Stephen A. Fuqua (saf)

a Bahá'í, software engineer, and nature lover in Austin, Texas, USA

Struggling to feel fully informed about fracking

two sides of one coin

On the one hand, fracking has been responsible for earthquakes and creates toxic water that must be locked away interminably. On the other hand, cheap natural gas is replacing coal and thus lowering the projected greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., thanks in no small part to fracking. Furthermore, it is one of the few growth industries in America, helping the economy recover from hard times. They say the earthquakes can be avoided by better techniques, but I have not heard anything positive about the water supply. In some ways, this feels worse than nuclear fission, which provides the POTENTIAL for nasty poisoning of the environment, whereas fracking by definition requires destruction of increasingly scarce (at least here in Texas) water.

It would be trivial to find articles backing up the assertions above. But are they reputable? “Whoso seeketh out a thing with zeal shall find it” [The Seven Valleys]. Ultimately, I lack clear and objective information that I can trust. So much of what is said, including by me, is about feelings and fears, to the extent that it feels disingenous to take a real stand. That means it is time to “investigate reality”…

“The first teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the duty incumbent upon all to investigate reality. What does it mean to investigate reality? It means that man must forget all hearsay and examine truth himself, for he does not know whether statements he hears are in accordance with reality or not. Wherever he finds truth or reality, he must hold to it, forsaking, discarding all else; for outside of reality there is naught but superstition and imagination.”

[Promulgation of Universal Peace]

To examine truth itself means to look at scientific facts and then apply them, along with clear ethical standards, to the question at hand. It requires looking at the totality of the impact on both people and nature, rather than the egoistic NIMBY approach we all stumble into so often, across the political spectrum. For fact, and policy implications, I will start my research with two organizations I trust to present science without muddying themselves in the waters of partisan politics — the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Nature Conservancy. And perhaps I’ll attend an Environmental Defense Fund webinar this week. More to come, after some detailed reading.

image source: Open Clip Art Library.

Posted with : Social Discourse, Climate Change