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There is still that fond belief around that we in the UK have far more influence upon our political masters than do those living under the yoke of a totalitarian government, like the Communists running China. Increasingly, I wonder whether this isn’t just a convenient myth.

Just as here, street protests over pollution and other environmental hazards caused by fracking are increasingly common in China. As in the UK, these are often organised over social media. To date, our homegrown protests, even when endorsed by the relevant local authority – as has occurred in Lancashire and in Derbyshire – have met with completely deaf ears from the national government.

In contrast, Associated Press has revealed details concerning a region in western China, where drilling for shale gas has been banned “after a protest by residents who suspected fracking work caused a series of earthquakes that led to two deaths”. 

Admittedly, the public statement does not explicitly link the 4.9 magnitude tremors on the Richter scale to the fracking taking place. But in the next breath it acknowledges residents’ “suspicions” that fracking “had been responsible for the earthquake and deaths”.

Here in contrast, a group of eminent scientists have taken the standard establishment path, and written a letter to the Times warning about fracking’s contribution to climate change. They ask: “Is it not time that our leaders and scientific community withdrew their support for fracking and engaged in the challenge of transforming our society to meet this existential challenge?” 

In response, the professors seem to have received a deafening silence. Much as have the local protestors in Lancashire and Derbyshire.