Delingpole: Shale gas is Rearden Metal

James Delingpole writes at the Telegraph:

For my summer holidays I have been mostly reading Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand has her faults but, boy, was she prescient.

One of the things she foresaw was the current nonsensical, dishonest, canting campaign against shale gas. In Atlas Shrugged it takes the form of Rearden Metal, the miracle technology which is going to transform the US economy if only the progressives will let it. But of course, Rand’s fictional progressives don’t want Reardon Metal to succeed any more than their modern, real-life equivalents want shale gas to succeed.
Why not? For the same rag-bag of made-up, disingenuous reasons which progressives have used to justify their war on progress since time immemorial: it’s unfair, it uses up scarce resources, it might be dangerous. Rand doesn’t actually use the phrase “the precautionary principle.” But this is exactly what she is describing in the book when various vested interests – the corporatists in bed with big government, the politicised junk-scientists at the Institute of Science (aka, in our world, the National Academy of Sciences or the Royal Society), the unions – try to close down the nascent technology using the flimsiest of excuses.

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2 thoughts on “Delingpole: Shale gas is Rearden Metal”

  1. Every goddam time the subject of petrochemicals extraction by way of “fracking” comes up online (and by “fracking” is meant vertical shafts sunk many thousands of feet below sea level, followed by dirigible – chiefly horizontal – drilling through the very deep strata of oil- and methane-bearing shale thus reached, the casting of impervious vertical and horizontal concrete casings, the fractional perforation of the horizontal casings (not the vertical shafts; the horizontal bores only) all the way down there, and then the application of rock-shattering pressure through those casings and perforations to release the petrochemical volatiles in those deep shale strata), I invariably read Luddite assholes yawping about how “fracking” causes pollution of the surface water and artesian wells in the areas where such engineering takes place.

    Anybody else reading here ever sunk an artesian well?

    You do it with a light truck-mounted drill on a rig commonly operated by one man. Either you do it yourself or you contract with a company that sends out their employee and equipment and they set up in your field or back yard to do the job. Depending upon the depth of the aquifer from which you’re gonna draw, he puts the drill down maybe two or three hundred feet.

    Not thousands but hundreds.

    The aquifers from which we draw well water are shallow compared with the petrochemicals-bearing shale strata, and when explorers drill down five and six and seven and eight thousand feet to strike that rock, they lay thick-walled concrete casing that’s gotta be impervious to the fracturing fluid they’re going to be using later. Moreover, because they’re going to be using those fracking fluids at high pressures, they can’t afford to waste that rock-breaking pressure by way of leaks into the porous levels at which aquifers flow.

    So just how likely is it that any of that fracking fluid is going to get into people’s wells?


    But try telling this to the Watermelon (“Green on the outside but Red to the core!”) sunzabitches yammering against “fracking.”

    I’m beginning to think of these ‘viro bastids as organ donors in immediate need of harvesting.

    One big “Better Off Dead” list.

  2. I especially like the part where the government demands to buy a load of Rearden Metal. Hank Rearden tells them that they may have the power to seize the metal, but he will never sell it under duress.

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