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« Limited Integrity - Josh 359 | Main | Another one to bite the dust »

FoE to get its comeuppance?

Things may be about to get a bit more tricky for the doughty campaigners at Friends of the Earth. According to the Times' Ben Webster, the Charities Commissioners have taken a dim view of an FoE leaflet that claimed that silica - that's sand to you or me - used in fracking fluid was a known carcinogen.

They were only able to get away with this by claiming that the claims were made by their wholly owned subsidiary FoE Limited, which is not bound by laws about fundraising by deception. 

It's anyone's guess what the Commission is going to do about it. They could crack down on campaigning by charities or they could make the subsidiaries abide by the same rules as their parent charities. Everyone is going to watch with interest, including GWPF, who now have their own campaigning arm, albeit one that operates by much better ethical standards than FoE.


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Reader Comments (97)

@ Phil Clarke

So fracking has some health and safety demands.


This seems unusually off-the-beat for "Friends of the Earth" - a supposed environmental protection group. Are you guys getting into the organised labour business? Starting a fracking union or something?

Jan 29, 2016 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

More @ Phil Clarke

Presumably we need to shut down the entire timber milling industry. Face it, there is carcinogenic wood dust everywhere. What can we do but shut this dangerous industry down?

Jan 29, 2016 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

I'm sure the extra rain from climate change will keep more sand wet and save countless lives. Another benefit from CO2!

Jan 29, 2016 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

And of course, a clever scheme to depopulate beachfront property ahead of the dead-certain catastrophic sea level rise is to destroy the property value by declaring all beaches as superfund sites since there is a risk of exposure to dangerous levels of silica that has been recklessly abandoned by (insert political enemy here).

There will obviously be a need for exemptions for the well-connected.

Florida loses two thirds of its property tax base, forcing the state to implement a punishing carbon tax to make up for the tax revenue shortfall.

Its a win win win. :-)

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y


Uncertainty is not your friend.

What utter cant! 'Uncertainty' is a fact of life. Live with it - and make contingency plans for when you think it'll bite you in the arse. Otherwise, just pull the sod over you and push up the daisies.

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:03 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Mr Clarke the leaflet that started this thread off says in bold type on the front cover "Help to protect your community from chemicals that cause cancer"

Please note it talks about protecting the community, not the workforce and the only carcinogenic substances highlighted in the leaflet are a polyacrylamide which is not itself a carcinogen but might(?) break down to acrylamide and silica from which workers might need protection but which is no threat to the community.

In otherwords this leaflet is a deliberate attempt to misinform the community, something which FoE, WWF and Greenpeace are past masters at.

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

1. Silicosis is caused by sub 10 micron Silica dust (allowing it to travel to the lung's periphery).

2. Sand is 0.1 ~ 1 mm, so does not cause Silicosis.

3. Silicosis is not cancer. It is the formation of scar tissue in the lung resulting in lower gas exchange area.

4. FoE is a 5th column for Fascist political revolution to give the elite totalitarian political control.

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 701E

Arthur Dent

So, the claim made in the head post about sand/silica is completely incorrect then?

Will you be asking for a correction? Mote in your eye and all that.

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Full text of the times article is here:

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

Arthur Dent

So, the claim made in the head post about sand/silica is completely incorrect then?

Hah! Seems that Phil Clarke's reading comprehension is not it should be. Arthur's point was that FoE were targeting the 'community' when the risk was nothing of the sort for them. But shifting goal-posts is your prime job, isn't it, Phil?

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:21 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

NCC 701E, please don't confuse Phil Clarke with facts. He prefers good guy/bad guy science fiction written by those dependent on Big Green Cheques, such as Real Climate, Tamino, Skeptical Science and Friends of the Earth.

The sooner Friends of the Earth are buried under 6 feet of earth, the better for all mankind. It will make the planet more harmonious too.

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

From Health and Safety Executive.

What is it?

Silica is a natural substance found in varying amounts in most rocks, sand and clay. For example, sandstone contains more than 70% silica, whereas granite might contain 15-30%. Silica is also a major constituent of construction materials such as bricks, tiles, concrete and mortar.

You generate dust from these materials during many common construction tasks. These include cutting, drilling, grinding and polishing. Some of this dust is fine enough to get deep into your lungs. The fine dust is known as respirable crystalline silica (RCS) and is too fine to see with normal lighting. It is commonly called silica or silica dust.

I'm guessing that those involved in the construction of windmills have some special construction techniques that doesn't involve cutting, drilling or grinding.

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

I know this has been asked before, but let's try again. Does anyone know the mechanism the green blob use to assign one of their own to each blog to provide endless argumentative trivia to every conversation, I assume with the intent of distracting commenters from any real issues that might some up?

This role is clearly currently being fulfilled by Phil Clarke.

This seems to be similar to David Cameron's use of the "bunch of migrants" jibe intended purely to infuriate the opposition so that they forget about the outrageous Google tax deal.

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Silicosis is a preventable occupational lung disease caused by the inhalation of respirable crystalline silica dust and can progress to respiratory failure and death (1). No effective specific treatment for silicosis is available; patients are provided supportive care, and some patients may be considered for lung transplantation. Chronic silicosis can develop or progress even after occupational exposure has ceased (1). The number of deaths from silicosis declined from 1,065 in 1968 to 165 in 2004 (2). Hazardous occupational exposures to silica dust have long been known to occur in a variety of industrial operations, including mining, quarrying, sandblasting, rock drilling, road construction, pottery making, stone masonry, and tunneling operations (1). Recently, hazardous silica exposures have been newly documented during hydraulic fracturing of gas and oil wells and during fabrication and installation of engineered stone countertops (3,4). To describe temporal trends in silicosis mortality in the United States, CDC analyzed annual multiple cause-of-death data for 2001–2010 for decedents aged ≥15 years.* During 2001–2010, a total of 1,437 decedents had silicosis coded as an underlying or contributing cause of death. The annual number of silicosis deaths declined from 164 (death rate† = 0.74 per 1 million population) in 2001 to 101 (0.39 per 1 million) in 2010 (p = 0.002). Because of new operations and tasks placing workers at risk for silicosis, efforts to limit workplace exposure to crystalline silica need to be maintained.

Does anyone know what the increase in fracked hydrocarbons was in the US from 2001 to 2010? Silicosis incidence just about halved in that time.

I wonder what the incidence is in 3rd world mineral mining to win the raw materials for solar and wind?

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

Link from earlier with times article and leaflet

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterstewgreen

Clovis total deaths from silicosis in the USA between 2001 and 2010 were around 1437, it declined in that period from 0.74 per million of population to around 0.39 per million of populations. I'm not aware of any figures for fracking, although FoE are hinting heavily that there are high risks the risks don't look high at all. There are over a million fracked wells worldwide, and we've been fracking wells since 1949, the greenies have only just cottoned no to this, so are doing their usual and spreading FUD to prevent fracking going ahead. The question is, why?

Jan 29, 2016 at 3:57 PM | Registered Commentergeronimo

PC or not PC, that is the question. This thread is useful in arriving at an answer.

Jan 29, 2016 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

"@ Phil Clarke

So fracking has some health and safety demands."

Vacuous truth fallacy. There is virtually no industrial activity -- indeed, no human activity! -- that does not "have some health and safety demands."

Jan 29, 2016 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterTallDave

I am not seeing the relevance of whether silica causes cancer or not. The alleged cancer forming effects are from innihilation of the particles over long periods. Inhale fracking fluid for a very short period and you would drown. I might be difficult to do that when it is pumped down a narrow bore tube thousands of feet underground. Or maybe the FOE think the mixing is done by a slave worker in a dimly lit shed shovelling the sand into a vast open cauldron? A former colleague now works at a gas storage facility where they are fanatical about health and safety. I cannot imagine a fracking facility would be any less stringent. They would not have sand blowing in the air, but load it into water via sealed hoppers. The methods also help control the quantities.

Jan 29, 2016 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Phil Clarke is now going Sir Robin on us.

Jan 29, 2016 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I think Raff and Entropic man have been assigned to Discussion threads only. It seems to me that in having three simultaneously is a great honour.

Jan 29, 2016 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS


"He makes a compelling case no?"

So you've read HSI, then?

Jan 29, 2016 at 10:51 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

so FOE lie and evade responsibility through corporate entity nym shifts.

Are we surprised???

Jan 29, 2016 at 11:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeo Smith

@ Jan 29, 2016 at 3:11 PM | NCC 701E

Silica between about 1 to 7 microns will certainly cause silicosis if breathed into the lungs over time. There is strong evidence that it causes cancer but since you are distinctly unwell with silicosis (and may die first because of that) it is a lesser worry.

@ Jan 29, 2016 at 2:59 PM | son of mulder

Yes, the answer is to apply the silica wet, which is what the frakking fluid does. Whether it contains silica of the dangerous size is doubtful as the finer grade would be more expensive.

Jan 29, 2016 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

From what I gather the risks are from dust from the transportation of the sand, filling the hoppers, and the sand on the conveyor belts transporting it to be mixed to make the fracking fluid.

Silica sand is transported every day and is used for glass making, ceramics, wall and floor tiles, foundry sand, top dressings on football and hockey pitches, golf course tees, greens and bunkers, water treatment, play sand and the starting point for the manufacture of sodium silicates, silica gels, silicones, silanes and zeolites.

Perhaps the fracking companies could ask one of the many industries using silica sand how to minimise the risks.

On, and keep away from Scotland as that is the main source for silica sand in the UK.

Jan 30, 2016 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

@phil clarke

"Uncertainty is not your friend."

Then you'd better turn off your computer and stay in bed all day Phil, 'cause I'm afraid all of life's a risk.

Another thing Phil:
Working in a 60 year old industry such as fracking that may have a risk of silicosis?
Wear a dust mask.
Do you see Phil? The solutions are easy. But then again, you don't want to hear about solutions because you have a burning hatred for anything that doesn't keep the little man down. If there were no poor people left in the world your crowd would have no reason to go on marches through the centres of big cities, waving smug banners about "smashing the system" whilst wearing your ethically-sourced sandals that cost $100 a pair.

Jan 30, 2016 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Smith

OOps Here is the correct link to a page showing both the leaflet and the Times article on a very good blog by Michael Roberts exposing fracking activist misdeeds. (He's an ex-Africa geologist who became a priest. Pro IPCC and wrote a book chapter on Evangelicals and Climate Change)

Sorry it took me 3 attempts to post the correct link
at Jan 29, 2016 at 1:16 PM I meant to post that one, but accidentally posted the link about his own complaint to the ASA (cos he uses the same top photo) However it's still worth a read as to how devious activists are.

A interesting thing to BH readers is that he was fighting against a leaflet by an outfit called RAFF (Residents action on Fracking; Fylde)... so I wonder if there is a connection to the @Raff we know ?
BTW After they lost the ASA judgement RAFF removed the leaflet fromtheir website, but there's a copy in the Indy

In Another post he mentions a minor dirty trick ..Someone was sending out comments and invites posing as some real person from the Chamber of Commerce, but using a fake email..he gives the IP address.

Jan 30, 2016 at 4:31 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Mike Haseler added a comment on that blog about his experience within the Green Party

" it was pretty obvious the Greens were being led by greedy business people who see environmentalists as gullible people who can be manipulated to make themselves money."
"being an engineer in the Greens was feeling completely alone as one of the few if not the only one that actually understood what their policies meant."
"having worked in wind I can attest that the Big Oil companies are up to their backsides making money from the global warming scare. "
Mike thinks he remembers FoE getting Russian money but that is pooh-poohed by Spiked in 2014 who talked about the huge EU fund doled out to green orgs "According to the EU’s own literature, the religiously anti-fracking Friends of the Earth Europe received €1.4million from the fund last year"

Jan 30, 2016 at 5:05 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Technically FoE is correct. Silica is a carcinogen.

But you have to inhale it in serious quantities, where it can act almost like asbestos. I am at a complete loss to understand how fracking sand would find its way into somone's lungs.

So we have a situation where the claim is true but still deceptive and disingenuous.

Jan 30, 2016 at 6:31 AM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit

So you've read HSI, then?

I have a reading backlog of far more worthwhile volumes, fiction and non-fiction. Does anybody dispute a single point in Tamino's adept demolition?

Richard Joyner has, though.

Jan 30, 2016 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phill Clark ever heard of a guy called Joey Essex . Wilkipedia him if you don't know.

During the last Election Owen Jones from the Guardian Newspaper who you probably have heard of ,took him to a field in Lancashire to met a sad bunch Anti Fracking protestors in their disgusting dirty encampment.

Needless to say they were living in a utter squalor and having to use a plastic bucket to go to the toilet.
Why should I or you or Joey Essex and rest of us have to live in disgusting revolting conditions like those pathetic creatures never mind take advice from them .

Phill Clark you may well look down apron Joey Essex as some thicko Reality TV star who can't tell the time but with his earning he does live in a nice comfortable 3 bedroom house somewhere along the A12 as a civilised human being.

Please don't inflict your degraded values on the rest of us there is nothing honourable about living in imposed or voluntary poverty.

Jan 30, 2016 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Dusty sand would not be optimal for fracking. The point of using sand or any other proppant is to allow gas or oil ( or CO2) to flow more easily in the fractured production zones down hole. The claims of FoE in this seems like most Enviro and Climate fear claims: false.

Jan 30, 2016 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

What is the most dangerous thing to do Detroit

Walk around outside after dark


Have a glass of water from a tap

PS that was was caused by crumbling infrastructure not Fracking.
Another Democrat blundering for Trump to bring up.

Jan 30, 2016 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Phil Clarke was asked if he'd actually read the HSI - the book he feels perfectly qualified to slag off, and he gave this rather illuminating answer:

I have a reading backlog of far more worthwhile volumes, fiction and non-fiction. Does anybody dispute a single point in Tamino's adept demolition?
Well, Mr Clarke, aren't you just the epitome of a critic: someone who knows how to kick a football but has never played in a winning team.

How on earth do you know that Tamino's "adept demolition" is any good if you have nothing to compare it with?

Jan 30, 2016 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield


Your mischaracterisation of me started when you couldn't spell my name right and went downhill from there.

Jan 30, 2016 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke, I thought Phil Clarke was not your real name anyway, so it is simply over exaggerated sensitivity. Typical Green Blob Climatrollogy.

Jan 30, 2016 at 3:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

On silica particle size typically used for Fracking-

"Frac sand is produced in a range of sizes from as small as 0.1 millimeter in diameter to over 2 millimeters in diameter depending upon customer specifications. Most of the frac sand consumed is between 0.4 and 0.8 millimeters in size."

And also-
"Notice how the frac sand has a very uniform grain size, nicely rounded grain shapes and a uniform composition. It is also a very tough material that can resist compressive forces of up to several tons per square inch. Grains in this image are about 0.50 millimeter in size."

So, no particle sizes under 100 microns, and most of that used is in the 400 - 800 micron size.

Now, the Wikipedia entry on silicosis-
"Silicosis is due to deposition of fine respirable dust (less than 10 micrometers in diameter) containing crystalline silicon dioxide in the form of alpha-quartz, cristobalite, or tridymite."

So to connect the dots, fracking sand does not contain particles smaller than 100 microns, and most often no smaller than 400 microns, with a size distribution that is tightly controlled. Silicosis requires particle sizes less than 10 microns.

The Venn diagram consists of two circles that do not overlap.

So then how does fracking sand lead to silicosis or cancer?

Jan 30, 2016 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

It's anyone's guess what the Commission is going to do about it. They could crack down on campaigning by charities or they could make the subsidiaries abide by the same rules as their parent charities

The charities commission could order FOE to change their name within 7 days for example.

As suggestion: "Not the friends of the earth".

Jan 30, 2016 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards


Where did I slag off HSI? I simply trust Tamino; the point about innuendo certainly rings true, based on other writings.

So no, I won't be shelling out for a copy of a hatchet job on a quarter-century old study. But I did read this, in detail

Jan 30, 2016 at 10:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Obviously this whole topic is a giant waste of time, given that it's obvious that silica is not carcinoegnic in a fracking context, but it's morbidly interesting as a case study in the kinds of deceptive claim and three-card-monte that are common on the environmentalist left.

I mean, these people want to remake the world economy but can't make up their minds what the temperature was in 1986 or 1936 or 1999 -- and every time they come up with a newly convenient series of adjustments they'll assure one and all the data are accurate to within .1 degrees and always were. They pound the table and say the science is settled and we're all doomed if don't enact carbon emissions controls on the basis of models that say such emissions cuts would have little effect -- and the IPCC models have all predicted too much warming, to the extent anyone can even tell what the hell the actual, physical temperature they predicted even was. None of this is good science, a lot of which is being done quietly by scientists who are ethical or sensible enough to avoid Ehrlich-style doomsaying that attracts media attention and government funding and awards and positions and adulation and is always wrong, but they'll commission more bad science to pretend there's a "consensus" on their claims anyway.

Jan 30, 2016 at 11:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterTallDave

Phil Clarke: I shall always remember the fact that you, presenting yourself as some sort of scientist, are a coward of the first order, one who is frightened by a book (HSI) and relies on someone else's biased view of it for reference. I shall never ever take anything you say on trust. I shall never forget your dissembling and your cowardice.

Jan 31, 2016 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Phil Clarke,

... Richard Joyner has, though.

Actually, there is absolutely no evidence in his review that Prof Joyner had even opened the cover, let alone read the book. Incidently, did you not notice the below the line comments to his review? If I was pointing to a review of someone's book to show why I didn't need to read it, I don't think I'd pick that one in a million years.

You did better pointing to Tamino's “review”, though I'm not sure how much better. It looks like he did at least skim the book, though I'm not sure he actually read it. He essentially picks one part to take issue with, but ignores, or perhaps has no answer to, most of the issues the book raises. It's beyond my pay grade to argue the statistical/proxy points he makes, though our host and others say he is being a little disingenuous. As Judy Curry posted to this site on 23rd July 2010:

I just posted this to RC:
JC's grade for the review: C-
pros: well written, persuasive
cons: numerous factual errors and misrepresentations, failure to address many of the main points of the book
If anyone is seriously interested in a discussion on this book, I can see that RC isn't the place, people elsewhere are already describing their posts not making it through moderation.

One thing I did notice on re-reading his article though, on the graphs he uses where he tacks the instrumental temp onto the end of the proxies (which finish around 1960 when they are heading south), both the proxies and the instrumental temp show the post 1945 cooling that those in charge of the various temp records have now done away with ;-)

Jan 31, 2016 at 12:48 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Phil Clarke's comments on the hosts book are an insight into the Green Activists.
He says Jan 30, 2016 at 9:58 AM

So you've read HSI, then?
I have a reading backlog of far more worthwhile volumes, fiction and non-fiction. Does anybody dispute a single point in Tamino's adept demolition?


Where did I slag off HSI? I simply trust Tamino; the point about innuendo certainly rings true, based on other writings.
So no, I won't be shelling out for a copy of a hatchet job on a quarter-century old study. But I did read this, in detail

Tamino's article was responded to twice by Steve McIntyre. The first looks at the use of non-standard statistical methods and Re-post of “Tamino and the Magic Flute” simply repeats the post of two years before. Tamino had ignored previous rebuttals. A simple illustration is the Gaspé series that Tamino defends. He misses out many issues with this key element in the reconstruction, including that a later sample from the area failed to show a hockey stick.
So Phil Clarke has attacked a book that he has not read, based on biased review by an author in line with his own prejudices. He ignores the counter-arguments, just as the biased review author does as well. Says a lot about the rubbish Cuadrilla are up against.

Jan 31, 2016 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

@Laurie Childs We've bit off topic from FoE's credibitlity to Phil's credibility, to people dissing the HSI even tho they haven't read it.

However I am surprised,about something when I check TODAY how Real Climate is behaving:
Wamists often fall for the fallacy of argument from authority "You are not a Climate Scientist (whatever that is) so you can't comment."
Yet I see the writer Mike feels free to dismiss "Climate Scientist" Judith Curry with a wave of the hand

"Does anybody serious still listen to anything Judith Curry has to say. I don’t read her incoherent, confused, and misguided blog" and then goes on to quote Lewandowsky (but can't even spell his name right)

Feb 1, 2016 at 6:27 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

By Coincidence when you nip over to see Judith Curry's latest blog post a deconstruction of Lewandowsky & Dorothy Bishop's Nature paper , it's noticable that almost no one turns up to defend that paper ..Ken Rice is one.

The post reveals that Nature deleted some comments on its website and then closed comments.

Feb 1, 2016 at 8:12 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Some industry information on what proppants actually are:

What are the chemicals Phil and FoE are fibbing so much about?

More on the chemicals:

Feb 1, 2016 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I put a comment about Fiends of the Earth on the Telegraph's site (thanks, DT, nice to get a chance to voice an opinion, for once).

This time, I got to voice my opinion twice, because
somebody calling itself "ruffled_feathers" posted this:

Friends of the Earth (and many other organisations) have a charitable function for which they are able to claim various reliefs, and also a business function for which they are not able to claim relief. They can only fundraise for their charitable functions, although people are able to donate to the limited company if they wish.

I replied: "And how many people do wish to make such a donation? What would be the proportion of FoE donors who are aware of the existence of the limited company? Why would anyone make a payment to a limited company, rather than to the "charity" itself? Other than to disseminate untruthful claptrap, without running the risk of being prosecuted, why does FoE have that limited company?"

Feb 2, 2016 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

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