The issue of safety is equally important. I don’t think that fossil fuels are evil.
They are totally neutral entities, which become a potential problem only during and after their extraction from the earth.
We may have more stringent environmental regulations than the US, but, since most of the monitoring will be done by firms we would be wise to be sceptical after the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which was found to be caused by bad management.
The problem lies with humans, and our current expectations. The average temperature in a modern home is 22C, compared with 18C in the 1950s.
The changes in our behaviour reflect our increasing reliance on environmental heating, rather than using clothing to keep us warm.
When it’s -2C outside and people are watching television in shirt-sleeves inside, their homes are over-heated.
Perhaps people believe that the technological advances made possible by human ingenuity should not be restricted in any way. We are an incredibly successful species, precisely because of our intelligence and inventiveness. But the questions to which we need urgent answers remain.
How far should we go in our pursuit of energy security, and the related employment opportunities which the shale gas industry offers?
Can we have full confidence that environmental regulations will be adhered to? Are we too ingenious for our own, or the planet’s, good?