The title is extremely provocative, clearly, and I confess to feeling baited, it’s even caused me to come out of my social media black out for a moment. First, read Bjorn Lomborg’s commentary “What I’d like to see this Earth Day is More Fracking” in the Globe and Mail, 2013, April 22nd. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/what-id-like-to-see-this-earth-day-more-fracking/article11449919/.
We can all admit that technologies worth their salt take time to research and they take investment to perpetuate this research. Currently, all the numbers on energy efficiency are stacked against solar, wind and tidal energy. Lomborg’s commentary brings this predicament into full sun. But, of course these technologies are less efficient at this point; the infrastructure of this era has been built around and is totally reliant upon fossil fuels. What’s to say that this cannot (must) change? We came into this wealth of industry just 200 years ago.
It’s like talking about the cost of fossil fuel dependency to the environment is the elephant in the room. Under our current rubric, the resources of the planet are taken as quickly and (at best) efficiently as possible and sold (at best) to the highest bidder. We are selling out our present at the cost of our future instead of investing in our future at the cost of the present. I mean, yeah, the earth is going to give us the oil (for now) if we keep looking for it (the earth is our silent partner in all of this progress), but we should be smarter than that, considering the consequences of this dependency thus far.
Okay, let’s make fracking and the use of fossil fuels more efficient. That should be among our top priorities, because they are not efficient enough to be 100% safe, and self sustaining. But guess what: they never will be. Fossil fuels will always require renewal (more mining, more refining). Lomborg rightfully sites the reduction of emissions as a positive shift, but what else is there to measure? How about the impact of fracking on fresh water supplies (just to start looking at the cost to the environment of this lower emission fossil fuel). Less emission is not enough. Investing solar and wind and tidal energy is what I consider realistic for our future. Yes, it takes a lot of energy and time and money now, and so what? The end result could be worth the wait. Imagine if New Brunswick spearheaded wind or tidal research (like we did with telecommunications) and came up with a design that revolutionized the way the whole world used energy. That can’t happen if we don’t put our resources in that direction.
Bringing up the false dichotomy of either investing in alternative energy research like solar, wind and tidal, or sharpening up our fossil fuel extraction and refinement techniques makes me kittenish. It’s worse than on facebook when we are shown a picture of a fighter jet and it’s price versus the amount of money it takes to keep the CBC running (on par, coincidentally). People should not have to choose between domestic safety and free media. They are each essential for their own, separate reasons, and it cannot be said which is definitively more valuable than the other. Investing in fracking research versus solar energy research not like choosing one pair of shoes over another, it’s like choosing where you are going with those shoes. Self sustaining energy is not a destination if we don’t invest in it. Our default setting is investing in fossil fuel efficiency for now; we are toeing the party line.
But really? My biggest problem with Lomborg’s article is this quote: “This Earth Day, we need a dose of realism about real environmental challenges – like the air and water pollution which make life so miserable for billions – and the real opportunities that exist for environmental innovation, to make our planet a better place”. * Blush*. The use of ‘realism’ and ‘real opportunities’, given the content of the article leading up to this statement, is a little brazen. First, which definition of realism could one possibly mean when giving a commentary on which energy sources they’d like to see our government invest in for the future? There is no objective, universal good to using fossil fuels, there is no consensus among the everyday man that fossil fuels are the best way, and finally, a description of today’s use and availability of energy sources cannot define what the future use should be realistically. But, the consequence of not investing in research and development of alternative energy sources is universally really bad. Right?
So let’s look at this pragmatically: instead of defining our future by what we don’t want: emissions, oil spills, ground water pollution, let’s look at what we want for the world’s great-great-great grandchildren: clean water, sustainable energy, and hope (among other things that people may or may not agree upon).
Read at this article:
Chief Medical Officer of Health’s
Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas
Development in New Brunswick
Do you feel reassured?
Why not ask the people YOU are paying to research fracking to make a their compelling data public. If there are realistic reasons why my government is not choosing to spearhead research into alternative energy resources, let’s hear it.
The Department of Health: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/contacts/dept_renderer.141.html
The Department of Environment: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/contacts/dept_renderer.139.html
The Department of Natural Resources: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/natural_resources/contacts/dept_renderer.604.html#contacts