The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Tag: fracking

Much of Western America Will Be Uninhabitable in 40 Years

Large parts of the US will be riven by permanent drought in the rather forseeable future. And fracking is making it worse… much worse.

The game-changing study from Duke University found that “from 2011 to 2016, the water use per well increased up to 770 percent.” In addition, the toxic wastewater produced in the first year of production jumped up to 1440 percent…

… first generation wells used three to five millions gallons of water, current third generation wells use ten to 30 million gallons….the federal government “forecasts a million more such wells in the next 20 years.”

Moreover, many of these wells are in western areas of the US, which are already water-stressed.

Plus, fracking tends to poison groundwater and aquifers, making those sources permanently unusable, no matter how much remains.

This is the sort of insanity which is routine today: Burning seed corn to heat the house. We know what we’re doing is insanely short-sighted. We know it will come back to burn us badly later on. We do it anyway because it makes money in the short term.

And, of course, in addition to the hydrocarbons it produces, which will increase global warming, fracking produces methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

What we should have done, in the 80s, is pushed hard on renewable energy, but we didn’t. What we should be doing now, oh, is the same thing, but we aren’t nearly as hard as we could be.

As an aside, the hidden truth of the solar miracle, is that it happened because of German subsidies. Solar wasn’t feasible, Germany made it feasible.

If the US had done that, it would have been feasible far, far sooner. But Americans wanted Reagan and “Morning in America” and endless suburbs full of SUVs.

And that’s what the US got. And so a large part of the US is going to become uninhabitable within the next two generations.

Meanwhile, hundreds of fires burn on the west coast of the US and Canada. This is climate change changing the ecology of local areas. This change will be permanent. The new ground cover will not be what was there before the fires.

Climate change is here. It is making itself known. It started with the great storms–more frequent and more powerful than in the past. It continues now with record high temperatures, especially in the arctic, and widespread forest fires. The arctic heat puts us in danger of massive methane releases from the permafrost and the ocean floor. If these releases happen, we can bend over and kiss our asses goodbye.

More on that soon.

This isn’t a disaster, it is a slow motion catastrophe. And it is going to become much worse and much faster…

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One point which can’t be made enough about unconventional oil production is that it uses a TON of water.  Fracking, tar sands, shale all require water to work and a lot of it.

So even if it’s true that we have more than enough hydrocarbons to fry ourselves (as long as we’re willing to pay a premium for it), it’s a trade-off with water.  More oil = more water use.  Hydrocarbons are also key in agriculture, both for machinery and for fertilizer.


This problem has been thrown into sharp relief recently because of the California drought. On top of Nestle bottling water in California, agribusiness growing water intensive crops, fracking is draining resevoirs and aquifers as well.

This problem is going to continue. In coastal regions and continental regions which aren’t blocked by mountains, it’s at least theoretically possible we could move to desalinization plants on a massive scale, build canals, and move the water inland. But desalinization is still an extremely inefficient technology and canals running essentially uphill also require huge expenditures of energy.

Water, oil, agriculture, and suburban expansion (eating into naturally productive farmland which doesn’t require huge supplies of water from elsewhere) are all related issues.  We’re looking at genuine water shortages in large parts of the world as well as dust-bowls: Expect to see them in India, China, the US, and elsewhere.

There are solutions to these problems, but we should have been moving towards those solutions decades ago and we weren’t.  As a result, a lot of people are going to suffer and die who needn’t.

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How To Stop Deliberate Fouling of Aquifers by Frackers


Industry illegally injected about 3 billion gallons of fracking wastewater into central California drinking-water and farm-irrigation aquifers, the state found after the US Environmental Protection Agency ordered a review of possible contamination.

According to documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, the California State Water Resources Board found that at least nine of the 11 hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, wastewater injection sites that were shut down in July upon suspicion of contamination were in fact riddled with toxic fluids used to unleash energy reserves deep underground. The aquifers, protected by state law and the federal Safe Water Drinking Act, supply quality water in a state currently suffering unprecedented drought.

Now.  Will anyone go to jail for this?


Did they save a lot of money doing this, and therefore make money?


Will they continue doing it?


What will stop this sort of thing from happening?

Sending senior executives, CEOs and board members to maximum security prisons, after impounding all their assets under criminal forefeiture laws, thus forcing them to rely on public defenders.  Prosecute them under RICO statutes to make sure you sweep the executive suite.)

(No, I don’t approve of criminal forfeiture laws as they exist right now (seizure before guilt is proved), nor do I approve of RICO.  But if they’re being used against ordinary people, they should be used against the executive class.  Best way to get them repealed, too.)

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Ethical Priorities: frack, kill, keep people homeless

In the US there are five times more houses sitting empty than there are homeless peopleIn the EU there are twice as many empty houses as homeless.  In the US, the EPA’s budget has been cut 25% since 2010.

To say that having houses sitting empty while people have no shelter is an ethical abomination is an understatement.

To cut the EPA while the Oceans are acidifying, fish stocks are collapsing, climate change is continuing and will wipe hundreds of millions of poeople minimum, and while the world is in the middle of a human caused great die-off of species is an ethical abomination.

Meanwhile there is plenty of money for drones and for spying.  And even more money for the bankers who are sitting on empty homes.

This is deliberate government policy.  Be clear, the government effectively owns those homes, since it underwrites almost the entire mortgage market.  It could do something other than just leave them empty, but its first priority is to artificially keep housing prices high by keeping supply off the market, and to slowly transfer those houses to private investors so they can use them as rental property.

Likewise, Obama talks a good game on the environment,  but actual government policy under his administration has been to increase domestic hydrocarbon production as fast as possible: which means fracking and unconventional oil, both of which are vastly harmful to the climate and the environment, and which poison water supplies.  Destroying your own country’s water supply in exchange for a short term boost in oil production is the very definition of short sighted, crazy and evil: the number of people who will die because of poisoned water supplies, and because that water can’t (or shouldn’t) be used to grow crops is immense.

Watch the hand: actual government policy is to impoverish you, destroy the land, air and sea, and to make you sick.

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