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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Fracking- An environmental explanation, please

   
Author Topic: Fracking- An environmental explanation, please
Reticulum
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As a hippie, I have been trying to find some reliable information on the environmental impact it has/potentially might have. I haven't been able to find much info on the web (not that I trust, anyway), so I bring the question to Hatrack.
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Dan_Frank
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What resources don't you trust? The process is pretty straightforward. And amazing.

If hippies are serious about getting off oil, and feel the need to cling to overblown fear of nuclear, and don't want to reduce energy use and quality of life by an order of magnitude, they should embrace fracking.

Not that they will. I mean, I'd say they should embrace nuclear, too. But neither are likely to happen. To the Green movement, a massive reduction in quality of life is a feature, not a bug.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
To the Green movement, a massive reduction in quality of life is a feature, not a bug.

No, not really.

Essentially the "Green Movement," is one the operates within the same general denial framework as the global warming deniers.

That is: ignore what is inconvenient, and pretend that we can continue to live at the same current level of consumption with only cosmetic changes. The key esthetic difference is that the Green movement adopts "environmentally friendly" habits and ideals, as comfort against admitting that the very basis of their level of existence is founded upon unsustainable use of resources.

Green movement people are never actually, practically willing to accept the reduction in their potential access to resources (including everything from education to entertainment, to medical care), that comes along with the supposed ideology. They offer esthetically comfortable and self-enriching "solutions" that are reductive and simple (and inneffective). It is essentially the same, in practical terms, as denying that there is a problem. Neither group is seeking a real solution. But for "green" type people- they do tend to self-righteously focus on their own non-contribution to the issue (and ignore completely the ways in which they are still culpable for it).

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Darth_Mauve
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Dan, lets answer the question as asked and not just dump political propaganda on this.

There are 3 enviromental worries about Fracking.

1) Natural Gas still throws carbon into the atmosphere, so cheap fracked natural gas will lead to more climate change. This is a worry that bothers the more extreme environmentalists.

2) Fracking works by pumping tons of water, mud, and special chemicals into the rocks underground. This has caused an increase in earthquakes in the region. They have been mostly minor, but when playing with earthquakes, more research and less denial would be appreciated.

3) The chemical mix that is pumped into the ground has to go somewhere. The water supply is also underground. The chemical mix is an industrial secret so we don't know what they are pumping into the ground water that we, our food crops, and our animals are drinking. Heavy metals (poisons)? Toxins? Dioxins? We don't know.

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TomDavidson
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To put this into perspective: in every community that has allowed fracking, environmental laws have had to be changed to permit the pollution of the water table beyond the existing standard.
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Destineer
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My sense, which is not particularly well-informed, is that it's probably worth it at least in some places. I'm more positive about nuclear, though, which is more of a known quantity and very safe.

It sounds like in many places they waste a lot of what they extract by burning it, because this is cheaper than storing all of it. To me that sounds like a market failure that needs to be corrected. Maybe there should be a tax on burning it, at least to offset the emissions from doing so.

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Lyrhawn
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DM -

Your number 1 concern there isn't something most environmentalists are really concerned about (at least not ones with half a brain). Yes, natural gas pumps CO2 into the air, but only half as much as coal. United States emissions have dropped much faster than almost anywhere else in the world in the last few years because every coal fired plant that goes offline is replaced by a gas powered one. It's not great, but it's cheap and it's much better than coal.

I'm okay with fracking, but only with heavy regulation to protect the water table. Most of the major problems come from poorly constructed drill sites that allow cross-contamination, but there's also the nature of the thing, pumping tons of chemicals into the ground and leaving them there, they have to go somewhere.

There's also the massive use of water that isn't recovered. It requires thousands of gallons of fresh water that are pumped into the ground. Lots of people aren't happy about that.

Regulation might bring the cost back up a bit, but that's fine. It's still cheaper than coal.

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Samprimary
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fracking offers yet another stark example of a perverse privatized incentive: you get more money total out of it if you aren't forced to abide by and endure the direct and indirect costs if strict regulations that provide for not dicking up the water table in the entire region

which means that the frackers are typically always capitalistically incentivized to not give a crap about if they leave behind a dicked up water table, because more money

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stilesbn
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I watched Battle Star Galactica before I knew much about what fracking was. It makes all the news articles much more entertaining.
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Samprimary
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fake swears in serious sci-fi are the worst
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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
fake swears in serious sci-fi are the worst

No flippin' way! Fake swears in sci-fi are freakin' way better than in real piece-of-shitake mushrooms life.

I smegging prefer the fracking curse words in sci-fi. Most of the time.

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Destineer
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The way they wrote around the fracking thing in BSG was pretty entertaining. I remember the moment I started enjoying it, when Tigh was interrogating Tyrol and he yelled "Everybody knows you were frackin' her!"
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Samprimary
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smeg was decidedly not fake swears in serious sci-fi. smeg was fake swears in red dwarf
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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
smeg was decidedly not fake swears in serious sci-fi. smeg was fake swears in red dwarf

It could be argued that Red Dwarf is satire and -- in fact -- much more serious than a lot of soft sci-fi (cough . . . OSC . . . cough).
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Lyrhawn
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Fracking worked on BSG because it was so thinly veiled and it very so marshal and gritty. Your brain could automatically adjust. But swearing on shows like Farscape utterly and totally fail. B5 tried it with "fragging" but it never quite hit home because so much of the language was otherwise so PG.
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Darth_Mauve
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Shazbot, your scruffy looking nerf herders are fracking frelled and doubly shmegged.

I want that sentence on a T-shirt.

"Serious" sci-fi? Besided BSG what serious sci-fi used made up swear words? Star Wars?

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Jake
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Well, there's "tanj it" from Niven's Known Space books.
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madvogon
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I am truly of mixed mind where fracking is involved. Three members of my family are making a living in the industry. OTOH, everything else I've heard about the practice scares me to death. I refer you to the archives of This American Life on NPR. It raised several interesting criticisms.

First, the money potential in fracking has resulted in academic censorship within Penn State University.

Then there was the story of the town that embraced fracking. Before the frackers came, the ground water was perfect. Now all the ground water under the town contains so much methane, the water burns. Every drop of water for human consumption and washing must be shipped in.

I am very glad I live in NY where, for the moment, the practice is illegal.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Now all the ground water under the town contains so much methane, the water burns.
It's my understanding that this was in fact faked. There are groundwater issues with fracking, but not to the extent depicted.
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Dan_Frank
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Thanks for beating me to that, Tom.
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Destineer
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Who are these people who fake stuff like that? How do they justify that to themselves?
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Dan_Frank
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At a guess?

The cause is more important than minor details. They know what's true, and if they can't prove it in this one instance that's just bad luck. Better to get people to understand the gravity of the situation by any means necessary, than fail to produce evidence that smart people know is true.

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Blayne Bradley
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A reduced standard of living is not a feature, but the only inevitable outcome; the difference is going "Green" would allow for that eventuality to come about "softer" as landings go, while not doing anything will result in a crash so hard that it may very well shatter the first world.
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DDDaysh
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
To put this into perspective: in every community that has allowed fracking, environmental laws have had to be changed to permit the pollution of the water table beyond the existing standard.

And that is quite frightening!

Fracking is just a fact of life around here. We've had 4 hotels built in a town of less than $10,000 people in the last three years, they're basically tearing through my area like crazy. And it seems like at least every few months we get a notice from the city that they didn't turn in the appropriate samples for water testing. *sigh*

We've also had at least 2 earthquakes in the last 3 years, and I've lived here my whole life and never remember having earthquakes before - at least not to a strength that could be felt by the average person.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
At a guess?

The cause is more important than minor details. They know what's true, and if they can't prove it in this one instance that's just bad luck. Better to get people to understand the gravity of the situation by any means necessary, than fail to produce evidence that smart people know is true.

Eh, there's certainly a lot of truth to this-ends justifying the means often being an appealing justification for partisans of any stripe. But, just to leaven things a bit, it's *also* probably based in another known truth: that much more than we should, we as a society allow financial incentives to exist for various exploration companies to be negligent or even fraudulent with respect to things like mainetenance and environmental impact.

The whole invisible hand of capitalism is great, but by no means at all does it necessarily lead to what is best for society in every case, and it seems to me this is probably one of them.

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Samprimary
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quote:
The whole invisible hand of capitalism is great, but by no means at all does it necessarily lead to what is best for society in every case, and it seems to me this is probably one of them.
Exactly. As far as I understand it from an engineering perspective, we're looking at something that can be done safely enough to not impact water tables and create health issues in most places, but this won't happen without strict and stringent regulation of the industry.

So the free market can get bent, in this case.

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msquared
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My wife is an Eviromental Scientist and from what I get from her, most of the contamination comes from how the stuff the use is treated when it is on the surface. It is not the actual fracking deep down that causes the issues, it is how the water/slury mix is treated and used on the surface.

I find it stupid of the drillers to not take these concerns into their thinking. There is so much money to be made, even if it is done right. I think they are being very short sighted. Show everyone that it can be done safely and that it can be a win-win.

Of course there are some hard core enviro groups that will not accept any evidence that this might be safe.

msquared

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