SO fracking is to be allowed at one site in Lancashire. To those who live on the other side of the great divide in Yorkshire, and who may be tempted to mutter “Best place for it”, it looks as if this mad dash to blow shale gas out of the ground is coming here too.

A protest group called Frack Free Ryedale has been set up to resist fracking in the area, and other Yorkshire sites are under consideration as well.

Before pondering this matter further, and indeed before getting to the Pope, Man On Ledge wishes to make a fanciful diversion. David Cameron and George Osborne are both big fans of fracking, a gloomy fact which for some reason brings the following scenario to mind. Can’t you just see them dad-dancing down the street and singing The Boys Are Frack In Town, with Cameron doing an air-guitar solo and Osborne doing an air-accounting solo, miming money rising up in a big tax-laden spurt?

Cameron says that his government is “going all out” for fracking in the UK, claiming it would create jobs and cut our reliance on gas imports. Man On Ledge prefers the alternative programme, the one called Not Going All Out, in which what energy remains is left in the ground and instead we concentrate on sustainable green energy.

Fracking is essentially just another bit of short-termism, blasting the earth beneath our feet just to get our hands on a few more years’ worth of fuel, in this case shale gas; it is, surely, akin to the alcoholic who swears that one last drop won’t do any harm, before smashing open the drinks cabinet and swallowing the contents of every bottle, then wondering where that massive headache came from.

I don’t wish to dwell on the technicalities here, the deep vertical wells with horizontal drilling extending outwards, along which water, sand and a lubricant chemical will be blasted to fracture the shale and release the gas it harbours.

No, instead I want to talk about the Pope – an unusual topic for a secular type with no traceable religious leanings, but there you go. Pope Francis is due this week to release a papal letter in which he will call for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality. Basically, to circumvent the complications of this matter, not least that the letter isn’t published until Thursday, it looks as if Pope Francis will come out on the side of those who worry about what man is doing to the planet. This is not making him popular in the US with Republicans and Tea Party-types, who basically believe that climate change is one big con designed to punish rich Americans. ‘The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours,’ was how Republican senator James Inhofe, king of the climate change deniers, put it.

Well, it is true that in the past Man On Ledge has worried about religious leaders getting involved in politics. But it is remarkable that Pope Francis is apparently about to make such a pro-green statement, even though the full details are not yet known.

And at least the Pope won’t be joining Dave and George singing The Boys Are Frack In Town any day soon.

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