Sunday, 5 August 2012

Fracking for kids

The hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of deep shale deposits is unearthing a lot of natural gas — and controversy

In the 2010 documentary Gasland, Colorado resident Mike Markham strikes a cigarette lighter next to his kitchen faucet. He turns on the tap and waits a beat. Whoosh! A fireball shoots from the flowing stream. 

The headline and first paragraph set the tone of the whole piece. The Gasland clip has been debunked, but not until the sixth paragraph are we actually told so. Or maybe I should say the kids aren't let in on it until the sixth paragraph, because this is science for kids isn't it? 

A 2010 report that this agency issued evidence suggesting underground coal seams might be the source of methane in the homeowner’s water, not a fracked gas deposit.

So why include the Gasland clip and the flaming tapwater if it had nothing to do with fracking? Rhetorical question I know - experience has taught us why. The piece as a whole is relentlessly negative, but does give a reasonable outline of the fracking process. Yet the intended message of gloom and excessive caution is perfectly clear and the huge scale of the potential benefits is not addressed. Instead we have such dismal warnings as:-

“The health science community is now looking at why health complaints are rising in fracking areas, particularly among children,” says Steinzor of Earthworks. She says that some people who live near fracking areas have been complaining of headaches, nausea, bloody noses and nerve problems. As a result: “New studies are delving into the pathways of exposure and what levels are dangerous.”

This would be an important finding if we could believe it, but energy issues are now hopelessly compromised because of the way advocacy is so often disguised as science. Fracking offers major benefits for our children and grandchildren and ideologues know it. 

Scare kids off fracking seems to be the aim. In only a few years, some of them may become activists, so job done I suppose.


James Higham said...

As one who knows little about this issue, I'm relying on reliable data but it doesn't appear to be about.

A K Haart said...

James - I tend to look at its success in the US. Research is as ever problematic because of all the propaganda. Some of it might not be propaganda, but the field is muddy.