Lytham or Dubai?
At our meeting last night we were asked why we used Royal Lytham’s water use, and not that of a golf course in Dubai, as an example when criticising the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s statement that
“A single shale gas well uses in total about the same amount of water as a golf course uses in three weeks.”
We had pointed out that Royal Lytham uses 5000 m3 a year which meant that a typical frack job might use the same amount of water as that golf course uses in 3 and a half years not 3 weeks.
It’s a reasonable question.
The questioner did not have the figures for a golf course in Dubai to hand last night, so we promised to find out and do the relevant comparison. We have looked it up as best we can. Google didn’t help with usage in Dubai very much but we were able to find out that:
“Yas Links was the only golf course in Abu Dhabi to disclose its water use – a daily average of 5,000 cubic metres in winter and 7,000 cubic metres in summer.”
So to be fair, if water usage in next door Dubai were similar, and if we were to use Dubai as an example it would tell us that a typical fracking job would use the same amount of water as a golf course in the middle of the desert does in about 3 and a half days in Winter or 2 days in Summer. We are not sure that this comparison does much to exonerate the fracking companies though.
We have to say that it’s hard to imagine that Dubai is your average golf course as far as irrigation is concerned, and we do think that it’s important that if claims like “A single shale gas well uses in total about the same amount of water as a golf course uses in three weeks.” are going to be bandied about to justify shale gas’s massive water usage, then the exact nature of the comparison (i.e which golf courses are being used) should be made clear. We certainly don’t think it is in any way unfair to show how that statement fails when applied to the premier golf course within Cuadrilla’s licence area.
Maybe what this shows us is why we all have to critical of the sound bites that politicians, lobbying groups and PR companies use.
It is interesting that further research shows that the original quote seems to have been
“This is no more than a golf course in Florida consumes in three weeks”
but the Florida bit gets conveniently forgotten by UK commentators like GWPF and industry spokesman Nick Grealy when they say:
A single shale gas well uses in total about the same amount of water as a golf course uses in three weeks.
The 18,000 cubic metres of water needed for drilling a well with a life span of up to ten years is equal to the volume used to irrigate …an 18 hole golf course in one month.
Given that most UK readers of UK commentators would naturally think first of typical UK golf course usage, we think it was perfectly fair to show what that comparison would really mean with reference to a local golf course.