‘Frack away!’ Truss praised for scrapping fracking ban as ‘key to energy independence’

England’s decision to lift the fracking ban after three years gained mass support from Express.co.uk readers in a new poll. Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg told Newsnight on Wednesday that the current level of seismic activity preventing fracking – 0.5 on the Richter scale – was “too low” and needed to be raised to a “proportionate level”. He said that the level was likely to be increased and applications can now be submitted to begin shale gas drilling. He added that all energy sources needed to be explored, “so it’s right that we’ve lifted the pause to realise any potential sources of domestic gas”.

Prime Minister Liz Truss has supported fracking as a means to improve the UK’s gas supplies and energy security.

She previously said she wanted to reintroduce the process in areas with the support of the local communities.

Fracking involves drilling into the earth and using injecting a water and chemical mixture with high pressure to release shale gas.

The practice was banned in 2019 after scientific analysis exposed the risk of seismic activity.

In a poll that ran from 1pm on Wednesday, September 21, to 11am on Thursday, September 22, Express.co.uk asked readers: “Do you support Liz Truss lifting the fracking ban?”

Overall, 3,883 people responded with the vast majority of readers, 86 percent (3,34 people) answering “yes” in favour of lifting the fracking ban.

Whereas, 13 percent (514 people) said “no” the ban should not be lifted, and a further one percent (23 people) said they did not know.

Dozens of comments were left below the accompanying article, as readers shared their thoughts on the UK restarting fracking.

Many readers urged fracking to commence as soon as possible to secure energy independence, with one reader, username Danz commenting: “Get on with it.”

Username youarenohelp said: “Of course. Fracking is key to UK energy independence.”

Another, username Alanshrewsbury wrote: “Get fracking, its big in America with no problems. We can’t be relying on others for our energy.

And username Lordh said: “Frack away! Make Britain independent! America is doing well!”

A report published on Thursday by the British Geological Survey, requested by the Government, said that since little fracking had taken place it remains challenging to estimate the impact of seismic activity.

The report concluded: “Forecasting the occurrence of large earthquakes… remains a scientific challenge for the geoscience community.”

Earth sciences professor at Durham University Andrew Aplin said the report shows that “our ability to predict the magnitude of fracking-induced earth tremors has barely changed.”

He urged leaders to reduce gas demand rather than investing to increase supply.

Other readers expressed concerns over the environmental damage of fracking.

Username Wiser1 said: “The UK is too densely populated for fracking, the damage is too great.”

Username fairyfree said: “It would be disastrous to our water table.”

While username Made in Britain wrote: “Worse than mining for coal, the chemicals used can get into the water supply.”

Labour has accused the Conservatives of creating an energy policy “for big fossil fuel interests not for the British people”.

The shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband said: “Fracking is a dangerous fantasy – it would do nothing to cut energy bills, it costs far more than renewables, it is unsafe and it is deeply unpopular with the public.”

The Government claims that gas could start boosting energy supplies within six months, but experts suggest it could take a decade to reduce bills and provide energy security.

In February former Business Kwasi Kwarteng said that additional UK production would not lower gas prices, which are set internationally.

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  • 1 час, 5 минут назад 03.10.2022Science
    Real-life ‘invisibility cloak’ could be available within 10 years

    From Harry Potter to Star Trek, invisibility cloaks have been staple features of science fiction blockbusters for years.

    Now, scientists from London start-up, Vollebak, have revealed plans to make the fictional item a reality.

    The team is working with the University of Manchester on a Thermal Camouflage Jacket that’s designed to make the human body invisible to infrared cameras.

    And it won’t be long before it hits the shelves, with the team suggesting a final product could be ready in just five to 10 years.

    ‘Designed to eventually make the human body invisible to infrared cameras, it’s a computer-programmable jacket that brings us one step closer to turning the invisibility cloak from science fiction into reality,’ Vollebak said.

    Amid increasing use of infrared cameras for security, Vollebak set out to make an invisibility cloak that’s not only invisible in visible light, but also on the infrared spectrum.

    ‘For the last 3 years we’ve been bringing together the fields of physics, optical materials, electronic control systems, textiles and engineering, to create a single piece of clothing that someone can actually wear, that is also an advanced optical device,’ the team explained.

    Their Thermal Camouflage Jacket prototype features 42 graphene patches, each made up of over 100 layers of pure graphene.

    These patches can be controlled individually and regulate thermal radiation on the surface of the jacket, without changing its temperature.

    Gold and copper wires run to each patch and can be controlled to apply different voltage to them.

    The voltage forces ions between the graphene layers – and the more ions pushed, the less thermal radiation is emitted and the colder it looks.

    For example, the team wrote code that allowed them to play Tetris in infrared.

    Instead of seeing heat radiating from a human body as normal, infrared cameras were only able to see the pattern of the popular computer game.

    ‘The key detail is that every single patch can be programmed individually to emit a different level of thermal radiation,’ Vollebak explained.

    ‘And this is the way it can blend into its surroundings and appear invisible to infrared cameras.’

    The team now plans to scale down the size of the graphene panels to improve the jacket’s camouflage abilities.

    ‘With enough patches and enough power, a person could simply blend into a forest. Or a plane could blend into a runway,’ they said.

    As it stands, the Thermal Camouflage Jacket only operates on the infrared spectrum.

    However, Vollebak says that in the future, it may be possible to create a version that operates on the visible spectrum too.

    ‘Graphene is a highly tuneable material, which means that applying energy to it changes how it appears on both the infrared spectrum and the visible spectrum,’ they explained.

    ‘So theoretically at least, changing the charge density of the graphene will change the colour we see.

    ‘And once you’ve got one device that controls all wavelengths, that’s when the possibility of building an invisibility cloak starts to become very real.’

    The current prototype is simply a proof of concept, and the jacket is not yet for sale.

    It also remains unclear how Vollebak sees the device being used in the future, or how much it might cost.

  • 1 час, 5 минут назад 03.10.2022Science
    Liverpool was once the ‘Serengeti of northwest Europe, ancient footprints reveal

    Hundreds of ancient footprints found on a beach in Merseyside reveal wolves, lynx and wild boar roamed the area alongside humans before a major decline in biodiversity 5,500 years ago.

    The first date back almost 9,000 years and the youngest are about 1,000 years old, researchers claim.

    The study reveals how the coastal environment transformed over thousands of years, as sea levels rapidly rose and humans settled permanently by the water.

    University of Manchester experts found that the area close to the modern shoreline in Formby was a hub of human and animal activity in the first few thousand years after the last glacial period.

    It was such a biodiversity hotspot with large grazers and predators that it has been dubbed a ‘northwest European Serengeti’.

    The sandy stretch of the north-west England coast is already known to be home to one of the largest collections of prehistoric animal tracks on Earth.

    But now, with the hope of radiocarbon dating, the most species-rich footprint beds at Formby Point have been found to be much older than previously thought.

    The beds record a key period in the natural history of Britain from Mesolithic to Medieval times (9,000 to 1,000 years ago).

    They show that as global sea levels rose rapidly after the last ice age, humans formed part of rich intertidal ecosystems alongside aurochs, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, and beaver, as well as the predators wolf and lynx.

    In the agriculture-based societies that followed, human footprints dominate the Neolithic period and later footprint beds, alongside a striking fall in large mammal species richness.

    This, the researchers say, could be the result of several drivers, including habitat shrinkage following sea level rise and the development of agricultural economies, as well as hunting pressures from a growing human population.

    The size and shape of one of the human footprints discovered suggest it belonged to a young man — perhaps a teenager.

    It features a very distinct protrusion of a bunion on its little toe, which Dr Alison Burns, who spent six years undertaking the field research, said was ‘a tailor’s bunion’.

    She added: ‘They were habitually barefoot, so when they sat down, the little toe would have rubbed on the ground.’

    In total, there are 31 footprint beds, which point to a period of dramatic change in the area’s ecosystem.

    ‘Up to about 6,000 years ago, there was a very diverse landscape with all those animals,’ Professor Jamie Woodward, from the University of Manchester, told BBC News.

    ‘Then after about 5,500 years ago, we see lots of human footprints, some deer and dogs, but not much else.

    ‘So what we’re seeing – through the footprints – is a landscape transforming with sea-level rise, and also with the arrival of agriculture that probably put a lot more pressure on this ecosystem.’

    He added: ‘Assessing the threats to habitat and biodiversity posed by rising sea levels is a key research priority for our times — we need to better understand these processes in both the past and the present.

    ‘This research shows how sea level rise can transform coastal landscapes and degrade important ecosystems.’

    Dr Burns said: ‘The Formby footprint beds form one of the world’s largest known concentrations of prehistoric vertebrate tracks. Well-dated fossil records for this period are absent in the landscapes around the Irish Sea basin.

    ‘This is the first time that such a faunal history and ecosystem has been reconstructed solely from footprint evidence.’

    Footsteps that were taken thousands or even million years ago have left tracks in many parts of Britain’s coastline, which scientists have been able to find, study and turn into a deeper understanding of our ancient history.

  • 1 час, 5 минут назад 03.10.2022Science
    Police called to scene of worst ever car crash in Lincoln, Nebraska by IPHONE that was in car

    The new crash detection feature on iPhones 14 alerted police to a tragic wreck on Sunday that left all six young passengers in the vehicle dead.

    Officers say the the black Honda Accord slammed into a tree in Lincoln, Nebraska, in the early hours of the morning.

    Five men died at the scene at around 2.15am, while a 24-year-old woman was left in critical condition and died later at a nearby hospital.

    In the immediate aftermath of the crash, an iPhone 14 belonging to one of the passengers alerted emergency services to the scene.

    The iPhone feature meant first responders were made aware of the incident, despite there being no other witnesses to what police have described as ‘the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory.’

    The 22-year-old driver has not been named.

    The other victims were one 21-year-old, one 23-year-old and two 22-year-olds – including a man by the name of Jonathan Koch.

    It’s unclear what caused the crash, or where the group was driving when it occurred.

    Brad Bartak told WOWT that the crash happened on his front lawn. His son and daughter ran into his room saying that someone had ‘hit out tree’.

    He and his other neighbors jumped into action, and tried to help before the first responders arrived. ‘I noticed that there was actually a fire coming from the engine… I basically grabbed the garden hose and ran it up to the car and we were dousing it,’ he told the news outlet.

    Emergency responders were working at the scene for at least five hours after they arrived, onlookers said.

    Upon hearing the news of the tragic crash, families and friends gathered at the scene on Bartak’s lawn. KETV reported the scene was littered with shredded tree bark. The local news outlet said skidmarks could be seen along the road leading up to the tree where the car crashed. Officers say the car slammed into the tree, but further details have not yet been revealed.

    Tributes poured in for Koch from those who gathered there. Jonathan’s sister, Kayla Kelley, said: ‘Life is so short. In the blink of an eye, the world is just shattering around you.’ She added: ‘He was the most amazing person you’d ever meet.’

    She described her brother as a man who loved his family, drawing, and to go out and spend time with his friends. He was charismatic and knew no strangers, she said.

    Kelley later posted a tribute to her brother on Facebook: ‘As I’m sitting in your bedroom mustering enough strength to write something so beautiful for you nothing I say will bring you back or show the entire universe just how amazing you are!

    ‘My heart and my families is shattered into a million pieces! We are all beyond devastated, our entire world blew up like a bomb in a blink of an eye,’ she wrote.

    Kaleigh Keown, another of Koch’s sisters, changed her Facebook profile picture to a photograph of her and her brother wearing Nebraska Cornhuskers football jerseys.

    Although the cause of the crash remains under investigation, police explained how they were called after the iPhone detected it had been in a crash and called first responders automatically when the user didn’t react.

    The iPhone 14 features a new sensor with a high-G-force accelerometer that detects when the user has been in a car crash, such as ‘side-impact, rear-end collision, and rollovers.’

    The feature, dubbed ‘crash detection,’ only activates when traveling in a vehicle.

    ‘This is the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory,’ Lincoln Police Assistant Chief Michon Morrow said. ‘We’ve been trying to think of another accident this bad and we haven’t come up with anything.’

    ‘I’ve been with this department for 25 years and can’t remember anything as horrible. The cause of this accident is going to take us some time to pin down,’ Morrow added.

    ‘We are looking at all possibilities, including alcohol, speed or distracted driving.’

    So far, investigators have not been able to find witnesses to the crash, which happened near 5600 Block of Randolph Street in Lincoln. The vehicle is believed to have been travelling eastbound when it struck the tree.

    The Lincoln Police Department has asked for anyone with additional information or video of the incident to contact the LPD non-emergency number at 402-441-6000 or Crime Stoppers at 402 475-3600.

    Writing on Twitter after the crash, Lincoln Police wrote: ‘Lincoln Police fatality investigators are still working to notify family members and collect evidence in a tragic overnight collision at 56th and Randolph Street. Five men were pronounced deceased. A woman was taken to the hospital in life-threatening condition.’

    In a later update, the force added: ‘Sadly, the woman who was transported to the hospital has succumbed to the injuries she sustained in the crash. This is the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory. Our hearts are heavy for the victim’s families.’

    The iPhone 14 was released to the US market on September 16, with technology that can detect when users are in a car crash and automatically call emergency services.

    This is thanks to a dual-core accelerometer that can detect G-force measurements when vehicles are hit. However, accelerometers are in most smartphones to detect screen orientation, and the car crash detection capability has been available on Google Pixel phones since 2019.

  • 22 часа, 55 минут назад 02.10.2022Science
    NASA pens new timeframe for Moon rocket launch as Artemis I hit by multiple setbacks

    The next attempt to get the Artemis I mission off the ground will not be until mid-November at the earliest, NASA announced Friday, while not yet committing to a specific launch date. While the agency had originally been planning a third launch attempt today, they were forced to call it off when Hurricane Ian brought wind speeds well in excess of the 85 miles per hour threshold the 322-feet-tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket can safely stand on its pad. Accordingly, last Monday, the Moon rocket was carefully moved atop its massive crawler-transport the four miles back to the shelter of its vehicle assembly building. While Artemis systems do not provisionally appear to have been damaged by the storm, NASA has elected to skip the launch window that runs from October 17–31, and instead will aim for one of the 12 twelve launch opportunities afforded from November 12–27.

    In a blog post, a NASA spokesperson said: “Teams at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida conducted initial inspections Friday to assess potential impacts from Hurricane Ian.

    “There was no damage to Artemis flight hardware, and facilities are in good shape with only minor water intrusion identified in a few locations.

    “Next, engineers will extend access platforms around the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to prepare for additional inspections and start preparing for the next launch attempt, including retesting the flight termination system.”

    This system is essentially the Moon rocket’s self-destruct mechanism — allowing NASA to safely destroy the rocket in the event a critical problem is detected post take-off.

    Maintaining the flight termination system and its batteries is key to getting certification for a launch attempt from the US Eastern Range.

    Ensuring the flight termination system is fully functional is part of the reason why NASA has yet to commit to trying for a specific launch opportunity next month.

    The spokesperson said: “As teams complete post-storm recovery operations, NASA has determined it will focus Artemis I launch planning efforts on the launch period that opens November 12 and closes November 27.

    “Over the coming days, managers will assess the scope of work to perform while in the vehicle assembly building and identify a specific date for the next launch attempt.

    “Focusing efforts on the November launch period allows time for employees at Kennedy to address the needs of their families and homes after the storm and for teams to identify additional checkouts needed before returning to the pad for launch.”

    Returning the SLS to its launch position — and conditioning the pad ready for launch against — will likely be a days-long process.

    Hurricane Ian accounted for the latest in a series of delays experienced by the Artemis I mission, with NASA having already made two attempts at getting the SLS to lift-off — the first on August 29 and the second on September 3.

    The initial launch attempt was scrubbed after it appeared one of the rocket’s four main engines was too hot during engine bleed tests.

    This issue, however, was later traced to a misleading reading from a “bad sensor”.

    A persistent leak in the liquid hydrogen fuel line, meanwhile, brought the second go to a halt, despite engineers trying three times to troubleshoot the problem.

    Both of these issues were reexamined two weeks ago when NASA undertook a “cryogenic demonstration test”, which saw a practice tanking of the SLS’s core and interim stages with more than 730.000 gallons of liquid hydrogen fuel.

    The space agency reported that “after encountering a hydrogen leak early in the loading process, engineers were able to troubleshoot the issue and proceed with the planned activities.”

    These activities included revisiting the kick-start bleed test — in which a small amount of liquid hydrogen fuel is used to cool down the four RS-25 engines at the base of the rocket’s core stage to 423F (217C) — that threw up problems during the first launch attempt.

    The purpose of this was to ensure that the engines are not unduly stressed when the supercool fuel is channelled into them properly at the time of launch.

    Following the demo, NASA reported “all objectives [were] met” — leading to optimism that the SLS will be able to successfully launch on the next attempt.

    Exactly when that launch attempt will be, however, remains to be seen.

  • 1 день назад 02.10.2022Science
    Britons back Boris’ energy plans as Truss fracking poised to backfire: ‘Hugely unpopular’

    Prime Minister Liz Truss’s plans to bring fracking back to the UK could backfire, as polls show that most, including Tory voters, do not want it to return, and prefer her predecessor Boris Johnson’s vision for the UK’s energy security. Under Mr Johnson’s leadership, the UK rolled out major environmental policies and made greater progress in tackling the climate crisis than his predecessors in the past decade. The former Prime Minister was a major advocate for renewable energy, especially following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which sent the price of wholesale to record levels, while the cost of generating wind and solar power remained the same.

    Meanwhile, one of the first acts made by Ms Truss and her Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg was to lift the fracking ban in a bid to “strengthen our energy security” amid Putin’s “weaponisation of energy”.

    Fracking supporters say that extracting Britain’s shale gas would slash the reliance on expensive imports and scupper the UK’s remaining reliance on Russia.

    Although Ms Truss said she would lift the ban on the practice three years ago, she has said fracking will only go ahead in areas which support it.

    While fracking could help boost the UK’s energy security, a new research has revealed that most Britons are against having a site near their home, with just 17 percent of UK adults and 29 percent of Conservative voters supporting the development of a fracking site within one mile of their property.

    The new report, commissioned by global communications agency Diffusion, revealed Conservative party voters favoured Mr Johnson’s plans for the UK’s energy security, which involved an accelerated investment in renewable energy like solar, wind and nuclear, which would lower household bills in the years ahead.

    When it comes to fracking, they found that the controversial energy extraction process was hugely unpopular among Labour and Lib Dem voters, with just eight percent and 10 percent respectively showing support for a project within one mile of their property.

    Among Tory voters, the support rose to 29 percent, which is still significantly low, especially when the polls even offered to slash their bills in half in the hypothetical scenario.

    When it came to onshore wind and solar projects however, a majority of voters from all three parties were in favour of renewable energy farms near their property, especially when offered huge discounts on their bills.

    Speaking to Express.co.uk, Daljit Bhurji, CEO of Diffusion, the agency that commissioned report, commented: “This independent research explodes the myth peddled during the Tory leadership race that local communities are opposed to new wind and solar farms.

    “In fact, even the majority of Tory voters who would live closest to proposed new renewable farms are in favour, if they are fairly compensated.

    “When it comes to energy policy the public are clearly more in tune with Boris’ vision when he left office urging a massive increase in renewables that can very quickly deliver the higher volumes of cheaper electricity needed to help lower our bills.

    “What remains hugely unpopular with all voters across the UK is Liz Truss’ obsession with fracking, even if offered incentives of 50 percent of electricity bills in return for allowing drilling on their doorstep.

    “The message from our report is clear, the ability to unlock huge amounts of new on-shore wind and solar is there for the taking if the Government can work with the energy companies to deliver a generous partnership with local communities.”

    Among Conservative voters, the report found that 68 percent favoured solar farms, while 59 percent favoured onshore wind farms.

    While Ms Truss’ Government may have brought back fracking, she also slashed red tape around the construction of onshore wind projects, allowing to be built as fast as other infrastructure projects across the country.

    Mr Johnson was a major proponent of wind power, hailing it in one of his final speeches as Prime Minister, saying: “We’re now racing towards our target of 50GW of offshore wind by 2030. 50GW is probably half the electricity consumption of the country from offshore wind.

    “Offshore wind is now the cheapest form of electricity in this country. Offshore wind is nine times cheaper than gas with the insanity of what Putin has done. That way it entirely makes sense for us to be more self-reliant. It is also entirely clean and green.

    “Renewables are not only important for us to defeat climate change, they’re helping keep bills lower now.”

  • 1 день, 2 часа назад 02.10.2022Science
    This home heating upgrade could shave up to £1,150 off your energy bills

    Upgrading your boiler and switching to a Google Smart Thermostat has the potential to shave a whopping £1,150 off of your annual energy bill. This is the claim of experts at Leeds-based boiler suppliers BOXT, who say that the intelligent home heating systems can lower household energy costs by up to 16 percent. The system — dubbed the Nest Thermostat — has the ability to learn about how you like your home heated, as well as the way in which your house warms up and how draughty it is, enabling it to optimise boiler operation to best save energy and money.

    BOXT founder Andy Kerr said: “People all over the country are looking for ways to save on their energy bills this winter.

    “While simple tips and tricks can help you delay turning your heating on this winter, new figures from the Energy Savings Trust show that by upgrading your boiler and switching to a Google Smart Thermostat, you could save a huge £1,150.

    “Research undertaken by BOXT found that only 27 percent of people schedule their boilers.”

    This, he explained, means that “their boilers are unlikely to be operating as efficiently as possible, and homes won’t be maintaining the optimum comfortable temperature.”

    Mr Kerr continued: “Investing in a smart thermostat like the Google Nest Learning Thermostat gives you full control over the temperature of your home from wherever you are.

    “Data from Google suggest that you can save up to 16 percent annually on your energy bills by using a Nest Learning Thermostat.

    “The smart technology learns from your habits to build a schedule that works perfectly for your household, ensuring your boiler is operating as efficiently as possible.

    “If you don’t have a smart thermostat, still make sure you make full use of the thermostat controls to programme your boiler to only come on when you need it.”

    Once you have a smart thermostat installed in your home, Mr Kerr said, there are various tactics you can use to ensure you’re getting the best out of your heating system.

    The first thing to do, he explains, is to help the thermostat learn about you — your schedule, the inside temperature that you find comfortable, etc — so that it can adjust your heating accordingly. By teaching it good habits, he said, it can help you save energy.

    The Google Nest Learning Thermostat comes with an ‘Eco Temperature’ mode designed to conserve energy when there’s no-one at home.

    As BOXT explains: “If you’re looking to further lower your energy usage, you can set your thermostat to Eco Temperature when you’re in the house, as long as you don’t mind a little cooler temperature!

    “The Google Nest can also use Home/Away Assist in collaboration with your phone’s location to tell your thermostat when your family members have left home, and when they are likely to return.”

    Furthermore, installing multiple thermostats in one home allows the sensors to be taught differently — enabling them to build different heating schedules for different parts of the home, meaning that you can keep the system from turning on when it doesn’t need to.

    The device also has a feature by which it flags when the thermostat has been set to an energy saving temperature — one that is not universal, but calculated specifically for the home in which it is installed.

    Mr Kerr added: “The Google Nest Thermostat also lets you track your progress.

    “You can check your energy history in the Nest app to see how much energy you’ve used each day, and what has caused any big changes in your heating use.

    “You’ll also get a monthly home report from Nest so you can compare how much heating you’ve used compared to the previous month.”

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Science ‘Frack away!’ Truss praised for scrapping fracking ban as ‘key to energy independence’