For many, fracking’s ‘golden age’ doesn’t glitter
Hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method of extracting natural gas deposits from under shale, has been heralded by the International Energy Agency as ushering in the Earth’s ‘golden age’ for gas.
So perhaps oil is going to peak, but natural gas has yet to properly boom. Gas does produce less CO2 emissions than oil (but more methane) and is cleaner than coal, but it still emits and pollutes more than renewables.
Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ as it is often called, has a host of other concerns including massive water use, contamination of ground water with chemicals as well as air pollution. It’s even been linked to earthquakes.
It’s no mystery then why environmental campaigners are voicing their disapproval of the IEA report.
But the IEA also warns that the development of renewables energy sources could fall to the wayside due to the availability of natural gas.
From the Guardian:
Renewable energy may be the victim of cheap gas prices if governments do not stick to their renewable support schemes.
Fatih Birol, chief economist, IEA
According to Birol we need renewables as the golden age of gas is not synonymous with the golden age of climate.
In the recession-hit US state of Ohio, residents are grappling with the uncertainties of the fracking boom. How will it impact human health when the number of hydraulic fracturing gas wells increases by 30 fold within the next 3 years?
Read more about that in Nature.
Meanwhile South Africa seems to be favoring a massive telescope project over gas exploration in its Northern Cape province. The project covers hundreds of kilometers, which cannot be disturbed by things like radio waves, air traffic or even trees. It also covers an area believed to be rich in shale gas deposits. Will the telescopes and the search for extra terrestrial life supersede gas exploration? In the long run who knows, but for the moment astronomy seems to be winning.
Read more from Reuters.