Last year, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation released a video taken with an infrared camera, purporting to show toxic pollution and methane streaming from gas production facilities in Pennsylvania. Here's the video:
Most of the public seeing the video probably found it dramatic, worrying, and possibly convincing. They likely were impressed by the professor from a prestigious university whom CBF asked to analyze the video.
Now many months later, Energy In Depth has released a rebuttal video. See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3rpf5sORz0. To analyze the CBF video, EID's video expert presents a starkly different version of what the CBF video shows. He says that the emissions are engine exhausts and not hydrocarbons and methane being vented.
I encourage you to watch both videos which are short.
After doing so, the question becomes, what to make of the competing videos? Here's 3 lessons that I would offer:
1. If you want real facts, never jump to conclusions when one side presents its version. The never-jump-to-conclusion rule is especially important, when video evidence is presented, since there is a tendency to find videos compelling. This problem is similar to the fact of life in a courtroom that eyewitness testimony tends to be the most convincing to jurors and to have the highest probability of being wrong.
2. Interpretation of videos is critically important. What you think you see may not be real or right or the facts. Watch out for editing too that often changes the real meaning of interviews or information.
3. Choice of experts matters. CBF likes Professor Howarth, who at the least is controversial. CBF has done a puff piece in his support so CBF is certainly aware that professor Howarth is crusading to shutdown the shale gas industry. Further CBF must know that Howarth's notorious study claiming shale gas is as dirty as coal has been debunked by 5 other university and environmental organization research teams. Colleagues of Howarth at Cornell too have issued a scathing paper, debunking his work. Finally, does Professor Howarth's faculty position make him an expert in interpreting these video images?
CBF can do better than Professor Howarth and possibly right at Cornell.
No matter what one thinks of the dueling videos, I do agree with CBF, when it responded to the EID video, by partly saying that the real issue is not its now challenged video, but instead controlling air emissions caused by gas production.
On air emissions from gas production, the good news is that the EPA enacted in April important new rules that will slash methane and other emissions from gas production. Even Professor Howarth conceded that much.