Mayor Bob is wrong

August 21st, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tina Law reports:

Dr Smith said hysteria was sweeping the country about the practice, and he called for some “science and commonsense” to be injected into the debate.

He likened the debate to a modern-day version of the Chicken Licken story, in which a hen thinks the sky is falling in after an acorn hits her head.

He accused the Christchurch City Council of “jumping on the Greens’ ‘Don’t Frack with New Zealand’ bandwagon”, saying fracking had been done in New Zealand for decades and was used in the building of the Clyde Dam.

But Christchurch Mayor said Christchurch had experienced 12,500 quakes, so it was “entirely reasonable” for the city to ban the controversial practice until someone could provide evidence it would not trigger more of them.

“We’re not going to take a risk on something that we are uncertain about until there is some certainty.”

Absolutely wrong. You don’t ban things until they are “proven” safe (an impossible thing to do). You ban things when they are proven unsafe.

It was not an entirely reasonable thing to do. It was an entirely kneejerk thing to do.

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41 Responses to “Mayor Bob is wrong”

  1. Rick Rowling (776 comments) says:

    The mayor also called for a ban on gay marriage, saying that it was entirely reasonable to do so until someone had proven that gay marriage doesn’t lead to hurricanes.

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  2. Ryan Sproull (6,661 comments) says:

    I thought the objection to fracking was around chemical water contamination.

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  3. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    Obviously you’ve never heard of the precautionary principle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precautionary_principle

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  4. lyndon (330 comments) says:

    “Chicken Licken”?

    edit: Apparently some people do call it that. Carry on.

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  5. insider (990 comments) says:

    1 million fracked oil and gas wells world wide over 70 years including 20+ years of doing it in NZ says that the precautionary principle is not applicable.

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  6. flipper (3,274 comments) says:

    Is it true that the greens and ross69 want to ban pigs because they might fly?

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  7. lyndon (330 comments) says:

    Also: fracking has been shown to cause earthquakes. Not big ones and the conditions are probably specific, but there is support for Bob’s null hypothesis.

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  8. MikeG (359 comments) says:

    I’m glad Farrar isn’t in charge of any drug development – let’s give them to unsuspecting patients until we’re sure that they’re unsafe!

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  9. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    Using insider’s logic, thalidomide was a great success. By the time a problem was identified, it was too late.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide

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  10. Pete George (21,828 comments) says:

    Dunedin City Council also called for a national fracking moratorium. It created a bit of controversy.

    http://yournz.org/2012/07/25/none-of-dunedin-councils-fracking-business/
    http://yourdunedin.org/2012/08/07/council-frack-cracks/

    What happened was a small group of activists and a friendly councillor asked the council to lok at fracking. They had someone do an internal investigation, looked at it (in committee) and voted to call for a national fracking moratorium.

    At that stage if you did a search on their website there were no hits on fracking.

    When it was originally reported it was obviously only a small group behind it claiming “A lot of people in Dunedin are calling for this”. See http://yourdunedin.org/2012/04/21/what-the-frack/

    When I question the non-democratic process counclior Jinty McTavish claimed that it was democratic becasue the council was listening to the public. What they did was listen to a small number of the public with an agenda and exluded the rest of the public from any discussion.

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  11. Luke Mutton (247 comments) says:

    As much as it hurts me to say it, on this one occasion I vote with Sideshow Bob.

    Smith needs to get off the drugs and look at reality – and the reality is that nothing Smith or Parker say will change the FACT that there is not going to be any fracking in Christchurch City.

    Perhaps Smith’s main objection is that he still wants to destroy local government in Canterbury and had high hopes of appointing Sideshow Bob as the Czar of Canterbury. And Bob’s not quite playing the game.

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  12. JC (840 comments) says:

    Bob is Mayor of a jittery and {frac}tious city, so anything he can do to lower the stress seems fair enough. He’s wrong, but not acting unreasonably.

    Smith is looking at the wider implications of Bob’s action and responding accordingly.. seems sensible to me.

    JC

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  13. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    The Civic Creche menatality is obviously still alive and well in Christchurch.

    I wonder what Mayor Bob will do when they run out of water from their underground source and they need to do a bit of fracking to get more out……………….

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  14. Auberon (820 comments) says:

    One of the protaganists in this argument is a very bright man with a number of hefty science degrees. The other is an amateur thespian and former TV compere. I’m siding with the brainy one.

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  15. insider (990 comments) says:

    “Using insider’s logic, thalidomide was a great success. By the time a problem was identified, it was too late.”

    Yes the parallels are uncanny. One was developed from previous technology used in water extraction for 100 years and the other….wasn’t. One is still being used around the world for its primary purpose 70 years later with well tried and tested risk management techniques, the other was withdrawn from sale four years after introduction. you’re a genius ross. They are just the same. Why did we never see it before?

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  16. insider (990 comments) says:

    I think we should ban the controversial practice of building buildings in Christchurch until someone could provide evidence that driving in piles would not trigger more earthquakes. We should also ban trucks because when a big one goes past the earth literally quakes, and it scares me.

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  17. Graeme Edgeler (3,222 comments) says:

    Absolutely wrong. You don’t ban things until they are “proven” safe (an impossible thing to do). You ban things when they are proven unsafe.

    Is this the approach you would take to therapeutic drug trials?

    The use of tobacco by smoking and/or chewing it having been proven unsafe, do you support it being banned?

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  18. Nigel (503 comments) says:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-12/earthquake-outbreak-in-central-u-s-tied-to-drilling-wastewater.html

    Sorry DPF it is linked to earthquakes & Bob Parker is right, not only is fracking linked to quakes, but it’s also linked to issues with water quality, both of which are a big concern for Canterbury.

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  19. eszett (2,272 comments) says:

    Absolutely wrong. You don’t ban things until they are “proven” safe (an impossible thing to do). You ban things when they are proven unsafe.

    lol, as others have pointed out, I wonder if you apply the same standard to food and pharmaceuticals?

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  20. Pete George (21,828 comments) says:

    Obviously you’ve never heard of the precautionary principle.

    Negative consequences of application

    The Precautionary Principle may cause resentment, since people are more aware of negative changes than they are positive changes (i.e. a ban is more noted than allowing a proposal to proceed). Because of this effect, a technology which brings advantages may be banned by PP because of its potential for negative impacts, leaving the positive benefits unrealized.

    A California researcher has pointed out the fallacy of extrapolating possible risk of a proposed product or action, without examining equally closely the possible risks of not adopting the proposal. When looking at the proposal, policymakers tend to apply PP to that proposal while assuming the alternative(s) to be risk-free, which places an unfair burden on the proponents of the new product or activity.

    Perspective

    Critics of the principle argue that it is impractical, since every implementation of a technology carries some risk of negative consequences. For example, when the arrival of amplified music came on the scene, the risk of electrocution and deafness arose. However, this did not prevent it from becoming an artistic and cultural norm.

    I’ve heard of it now.

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  21. flipper (3,274 comments) says:

    Since the Flat Earth Society seerms to have awakened (again), perhaps the following might place fracking in a more realistic context:

    “The Past Future Tense
    George Will …. reviews environmentalism’s track record at predicting the future of the earth by the technique of reviewing the past. Using newspaper archives, Will takes us back to yesteryear where we are confronted by one of environmentalism’s many predictions of doom. Then he speeds the archival time machine forward to show what actually happened. The depressingly consistent result is that environmentalism has missed the mark by a country mile.

    “The modern disaster cycle began in 1972, when “when we were warned (by computer models developed at MIT) that we were doomed. We were supposed to be pretty much extinct by now, or at least miserable. We are neither. So, what went wrong?” Will asks.

    “That year begat “The Limits to Growth,” a book from the Club of Rome, which called itself “a project on the predicament of mankind.” It sold 12 million copies, staggered the New York Times (“one of the most important documents of our age”) and argued that economic growth was doomed by intractable scarcities.

    “The modelers examined 19 commodities and said that 12 would be gone long before now — aluminum, copper, gold, lead, mercury, molybdenum, natural gas, oil, silver, tin, tungsten and zinc …

    “Technological innovations have replaced mercury in batteries, dental fillings and thermometers; mercury consumption is down 98 percent, and its price was down 90 percent by 2000. Since 1970, when gold reserves were estimated at 10,980 tons, 81,410 tons have been mined, and estimated reserves are 51,000 tons. Since 1970, when known reserves of copper were 280 million tons, about 400 million tons have been produced globally, and reserves are estimated at almost 700 million tons. Aluminum consumption has increased 16-fold since 1950, the world has consumed four times the 1950 known reserves, and known reserves could sustain current consumption for 177 years. Potential U.S. gas resources have doubled in the past six years. And so on.

    “The modelers missed something — human ingenuity in discovering, extracting and innovating.
    They missed a lot else. What went wrong was the mistaken application ceteris paribus — the idea that initial assumptions would not change over time. The environmentalists took man out of the equation, discounting both the effects of his genius and the equally limitless possibilities of his stupidity. The result is that the predicted future looked nothing like the actual past as seen in hindsight. ”

    Fracking? Long may it continue.

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  22. David Garrett (5,150 comments) says:

    Well, as ridiculous as it is, banning fracking in Canterbury is probably about as effective as making New Plymouth or Napier “nuclear free”. I happen to have worked on the last oil well drilled onshore Canterbury more than 30 years ago. Noone had ever seen a well more devoid of indications of hydrocarbons. To the best of my knowledge, the onshore area within 50 miles of Christchurch has never been seen as possibly productive. Ashley Forest – 1 was drilled for political rather than geological reasons.

    Someone with more recent experience will no doubt correct me if I am wrong.

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  23. Rick Rowling (776 comments) says:

    lol, as others have pointed out, I wonder if you apply the same standard to food and pharmaceuticals?

    Peanuts haven’t been proven safe. In fact they are deadly to some.

    Most pharmaceuticals haven’t been proven safe. Which is why you need to stay in the doctor’s surgery for 15 minutes after the flu vacccine.

    I guess we should ban peanuts & the flu vaccine (and all other medicines with side-effect warnings) too.

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  24. b1gdaddynz (264 comments) says:

    Insider – Driving construction piles in does cause small earthquakes. So maybe the logic should be applied to building down there :-)
    I think it is crazy not to do it just because it will cause minor tremors that most likely no one will even notice except for the seismologists. A few tremors just doesn’t outweigh the benefits in terms of development, employemnt and cheap energy that is more environmentally friendly than other available affordable options. Maybe we should just shut up shop in New Zealand and not do anything to develop anything just because…

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  25. redeye (626 comments) says:

    Synthetic cannabis Rick?

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  26. bhudson (4,720 comments) says:

    Fracking has been in practise in NZ for almost 20 years with no evidence of related environmental problems. It has been demonstrably proven to be safe in NZ.

    The Greens have all the proof they need to drop their opposition to fracking on environmental and/or safety grounds.

    Let’s see them do it. Or is expecting a little integrity asking too much?

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  27. Rick Rowling (776 comments) says:

    Synthetic cannabis Rick?

    No thanks, life’s good enough that I don’t need drugs to try to improve it.

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  28. s.russell (1,486 comments) says:

    And what about broccoli? Dr Hibbert, on The Simpsons, said it was one of the most deadly vegetables there is! Homer choked on a piece of broccoli and died, then came back as a ghost. We should start a campaign to ban broccoli at once. I am sure thousands of children would eagerly sign up – more than would be worried about fracking.

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  29. emmess (1,334 comments) says:

    Using insider’s logic, thalidomide was a great success. By the time a problem was identified, it was too late.

    Using Ross69′s logic, you should never get out of bed in the morning, in case you hurt yourself.

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  30. Rick Rowling (776 comments) says:

    And as insider pointed out at 9:47, the histories of thalidomide and fracking are as different as, well, thalidomide and fracking.

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  31. redeye (626 comments) says:

    No thanks, life’s good enough that I don’t need drugs to try to improve it.

    No alcohol either? Or is life not that good?

    Actually I was trying to highlight DFP’s foolish claim that “You don’t ban things until they are “proven” safe (an impossible thing to do)”. Cause that’s clearly what they’ve done with synthetic cannabis.

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  32. Rick Rowling (776 comments) says:

    redeye – yeah, I didn’t comment on synthetic cannabis being banned, because I haven’t followed the story enough to know whether it’s been proven unsafe (which obviously could be done, if it is).

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  33. backster (2,000 comments) says:

    Bob is considering his nervous populace and needs to continue to do all he can to reassure them and reduce their anxiety. He is doing a fine job.

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  34. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    > the other was withdrawn from sale four years after introduction

    Actually, thalidomide is still being used.

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  35. Mobile Michael (367 comments) says:

    I understand the sensitivity of the issue in Christchurch, but think it’s a meaningless gesture.

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  36. ross69 (3,645 comments) says:

    > the histories of thalidomide and fracking are as different

    Not so different at all. Thalidomide was a great success until babies began to be born with deformities. Interestingly the US FDA refused to license the drug because it wasn’t satisfied with the tests that had been carried out. The US’s precautionary approach probably saved thousands of kids from being killed or maimed. Mr Farrar would probably disagree.

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  37. peterwn (2,939 comments) says:

    And the thing Canterbury needs right now is a nice big natural gas find in the region – would do great things to help offset the effects of the earthquakes.

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  38. Paulus (2,299 comments) says:

    But the GAA (GreensAgainstAnything) Party are always right.
    They are a Communist/McGillicuddy led party of white, middle class, well educated, financiallly secure, far lefties.
    How can they possily be wrong ?

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  39. freemark (324 comments) says:

    As I’ve stated previously, trains are proven to be dangerous and have been killing a few people here lately, have killed many people for 100′s of years, and we know they will continue to kill 1000′s in the future.
    Why the fuck are the Greens not calling for a ban on trains?
    Can someone call for an enquiry?

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  40. insider (990 comments) says:

    @ freemark

    Even worse, they even make the ground shake when they move…

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  41. freemark (324 comments) says:

    @ insider

    No, I think that is the Taniwha screaming..

    (-:

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