Framing the Dialogue

There’s A Whole Lot O Fracking Out There

Fricking-Fracking-NIMBYMany times as I read an article I find a few sentences that capture the essence of the piece. In “Phrase-e-ology” I’ll post some thoughts followed by key phrases. As always I’ll have a link (in blue) to the original article…

You could have knocked me over with a feather. My eyes saw it, my mind read it, my head shook in disbelief. Though not the Holy Grail I did read an actual balance article on energy from the Associated Press. Maybe journalism is not dead yet? Two writers from the AP take on some celebrities who have talked the talk, but not walked the walk, nor even have gotten the talk quite right…

Celebrity ‘fractivists’: True advocates or NIMBYs

“Much of the anti-fracking activism is centered in New York City, where concerts, movies and plays use huge amounts of energy, gourmet chefs including Batali cook with gas, and many people – the glitterati included – heat with gas.”

“With proper regulation and enforcement, gas provides a very substantial health benefit in reducing air pollution,” compared with coal-fired power plants, said Daniel Schrag, director of Harvard University’s Center for the Environment. That is a theme not adequately covered in the debate over fracking, agreed Michael Greenstone, an environmental economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former top adviser to the Obama administration. Greenstone is studying the local health effects of fracking, but he said it’s not scientifically accurate to ignore “the tremendous health gains” from the coal-to-gas shift. “Honestly,” he said, “the environmentalists need to hear it.”

“The main celebrity anti-fracking campaign took off last summer when Ono and Lennon, her son, founded Artists Against Fracking. Their family farm sits near gas reserves in New York, and they fear fracking might be allowed in the area. Some celebrities also speak out independently, or through other groups. Among the claims:- Ono, at a news conference: “Fracking kills. And it doesn’t just kill us, it kills the land, nature and eventually the whole world.”- Robert Redford, in a radio ad: “Fracking is a bad deal for local communities. It’s been linked to drinking water contamination all across the country. It threatens the clean air we breathe.”- Alec Baldwin, in an editorial in the Huffington Post, described a scenario in which companies promise people “some economic benefit, deliver a pittance in actual compensation, desecrate their environment and then split and leave them the bill.”

“While such claims may contain a kernel of truth, they are at best subjective and at worst misleading or even hypocritical, some environmentalists say. “In truth, celebrities are rich, and they use far more energy and resources than anyone else. There’s this grass-roots NIMBY revolt against fracking,” said Michael Shellenberger, who heads the Breakthrough Institute, a nonpartisan Oakland-based environmental think tank that is releasing a report this month on the environmental benefits of natural gas.”

“As for Fox’s claim about the ease of shifting to wind, solar and hydropower, “if that was true, we’d be doing it,” said Stephen Ansolabehere, a Harvard University professor who has studied public attitudes toward renewable energy. “People think wind and solar are cheap; it’s just not right. They see what the prices are, and the support drops. “Wind energy currently provides about 2 percent of total U.S. energy, and solar less than 1 percent. Hydropower is about 3 percent, and building more dams would also have environmental effects. In practical terms, it will take decades of nonstop solar, wind and other renewable investment to phase out fossil fuels.”

“Many celebrities are just beginning to embrace renewables. Sean Lennon told the AP in January that the family farm in upstate New York is still conventionally powered.”I’m actually looking into it. It’s a long process,” Lennon said. “I’ve met with a lot of solar companies. I’m looking for the best possible solution, and there are a lot of options out there. “Redford spokeswoman Joyce Deep wrote in an email that he installed passive solar in his home in the mid-’70s, but she didn’t know details about more recent installations. “Passive solar” means using windows or other materials in an energy-conscious way, not solar panels. Deep noted that Sundance, the Utah resort Redford helped found, uses some renewable energy. Baldwin declined to comment about how much renewable energy he had installed, and Ono’s spokesperson said Lennon spoke for her, too.”

“But experts note that even renewables need conventional backup, since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. “It demonstrates the ignorance of renewable power advocates to suggest that renewables can run without gas. We don’t get to say, ‘I only want solar and wind,'” Shellenberger said. Even the success that turns people into celebrities often involves tremendous amounts of energy. Restaurateur and Food Network star Batali started with one restaurant. He now has 16 – in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Singapore – all using natural gas to cook.”

So we need to take from this a few things:

  • Celebrities are NIMBYs – like the Kennedys stopping windmill off of the cape Yoko Ono doesn’t want thing in her back yard.
  • Celebrities don’t have a grasp of the facts. They spout silly catch phrases and throw around inaccurate facts.
  • Celebrities are “do as I say and not as I do” twerps. Some of these folks are just so hypocritical and annoying that I cannot even watch them in movies and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was one of my favorites.
  • To celebrities facts just don’t matter. Perhaps activism is a sad sad way to keep their names in the news.
  • In other words when reality doesn’t agree with their opinion then reality must be a right-winged plot.
  • Fame does not make you right or even knowledgeable. And I actually think it may diminish your intelligence. Most of them can act so they act smart. Have you ever seen Matt Damon talking about issues. He actually looks smart unless you listen to what he says.
  • I’m not fond of self-righteous, loud-mouthed, activist celebrities. To quote some unknown person to the Dixie Chicks when they insulted then President George W. Bush at a concert; “Shut up and sing.”


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