Wednesday, December 19, 2012

#353 / Bombing North Dakota

"Bombing North Dakota" is the title of an article in the Winter 2013 edition of Earth Island Journal. The article is about "fracking," or "hydraulic fracturing," which is the latest technology by which we are stripping hydrocarbons out of the earth, for purposes of combustion. This article has an excellent description of what fracking is, and what it means, and I recommend it.

A rather dramatic chart contained within the article outlines what the future of fracking will mean for North Dakota. In the next fifteen years, oil companies are expected to drill 35,000 new wells. Each well requires the injection of 30,000 gallons of chemicals. What chemicals? That is not being disclosed to the public. They are not benign, that is for sure. Each well also requires the use of 3,000,000 gallons of fresh water. At least 1,000 truck trips are required for each well drilled.

The article does the math. These demands add up as follows: one billion gallons of chemicals; 105 billion gallons of fresh water; and 35 million truck trips. In many areas, it seems likely that the current agricultural economy (and landscape) will not only be disrupted, but will be displaced entirely, and quite possibly forever.

The exploitation of this fracking technology is on the way to making the United States a net energy exporter, rather than importer. It is also spurring on the demise of Planet Earth as we have known it, as our continued combustion of hydrocarbons pushes global temperatures into ranges that will radically change the environment not only in North Dakota, but everywhere in the world. People living in Manhattan should be paying attention, and not just to the price of oil stocks.

We should all be paying attention. The bombing going on when I was in college involved real bombs (in other countries). There is still plenty of that going around, but now we are "bombing North Dakota," too, as this article explains.

Back in my college days, I remember that folksinger, Bob Dylan, from Hibbing, Minnesota. That is up in that North Dakota area, as I recall. Dylan sang, "If God's on our side, He'll stop the next war."

I don't think we can wait around for God on this thing, to tell you the truth. I think we're going to have to stop this war ourselves.

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