Quantcast

Deceptive Fracking Claims Found Unacceptable by UK Ad Board

Energy

Fossil fuel companies are getting more brazen in their claims, keeping the UK's advertising oversight board, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), busy sorting through them.

A woman holds up a sign at a fracking protest march in Balcomb, England. Fracking advocates hope they'll win over people like her with misleading ads.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

We recently reported that the ASA ruled against Peabody Energy for implying that its coal was producing "clean" energy.

Dallas-based Breitling Energy went well beyond implication, attempting to seduce British citizens into a love affair with fracking. The ASA has found that an ad run in UK newspaper The Telegraph in February, was misleading, reports the Guardian.

The ad was in the form of a letter from CEO Chris Faulkner, an evangelist for fracking, who has written a book and produced a film on its benefits. It claimed the Britain suffered from a "near-catastrophic" gas shortage in early 2013 and that fracking could offer "decades worth of natural gas," "millions of pounds in tax revenues," "freedom from interruptions and stoppages as a result of Russia's political games with your gas supply," "lowering energy prices for millions," and "reducing greenhouse emissions by replacing coal with natural gas for energy."

After a reader complained that the ad exaggerated the gas shortage, that the benefits of fracking were unknown, and that Russia didn't provide any of the UK's gas supply, the ASA investigated and found against Breitling on all the charges. It told Breitling not to run any ads in the future without hard evidence.

The Guardian said:

Breitling produced press reports to back up its claim about gas supplies running short but it acknowledged that National Grid and the Department of Energy and Climate Change had said energy markets functioned normally at the time. Breitling cited David Cameron's assertion that fracking had 'real potential' to cut energy bills but the ASA decided its claims about the virtues of fracking were misleading and exaggerated.

Faulkner and Breitling vice president Thomas Miller were unrepentant and swaggering, attacking both the ASA and the Guardian, one of the UK's most reliable and respected news sources, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Referring to ASA also finding against a pair of American Apparel ads it deemed too suggestive, Miller said, "Fracking and sex. The Guardian editors sure know a good news story when they see one. You can see by what they chose to run and not run, how the media has over-controlled this debate. The sex ads were only covered because they were racy, that’s all. There is no news value there whatsoever."

In fact, fracking has been a hotly debated and controversial in the UK where shale exploration sites are plentiful but the dense population means more potential human impacts. There have been numerous large-scale protests against fracking in the UK. And while England is known for its racy tabloids, the Guardian isn't one of them.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Peabody Energy Can’t Tout Its ‘Clean Coal,’ Says UK Ad Watchdog

1,000 March at Largest Fracking Protest in UK History

UK Proposes to Frack One-Half of Great Britain

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Protesters holding signs in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en Nation outside the Canadian Consulate in NYC. The Indigenous Peoples Day NYC Committee (IPDNYC), a coalition of 13 Indigenous Peoples and indigenous-led organizations gathered outside the Canadian Consulate and Permanent Mission to the UN to support the Wet'suwet'en Nation in their opposition to a Coastal GasLink pipeline scheduled to enter their traditional territory in British Columbia, Canada. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

Tensions are continuing to rise in Canada over a controversial pipeline project as protesters enter their 12th day blockading railways, demonstrating on streets and highways, and paralyzing the nation's rail system

Read More
padnpen / iStock / Getty Images

Yet another reason to avoid the typical western diet: eating high-fat, highly processed junk food filled with added sugars can impair brain function and lead to overeating in just one week.

Read More
Sponsored
Horseshoe Bend (seen above) is a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River in Page, Arizona. didier.camus / Flickr / public domain

Millions of people rely on the Colorado River, but the climate crisis is causing the river to dry up, putting many at risk of "severe water shortages," according to new research, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
An alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, as seen here in Christmas Valley, South Lake Tahoe, California on Feb. 15, 2020. jcookfisher / CC BY 2.0

California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.

The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.

"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."

While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.

On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor said nearly 60 percent of the state was abnormally dry, up from 46 percent just last week, according to The Mercury News in San Jose.

The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.

"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.

Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.

"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.

NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.

As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.

"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.

The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.

"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."

New and recent books explore how we can effectively respond to climate change while enhancing our health and happiness. Kei Uesugi / DigitalVision / Getty Images

A warm day in winter used to be a rare and uplifting relief.

Now such days are routine reminders of climate change – all the more foreboding when they coincide with news stories about unprecedented wildfires, record-breaking "rain bombs," or the accelerated melting of polar ice sheets.

Where, then, can one turn for hope in these dark months of the year?

Read More