Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Something Fishy With Fracking

With the energy debate now gaining attention, only two decades late, there is also a lot of research and comment.  Some of this is more informed and some less.  Some of it is on large issues and others on what seem to be small.

This is from the US Geological Service about The Blackside Dace and what might happen.  As at one time considerations of this kind would have been regarded as of little concern in the rush to take advantage of energy requirements, now it will add to the debate.

The unhappy truth whichever side you care to be on and there are more than two at present, indeed more like twenty, in the history of humanity the quest for energy sources and allied to this the profits and wealth to be gained there has always been a reluctance to admit the disadvantages.

It is rare, if ever, that they are so limited as to give us a free hand without trouble or losses of some kind.  Looking at the way this has impacted on the various environments and social structures down the ages damage and destructive influences are a given.

These come with "progress" of one sort or another and human organisations that we call "civilisations" despite slavery and the extensive stripping of resources that often occur. 

Also, inevitably there are a train of unintended consequences such as the creation and collapse of empires with wars, mass migrations and all the attendant human follies.  Which is more or less happening at the moment.

Recently, the age of coal brought its problems as anyone living where subsidence was routine will testify, never mind all the industrial and political matters.  The age of oil has created others. 

It may have given us cheap food for a generation or two but the cost has included extensive poisoning of the planet one way or another. After a long time stuck on the local motorway this morning this was all too evident.  The price for that is beginning to be paid.

Fracking is a development of and variation on the quest for oil and gas, perhaps not the same but a new phase. If anyone seriously thinks there will be no downsides they can think again.

There are the peddlers of all sorts of potions if enough simple minded people can be persuaded to hand over the money.  One is wind farms and there are others.  They promise a little power at the cost of a lot of money going into a small number of pockets.

One energy source being suggested is based on Thorium.  It is said that in a saner world this would have been chosen instead of uranium or plutonium. But the big political boys wanting the big bomb toys for their power games did not agree.

We might just learn to better harness the sun or other natural sources without too much cost but it will be a slow business and we are already running far too late in terms of the historic costs on old systems and powerful vested interests hanging on to their sources of wealth.

Apparently the one thing we cannot be expected to do is to live our lives in such a way as to sharply reduce the energy we use. Unluckily as we are  now too late to deal with our existing problems without more damage and destruction then this is unlikely.

Of course a rapid and radical reduction in demand triggered by economic decline due to severe increases in energy costs and supply may do it for us.

Inevitably, it will be an unintended consequence as will the political mayhem it causes.

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