Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What's the fracking big deal about earthquakes?

See Gasland: The Movie for more information
See Gasland: The Movie for more information (Photo credit: ltmayers)
Hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") is a process used to tap into natural gas or oil deposits. The process involves injecting so much water and chemicals (acids, propellants....) deep underground that it causes fractures in the rock. Then, some of the fluid flows back towards the surface and is disposed of (frequently in open pits), and the rest remains underground to hold the fractures open.

Obviously, the water use for this type of operation is unthinkable, and the chemical contamination is horrendous Much progress has been made in disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking. See EARTHWORKS | Hydraulic Fracturing 101. Far less is known about the geologic stress fracking causes. Ohio and Oklahoma have both seen unexpected seismic activity that some scientists believe is related to fracking. That's right. Man-made earthquakes. For more details, see Quakes in the New York Times. Thus far, earthquakes have been 4.0 on the Richter scale or lower, but what happens if you continue on this technological path? Think about it. Just seriously think about it.

I know it seems necessary right now to do whatever it takes to get cheap energy into the economy. It isn't. Put your energy elsewhere. On my planet, there never was so much fossil fuel to dig for in the first place. We relied on biofuels, solar, wind, and tidal energy to fuel our industrial and technological growth. (Yes, even space travel is possible on biofuel.) I know a planet that mastered nuclear fusion centuries ago, and they have no roads or parking lots. It sounds far fetched, but it's not. It's all about what you put your energy into.
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