Frackers Threaten Academic Freedom

David Smythe, a prominent critic of the industry drive to frack underground shale gas, has launched an appeal to fund court action to force university authorities to restore his email address and access to scientific journals. ( Source: The Ferret )

You may have seen on social media about the bother that Professor David Smythe is in.  Glasgow University have tried to silence him by cutting off his access to their research facilities and he is now crowdfunding to pay for legal costs to challenge their decision in the courts.  Without this access he is unable to do any further research into fracking.

David  has been invaluable to the anti-fracking movement and given up so much of his time for the cause. In North Wales/Cheshire, the Frack Free Dee Coalition in particular, owe him big time for coming all the way from France to talk at their  Landowners Meeting in Shropshire last year, and dropping in again to talk at one of their awareness meetings for councillors/decision makers in Chester.  He has also offered to write a report on their local geology.

He has also similarly helped out with Bassetlaw Against Fracking In short, he’s a top man and we are proud to have him as an ally.

Full details can be read  on the linked article – The Warrior’s Call has donated £100 to this cause. Thanks to those of you who have supported us with donations and merchandise. This enables us, among other things, to make such donations. If any of you are able to contribute in any way, however small, or even just to share, please do by clicking on this link-

In his own words, Professor David Smythe outlines the case:

“Academic freedom of expression abruptly terminated

In my research I depend completely upon having access to the online academic database via a link to the University of Glasgow, my former employer. Upon retirement in 1998 I was made Emeritus Professor of Geophysics and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow. Both are for life; as a member of the College of Science and Engineering I am entitled to access the library and other facilities, both remotely and by physical entry.

After retirement I did some part-time consulting for the oil industry, but I have mainly applied my time and expertise to difficult technical issues of wide social interest, including the disposal of nuclear waste, medical ultrasound imaging, and how to measure serious civil nuclear accidents, such as Fukushima, in an objective way.

On 30 January 2016 my university online access was suddenly terminated, without warning or explanation, after 17 years of trouble-free access. The fundamental issue at stake here is freedom of academic expression”

“On 27 January this year I published online an academic paper about fracking, giving my affiliation as Glasgow University, as I am supposed to do when publishing such papers.

Three days later my university email address and access to the library system were terminated. Internal emails I obtained recently show that the termination was directly linked to the publication of my research article. No proper procedures were followed at to arrive at the termination decision. The University claims that the termination was part of a “routine review”. This is untrue.”

Why this affects you

You, the public, have to depend on scientific experts for discussion and evaluation of many complex issues. It was once true that an academic speaking on a subject within his or her expertise could be relied upon to be free of outside influence. But this is no longer the case in the earth sciences, where the fossil fuel industry has developed a pervasive and often malign influence on how the researchers that they fund behave. So pervasive is this influence that some researchers, even when funded almost entirely by the industry, still regard themselves as ‘independent’.”

(cover photo credit to  Bassetlaw Against Fracking )