I used to think the whole “Stop CSG” and “Stop fracking” campaigns were simply campaigns that groups of “hippies” launched to complain about something without having all the facts. How wrong I was. Wikipedia defines fracking as the following: “Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Fracking makes it possible to produce natural gas extraction in shale plays that were once unreachable with conventional technologies.” Seems harmless enough right? Even more so when you consider that the governments of affected countries seem to defend the act, claiming that there is no need to worry. I can tell you that the world should be very VERY worried.
First let’s explore the benefits of fracking. It pumps money into communities which greatly need an improvement in quality of life, governments and business can make huge profits off it, but more importantly this technology offers us a way to access natural gas for large scale energy production.
Now for the bad. Fracking is linked to groundwater contamination, increase in earthquake activity, large amounts of water wastage (1-8 million gallons per job), over 6000 chemicals being injected into the ground, and a whole host of health risks. For the purpose of this article let’s ignore that in the US alone 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals are used for fracking. Let’s ignore the countless university studies that have proved the negative effects of fracking. Let’s ignore the many people who have sensory, neurological, and respiratory damage due to the effects of fracking. Let’s ignore the fact that the billionaire founder of fracking, George Phydias Mitchell, has openly opposed the extensive unsafe fracking methods which are being adopted worldwide. My primary worry though, and something we should all be concerned about is the availability of water.
Water is a scarce resource as it is, overpopulation is only adding to that. Can we really afford to be contaminating natural water sources in the name of profit? We already have the technology to implement renewable energy solutions to generate electricity worldwide, yet we insist on using this dangerous and unnatural practice to meet our energy needs. You may think fracking just utilizes a few water sources, and hardly puts a dent in fresh water availability, think again. Some governments have seen the damage of mining coal seam gas and are in the process of banning it, these countries include Bulgaria, Germany, France, and Ireland. The governments that support fracking are as follows: Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Africa, United States, and many others. The outlook is that fracking will expand more so. Why do so many countries allow this despite the obvious risks? Profit. A concept which apparently is more important than the very resources we need to survive.
Don’t be comforted in the fact that so many countries are partaking in this, it simply demonstrates how widespread this problem is. These contaminated water sources cannot be replaced. Any water which is collected in these underground water networks in the future is not usable. All water sources including rivers, lakes, creeks, dams can also be contaminated, this not only affects people but wildlife. If this continues, these greedy governments will have to spend more than this short-term profit to develop imperfect water collection systems when our natural ground water supplies and rivers fail us. The extent of fracking is so great that residents all over the world can literally light their tap water on fire; their drinking and washing water has become flammable.
In most cases residents are not able to take any action against these mining companies, they are too powerful especially with the support of federal governments. They have no say in whether their property is used for fracking purposes, and they receive no reimbursement when the very water they rely on becomes contaminated. Oil has demonstrated what happens when a resource becomes scarce; wars are fought, prices skyrocket, and accessibility becomes low. Unlike oil though, there is no alternative to water, once it’s gone that’s it. So who will you blame when you can’t afford water, or your house water is so contaminated you cannot drink or bathe in it? The answer is, nobody. These private mining companies will be long gone, and governments can simply blame past governments. The harsh reality is that nobody will be held accountable, and you won’t have access to water. Is this short term profit worth poverty and war? We look at thirsty, sick, and poverty-stricken people from developing countries with ignorance, but the same fate will soon be on our door steps. Enjoy your clean water while you can.