Sustainability, climate change, cleantech and energy : a selection of the latest headlines and best researches.

Seven reasons against fracking

dont frack

Reading about energy and environmental issues most if not every single day, I stumble upon many articles on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and their staggering negative effects.

For today’s article I would like to propose you a summary of all the reasons I have found to be against this dirty energy source. I have counted as many as seven but I guess there are more.

In today’s post I will review in depth these reasons, so that next time you have the arguments to counter the people believing this is a solution your country or the world should consider.

1. Hydraulic fracturing is harmful to the climate

If natural gas from fracking was not so long ago considered as a bridge from dirty coal to more climate friendly solutions, it is now being more and more regarded as a gangplank to a warmer world.

Indeed, fracking has been proved to be linked to important leaks of methane – a 23 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

To be considered as a climate-wise alternative, methane leaks should have to remain as low as two percent. However to a recent study, those leaks are as high as six to twelve percent.

2. Is NOT part of the vital energy transition

Fracking is just pursuing our headlong rush, or as we say in French, une fuite en avant as it gives us the illusion that we can keep on using polluting and inefficient means of heating our houses and moving our cars and trucks when better solutions are at our disposal.

Far better solutions like low carbon energy sources such as renewables (solar, wind, geothermal…) and energy efficiency can be part of an energy transition that is safe for our civilization and our climate. While the former are gaining traction, the former could do much more.

An energy transition based on these two could bring thousands of local jobs and money without any risks. As a matter of facts, it has already started…

3.Consumes vast amounts of precious water

WaterAs more and more countries are getting drier, using energy sources that consumes vast amounts of water is just sheer madness.

Climate Progress reported that each fracking job requires several million gallons of water, of which only around a quarter is being recovered. The remainder is just lost for ever.

In water stressed areas such as the US Southern States (like Texas or New Mexico), this is not only foolish, it is downright self-destructive…

4. Contaminates soils, air and water

We depend on clean soils in many ways. Feeding ourselves is but one. Clean air is even simpler to comprehend as we breathe the air around us. So if hydraulic fracturing pollutes both soils and air, how can we live healthily ?

Shale gas drilling has been linked in many occasions to flammable drinking water. The Economist published an article on that earlier this year.

Injecting in our environment a cocktail of water, sand and no less than hundreds of chemicals that can cause cancers or are neurotoxins. Not the kind of stuff you want anywhere near you…

5. Causes earthquakes

earthquake-fracking-ohioDrilling holes in the soil and injecting massive amounts of chemicals and wastewater is not exactly what could be considered as safe regarding earthquakes. Mother Jones has a nifty animation GIF showing how and why.

A recent study from one of the world’s leading seismology labs quoted by Reuters show that ” powerful earthquakes thousands of miles (km) away can trigger swarms of minor quakes near wastewater-injection wells like those used in oil and gas recovery “

To Triple Pundit, the US Geological Survey (USGS) linked up to 50 earthquakes to fracking in Oklahoma. Magnitudes were ranging from 1.0 to 4.0.

6. Puts arsenic in groundwater tables

Arsenic is a poison of choice if you want to dispose of an Emperor or a King. Most unfortunately to people near fracking wells, it also has been found in groundwater near fracking wells.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found traces of it on multiple occasions as the Los Angeles Times and ProPublica both reported.

7. Doesn’t benefit We, the People.

wind-turbines-franceBecause of all the negative side effects, the People can lose a lot because of fracking. The ones who benefit from it are Big Oil and so on… As I noted in my review of Promised Land, a clean energy alternative however can benefit the People at large.

Rural communities can be revived thanks to wind power’s money. I have read about such occurrences in the United States and in France alike.

To exemplify my point : in April I read about a small city from Southern France that earned huge amounts of money – 2.3 million euros (more than $3 million) -thanks to a few wind turbines.

Conclusion

I think you must have understood it by now. Hydraulic fracturing is not the solution we should be seeking right now. It is full of dangers and its merits are clearly overhyped by fossil fuels companies.

These very companies are ready to silent children, to endanger communities and to stop paying what they should pay for the damages they did. Not the kind of people you would want to let anywhere near your houses and cities…

To conclude: if our communities can benefit immensely from renewable energy sources as seen above, they could soon become much more efficient as we have seen with the following books : Reinventing Fire, Factor five, Crossing the Energy Divide and Hot, Flat and Crowded. (each link brings you to its review)

I hope this long article will have enabled you to find the arguments against fracking you may have lacked.

edited on April 17th, 2016 to replace the original title image. 

3 Comments
  1. Wind does not provide renewable energy. When the wind is absent, the turbines do not provide power. This drawback has proved so serious that wind power is now generally considered a pipe dream and waste of resources by all colours of the political spectrum. It is still useful for individuals, for example I have a plan to connect a turbine to my hot water tank, For domestic heating of water the drawback is hardly noticeable and will save me hundreds of pounds a year. For massive turbine farms to feed the national grid the drawbacks are insurmountable. Industry cannot rely on fluctuating availability. Solar power in Northern latitudes cannot sustain the massive power needed by urban conurbations and is also at best a useful adjunct. Talk of investment in ‘ The ‘renewables’ is utter nonsense with the current level of technology available. The wisest course for any government is to massively invest in nuclear fusion development whilst simultaneously having a crash investment programme to develop electric transport and use of hydrogen and other more friendly fuels along with continuous improvement in fuel efficiency. Meanwhile fracking, for all its risks, is a necessary evil.

  2. I am sorry, but ” Wind does not provide renewable energy “ is one of the biggest fallacy I have ever read in my whole life.

    First, wind power is indeed the first electricity source for Spain, a tiny European country with no less than 47 million people. There, wind power produced 21 percent of the electricity consumed over a whole year. Sorry Sir, Wind DOES provide electricity.

    Second, the installed wind power capacity is of 303 gigawatts globally. This represents the capacity of all power plants in Mexico and South and Central Americas. In 2012, the global wind capacity increased by no less than 20 percent. So, sorry Sir, but wind DOES work.

    Last but not least, according to recent studies, by 2030, wind power will account for a fifth of global electricity generation. I will publish an article soon on that matter.

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A French Management professional - now for hire - Edouard Stenger has been selecting since 2007 the latest headlines and best researches on sustainable development, climate change, environmental issues, cleantech and the world energy sector.

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