England's report
This report provides a critical analysis of the report produced by Public Health England (PHE) on the health impacts of shale gas extraction in Britain.
Arrest the Cabinet!
This short film documents the events of the 5th March 2015 – the day I decided to arrest the Cabinet.
Going to Extremes: The project to develop unconventional gas extraction in Britain
As part of the School of Advanced Study's I gave my Going to Extremes workshop at the University of London. The video was later posted as a podcast by the University.
FRAKNET: Fracking Facts
A guy asked to film my workshop at the national gathering. I said yes – this was the result. It's a highly rushed/condensed presentation of my "Jam Tomorrow" presentation squashed down from the usual 2 hours to under 30 minutes.
'Conventional' sources of fossil fuels have, for the last 150 years, been exploited relatively cheaply – which is what has powered the growth of the global economy so strongly.
As the 'easy to produce' sources of gas, oil and coal are used up, the global producers are beginning to turn to more 'extreme' sources:
This inherently greater ecological footprint – closely related to its lower energy and economic returns – is what is creating the higher impacts of unconventional fossil fuels upon communities and the environment. Rather than a 'solution', their use is driving the human system further towards economic collapse as we approach the 'limits to growth'.
In 2009, I was one of the first environmental campaigners working on the unconventional gas issue in Britain. And whilst I'm currently shifting focus slightly, away from this theme, for the foreseeable future I'll still be running workshops and giving lectures in the issue.
My work around this issue began in obscurity in 2009, but since then I've been able to help the grassroots community develop through my workshops, and through my writing and research. However, over those six years my focus has shifted significantly.
In the beginning this was a technical issue. As I've often said you can teach a fairly large proportion of the environmental science syllabus – or the technical basis of grassroots activism – using the issue of "fracking". That is because it involves so many fields; from geology, to planning and development, to pollution assessment and permitting, to industrial processes, to energy economics, to toxicology, to local and national government policy-making.
After six years working on this issue, and working through all those technical themes, my opinion has changed. What I believe "fracking" in the UK context flags up is a problem of political accountability, and the use of transparent and objective evidence in policy-making.
That is why I have gone from organising public training workshops in 2010/11, to trying to arrest members of the Cabinet in March 2015.
Presenting 'Fracktured Accountability' to the police
at Downing Street, 5th March 2015
In my view the issue of 'extreme energy' in Britain has ceased to be a technical, evidence-based debate. Instead, given the Westminster Government's deliberate choice to ignore that evidence, and proceed with these policies irrespective of the consequences for communities and the environment, this has now become a civil rights issue.
That, inevitably, changes the nature of my participation.
I will continue to research new developments in this field, write, and run workshops. However, my focus will shift towards the practical application of 'activism' to address the official obstruction to the evidence-based debate on extreme energy in Britain.
Given both the economic and political factors that debates such as "fracking" throw up today, I also believe that we need to steer this debate back towards what, at its simplest level, it is really about – ecological limits. That is because "fracking" has been the first major 'extreme' development issue to surface – and there are more already in the pipleine (for example, more intensive agriculture).