The Shell protagonist, Dr Cartwright, in the debate on fracking in this country to obtain gas and oil (Oxford Today, Michaelmas 2014, p. 16) seems to have overlooked the one obvious drawback to this technology. It is merely a short-term expedient until the eagerly sought gas and oil are exhausted. The main issue is neither the cost nor the safety of fracking but the simple fact that once the gas and oil have been extracted and used up there is no more. Exhausting irreplaceable reserves, whether coal, oil or gas, is typical of the blinkered thinking of exploiters ever hoping for some new discovery that will save their profits. Even the protagonist for solar energy, Dr Leggett, fails to notice the continuing supply of wind and wave power with which this country is amply supplied. Had the vast funds devoted to the physicists’ job creation scheme been used instead to develop wind, wave and solar energy sources, there would be no need for fracking, extracting oil from tar sands, etc., all at great expense and all resulting in contamination and pollution.

Perhaps I should explain this job creation scheme devised by astute physicists to attract public funding. Theoretical physicists tax their brains to invent new abstruse unobservable particles in their efforts to explain how matter holds together so that experimental physicists can then construct enormous high-energy accelerators in their efforts to discover these particles by taxing the public to provide the funds for their experiments. A small fraction of the funds frittered away on this scheme would be enough to develop sustainable sources of energy.

Dr Cartwright has somewhat stretched the New Forest to reach Wytch Farm, which is located south of Poole Harbour in Dorset. I rather doubt whether fracking was used initially to enable oil to be recovered by the nodding donkeys there.