I am not a scientist, but I believe in scientists. Not only do I believe they exist, but I also believe they know more about sciencey stuff than I do. So when a study is done, and conclusive scientific evidence points to a answer, I tend to lean towards that answer, the one provided by experts. Apparently I am crazy. With that in mind, let’s talk about fracking.
In case you are unfamiliar with fracking or hydraulic fracturing, it is a process where we drill into the Earth and blast a mixture of water, sand and chemicals directly into shale rock at a very high pressure. This process fractures the shale, releasing natural gas that is then captured. Fracking can also be used to push out oil. This is likely the most basic explanation you will ever hear.
There seem to be a lot of differing opinions about fracking, but here are a couple agreed upon facts.
1. Each job takes 1-8 million gallons of water to finish.
2. The chemicals in the solution contain know carcinogens, including mercury, radium and lead.
3. Only 30-50% of the water + solution is extracted after the fracking process.
Here is where I feel crazy. 50-70% of what is put in does not come out. So that has to go somewhere, right? All across this country we use water from underground aquifers, gravity is a thing, eventually this water will reach a water source and cause massive water contamination, I mean, right?
Well, it has.
Multiple studies have been done with alarming results, and people are now finally speaking out about it. The EPA actually did a report on fracking in 1984 and warned of this exact scenario.
But here is the thing, we still do it. The companies that continue to use this process, and make billions of dollars, tell everyone that the reports are “not substantial”. There is, of course, another side to this saying that the levels of contamination are minimal and not harmful to humans.
So, let’s look at another byproduct of fracking.
Guys, I am also not a mathematician, but I am at least an adequate reader of bar graphs. The state of Oklahoma gets fracked on the reg, with wells, almost literally, covering the entire state.
Along with getting fracked, Oklahoma has very inactive fault lines, at least historically speaking.
Sure, there have been earthquakes before, heck, in 1952 a 5.5 hit forcing a few Oklahomans to replace some broken windows. It was the states biggest rumble until 2010’s 5.6. But it’s not the size that is attention grabbing, it’s the frequency.
In 1977 there were 18 earthquakes in the entire state of Oklahoma. In 1990- 36, 2008- 25. These were all pretty standard years for the past 3 decades in the Sooner state, but things changed drastically at the turn of the decade.
Over 1,000 earthquakes were registered in Oklahoma in 2010, and in 2012 that number jumped up to 1,500.
Not only is the bar chart below pretty straightforward, but these quakes have been directly related to oil and gas exploration.
I don’t know. It seemed common sense enough to never start this process, and with the evidence provided it seems like it should stop. Common sense would also lead me to believe that if we continue we might really screw something up in horrific fashion, that is, if we already haven’t.
We build houses and buildings on top of our planet, fine, that’s plastic surgery. Some of it is terrible, some of it is good, but for the most part it is not going to kill us. When we shove things into the ground, we are messing with the innards of this precariously floating ball we live on, which is like eating blocks of Velvetta all day long. It will catch up.