The Negative Effects Of Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing or more commonly known as fracking, is a technique with the purpose to retrieve oil and gases from shale rock. The process of fracking consists of violently drilling down into the earth before a mixture made up of water, sand and chemicals is directed at the rock at intense pressures to create fissures in the shale through which the gases can escape and be collected. The term fracking refers to how the rock is fractured apart by the intense pressure of the mixture being fired through the shale rock. Fracking is a very controversial topic and resulted in the formation of many groups and movements against hydraulic fracturing like “Frack off” and the “anti-fracking movement”.

Fracking requires an immense amount of water; every single fracking operation needs millions of gallons of water to conclude the process. With much of the world's population currently suffering from water deprivation, the large quantities of water that is being wasted? During the fracking process. Does put a black cloud over it, as fracking is given priority over the “844 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 159 million people who are dependent on surface water” - according to the World Health Organisation. Also, in 2014 the state Michigan - which has its early history in fracking as t was introduced there in 1952 – alone used up almost 35 million gallons of potentially lifesaving water. Also, during the process of fracking there is a high probability of contaminating natural water reservoirs underground. Which results in not only adds to the millions of gallons of water used up in this operation it's also the unnecessary and easily prevented waste of water.

Hydraulic fracturing results in the release of Natural gases, Methane gas being one of the main components, Methane gas is one of the most potent pollutants in our atmosphere. Methane gas would damage our earth even more, as the methane gas would absorb the heat of the sun and that would result in the warning of the atmosphere. If the fracking continues releasing greenhouse gases, the atmosphere will eventually get to a point where the consequences would be global. For example, temperature increases in the poles which could produce in icebergs which could become obstacles for ship etc. Research by the NOAA discovered that an estimated of 4% of methane is leaking out of the hydraulic fracturing process into the atmosphere. This poisonous gas in the atmosphere can have horrible effects on the human body aswell ,for example sensory and respiratory can be attacked by these chemicals .

Also, the fracking process involves over 600 carcinogenic chemicals which the hundreds of thousands of workers on these fracking sites are exposed to on a daily basis. Not all companies follow all the correct rules and regulations when it comes to the safety in the workplace and the wellbeing of their employees. Some workers may not wear protective gear as it may be an inconvenience to them and make their job more challenging or just simply do not care.

Despite hydraulic fracturing being extremely damaging to the environment, it does have its advantages. For example, it will create a significant number of jobs which would potentially reduce unemployment and poverty drastically throughout the UK. Lord Browne believes that “Lancashire has huge potential … perhaps become the centre of shale gas for Europe”. The unemployment rates for Lancashire are quite high so the jobs fracking could produce could really help the community, and also boost the towns economy. Lorde Brown also believe that an estimate of around 50,000 jobs would be on offer to the surrounding areas of the fracking site.

Also fracking could result in oil and gas lowering in price and become more affordable. This may happen as ‘shale gas’ is extracted in huge quantities and if fracking become more common the price of gas and oil will drop drastically. The big companies will also compete with each other to get the best price which will also make it cheaper. A knock-on effect from having access to all this gas and oil results in the lowering of taxes on gas and oil. Petrol and diesel for cars and trucks as well as gases for cooking will be easier to access and cheaper. But if the prices all drop, more people will be driving, more people will be using more gas to cook which will result in a huge increase in pollution.

Research into the effects fracking has on the environment uncovered the fact that hydraulic fracturing has contaminated water wells, which were source of water which people consumed. The water is being contaminated with the hundreds of carcinogenic chemicals. This has caused upset and havoc in towns and cities over the years, also resulted in massive demonstrations and strikes which some have got out of hand and got people who disagree with fracking in jail or in trouble. There are many other reasons why water is contaminated for example in deprived areas in Africa many water sources are used for everything; cleaning, drinking, cooking. But the chemicals from fracking cause cancer, birth deficiencies and immune system disorders.

So, after looking at the data, I have come to the conclusion that fracking is not a sustainable way to obtain natural gas and oil even though it makes us, the U.K., less reliant on foreign fuels such as oil and gas. Not only do the negatives overbalance the advantages, but the process of fracking does not seem to be a sustainable option. Even though fracking boosts the economy, provides a significant number of jobs and makes us less reliant on foreign fuel it is not worth harming the earth through environmental damage and people sick through exposer to unknown and carcinogenic chemicals in their water and dangerous by-products produced by fracking. 

16 December 2021
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