I BELIEVE that anthropogenic climate change is real and that we must move to a low carbon economy as soon as practically possible. This by definition means a significant reduction on our reliance on fossil fuels. I do however stress the phrase “as soon as practically possible”.

Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland (Letters July 27), calls on a wide-ranging set of objections against fracking: public opinion is against it, fracking causes house prices to fall, has been banned elsewhere, is bad for public health, causes earth earthquakes, increases traffic, as well as causing climate change.

The first three of his arguments, public opinion, house prices and being banned elsewhere, are self-fulfilling prophesies. Get enough people to believe in them, and then that is what will happen. In themselves, these arguments say nothing about whether fracking per se is a good or bad thing.

The argument that fracking could have a deleterious effect on public health could equally well be thrown at many of our industries which if not properly regulated could impact health of nearby people and the environment. We do not close these industries down, we erect appropriate legislative frameworks and monitor the operations. I cannot see that fracking is anything other than another well-understood industrial process and subject to very tight regulations. The earthquake argument is nothing but an emotive statement again designed to sound like a “bad thing”. In the UK there are no documented cases of fracturing operations causing subsidence or tremors large enough to cause damage at the surface. Larger earthquakes, reported from the US, are associated with waste water re-injection, a different process altogether.

Dr Dixon’s reference to traffic increase as a “bad thing” also requires examination. Traffic will certainly increase significantly during the period of fracking operations and will have to be managed. On the other hand, increased traffic implies increased economic activity. If you need a job, maybe you will welcome this?

This leaves climate change as the only true argument against fracking. Increased use of this process could potentially unlock a hitherto unobtainable Scottish gas reserve and thus have a negative impact on global warming. However, this position does not look at the problem in the round. We have created a society that will not function without cheap fossil fuels. For example, virtually all our houses have gas heating. This situation will not change for many decades. Yes, we must transition to a low-carbon society but we must be clever in how we do so to have minimum impact on our societal well-being.

Fracked gas is mainly methane gas and as such has the lowest level of carbon emission per unit of heat energy released for any fossil fuel. So while potentially a problem, methane is the least worst culprit. Despite the efforts of campaign groups like Friends of the Earth, our society will continue to use fossil fuels for many years to come. Given that, I would hugely prefer locally produced, relatively clean gas to dirtier fossil fuels produced from distant locations such as oil from the tar sands of Alberta. As long as we recognise that Scottish fracked gas is a potential stepping stone to a low-carbon economy, then I am for it.

Bob Downie,

66 Mansewood Road, Glasgow.