What the Frack?!

So Pretty.

I am following the Shale Fracking saga unfold in South Africa with renewed interest following a little bit of research into global methods and standard norms. The most interesting thing that one comes away with from even the briefest of interweb poke arounds is this.

The Frackers will tell how good and non-invasive it is and the environmentalists will outright tell you what damage is being done. This is nothing new obviously. Any energy related business makes it their business to tell how you little damage is being done to the environment and that will always be contested by the rabble wearing tuna-skin beanies (its sustainable wear) and beards – women included.  Both have our interests at heart as bystanders.

The Energy companies after all need to keep feeding us with the stuff, be it coal, oil or natural gases, as we keep demanding it. Say what you want but even if you have a solar panel on your roof and you have insulated your house with peat-moss garnered from the remote moors of Uzbekistan, I am pretty damn sure your fridge light goes on every time you open it and that your electric gate opens quite nicely as you drive your  gas-guzzler off to office-land.  Bottom line is we all need it, and right now as much as we try and stem our use of it, there is no real permanent replacement. So these guys are just doing their jobs really – and they too are running out of options and excuses to share-holders. So fracking seems like a decent answer to a longterm problem.

By fracking, which involves injecting (literally) holes in the ground with water, sand and various chemicals to fracture seams of natural gas trapped inside the rock below our feet, its estimated that we could increase the global yield of natural case by 40%. Those are big numbers – valuable numbers. To all of us. The more of the commodity around the less the price of its purchase is, which means you and i aren’t hit with even larger energy bill on our doorsteps. The trouble with keeping things lower in cost is that comes with a undeniable downside. to Quote News24 today:

The biggest worry is that cancer-causing compounds used in the process could pollute water supplies. High levels of methane gas also have been found in tap water near some US drilling sites, with YouTube videos showing people apparently setting fire to tap water. Like the US, European nations are keen to reduce their reliance on imported oil and gas. But they have been wary of fracking. Poland has announced a major investment in shale gas to break free of dependence on Russian gas imports, but France put a similar project on hold and has taken a first legislative step toward banning shale gas extraction. Germany has some test projects, but many in the country have concerns about the environmental impact.

Food for thought. Cancerous drinking water. Water that burns – useful in winter I guess. Then there is the toll it takes on the landscape. Take the Little Karoo for instance. Here we have an unspoiled landscape – long vistas and rolling koppies interspersed with little Karoo-type inhabitants and sheep.

When the Frackers arrive, even just to “have look” a number of things have to arrive with them. Drilling equipment, drilling towers, housing for the workers, pumping stations and generators, masses of pipes, trucks, noise and so goes on. The beauty of exploration is that several of these sites are setup at one time. So its not a case of quickly test here and clean up – its a case of trample on everything, test and test and test and then move on to the next prospect.

It will destroy the natural beauty regardless of how “non-lethal/ harmful” the energies companies will tell you its safe and non-invasive. Anal bleaching I am told is non-invasive but it is uncomfortable and changes the look of the local scenery forever.

Perhaps the best answer to “should-we-shouldnt-we?” is todays story from News24. Earthquakes in England. There seems to be a genuine link between fracking going on the disruption of the Earth below this quiet backwater of Northern England.

If the fire water doesn’t put you off. If carcinogenic liquids in your H2O is just a standard hazard nowadays. Then surely the threat of Tsunami-inducing earthquakes below the sheeplands of the Karoo should give us some food for thought.


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