Category Archives: Fracking

People’s Climate March, Midtown NYC 9/21

The people gathered along coordinated routes, organized and grouped by devotion. Estimates exceeded, hoping to be noticed, a representation of 1:100 assumed. Now will we dust off our eyes to trim a few watts, a few degrees, a plastic cup or trip to the store? An economy with many comforts, the first to look down at bright screens, while worlds away suffer by oil lamp, or oil military.

 

all photos © D. Barron

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On frac sand

DSB_0453

With only 1/100th of 1% remaining, tallgrass and shortgrass prairies are one of the rarest ecosystems on the planet. Once expansive mosaics of interconnected diversity, these biomes extended through most of our midwestern states. Today prairie remnants are small functionally extinct islands of great biodiversity, surrounded by seas of GMO monoculture, development and invasive species.  Despite such precious rarity these prairie “postcard” relics, which survived the plow and pylon, face immense dangers.

Much attention has been directed toward the looming disaster which is Hydraulic Fracturing, but recognition must also be focused on the atrocity which is Frac Sand Mining. The destructive consequences of mining are well known and often too common, including habitat loss, air and water pollution, hazardous dust, excessive carbon emissions, high traffic frequency and noise pollution. These byproducts of mining are not new to our world of endless development and sprawl, but the stakes are higher now than ever before.

The greatest human flaw is a failure to recognize the big picture, an inability to see the interconnectedness of everything. In 1863 a settler could live lightly off of a few acres and would see endless undeveloped land in every direction. Under such low population density the use of natural resources was easily absorbed by the native biome (of course the Native Americans were the best example of sustainable living). As population grew the “settled” spaces began to expand outward. Then the small sections of land started to touch resulting in the need for legal definition and fencing. As agriculture became industrialized the fences were pulled out and the soil was turned under without restraint. Only islands of natural history exist today, usually protected by flooding or shallow top soil. In 2013 a land owner may look at forty acres and say “there are plenty of trees here for birds, I’ll just cut down a few”, though arrogantly fails to look beyond the fence row. On the outside of each boundary may sit thousands of acres, striped, plowed and sterilized by industrial agriculture. Over 150 years the islands of habitat are shrinking in frequency and size. The damage from fragmentation has already been done, but those who worship the winking dollar still want more.

Now new technologies are squeezing profits out of previously considered “useless land”. These ecosystems, once protected from human hands by their pure rugged terrain, survived the plow but are now falling to the blasting fuse and shovel. Remnants of 1/100th of 1%, more endangered than rainforests, are being blasted, dug, stripped and leveled to provide a necessary product for another destructive human practice. Underground, the  concealed pollution and destruction caused by hydraulic fracturing requires a terrestrial travesty that is frac sand mining. Just as before, the industrial need to exploit our native biomes pushes forward, fulled by money, and legalized by filthy political inventions.

Just as it has happened for hundreds of years, the pursuit of profits shows no concern for anything beyond exploitation and wealth. The most disgusting fact of this exploitation is that we now collectively know better. History and validated research have told us that plundering any and every resource from the earth will result in adverse affects. A brief look at the Dust Bowl should be enough to shock every American into a mindset that values environmental protection, but we seem to have poor memory and the advertisements tell us not to worry.

If our society continues to ignore science the push for endless growth will cover us in sand. America will become a vast desert as native ecosystems are carelessly destroyed for meaningless numbers in a bank account, or hollow shares in a company. Only one species on earth makes such irrational and cataclysmic decisions based on the values of imaginary currency. It’s time that we figure out a better way.

On frac sand 131019.001 DB

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Fracking is a shortsighted solution to our energy needs

October 3, 2012
Daniel Barron
Freeport, Illinois

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a shortsighted approach to solving our economic and energy needs. The deeper implications of the fracking process and natural gas consumption boom establish a weak and misleading justification for unfounded benefits the industry, and their interest groups, would like us to believe.

1. As a source of jobs, the sustainability of fracking would seemingly rival that of asbestos installation. The boom in natural gas production is supplying jobs to workers displaced by the economic recession, but does that mean these are “good” sustainable jobs? What are the long-term health risks for this occupation? Perhaps one day these same energy companies will get rich again, starting businesses that accept public grants to clean up their own poison. Given this pollution is being injected directly into deep wells, this would be an impossible undertaking, though from a corporate perspective this would be a very lucrative and long-term (endless) profit source.

2. As a proposed clean energy source, the entire spectrum of natural gas bleeds inefficiencies. Exploration and collection processes utilize dangerous chemical mixtures requiring thousands of gallons of fresh water. The exposure and transfer of these chemicals to potable groundwater is almost certain. The entire process from gas well development to transportation incurs massive fuel consumption, and the end product, though cleaner than dirty coal, is still a fossil fuel and a net emitter of damaging greenhouse gases.

3. On claims of safety, the natural gas producers have been very public, but say very little. The human health implications masked in secrecy and defended as trade secrets are no different than the historic concealment of severe health implications from other industrial processes, DDTs, PCBs and sulfur dioxide, to name a few. This invasion on our human right to a healthy and safe environment has happened in the past and continues to occur under the profits-before-people paradigm. The ugly truth of this process is being suppressed, and industry lawyers have health care professionals and the public locked up in an expensive legal cage.

What are better alternatives to natural gas and the shortsighted methods in which it is derived? Alternative energy sources such as solar and wind are very promising in the growth of old and new industries alike. Of course, the best, and unpopular, route to sustainability is to use less energy and waste fewer resources (much less).

The American citizen must exercise vigilance and responsibility for the issues that impact our environment. Future generations will be critical of our decision to act, or to not act. Significant and important change is made in the individual and must come from the bottom up.

Daniel Barron is a Freeport, Ill., resident.

Rock River Times, From the Oct. 3-9, 2012, issue

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