Why oppose fracking in South Africa in 2015?


In the shadow of fracking exploration in South Africa

A synopsis for interested and affected South Africans

 

For more than four years, South Africans (those who follow the media) have been exposed to a media-driven debate on shale gas mining (fracking). Driven largely by Royal Dutch Shell and then Shell South Africa, the public has been exposed to false advertising and simple lies by the applicants to mine shale gas. The government has mismanaged this debate and its concomitant decision on behalf of South Africans in the most appalling manner. Quite apart from the fact that the ANC, as of January 2015, has an increased shareholding and interests in Shell South Africa, the Zuma administration permitted and even encouraged the previous Minister of Minerals, Ms. Susan Shabangu to sidestep the instructions of Cabinet, ignore any voices of dissent in the country and present, in September 2012, a so-called task team report on fracking that roundly fails to grasp even the rudimentary aspects and risks of the technology. At the time that the task team report pronounced fracking safe, not a single South African medical specialist had been included in the task team.

 

In early 2014 President Zuma, at least 18 months before even preliminary exploration commenced, announced as if by some divine revelation, that fracking would be an economic game-changer for South Africa.

 

Meanwhile, around the world, the list of countries, states, provinces, cities and towns that are banning fracking or at least exposing it to some form of government moratorium or restriction is growing. In just December 2014 and January 2015, New York State, Scotland and the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick in Canada have banned fracking, and Algeria has imposed a 7 year moratorium. Maryland is soon to vote on an 8-year moratorium. Notably, in the home country of Shell’s head office (the Netherlands), 71% of the Dutch Parliament placed fracking under an effective moratorium until 2017. The Canadian and NYS bans are especially interesting as they cited two main reasons – water pollution and health concerns; and the failure of shale gas mining to deliver the benefits promised by the industry.

 

Against this background, ANC Ministers faithfully recite figures of jobs and revenue extracted from the Econometrix Report paid for by Shell SA and released in 2012. Notwithstanding the fact that the figures derived from the Econometrix report ignore any of the environmental and secondary costs of fracking such as impacts on eco-system services, farming and tourism (the model applied has been formally criticized by other economists) no one from Shell or our government has rectified the disparity between the 485tcf of gas and the acknowledged best case by South African Scientists of around 30tcf. This is a reduction of 13 times. Yet the 700 000 Shell jobs – based on a percentage of the 485tcf is still touted by Shell and the government.

 

Global estimates of gas resources stem primarily from two sources – the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in the US and that country’s USGS (United States Geological Survey). Almost without exception the first ‘estimated’ gas reserves around the globe have proven to be roundly and routinely overstated. It was the EIA that estimated 18 billion barrels of shale oil from the Monterey Shale in California. This sparked a fierce debate in that State with Governor Jerry Brown vowing to pursue and extract the resource (much like President Zuma in SA). Even President Obama counted ‘at least 100 years of US energy from shale gas’. Less than 24 months later, the EIA had to admit their mistake and slash the reserve by 96%. Similarly, the Marcellus shale was slashed by hundreds of TCF.

 

So, a clear picture is emerging in the global marketing of shale gas by the powerful oil and gas industry and their allies in governments around the world. Overstate the benefits to desperate governments. Promise energy, jobs, money and a false reduction of greenhouse gases. Once the momentum has built up and established a political will, use it to influence policy whilst ignoring science.

 

In South Africa, our government, far from serving the people in this matter, is playing lapdog to Shell, while Falcon, Chevron and Challenger Energy tag along. World-class reports, (such as the Canadian Report) hand-delivered to our President, and to every MEC and Premier of every province are ignored. Public consultation by the government around the holistic concept of shale gas mining has not yet taken place in any form. Draft regulations on fracking, which were open for comment for 30 calendar days in 2013 were slammed by US scientists as ‘pathetic’. Although there has been no feedback from the government on TKAG’s 800 page submission, the government has promised to release ‘final’ fracking regulations ‘soon’.

 

Our Bill of Rights and National Environmental Management Act are unequivocal on the issues of environment. Yet, the deck remains stacked against science.

 

The government has instructed applicants (Shell, Falcon and Bundu) to remove any mention of fracking from their Environmental Management Plans, and so the new round of public consultation becomes focused on ‘exploration techniques only’ – no mention of fracking. This is misleading and disingenuous – but it permits the companies to get the process started and most likely to receive a rapid transition from ’no fracking in exploration until later notice’ to using fracking in exploration – and then a smooth roll-over into full scale production.

 

Those who are opposing fracking in South Africa under the present circumstances are thus pushed into a corner. We can stand back and permit the tableau to play itself out – or we can take action. A solution to halting this headlong game-changer, game-changer rush of the government is for landowners to stand together. Even when the applicants are armed with an ‘exploration licence’ there are many administrative and legal hurdles facing them. A company armed with an exploration licence may not summarily enter your land, for any purpose. They have to consult with you at your convenience and negotiate access and a land-use agreement or similar accord.

 

You can help to balance the skewed scales by:

  1. Demanding identification and a letter of authority/resolution from the person approaching on behalf of the applicant.
  2. Refusing access to the farm and referring them to your lawyer.
  3. Taking your time – their schedule is not your schedule – you are entitled to be fully aware of the import of each and every clause and condition and all of the possible negative effects on your operation.
  4. Putting them to terms about who will pay for baseline tests on your water, vegetation, livestock and staff health before any access and activity takes place.
  5. Putting them to terms on who will pay your attorney costs to represent your interests in this matter (why should you pay to research something that you don’t even want on your farm and which brings you no profit but only risk to your land value?)

The key to this exercise, and the fundamental aim is to level the playing field – not be dishonest or deceitful. This is a straightforward, morally sound and legal remedy to a situation that is fraught with lies from industry and conflicts of interest in the very institution that should be protecting, instead of disadvantaging the food producers of South Africa.

I hope that this synopsis has convinced you of what needs to be done, and I pray that you will stand up and stand together as a group to resist those who wish to rush shale gas mining into this country.

Solidarity. For sustainability, truth and a future beyond the coffers of the ANC, Shell and foreign mining companies.

 

 

Jonathan Deal

February 2015

 

 

Interdict sought over Paleishuewel 80Mw Solar Power Plant


A press statement released by British based solar energy and manufacturing company, Electra Energy Holdings Ltd, confirms that the company is to petition the South African High Court for an interim interdict to halt construction of the proposed 82.5Mw solar plant at Paleisheuwel Western Cape. In its press statement, Electra alleges that there may have been fraudulent misrepresentation by persons at RE:RE capital (a company registered and doing business in South Africa).

Investigation has revealed that at this date references to RE:RE Capital that were readily accessible on the web, appear to have disappeared – including marketing information pertaining to the company and at least one of its directors. Coincidentally RE:RE Capital was investigated by Jonathan Deal in 2013 as part of a personal enquiry by Deal into the activities of Mr. Simon Lincoln Reader.

Simon Lincoln Reader

It can be confirmed that in the now defunct marketing spiel of RE:RE Capital, Simon Lincoln Reader was listed as CEO & Chief Investment Officer. The company was described as ‘a boutique private equity firm, founded in 2011, specialising in the financing, development and support of renewable energy. The marketing statement continued: ‘One of RE:RE Capital’s assets, the Paleisheuwel Solar Facility, located in the Cederberg Municipal Region… approximately 10km north of the agricultural support town of Paleisheuwel … The generation of renewable energy (solar photovoltaic) will subsequently provide the adjacent and neighbouring community with a source of clean, efficient and reliable energy.’  Marketing statement continued: ‘RE:RE Capital has sought to identify particular areas of additional assistance. One of the principle features of the development exists in the creation of local employment that will support and maintain the solar facility, yet another area has been identified – that of agricultural education, relevant to the development of communities with the intention of establishing an additional line of employment potential – a feature that will simultaneously serve to mitigate the minimal impacts upon agricultural potential the development makes. 

‘Through its networks, RE:RE Capital … has …  FAADA – The Forward Africa Agricultural Development Academy – that will partner locally with Rooibos  … to educate schools, communities and leaders about the future of agriculture [what about the bright future of shale gas] … nurturing a new generation of new farmers who will understand the benefits of renewable energy within the cycle of sustainable food production and security.’

The corporate intro continues: … ‘The addition of new industries is therefore critical to the employment factor – particularly industries with minimal environmental impact and who are, by mere virtue of structure, entirely sustainable. There are two critical tiers of thought … firstly, to create employment and, secondly, to enable structures that contribute to the protection of the agricultural industry. Coupled to both is the developing relationship between agriculture and renewable energy.

Under ‘stage 2’ of ‘Conceptualisation’ RE:RE’ corporate pitch clarified: ‘This will be the process whereby RE:RE Capital selects / invites academics, farmers, food, soil and sustainability experts, water and irrigation specialists, fauna and flora specialists, renewable energy companies and any other relevant party to submit presentations for consideration. And in Conceptualisation ‘2’ RE:RE Capital listed as ‘stage 5’ the goal  ‘The completion of the FAADA farm, owned and managed by a community / communities, that utilises only renewable energies in its production and irrigation techniques. 

The RE:RE Capital data wrapped up with emphasis that ‘The nature of RE:RE Capital’s business is partnerships: partnerships in the production of renewable energy, … RE:RE Capital understands the threats faced by agriculture … and, most importantly, cultivating the theme of sustainability  … Throughout the process undertaken thus far to the development of Paleisheuwel, RE:RE Capital has sought to express its interest in local employment. RE:RE Capital hopes that this initiative is met with the participation and support of the Western Cape Government’s Agricultural Department … ‘

The above extracts from the now missing data on RE:RE Capital can be accessed at  can be accessed at https://jonathandealblog.com/2013/07/06/oh-deer-is-simon-lincoln-reader-coming-or-going/ 

 Press Statement From Electra Energy Holdings

Electra Energy Holdings

WWF and SAFM host a debate on fracking. Will President Zuma tune in?


Decisive Debate

There’s a global alliance brewing


 

cartoon Rabbit

Visiting the US and Europe last year to receive the Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa I was struck by the lack of coordination amongst environmentally minded people (citizens) – on a global basis. The citizens of this planet need a central rallying point to communicate, share ideas, link to scientific and other data – a place where we can harness our collective strengths and resources – in a battle against the biggest, the most ruthless, the most determined corporates that have emerged since the Industrial Revolution and the advent of fossil fuels.

Launched in its infancy at a Goldman ceremony for the 2013 prize winners in Washington, April 2013, the idea of a global alliance has received support from most everyone polled. A proposed name (Global Citizens Alliance) with the strapline (for a sustainable planet) is being incorporated into a logo and will accompany a more formal launch.

In the meantime, here is a concept document – open to all citizens and sustainably minded organisations to comment. Comment from dissenting citizens and organisations is also welcomed as a way for us to shore up any weaknesses in our structure – your family, colleagues, friends and associates are after all, also citizens.

GLOBAL CITIZENS ALLIANCE for a sustainable planet                                                                  

(to join or for further enquiries: mail jonathan.deal@treasurethekaroo.co.za)                                                                                                                                        

Abstract

Sustainability is a word, a term, a concept that has been hi-jacked by commercial interests[1]. A commonly held definition of sustainability, and one that can be reasonably supported by the man in the street is suggested as:

  • the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed.
  • The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.
  • To manage the activity of man on the planet in such a way that present generations may meet their reasonable expectations whilst assuring that future generations are not denied the opportunity or ability to meet theirs.

Ergo a sustainable planet implies and embraces all of the actions that humans can think of and cause to be done to adjust the relationship of man and the planet in a way that will enhance and support long-term ecological balance.

No anthropogenic activity is excluded from this initiative. GCA thus is accessible to everyone and belongs to no one.

The concept of a global alliance in environmental fields is certainly not novel. Yet despite the emergence of global communication, easily accessed in most countries by anyone with a computer or smart phone, and the certainty that this planet and all its inhabitants are headed for a brick wall, there is still a yawning chasm in global coordination of the groups and people (citizens) that have understood the need for true sustainability.

Background

My involvement commenced in January 2011 with shale gas mining (fracking/fraccing). It is logical then that I focus on issues related to fossil fuels and energy. Of course, the inescapable fact that every single activity on the planet occurs as a result of the balance of energy on the planet underscores that when one speaks of a sustainable planet no activity can be sidelined or excluded – from farming to concentrated solar power.

Tim Morgan[2], writes “In principle, there is no scientific difference between the energy that we derive from eating a biscuit, the energy we expend when we undertake a physical task, the energy that we put into a car when we fill up its fuel tank, or the energy that we access when we turn on an electric appliance.”  Morgan discusses the balance of energy on the planet, how it relates to the economy and how it can be measured in the concept of Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI).

Applying the measurement of EROEI to the available forms of energy is a useful and perhaps even indispensable way to measure what a specific fuel source actually returns for the energy that is expended on extracting and refining it, and of course the risk that accompanies its extraction.

Please read on to explore with me some of the issues that must be discussed to develop a sustainable global alliance – for ourselves and future citizens.

[1] Rather than abandoning the term to commercial interests, it is incumbent on civil rights organisations and environmental groupings to put commerce and industry to terms. To insist that the term be reserved for and applied to those activities that truly dovetail with  the notion of a sustainable planet.
[2] Morgan, Tim.   Life After Growth, 1st ed., Harriman House, Great Britain (2013). ISBN 9780857193391 (Pages 12, 13)
[3] Action item 1 – who will volunteer from what countries?

Do we need an alliance?

The oil and gas industry (read commerce) is a global giant. The same companies are our threat in every country. They have fought the battle of development-and-profit vs. environment for decades. For them, the planet is borderless, and no land or environment is sacred or out of bounds – and so our alliance has to be borderless too. If we fail to stand together as an international community for a sustainable planet, they will continue to use their immense and increasing power influence with governments to achieve their aims.

To what purpose this alliance?

Realistically speaking, every environment and sustainability-minded group on the planet is chasing the same donor pool. So there is no expectation that a global alliance will produce a global pot of money to fight global battles.

Where the alliance will be strong is in coordinated information, communication and action.

Information

A central point from where, let’s call them sustainable citizens can access data and links to data in any field of human activity – from organic farming to hydroelectric power, from statistics to environmental economics.

The information repository, like Wikipedia, will grow with the submissions of its readers and users.

It is important to emphasize that the development of such a platform will take time, and that the first level of web site will not accommodate such an undertaking. The first site may contain only a document such as this, a list of citizens and organisations who have subscribed to the GCA, and links to existing organisations that have already invested much capital in developing an information repository.

Bearing the concept of EROEI in mind, we too should be mindful of duplicating the expenditure of energy and resources when there is already a perfectly acceptable source available.

Communication and action

Common media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google) and of course proprietary email databases facilitate instantaneous communication within the GCA and to the outside world. One of the most powerful tools available to us, especially when facing down the commercial might and geopolitical influence of big business, is the ability to almost instantly:

  • Name and shame;
  • Call for product boycott;
  • Apply pressure to political leaders; and
  • Inform the general (uninformed) public.

Because of the global nature of many of the corporations and the technology that they wield, the coordinated power of the alliance means that we can coordinate resources (media, financial and social power) to respond to a call for assistance on a specific issue (Monsanto, Tar Sands, Keystone, Fracking New York State, Palm Oil Production, Whaling and so on) within hours – displaying international solidarity and bringing global pressure to governments and corporations.

The internet and media platforms also present the ability for us to communicate as a group with others, and to win supporters with scientific fact and commonsense.

To whom does the alliance belong?

The alliance belongs to everyone and to no one.

Who is in charge of the alliance?

No one is in charge of the alliance – it’s organic, like the Internet. You get out what you put in.

What can the alliance achieve in terms of:

  • Information – It can facilitate the distribution of source documents to established web sites, so that new members can access the most recent and factual data for distribution and use in their struggle.
  • News – It can send news of events and incidents to millions of people in a short space of time.
  • Support – it can harness the global voice of millions of people, at all levels and bring those voices to a small town to get the attention of political leaders and corporations.
  • Finances – it provides a platform for our fellows to call for urgent financial aid from many people in small amounts to help with funds to fight a specific step – such as an urgent court action.

Why not just start a new organization with a new name and everyone can join that?

  • Because our strength is in our diversity. It makes us unpredictable.
  • Because we all have our own organizational and national culture. Trying to force different organizations in different countries to subscribe to the same vision, mission and way of operation will be difficult. For example; an action-oriented organization that is effective in physical demonstrations cannot subscribe to the same action plan as a corporate-focused organization that engages corporations and government through traditional methods – yet both are essential to keep pressure on those who continue to propagate unsustainable practices.

Who can make statements on behalf the alliance?

There is only one statement that can be made on behalf of the alliance, and that is the global statement that everyone and anyone subscribes to. All other statements are made by citizens or organisations individually or on behalf of their own organisation.

 

It may transpire that a media-relations committee develops to serve the GCA, but this would not speak on behalf of any member organisation and rather issue generic statements of support referencing specific actions or issues that are in the public domain.

No statements or actions that contravene international laws or incite violence or criminal behaviour will be supported by the GCA.

How do we know how many member organizations there are in the alliance and how many individual members there are in each of the members?

We will need a central blog, website or other forum that can be accessed by anyone signing the alliance, either individually or on behalf of an organization. This is the aspect that will require some formal cooperation. It is suggested that a few national groups volunteer to each act as moderators of the chosen forum[3], so that records can be maintained and so that the forum has continuity.

What other information is available on the central site?

The site could have sections with various levels of information, divided into categories such as water, air pollution, economics, waste material, transport issues, bio-diversity, legal issues, a list of allies by region and country, links to specialists who are prepared to help, and so on.

Also presented could be ‘toolkits’ for members to use in their own environment – to inform citizens at all levels and ages.

The site could have clearly posted links to other sites anywhere that such information is available.

Does the alliance receive and control or disburse any money?

The alliance has no formal status and no bank account, owns no assets and cannot commit any or all of its members to anything – its strength is in the diversity and unified spirit of its members and in how much effort they put into growing the alliance over the net and other viral media.

If I join the alliance does it mean that my organization has to work under the alliance?

Absolutely not. The alliance is at all times secondary to the charter, rules, constitution, ethics and any other value of an individual or organization. It is this aspect that allows any one person or organization to join the alliance in a statement of global solidarity without losing their own identity, or being in a position that they are pulled into a specific action without voluntarily joining it.

So what will the alliance be called? And who will choose the name?

This most prickly issue is always emotional. As a start I suggest Global Citizens Alliance with the strapline for a sustainable planet. There will almost certainly be other suggestions, and I am prepared to abandon the work that I have done with the name and logo. Please bear in mind, when thinking of a name:

  • It must apply to the whole planet
  • It must fit everyone (individually and collectively)
  • It must fit every activity – anti-fracking to anti-whaling
  • It must contain no combination of colors or images that lock it to a specific gender, race, religion or creed.

Is there a suggested statement for the alliance?

Yes. Here is a rough draft. In the spirit of the alliance, all citizens are encouraged to comment, propose changes, additions and so on. For the purposes of making a start on this, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) – admin@treasurethekaroo.co.za offers to receive and consolidate the first comments. The process can be requested by any other member – it does not belong to TKAG.

Here is a suggested statement in English. You are encouraged to translate it into your own language and all languages can be posted to the central forum that we use.

STATEMENT OF GLOBAL ALLIANCE

In respect of our collective sustainable environment and the rights of future generations

We, the undersigned, do hereby confirm our allegiance and support to each other, in working towards changing the activities of humans from the overwhelmingly destructive current practices to practices that support and foster the concept of sustainability in our common environment.

We are convinced, through scientific and legal data – empirical and peer-reviewed, in the fields of water, air pollution, health, environment and bio-diversity, economics, law, amongst other sciences and disciplines, and through our common sense of right and wrong that most of our energy generation:

  • Is based and founded on an unsustainable (rapidly depleting) fossil fuel resource;
  • Ignores the fact that national and global fossil fuel reserves are recorded as being in excess of the value that can actually be consumed (converted to carbon emissions) before the year 2050 with a view to the internationally adopted limit of 2° global warming;
  • Represents the established contemporary predisposition of the oil and gas industry (O&G) to pursue ‘extreme energy’ options, as easily accessible fossil fuel reserves are exhausted;
  • Through its marketing by O&G, and in reality, stifles, delays or otherwise militates against the essential development of and investment in ‘green’ energy technologies by governments and corporations;
  • Locks nations and economies – developed and undeveloped – into a further dependence on fossil fuels;
  • Directly damages the holistic environment through documented knock-on effects;
  • Displaces otherwise sustainable human activity, impairs the value of the environment and renders less effective – or destroys – the eco-system services, (those systems) which sustain all life on Earth – that are provided by a functioning eco-system;
  • Creates additional and unplanned expenditure of public funds to restore roads, and maintain public health, conduct investigation, monitor extraction activity, enforce the law, prosecute offenders and generally provide other services from the state with public taxes;
  • Can and should be disregarded as an energy source on the basis that there exist documented reserves of alternative fossil fuels that are comparable in energy and pollution values, having regard for the global limits that have been reached in respect of the emissions of carbon based fuels and the survival of future generations.

Therefore, it is our position that we shall apply the resources at our disposal to:

  • Inform the citizens of this planet of the risks to their future prosperity posed by unsustainable practices;
  • Coordinate and expand, wherever possible and affordable, a global network of persons and organisations opposed to unsustainable practices;
  • Support each other in whatever way possible and within the credo and objects of our organisation(s) or personal value system(s).

These actions will give effect to our fundamental objective of opposing any activity that promotes or in any way fosters the propagation of unsustainable practices.

Where any commitment to or aspect of this allegiance may be contrary to (any of) the provisions of the member organisations hereto, then that aspect is specifically excluded from this statement of allegiance.

By our collective / individual signature(s) we confirm our voluntary commitment to this allegiance.

Signed at _____________________________________________________________________

On day _________ , date ____ , month ____________________ , year ___________

In my personal capacity _________________________________ (signature)

Or

On behalf of ________________________________________________________ (organisation)

Duly authorised

ORGANISATION / INDIVIDUAL DETAILS:

Address:______________________________________________________________

Email and/or URL :______________________________________________________

Telephone, fax and zip code:______________________________________________

Name of signatory:_____________________________________________________

 

While SA’s leaders spread ‘feel good’ job figures from FRACKING


State inflates fracking-related jobs numbers

Report shows decline in gas-drilling jobs and overstates the number of workers supporting natural gas industry.

New York State Mulls Limited Fracking In Southern TierHydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of shale for natural gas has boosted local economies in South Montrose, Susquehanna County, (pictured here) and across the state. (SPENCER PLATT, GETTY IMAGES / June 19, 2012)
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau9:24 p.m. EST, February 23, 2014

HARRISBURG — As executive director of the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce, Julie VanNess was front and center when energy companies descended on Tioga County to secure drilling leases on pristine land around Routes 6 and 660 through Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon.

“I don’t have a negative feeling for the industry,” VanNess said.

The industry was accommodating and respectful of the community’s needs and understood the importance of its tourism industry, VanNess said. It fixed long-neglected back roads to handle rigs, rerouted drivers away from Wellsboro’s tony downtown and kept trucks away from schools during class time, she said.

“You can’t tell they were even here,” VanNess said. “If you drive through the countryside you will not know something happened. Once the wells are drilled, capped and the pipelines in, you don’t notice them.”


 

That was about two years ago.

With leases signed and wells operating, the companies have pulled back resources amid what had been until recently a downturn in natural gas prices. Many of the out-of-town workers who filled hotels and restaurants in and around Wellsboro have left, too.

“Right now it’s on kind of a hiatus,” VanNess said. “It’s slowed down significantly here. I expect that will pick back up again. Right now you see very little activity.”

It’s the same story in many of the 32 other counties where drilling began in 2004 to extract natural gas trapped in the underground Marcellus and Utica Shale formations: Fewer jobs and less overall economic activity, despite a record amount of gas — 3.1 trillion cubic feet — produced in 2013.

The industry has declined, Williamsport Mayor Gabe Campana said, but it’s still alive. Without it, the unemployment rate in his third-class city of 35,000 would be 10 percent and he wouldn’t have four new hotels downtown.

“It’s made a difference in the overall economy,” Campana said. “But it has receded. Talk to the guys in the field and they’ll tell you there’s ebbs and flows. It has picked up in the past two, three months and we are encouraged by that.”

Gov. Tom Corbett praises the natural gas industry as a key cornerstone of the state’s economy.

“It’s lifting up entire communities, creating and supporting many thousands of jobs well beyond gas production,” Corbett said in his Feb. 4 budget address.

But state records show the gas industry has not created as many jobs as state officials have claimed. In addition, the state’s estimates of ancillary job growth have been inflated to include employment in places drilling isn’t even taking place, further skewing the impact the natural gas industry has had on employment.

The number of jobs directly associated with Marcellus Shale’s six “core industries,” including drilling, extraction and pipeline construction, declined by 29 percent to 29,926 between the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2013, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry’s January labor report. The report is based on employer surveys collected for federal unemployment data and has been produced using the same analysis since Gov. Ed Rendell‘s administration.

The number of core gas jobs accounts for less than 1 percent of the state’s nearly 5.8 million jobs.

Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni defended the administration’s record on jobs in the shale industry and its training efforts. He said the state and governor support all forms of industry equally, and has numerous programs to help train workers in the event of a downturn in the local economy or job sector.

“The commonwealth and the governor support local communities in not only the Marcellus industry but in all industry,” Pagni said in an email. “Activities abound in attracting new business to the state, ensuring that services are available to companies while they manufacture, produce, create, etc. and support the workforce through job training and retraining efforts should a company choose to leave.”

All industries go through a natural cycle, Pagni said. The workforce and activities associated change and adapt, he said.

“If a well is not being drilled, jobs continue to flourish in the trucking and transport because it is still producing,” Pagni said. “These activities will continue to provide economic benefit to communities as the industry moves from flow to ebb.”

While the core Marcellus Shale jobs are declining, the Labor Department claims the number of ancillary jobs indirectly tied to the natural gas industry has increased 8 percent to 212,000.

But that increase is not based solely on employment trends in the counties where more than 7,000 wells are permitted to be drilled.

The report includes statewide employment trends in trucking, engineering, highway construction and about two dozen other career sectors. So jobs in the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia and other areas where there are no wells have been counted as ancillary gas jobs.

Labor Department spokeswoman Sara Goulet defended the report, saying the data on core jobs show a concentration of drilling, extraction and construction jobs has increased in the state’s northern tier and southwest corner, where drilling is being done.

But trying to quantify the ancillary jobs data is hard, Goulet said, because the number of ancillary jobs has increased in the drilling regions, too. But since there is no way to determine if the jobs are tied to the gas industry, she said, it makes sense to list statewide employment numbers.

“Employers don’t state, ‘That’s a Marcellus Shale construction job’ in the employer survey that counts jobs,” Goulet said. “It is not a perfect science, but it does give a fair picture of those ancillary industries’ growth as it pertains to [Marcellus Shale] and the time period when those industries started to experience significant growth.”

The shale industry is creating support jobs statewide even if they are in Delaware County, said Kravis Windle, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a trade group in Pittsburgh.

“As President Obama‘s energy secretary stated last week, responsible shale development is creating ‘economic prosperity’ across Pennsylvania and beyond,” Windle said in an email. “Not only are tens of thousands of good-paying jobs being created at well sites and pipeline construction projects across the commonwealth, but with Pennsylvania now the nation’s second largest shale-producing state — accounting for nearly 20 percent of all U.S. natural gas production — many other support industries are realizing these benefits.”

There is no question the drilling industry has had a positive impact in communities, said Mark Price, a labor economist with Keystone Research Center, an economic policy group with ties to several labor unions. The Labor Department report on core drilling jobs does a good job of capturing that impact through its employment report of the gas industry, he said.

But the ancillary report is bloated and useless, Price said. The shale industry has led to more engineering and trucking jobs, he said. But it’s hard to believe every engineer or trucker in the state is working in the gas industry as the Labor Department reports, he said.

“The ancillary is gobbledygoop,” he said.

The Labor Department cannot publish a county-level jobs report because of privacy issues, Price said. The report would be so narrow it would be easy to identify companies by name, which would violate private unemployment rights, he said. With that legal difficulty, Price said, the state should not publish a statewide ancillary report because it cannot accurately track which jobs support the shale industry.

steve.esack@mcall.com

717-783-7305

Copyright © 2014, The Morning Call

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Fruit of the Poisoned Tree


A critical view on some of the issues surrounding shale gas in South Africa

forbidden

First written for and published in DAILY MAVERICK February 14 2014 

A dilemma of extraordinary proportions confronts world leaders as they wrestle with ‘the fraternal twins[1] of peril and opportunity typically the choice between economic growth and sustainable progress. This article intends to make a case for cautious investigation (critical thought)– a science-based analysis of the actual experiences that must ultimately inform policy – it is not a blanket statement that proponents of shale gas mining are wrong or that the converse applies.

Spanning cultures and continents, shale gas is typified by a commonality of benefit and risk. Energy, jobs, revenue, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are four key areas that arrest the attention of any government. Stacked against the elephant in the room – the risk of environmental, and ultimately economic damage – these considerations project shale gas into a ranking as the most widely debated[2] fossil fuel in more than two hundred years. Four primary areas define the broad environment in which we approach a discussion on shale gas: community, environment, development and sustainability. Interdependent and universal, each is of itself and in relation to its counterparts, undeniably central to the survival of humanity.

It follows logically that a review of shale gas mining commences with acknowledgement of the dynamics driving its development.  Barely ten years ago shale gas was unknown in the realm of many governments and in the minds of a majority of people – speculation over Peak Oil and the end of the fossil fuel age was endemic, and Oil & Gas companies were turning to ever more expensive and risky sources of carbon – colloquially labeled extreme energy.

Economics, climate change, science, politics and corporate goals

Author and expert on natural resource issues, Michael T. Klare[3] puts it thus: “The pursuit of untapped oil and mineral reserves in remote and hazardous locations, is part of a larger, more significant phenomenon: a concerted drive by governments and resource firms to gain control over whatever remains of the world’s resource base.”

If economics informs government opinion, the touchstone of the ‘prosperity’ argument is development, with the measure of GDP naturally pegged as the definitive gauge of the health and wealth of a people. Economists predominantly calculate growth projections on what has been, and remarkably – even in the face of the global resource debate – still produce reports that refuse to even acknowledge the environmental and social costs of specific developments. Despite the advent of environmental economics based theory and supporting documents penned from within the economist community, modern economics in practice appear to have had little effect in modifying the GDP[4]-based clarion call of ‘upward and onward.’ A 2009 report from Boston University, states: “GDP is dangerously inadequate as a measure of quality of life,” yet within the context of shale gas in South Africa it is largely the anticipated contribution of shale gas mining to GDP that has elected officials already revising GNP, jobs and economic growth forecasts. Vast numbers (R80-R200 billion) and substantial percentages 3.3%-9.6% of GDP abound. Unsurprisingly the government appears to accept, apparently at face value, the predictions of economists paid by Oil & Gas multinationals. Meagre attention seems to have been expended on the base model applied to develop such numbers, and divergent opinions generated by well-published economists are greeted with silence.

The notion that exponential global growth, fueled by traditional energy sources will meet the needs of humanity is ingrained and commonly accepted to the extent that it is claimed by some that the world is not running out of resources.

A malady of pessimism, as undesirable as such may be, should not be countered with unrestrained optimism. Gore[5] writes “Our natural and healthy preference for optimism about the future is difficult to reconcile with the gnawing concerns expressed by many that all is not well, and that left to its own devices the future may be unfolding in ways that threaten some of the human values we most cherish.”

Climate change

One of the key arguments promoted by environmentalists is anthropogenic climate change[6]. Whether or not human activities cause or affect climate change is probably the most central issue in the debate, which itself, (climate change) is underwritten by hundreds of thousands of articles and studies. The climate change debate is relevant to shale mining inasmuch as it is claimed by big Oil & Gas that a change from coal to shale gas will deliver a great reduction in carbon emissions. Avoiding a discussion around the merits of shutting down a global coal industry and the naïve assumption that unburned and accessible coal will be left in the ground, and referencing again the claim of cleaner burning shale gas lowering overall emissions, consider this report by the Guardian quoting BP chief economist, Christof Ruehl – “Shale gas – previously inaccessible because the exploitation of these resources requires technology only recently perfected (sic)– will account for a rising proportion of the growth in energy in the years to 2035, but its use will not cause a decline in greenhouse gases.” Prefacing the report is the astonishing strapline; “BP study predicts greenhouse emissions will rise by almost a third in 20 years – Energy firm’s analysis finds switch to other fuels like shale gas will do little to cut carbon emissions.”

Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Ian Rutherford Plimer credits the greatest carbon emissions as emanating from Australian brush fires and active volcanoes. Denouncing efforts to address anthropogenic causes of global warming – and in fact the holistic concept, Plimer gives the idea that there is little that we can do except sit back and enjoy the ride.  ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is ostensibly of the same mind about the outcome in his statement, “What good does it do to save the planet if humanity suffers?”  Tillerson is reported to have saidWe can’t pull up, we’re going in, brace for impact” – an analogy of the language that would be used by the captain of an airliner in a terminal dive. Making Tillerson’s statement even more baffling are reports that ExxonMobil as an organisation has invested heavily in climate change denial. Asserting that nine out of ten ‘top[7]’ climate change deniers are or alleged to be linked to ExxonMobil, the report reviews the efforts of big industry, including the Koch Brothers to cement climate change denial.

Pointing to 938 papers cited in an article by Carbon Brief [8], the text reveals that 186 of the articles were written by only ten men, and foremost among them was Dr Sherwood B Idso, who personally authored 67 of the articles. Idso is the president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, an ExxonMobil funded think tank. The second most prolific was Dr Patrick J Michaels, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, who receives roughly 40% of his funding from the oil industry.

Whatever the ultimate conclusion of the climate change discussion, two facts are undeniable – one – climate change is a convenient issue for both sides of the shale gas debate to use to their advantage; and two – big industry can throw tens of millions of dollars at it as long as it suits them to do so.

Science

Granting the last two points, (economics and climate change) are grounded in science, it is necessary to examine the term ‘science’ holistically, and with specific reference to shale gas in South Africa. An assessment of the shale gas debate in South African media will establish that both sides make use of ‘scientific’ reports that suit their viewpoint. Plato, in Republic wrote, “When the mind’s eye rests on objects illuminated by truth and reality, it understands and comprehends them, and functions intelligently; but when it turns to the twilight world of change and decay, it can only form opinions.” The nexus with shale gas in South Africa is evident: the world’s scientific community cannot reach consensus on the claims raised by both sides of the shale gas argument. A Green Paper on the importance of “scientific evidence-based policy-making” published by Janez Potočnik; Commissioner for Science and Research at the United Nations describes a resilient method for approaching policy decisions, especially on large scale. Potočnik writes “… ’Bridging the gap’ between science and policy is not a technical issue. It is a political, economic, social and cultural issue. It is about an encounter between politicians and scientists, often with the necessary help of citizens themselves.” The United States Environmental Protection Agency affords scientific policy appropriate gravity in its own Scientific Integrity Policy affirming, “Science is the backbone of the EPA’s decision-making.” The EPA also describes ‘science’ as an expansive term that references the full spectrum of scientific endeavors – basic science, applied science, engineering, technology, economics, social sciences, and statistics.

I don’t believe that South Africans can, at this juncture be shown that the Government policy on shale gas has been scientifically informed to the extent that a decision on a technology of the scope and scale of shale gas ought to be. Writing on the claims of climate change believers, a local journalist pronounces “This is simply bad science, conducted by scientists whose careers are on the line, paid for by investors with a stake in the outcome and politicians who want the moral cloak of playing saviour in a crisis. Clinging to received (sic) dogma, by repeating hoary arguments unilluminated by new facts demonstrates an abdication of critical thought that is not conducive to credible science.” On the basis that this statement applies equally to climate change deniers and their allies in governments – I agree wholeheartedly.

Politics and corporate goals

Gore[9] in his book The Future writes “The idea of making truly meaningful collective decisions in democracy … is naïve, even silly, according to those who have long since placed their faith in the future not in human hands, but in the invisible hand of the marketplace.” He continues “By tolerating the routine use of wealth to distort, degrade, and corrupt the process of democracy, we are depriving ourselves of the opportunity to use the ‘last best hope’ to find a sustainable path for humanity through the most disruptive and chaotic changes civilization has ever confronted.” Of the US Congress, he says, “its members are still ‘representatives’ but the vast majority of them now represent the people and corporations who donate money, not the people who vote in their congressional districts.”

According to the SA government, shale gas extraction can be done safely and economically, will bring great riches and prosperity to South Africans, and concurrently solve our energy and carbon emission challenges. I don’t believe that our leaders have properly discharged their duty to the citizens of this country in arriving at their public decision on shale gas – and I submit that in election year it is time for you to think critically about whether to pick more fruit off the poisoned tree – or stop watering it.


[1]   Gore, Al.  The Future, 1st ed., Random House Publishing Group, New York. (2013).

[2] Having regard for the relatively brief period in which shale gas has been debated when compared to other energy sources

[3]  Klare, Michael T.  The Race for What’s Left, 1st ed., Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, LLC New York, New York 10010 (2012), 996. (Pages 12, 13)

[4] Stiglitz, J. E., Sen, A. & Fitoussi, J.-P. Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress Vol. 12 (Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, 2009). Also Costanza, R., Hart, M., Posner, S. & Talberth, J. Beyond GDP: The Need for New Measures of Progress (Boston University, 2009).

[5] Ibid

[7] A label ascribed, within the context of the report, to the most prolific writers supporting climate change skepticism.

[9] Ibid

Fracking confusion is the order of the day for David Johnson


The debate continues. David’s response today – with my answer.

Jonathan Deal does it again!

January 10, 2014

Jonathan, in his previous article, again completely ignored the case I have put forward since this debate began. Initially I thought there was little point in repeating my argument once more, until I read comments on social media sites. Some readers aligned to TKAG’s view complimented Jonathan on his “rebuttal”. But a rebuttal would require Jonathan to actually address the main pillar of my original article, not merely say why he doesn’t like fracking, which is all he does. I will therefore restate my position in writing, for the fourth and final time.

The most effective approach to limiting the negative environmental effects of energy development is based on a scientific analysis of all generation options and their effects. This offers us an objective basis to debate, on environmental grounds, which kinds of energy should be preferred overall or in a particular area.

TKAG are uninterested in discussing the environmental impacts of alternatives to shale gas. Their position seems to be that as long as the Karoo is saved it doesn’t matter how electricity is generated or which land is degraded elsewhere in the process. Jonathan never addresses this environmental concern in his replies.

Jonathan makes a number of points which relate to fracking in general, but are completely extraneous to the issue in the articles he purports to respond to. Jonathan’s tactic of responding with only superficially relevant arguments is so well developed he should seriously consider entering politics, he’d be good at it. Here’s my response in a nutshell:

Corruption

One of Jonathan’s often used anti-fracking arguments has been the risk of corrupt practices in the shale gas industry.

Transparency International’s “Corruption Perceptions Index 2013” rates 177 countries and territories from least to most corrupt. South Africa, at position 72, is one place below Italy, a country where mafia involvement in renewable energy has been widely reported for many years.

Last year about a third of Sicily’s 30 wind farms, in addition to several solar power plants, were seized by Italian authorities. Politicians and businessmen, “tenderpreneurs” in South African terms, were among those arrested for renewable energy linked corruption. One reason the mafia focussed on the renewable energy sector was the sector’s generous subsidies. In fact, it is arguable that subsidised industries, like renewables, are particularly susceptible to corruption.

It is foolish, at least, to think renewable energy, or any industry, is exempt from the danger of corruption. More importantly, corruption is an entirely irrelevant consideration when establishing which form of energy would be the least environmentally harmful. Corruptly owned mafia wind farms are financially as filthy as coal, but the energy they produce is as environmentally clean as that of wind farms financed by legitimate means.

Government competence

Drawing attention to examples of ministerial error could become South Africa’s national sport. Of course Jonathan can point to examples related to fracking; we could all do the same in just about any field regulated or financed by government. Nevertheless, even the most inept Minister of Energy will not miraculously morph into a model of efficiency and saintly honesty if fracking disappeared from the equation, leaving a choice between renewables or coal. Does Jonathan honestly believe these same ministers speak learnedly and authoritatively on means of generating energy besides shale gas?

When Jonathan refers to incapable politicians, it reminds me of those same politicians kissing babies or handing out food parcels. It’s a direct appeal to our emotions, regardless of the topic at hand. The fact that incapable politicians hold ministerial positions is no more relevant to which form of energy is the least environmentally damaging than it is to whether permitting lion hunts aids or harms conservation or whether our fish stocks require more conservative commercial line fishing quota rights.

Employment

Perhaps the greatest environmental benefit of wind and solar energy is that, after the infrastructure has entered service, it can be pretty much left to do its thing. There is no need for a continuous supply of fossil fuels. There is no need for thousands of miners to dig up those fossil fuels either.

Jonathan has drawn attention to shale gas proponents’ dubious employment statistics. He has a point. But it is an irrelevant one. No matter what the truth of those statistics, it is a safe guess that during their operational phases, substantially more employees will be needed to generate the same quantity of power at a coal-fired power station than at a solar plant.

Saving jobs is not an argument for environmentalists to rely on in this debate. Coal could be one of the better choices, if your prime concern is maximising employment, but not if your prime concern is lowering carbon emissions.

Economics

Jonathan refers to the part TKAG funded review of Econometrix’s “Special Report on Economic Considerations Surrounding Potential Shale Gas Resources”. From what Jonathan has said, it appears that the review of the Econometrix report is the only study in which TKAG has financially invested.

Unsurprisingly, as the Econometrix’s name suggests, the initial report and TKAG’s response to it do not look at the environmental impacts of our energy choices, but at the economic case for fracking. The strength of the economic case for shale gas is immaterial to the relative environmental impacts of extracting that gas.

Moving forwards

Jonathan has suggested we hold a public debate. I will be back in Cape Town in late March and I am hopeful that a debate in person rather than online might mean I can focus the debate on what really matters – the environmental impacts of all our potential energy choices. Anyone concerned about the environment in the Karoo as well as other places needs a markedly more mature response than the narrow nimby anti-fracking case of TKAG.

So I will accept the invitation, and will let you know when debate practicalities are settled.

Sources

1.     “Sting operations reveal Mafia involvement in renewable energy” Washington Post, 23 January 23 2013.

2.    “Italy makes ‘Mafia’ arrests over Sicily wind farms” BBC Online, 15 February 2013.

3.    “Analysis – Is the Italian mafia turning green?” Wind Power Monthly, 17 April 2013.

4.    “German homes, offices searched in mafia wind farm probe” Reuters, 19 November 2013.

5.    “Corruption Hit as Italy Cleans Up Wind Sector” Renewable Energy World, 10 June 2013.

6.    Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, Transparency International.

 

I had hoped to continue dialogue with David, focused more on the issues than on the literary and tactical idiosyncrasies, of he and I. David’s opinion insofar as it pertains to me personally, and his advice on career choice, while perhaps being sincerely motivated by a desire to see me in politics are thus dismissed for the purposes of this discussion. I too, am becoming bored with re-stating the same points for the fourth time. Thus in the interests of being very clear, I discard the application of brevity in this reply.

‘Science’

Now. I cannot but agree wholeheartedly with David that: “The most effective approach to limiting the negative environmental effects of energy development is based on a scientific analysis of all generation options and their effects. This offers us an objective basis to debate, on environmental grounds, which kinds of energy should be preferred overall or in a particular area.” A scientific analysis of all generation options is expected, by TKAG, within the context of shale gas mining – in South Africa – to mean exactly that. It must include the full spectrum of scientific endeavours – basic science, applied science, engineering, technology, economics, social sciences, and statistics – as stated in my first article in response to David. For the life of me, I cannot understand firstly how David feels that I disagree with him on this point; and secondly how David can be unaware that the efforts employed by the South African Government to produce a scientific analysis that will stand up to world standards of scientific analysis can be viewed as anything but inadequate.

The fact remains: Science in countries where shale gas mining is fully developed is unsettled, with for example, the US EPA heading towards an investigation that will last six years before they are willing to commit to Congress on their definitive findings on the process of shale gas mining. On the basis of three years of debate in South Africa, at least half of which has been lost to inefficiency, and having regard for the fact that the Government Departments invited to be on the task team excluded key players, it is trite that a scientific analysis, cannot be said to have been completed in South Africa to a level that can justify the issuing of licences for exploration .

‘Environmental impacts of specific energy technologies and our ability to choose’

It is untrue that TKAG are uninterested in discussing the environmental impacts of alternatives to shale gas. Firstly, David is raking over old coals when he refers to ‘as long as the Karoo is saved’ – he knows full well from my previous responses that this involves the whole of South Africa. To put it plainly – if fracking were to be banned or relinquished in the Karoo but still faced in KZN or other provinces, our involvement would not diminish. I trust that after the fourth time it is now crystal clear: fracking is a South African national issue – not a Karoo issue.

David’s argument around ’a choice of energy options’ would imply that we are sitting at a great meeting of elders – with no current energy generating technologies in place – and the question under discussion is “Elders, what energy options shall we choose?” Now David knows full well that the other options have all been chosen and are implemented and committed to in varying degrees. This is not a question of “shall we choose coal over nuclear or fuel oil over wind or gas over coal?” The country is already heavily invested in coal – not only in energy generation but also in export revenues and local jobs.

Corruption

It is inaccurate to say that one of my often-used anti-fracking arguments is the risk of corrupt practices in the shale gas industry. I have been abundantly clear on the fact that the oil and gas industry is proven to be criminal in their practices. David points to Italian Mafia and renewable energy as an example, but the Mafia on their best day, cannot compete with the largest companies in the world – on any timescale. And in any event – the example is irrelevant because we are speaking of an additional and new technology that is not yet licenced or practiced in this country. In terms of corruption, the geographically closer example of Nigeria is a case worth considering. Royal Dutch Shell has behaved criminally in that country. I am also on record of stating, as I do again here today that Shell have been dishonest in their campaign on shale gas in this country. This is not a risk it is a reality.

Speaking of generous subsidies, the oil and gas industry worldwide, despite posting record profits, enjoys substantial subsidies that have been in place so long that they can be said to be an intrinsic part of the business. I make no guarantees that renewable energy operators are more honest than fossil fuel pedlars. Eskom, some would say, at the heart of our energy debate, currently transfers to BHP Billiton; a subsidy calculated to eventually cost South Africans R11.5 billion. The point is that until our energy environment is holistically controlled in a business-like way, it may be short-sighted to accept at face value, Eskom’s lamentations about energy delivery capacity.

Government competence

I take David’s subtle point on the inefficiency of Ministers and his reference to their lack of learnedness and authority when making decisions on other energy sources. The question is thus: Do you believe David, based on your view (about a lack of Ministerial perspicacity) that the same team who has lead South Africa into its current energy dilemma should be trusted to guide the country through a decision on shale gas?

David raises my comment on ‘incompetent politicians’ as if we are back at the ‘choice table.’ The truth is that there are significant and reasonable questions about many aspects of shale gas mining being raised by diverse communities on different continents. Moreover, those questions and the activities of many of those communities, sometimes in direct defiance of their legislators cannot be said by David, or anyone else in this country, to have been satisfactorily addressed to the point that it can be argued that the issuing of licences is justified under the current circumstances.

Employment

Juxtaposing employment with carbon emissions makes no sense to me. The reference by TKAG to jobs is based on two solid points. (1) The oil and gas industry bases its most emotive marketing on the creation of jobs. So their claims demand a like response. (2) The jobs claimed (routinely) by the industry – in any continent ignores displaced jobs – the industry simply uses ‘blue sky’ economic theories to sketch a veritable employment Xanadu – and they have the money to push those claims in world media and the hallowed halls of politics.

Economics

Finally, I get David’s point. The Economic benefits of shale gas are immaterial when considered within a discussion that is exclusively focused on the environmental impact of extracting that gas relative to the environmental impacts of extracting or producing energy from other sources. TKAG invested specifically in a review of the Econometrix report because it is that report which has been adopted by the South African government. This can be proved by a review of public quotes by South African Ministers. Therefore, we decided that a vast expense for TKAG and its supporters was justified. The results stood up to three peer-reviews – something to which the Econometrix report – and its ambassadors – have not been subjected.

The elimination by David, ‘of the strength of the economic case’ from this discussion, whilst being novel, simply obliterates three of the four pillars on which the shale gas proponents rely.

Moving ahead

David’s closing view contained at least one bright spot – that is his reference to the ‘environment in the Karoo and other places’ – it appears that he has at last accepted that this is beyond treasuring the Karoo. Were I tempted, to label David and his ilk, in the hackneyed fashion that TKAG has been labelled, I most likely would bestow the rank of FATFIFA – Frack Ahead The Future Is Fracked Anyway.