If you were online on Friday, you wouldâ€™ve read, somewhere that the moratorium (read â€śbanâ€ť) on hydraulic fracturing (â€śfrackingâ€ť) was lifted by our government. Now, I am not a scientist, I am merely a guy who loves nature and more specifically, our picturesque Karoo. What this idiotic decision entails is pretty severe and I will try to explain it here in simple terms as best I can. I donâ€™t care if you know what Iâ€™m about to tell you, but please do keep reading, knowing your enemy is half the battle, and letâ€™s make no bones about it, fracking is the biggest enemy our Karoo has faced since, well, forever.
As a starting point we need to know what weâ€™re fighting, so we need to establish what the hellÂ fracking is. According to the BBC it is â€śThe process of drilling down and creating tiny explosions toÂ shatter and crack hard shale rocks to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injectedÂ into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well. The processÂ is carried out vertically or, more commonly, by drilling horizontally to the rock layer. The process canÂ create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.â€ť
This diagram explains it pretty well.
Now, the main problem is that all of the water and chemicals they shove into the ground arenâ€™tÂ removed. The water isnâ€™t purified before it reaches other water sources and in a landscape whereÂ water is a most precious resource, letâ€™s say for example, the Karoo, the effects could, and will, beÂ devastating.
I never fully understood exactly how bad it is until I watched the 2010 documentary, Gasland, whereÂ filmmaker Josh Fox exposes the vicious nature of this supposedly â€śsafeâ€ť gas extraction method.Â From flammable water, to continuous gas leaks, poisoned water sources and dying animals, nothing good comes from fracking, except for those lining their pockets.
Whether itâ€™s done â€śproperlyâ€ť or not, whether itâ€™s â€śregulatedâ€ť or not, fracking is a terrible thing andÂ when you combine a beast with such a destructive nature with a landscape as unique and awe-Â inspiring as the Karoo, there can only be one outcome. Itâ€™s a sad day when our government choosesÂ money over the preservation of our natural landscapes. There will inevitably be the arguments forÂ fracking, job creation, maximising our existing resources, the cash influx, etc etc, yadda fuckingÂ yadda. Itâ€™s all rubbish.
Fracking will not create millions of jobs, it will not solve our economic woes, it will not empowerÂ the people. What it will do is waste the one thing which the Karoo cannot afford, water. The wholeÂ problem is centered around water, here are some scary numbers for you, from the creator ofÂ Gaslandâ€™s research.
â€śGenerally 1 – 8 million gallons of water may be used to frack a well. A well may be fracked up to 18Â times.â€ť When you consider that a gallon is 3.78541 (letâ€™s use 3.8 for easy digestion) litres, then thatÂ equates to 3.8 â€“ 30.4 MILLION litres of water to frack a single well. Then consider the fact that everyÂ well may be fracked up to 18 times, are you kidding me? That is a staggering 547.2 MILLION litresÂ of water. That water will never be cleaned, recycled or reused because of the chemicals used in theÂ process, what it will do, however, is contaminate the underground water supplies which the KarooÂ depends so heavily on.
The numbers of the fluids used also frighten the bejesus out of me, Foxâ€™s research also for that â€śforÂ each frack, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used. Presently, the natural gas industry does not haveÂ to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs)Â such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.â€ť Whether or not that will be different in SouthÂ Africa remains to be seen, but I think the numbers really do speak for themselves, whether we knowÂ whatâ€™s going into the ground, or not, is kind of irrelevant in my opinion, itâ€™s all dire.
Look, I could go on for days about this, but I can already feel the emotions welling up inside me,Â so I will sign off for now. I will leave you with this though, go do yourselves a favour and watch theÂ documentary, Gasland, the devastation and destruction fracking causes was really unbeknown to meÂ I am ashamed to say until Foxâ€™s documentary enlightened me.
Now, all of these stats and things have to do with the USA, so you may be forgiven for asking, â€śbutÂ what about here in South Africa? What are the implications here?â€ť Luckily I am a resourceful guyÂ and found thisâ€¦
I know itâ€™s 24 minutes long, but trust me when I say this, you need to see it. This is your countryÂ and the unearthed crew had taken it upon themselves to spread the word and lead the way againstÂ fracking in SA. For more information about the documentary and the team producing it, head overÂ to the unearthed site, have a look around, educate yourselves, because this is far from over. I willÂ try to keep you updated with these developments and hopefully we can actually make a difference,Â because I cannot imagine a life without the Karoo.
For too long decisions have been made on our behalf, decisions powered by stupid, driven by greedÂ and I, for one, am fucking sick of it.
The Professor, or in this case, Rick,
For more info on fracking check outÂ https://www.facebook.com/uneartheddocumentary