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Me and Kaye

I was on BBC Radio Scotland's Kaye Adams programme this morning, discussing unconventional oil and gas and INEOS's recently announced charm initiative. Audio is available here. The fracking slot was right from the top of the show.

I came in after ten minutes or so, facing off against an American green called Joshua Brown who came out fighting and left abruptly, apparently with his tail between his legs. I fear that between us Kaye and I may have left his reputation a little the worse for wear.

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Reader Comments (23)

In the USA, the current opposition party seems quite fond of teenage prostitutes.

Mar 18, 2015 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered Commentertmitsss

Shame about Kaye Adams.

I was very impressed with the way she handled this topic in an inquisitive but balanced way.

She clearly hasn't much of a future at the BBC.

Mar 18, 2015 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Very interesting broadcast, & very well handled by Ms Adams. People really ouht to ask the primary question, which imho is, "Why do people want me frightened & living in fear of technology?".

Mar 18, 2015 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Joshua Brown who came out fighting and left abruptly, apparently with his tail between his legs.
Really? Not the bit I heard. You'll be living in a toxic field, unable to get a mortgage, etc., etc. I think the baddies came out top on that exchange.
And, Andrew, please don't use the word "bonkers" on phone-in programmes. You just, by implication, insulted half your listeners!

Mar 18, 2015 at 2:20 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Environmentalists have been working on getting things banned - for decades. The formula is simple: move the realm of the debate to a data domain where the signal-to-noise ratio is very, very low, the risks are largely unknown, or unquantifiable, apply the precautionary principle, scare the public, declare scientific reasoning and principles to be applicable and move decision-making into 'policy-making' (as opposed to say a local council ruling on it), release 'reports', and achieve 'policy success' (as opposed to winning an election democratically).

In the middle of the muddle, there are two key pillars - the moving to decision-making into a data-poor domain, and the moving of the binary yes/no decision-making into the policy domain. For the first one, public health, species extinction have been extensively useful. The New York State fracking ban based on congenital malformation risk is a classic example in this regard.

Mar 18, 2015 at 2:43 PM | Registered Commentershub

Just listened to the whole piece including the (lengthy) phone ins afterwards. Kaye Adams was very impressive in the way she handled things. (I often find that local radio interviewers are much more adept at managing these sorts of things than the 'top' national interviewers).

I think that it would have been useful to have brought in the BGS and other 'expert' reports in the UK that basically say fraccing is safe. Later in the programme Kaye did muse about competing experts, and it may have helped.

The programme had a lot of input, and some of the call ins were great. The pro-frac side came over well, facts were clear and well put. (I agree with Mike that you should have avoided the 'bonkers' comment). It became clear though that the debate is fact versus emotion. The greenies have spent a long time sowing mistruth and paranoia, and will argue on emotives not on fact. That has to be dealt with by Ineos as they go forward. It was interesting that one caller on the anti-fraccing side was rather discomforted by being referred to as a 'green people', so maybe there is some mileage in doing just that, and emphasising that the 'green people' are standing between the people and their wellbeing.

Mar 18, 2015 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

But many of them are bonkers.....

Mar 18, 2015 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

As a listener, I didn't get a sense of Joshua running off, but you were certainly more present and evidently willing to answer criticism.

What did come across is that frackers countered anti-frackers objections with claims that they were incorrect and needed to education themselves; anti-frackers seemed to respond with claims that frackers were liars and in some way corrupt.

The claim that there is zero risk is something I always flinch at when I hear it, and fracking is no exception. Claim a vanishingly small risk by all means, but zero is an open goal.

Mar 18, 2015 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

mike fowle
Of course they are but if you want the local populace on your side and half (or more of them) are anti-fracking for a variety of the pseudo-reasons that the greens trot out and you call these ideas bonkers, then ...
Join up the dots.
Andrew is not bad at this and the more he keeps going the better he will no doubt get. But measure every word and always be polite — most especially to those who disagree with you because they have been misled. You can be as rude to Joshua as you like; that's different.

Mar 18, 2015 at 3:55 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson,

You're probably right, it's just sometimes a robust dismissal of nonsense might possibly make some people think. (Along the lines of well, he did sound like he knew what he was talking about).

Mar 18, 2015 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Mike Jackson on Mar 18, 2015 at 2:20 PM
mike fowle on Mar 18, 2015 at 3:34 PM
"But many of them are bonkers....."

True: "... some of the stories that are put about ... are bonkers", not the listeners.

And the word was used later, in a light hearted way, so I don't think it was a problem.

The evidence mentioned against fraccing, in passing without comment, included Gasland, so worse than bonkers.

There is little mention of regulation - it is as if these fraccers go out and drill anywhere, and in an uncontrolled manner, most would be professional and many would know about legal responsibilities !

There was a local Geologist who was good and a Greenie who was against it because of Global Warming, but radioactivity was mentioned (which I thought was a problem with 'green' geothermal power).

The 350 chemicals, cut down to 3 to 5, (it's 3), in Britain was a good point made.

Kaye was good - she studied Economics and Politics, and wanted to move to a law degree to become a lawyer, but it didn't happen, so not much formal contact with Science, so it can be done without a Science qualification, leading a technical discussion. Brilliant. She controlled the discussion well, placing sensible boundaries, with explanations where appropriate.

Mar 18, 2015 at 4:13 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Listend to broadcast
Just shows how strong peoples 'beliefs' are
For decades Govts have allowed the Green Blob carte blanche to indoctrinate the public at large for voting, control & taxable reasons and its now backfiring when it really matters
The comparisons that have been made between religion to Climate Change are clear to see
When list of countries that have no interest in fraking are reeled off they never clearly state the real reason
France is often mentioned but why would they want to frak for gas when they have invested long ago in nuclear & hydro
I would imagine Cheap gas power generation would undermine all of this as they've spent fortunes already

Mar 18, 2015 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBLACK PEARL

Joshua's misinformation regarding '350' chemicals versus just 3 approved by DECC says it all regarding their deliberate scaremongering.
For the life of me I can't see why the government aren't offering significant financial incentives to authorities & residents to get TRIAL drills up and running. Once they're drilled successfully and the public can see there's actually very little detrimental side effects, the case is made.
Pay a juicy incentive. Invite volunteers. Prove the case. Sorted.

Mar 18, 2015 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Well, the Sierra Club has finally pulled off its mask:


Mar 18, 2015 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaligulaJones

I take the point that nothing is "zero risk" but the reason that Ineos et al don't want to underwrite every building in an area is that it leaves them open to anyone with a building maintenance bill that the owner would like someone else to pay.

Mar 18, 2015 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

Richard Christopher
Can't agree with you, I'm afraid. You have people expressing a (misguided, we believe) view on a phone-in programme and then hear someone saying a couple of minutes later that the view they expressed was bonkers.
Andrew didn't say they were bonkers; he said the arguments being put forward by the eco-activists were bonkers. But (by implication, as I said) that can easily be understood by the average caller as meaning that since what he believes is bonkers, therefore ... join up the dots.
We've seen numerous instances of politicians "mis-speaking themselves" in this fashion and learning that it does not pay to comment on the hoof.
On the question of the 350 chemicals, 25% of them carcinogenic, etc., this is an argument that will come up again. In my view the best counter is a direct attack along the lines of "do you have any facts to back that up or is it just a figure you plucked out of the air?" And the equally glib (but considerably more accurate) riposte that "the only chemicals used in the UK are a recognised food additive and a common constituent of toothpaste. Which one of those do you have a problem with?"
And before anyone says that isn't true, my answer is "I don't care whether it is or not." We are not going to win this argument (especially in soundbite territory) by going all prissy. That statement is every bit as "true" as Brown's 350 chemicals.
I'm not suggesting for one minute that Andrew "lost" the exchange this morning but the pro-frackers get relatively few chances to make the case and unless we are prepared (by which I mean armed with the necessary facts and factoids and the willingness to use them) we will get swallowed up by the activists for whom this sort of situation is meat and drink.

Mar 18, 2015 at 8:22 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

A better question is why has France banned fracking and hy is it investing in wind when it has nuclear and hydro?

Mar 18, 2015 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I did my best, and endured the whole item. It wasn't easy.
I nearly broke my glasses smacking my forehead in frustration.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed by the 'framing' of the argument as a "What's your price?" question.
What irked me most was the depth of ignorance about the process of fracking, the 'chemicals', and 'bribery'.
The first caller, making a point that the payments by Ineos wouldn't be for risk to property, had his whole argument based on a misapprenhension.
The antis were utterly implacable, happy to quote 'facts' and clearly suffering from 'fear of loss'
rather than looking at the risk and benefits from a realistic perspective.
In contrast, Andrew did some fact checking whilst another caller was speaking, and was glad to correct his earlier assertion.
In forums such as this blog, the debate can be reasonably well informed. Not on a radio phone-in.

Personally, as someone with a first degree in Geology, some years of oilfield experience,
and a postgraduate degree in an analytical branch of geochemistry, I can take a look at the facts around fracking as
it would be permitted in the UK, and think yes,please. I have no qualms about it.

But how do we get the facts across to a people that don't have that advantage?
It's daunting. You could argue for fracking that you need to be able to convey basic statistics & probability,
geology, well engineering & hydaulics, chemistry, economics, etc..
At the same time as not falling for over-simplification or patronising the audience.
A tall order, in an age where hype and scare stories are the stock-in-trade of the media.
Add that to green blob propaganda and it begins to look like an uphill struggle, involving sand and a rake.

Mar 18, 2015 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermorebeerplease

The problem with a lot of the anti-frackers is that they don't like letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

We have the same problem in Australia where the anti-CSG crowd have some very public mouthpieces which rarely bother to look at facts that might affect their narrative.

Mar 19, 2015 at 3:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterKarek

Mike Jackson: You don't think the saying a fracking well will cause a tsunami is BONKERS. No, of course it isn't, it's effing, utterly totally mad.

Mar 19, 2015 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

A better question is why has France banned fracking and hy is it investing in wind when it has nuclear and hydro?


Careful what you say about france unless you live here. They banned fracking because the partie socialist needed votes to get hollande into power. In the same deal was the closure of 10 nuclear power stations by 2025 the first should be closing now with the loss of 500 jobs.

The ban on fracking comes from the same stupidity that wants to put 7 million electric car charging points along side the road and power them with windmills and solar panels.

France is not a good example for anything except her health service and even that has major, major issues. Don't quote france unless you really know us.

Mar 19, 2015 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Good job Andrew, nice and factual for the most part and that's all that's needed. It is undeniably depressing that - to borrow a topical word - the tsunami of Green lies and propaganda has addled the minds of so many fellow citizens, who, for the most part, haven't even tried to look behind the curtain. The return to something resembling sanity in our energy policy will be a long and difficult process, but your efforts on programmes like this form important steps in that direction.

Mar 19, 2015 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered Commenterigsy

Just a quick note to linux users. You can download the program using youtube-dl, where the command would be:


Youtube-dl is a fantastic little program that can download video and audio from youtube and many other sites.

Mar 19, 2015 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered Commenternormalnew

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