UPDATED: The Immorality of “No Frackers”
Lets face it we all use fossil fuels. There is no argument there. Some of the most vociferous people I have met are environmentalists deprived of their fossil fuels. I don’t heat my bedroom and keep my home at 60 degrees in the winter nor do most of my environmentalist friends who I note keep their homes at a comfortable 66 degrees or higher. Ironically, many of them also have air conditioning for the summer as well. All it takes is a quick drive through any city to realize that a large majority of folks are using cars for transportation, indeed many communities are designed only for this form of transportation. The fact of the matter is not many environmentalists have “Gone Amish” (too much work). So there is no argument – we all consume fossil fuels.
There is also no argument with respect to obtaining fossil fuels. This process requires mechanical systems operated by humans. Such systems are subject to failure.
These two facts would have no bearing on our current situation were it not for the reality that we now have the potential to develop local energy resources. This ability to extract local energy coupled with the refusal to do so because of risk develops a moral dichotomy for those who continue to consume fossil fuels. So let’s just be clear about what “No Frackers” are saying with their not-so-clever bumper stickers as they drive down the road consuming hundreds of gallons of refined fossil fuel per year using the car in the below picture as an example in this discussion. Of course, that only includes the fuel used by the car below and does not include the additional hundreds of gallons required to get the fuel to market where it can be consumed by folks like our friend in the picture below.
These “NO FRACKERS” are going to continue to consume fossil fuels, However, since obtaining these fuels does involve some risk they expect the poor and disenfranchised people in other parts of the world to assume that risk, not them. “NO FRACKERS” need to examine their sequestered, out of touch, self centered, comfortable lives and understand that their consumption of fossil fuels developed elsewhere in the world can be seen as an equivalent to blood money for diamonds. I suggest these groups learn about Nigeria and other third world countries and what is occurring there to provide fossil fuels to support their way of life. When one couples this with the fact that we are expending immense amounts of energy to transport fossil fuels from around the world to our area it is easy to arrive at the following conclusion.
It is the zenith of moral hypocrisy to refuse to develop our resources while we expect the poor and disenfranchised to take risk with their environment in the name of continuing our preferred way of life.
The argument has been made that it is illogical to bring the destruction that has occurred elsewhere in the world to our own environment entirely misses the point. The fact of that matter is the goal is to attempt to control any such risks to the best of our ability and not destroy any environment. However, since everyone agrees that there are risks who would have the best ability to manage them – our environmentalists or the illiterate masses of Nigeria? It is clear through recent history and New York’s proposed regulatory system that safe and responsible natural gas production would occur in New York and that this resource, which we all utilize, can and should be developed in our backyard.
The hypocrisy of “no frackers” is not only moral it is intellectual as well. There are greater risks to our ground water than what exists in natural gas development. Gas stations and home oil tanks can and do leak. Trucks carrying fuels can crash, farmers and homeowners place pesticides and fertilizers right into the ground water, septic systems are the most common cause of groundwater pollution nationwide, even cows “leak” methane – yet we accept all of these risks given the context surrounding them. If “no frackers” were intellectually consistent then they would advocate banning all of these, drop their use of all fossil fuels or both. However, that would impact on their lifestyles and so they don’t.
UPDATE: As if to prove Dr. Niziol’s point, we recently came across an article by our friend Nick Grealy of No Hot Air, who promotes shale gas development on the other other side of the Atlantic. Nick notes how Princess Irene of the Netherlands proposes to save impoverished South Africans in the Karoo from “fracking” as if this, not their poverty and need for clean energy, were the severest threats to their livelihood. When it comes to soothing the guilty consciences of the undeservedly rich, you just can’t make this stuff up! Quoting Nick, “when we have the super rich cutting the rope to the helicopter the super poor are clinging to, something simply stinks.”