Shale Gas

The Times, 23 September 2013:
Your claim that shale gas is better for the environment than coal does not stack up (Frack Baby Frack July 20) as shale gas (methane) is a potent greenhouse gas, twenty times more powerful than CO2 over a 100 year time frame. Whilst  burning gas releases less CO2 per unit of energy than coal, this benefit is negated by releases of methane during the fracking process. Calculations published by Professor Tom Wigley in the journal  Climatic Change in 2011 show that unless fugitive emissions  of methane are kept below 2%, then shale gas is no better than coal from a global warming perspective. In the US fugitive emissions have been running at around 7%, and the fossil fuel industry has been strenuously resisting methane control legislation proposed by the EPA. This explains why shale gas in the US is cheap, but also means that America’s new energy mix is making climate change worse not better.
There is no link to the original article as it is behind a paywall.

Climate change

The Times, 19 September 2013 (the section in bold was cut.  There is no link to the original article as it is behind a paywall):

The findings of the UK Energy Research Council make grim reading for anyone who thinks that we live in a rational world ( Number of climate change sceptics soars as support for alternative energy wanes Sept 19) Whilst climate change deniers have quadrupled, the scientific evidence is going in the opposite direction. In their second report (1995) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that it was more than 50% likely that man-made emissions were contributing to climate change. In their third report (2001) that figure had become 66%, 90% in their fourth report (2007) and now 95% in their latest  report. The fourth IPCC report had 152 lead authors, over 500 contributing authors, over 600 reviewers and received more than 30,000 comments; in other words this was the closest that the world community could get to a scientific consensus.

Sadly this consensus is not reflected in the columns of most newspapers in the UK, and the Times must accept its part of the blame for giving so much space to columnists whose views pay scant regard to the scientific evidence ( Tim Montgomerie “The Green’s Cant Defy Gravity” July 22; Alice Thompson “The Greens have had it ” Sept 11 and  Matt Ridley, May 20, July 4, and August 15 plus your own  leader  “Frack baby frack” of July 20). Newspapers may enjoy stirring controversy, but civilisation as we know it will not survive  the addition of  33 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year. It is future generations who will pay the price for our denial of the obvious.