In 2007 Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the following: 'There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.' Last year, Thorsten Heins, CEO of BlackBerry said: 'In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore.' There is a trend here which suggests that people are notoriously bad at predicting the future even in their own fields of expertise.
When countries set out their cases for energy independence, the main reason is generally cited as the need to ease reliance on oil and gas from unfriendly places. President Barack Obama's 'All of the Above' energy strategy for example, a plan that has seen this US administration extract more fossil fuels than any other, is very much predicated on the need to lessen oil imports from Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The current governmental landscape betrays a belief that it is possible to run with the hare and the hounds ad infinitum when it comes to energy, and this simply isn't the case. Giving with one hand and taking with the other not only demonstrates a disingenuous attitude that further belittles trust, it also harms investment and makes us less competitive on the world stage.
Russia pulled off a major diplomatic coup in November by inducing Ukraine to abandon its proposed association agreement with the EU, the consequences of which are currently being played out on the streets of Kiev. But it would wrong to assume that Russia now calls all the shots in relations with its ex-Soviet neighbour...
The government's "sweeteners", of 1% of shale gas revenues to local communities and handing local authorities all of the business rates arising from shale gas wells, can be seen as a financial compensation for the disruption fracking will cause locally. The introduction of climate change taxation would tackle the far greater global disruption that the climate effects of shale gas would otherwise bring.
This week's announcements on fracking, including David Cameron's pledge to "go all out on shale gas", triggered yet another shale gas frenzy in the UK media. Yet, despite all the hype and the announcement of better benefits for communities hosting shale gas projects, nothing has fundamentally changed when it comes to the likely impacts of shale gas on the UK's energy market.
David Cameron needs to get away from the fantasy that fracking would lead to lower energy prices and stop using the US as an example. He should know that the gas market on the other side of the Atlantic is different than in Europe. Even if the UK was to extract large amounts of cheap gas from fracking, it would not lead to cheaper energy bills...
In the minds of many Polish politicians and the majority of the public, shale gas is not so much an economic windfall, or a new industry promising employment, or an alternative source of fossil fuels, but a mythological weapon against a mythological enemy, a gargantuan pepper spray against the bad Russian bear.