Fracking, Denim here to stay
Predicting the future has been a preoccupation of humankind ever since seasonal variations changed the fruit and nut crops in the savannahs of Africa. Throughout history we have relied on various prognostication tools, invoking a plurality of all-knowing deities and an even greater number of fluids.
Speaking of fluids, in the Canadian Province of New Brunswick, in what one would normally call Canadian wilderness, a local first nation community has been protesting against fracking for weeks, at times blockading a major highly and torching police cruisers, landing 40 protesters in jail.
The Elsipogtog First Nation members and the Rexton community aren’t by far the first to claim that fracking is deleterious to the environment. Take for example the residents of Alleghany in Pennsylvania, who allegedly are seeing increased incidence of illnesses in those areas where fracking is the normative process for extracting shale gas from the second round of energy from the landscape. It is not the first time the Pennsylvanians are exposed to energy innovation. On August 28, 1859 colonel Drake struck oil at 21.18 m in Titusville, Pennsylvania, starting a trend that fueled frenzied exploration. Is this déjà vu? What does this tell us about the future of fracking, knowing that the use of crude oil has driven the world’s economy since John D Rockefeller incorporated Standard Oil in 1870 in Ohio?
As luck would have it, denim also appeared in America in 1870. Denim was invented in the sixteen century but acquired a permanent footing as the fabric of choice for the garments of Californian coalmines in the 1870s. For a long time, it was largely worn by workers but became popular in American Pop Culture when jeans became symbolic of protest against conformity. Now that the protest is over, everyone wears denim. Or are we still all protesting?
Protesting against fracking is a global phenomenon. Global Frackdown, an annual event, took place this year on October 19, engaged activists from 26 countries participated in around 250 protests to demonstrate against fracking technologies, which they say contaminate groundwater and hasten climate change. But the history of oil foretells that protesting to ban fracking is as useless as protesting against denim.
Fracking is about to become as culturally anchored as denim, and further weaved into our economic fabric because of its importance in the post-peak-oil economy.
Get our daily investorintel update
Fracking has reversed peak oil, turning America into an energy exporter from an importer, thereby shifting the global energy balance. Shale gas from fracking is now providing 1.7 million jobs in the United States.
But then why are so many people protesting against something to macroeconomically magnificent?
Fracking is nothing like the conventional energy harvesting methodologies: it disrupts local geology to liberate trapped natural gas. Take a well borehole, inject a fluid under high pressure until shale layers separate and then squeeze sand into the cracks so they don’t squeeze back into place. Easy? The problem is that the fracking fluid together with natural gases and other contaminants such as native radioactive minerals can work their way up. Fracking in some locales has led to natural gas coming out water taps.
There should be no doubts that fracking can lead to nefarious local environmental impacts. The key issue is to acknowledge them and then understand them through careful research initiatives. Ultimately we need to build sturdy predictive models between fracking, local geology and ground water. This has to be done so that the macroenomic benefits can be scaled down to local wellbeing.
Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>