Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fracking is perfectly safe

Says a leaked report that New York State has been trying to hide for the past year.

The facts are that they have yet to find any evidence of any groundwater contamination due to fracking, and not for lack of trying. The EPA went to Wyoming and did a pathetically unscientific study where they took four samples and couldn't find contamination (other than the chemicals that they injected themselves), New York will now have to admit that they couldn't find any evidence of contamination.

In spite of all this, Matt Damon is now starring in a new movie about how horrible fracking is and how unethical the energy companies are.  I wonder how many people are going to believe that this movie is based on fact.  Hollywood loves to claim that their movies are fiction and that they can't be blamed for the fact that people believe the lies that they include (Matt Damon himself claims that this movie doesn't take a side in the debate, but people who have seen the movie note that energy company employees are almost routinely portrayed as unethical and that small town people are likewise routinely portrayed as ignorant and unintelligent).  The problem is that when a movie is made about a current issue, there is an assumption by most viewers that the story is actually true.  No one believes that somewhere, in a galaxy far, far, away, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo are actually fighting the Empire (or even that they were a long time ago).  But they might believe that there is a corrupt energy company official destroying the environment for immediate profit if they see it in a film.

How many people still believe that PG&E, the California energy company, caused thousands of illnesses and deaths through their release of minute quantities of Chromium-6 into the water supply in Hinkley?  Probably most.  The reality?  There has been no scientific evidence that Chromium-6 could have caused any of the symptoms that the lawsuit claimed.  PG&E settled for millions of dollars rather than go through a trial that would have outraged the average person watching the news, as hundreds of people paraded through the courtroom with tear jerking stories, all of them anecdotal.  On the other side of the argument would have been some scientist pointing out that none of their symptoms had anything to do with Chromium-6.  Who would have won that debate?  Lots of sad, but non-scientific stories vs science.  Given the way our media plays up environmental cases it would have been a slam dunk for the sad stories and, even if the company had prevailed, we still would have been told that the evil corporations lied to get out of paying out settlement checks.  The settlement resulted in less negative publicity than PG&E would have received from a trial.

We need to start thinking a bit more about the science and a bit less about hysterical claims made by those who have no interest in the truth.  I don't know what the agenda of environmentalists is, or even if there is a single agenda, but it seems like they are always opposed to things that will create jobs (Keystone pipeline, fracking, industry) and for not doing those things that will create jobs.  Is there a way that we could have both, jobs, a better standard of living, and a clean environment?  Probably or maybe possibly. But it won't happen as long as Hollywood continues to demagogue and lie about the issues.

2 comments:

Queenie Regner said...

Well, I agree with you that people should start thinking and not just believe what they hear and see from others. They should consider the benefits of fracking to the people and the country. Opening more jobs, giving options for the government to invest cheaply, and discovering new and alternative sources of energy are just some of the benefits. But it is reasonable for people to think the opposite. I think there is still the matter of concretizing the potentials of fracking to be tackled for some to believe it.


@Queenie Regner

heresolong said...

Queenie,

When you say "reasonable to think the opposite" you are illustrating the problem. It is patently unreasonable to oppose fracking because it is poisoning the water if it isn't poisoning the water and there is no evidence for that claim. It is unreasonable to make a movie suggesting that fracking is poisoning the water and that those who support fracking are lying when in fact you are the one lying. It is unreasonable to misrepresent your true beliefs by slandering your opponents. If someone oppose fracking because they think we should all power our iPads with children's laughter and that capitalism is an historical evil that should be overthrown to establish a people's paradise, then they should feel free to say so and make those arguments. Flat out lying about the alternatives is not a reasonable action, it is deceptive, dishonest, and any other synonym you care to insert here.

As far as "concretizing the potentials", the potentials of fracking are about as concretized as they can get. Safe, cheap energy. That's pretty concrete.