America, the UK and many other countries seem to be jumping on the fracking bandwagon as a solution to their energy needs. But…surely there’s a problem? If I’m not missing something the argument for where we get our energy from looks like this:
On the distant days of pre-history the earth had an atmosphere rich an carbon dioxide. During this period it was very hot (because of the greenhouse gases) and not a particularly pleasant place for humans to live. Because there was lots of CO2 in the atmosphere plants found it very easy to grow, and plants create their cellular structure by splitting the Carbon from CO2 and using it to form their cells whilst releasing the oxygen back in to the atmosphere.
So, the growth of vast tracts of forest meant that the carbon was harvested from the atmosphere and the balance of the air moved from CO2 rich to oxygen rich. With fewer greenhouses gases the temperature gradually fell too. Which suited humans very nicely thank you.
Over the course of many millions of years, shifting continental plates and various other geological changes meant that large amounts of these forests were submerged, then covered in silt…then, eventually became fossilised – oil, coal and…yes, shale.
Since the industrial revolution we have had an insatiable hunger for energy and fossil fuels have been an easy way to sate this hunger. Over the years we have developed ever smarter ways to access these reserves – mining, strip mining, drilling…and now fracking.
But, the problem is as we burn more of the fossil rules we are liberating that locked-away CO2 back in to the atmosphere, driving the climate back to what is a very hostile environment for humans.
Any fuel which releases pre-historic carbon in to the atmosphere is a very bad idea. This doesn’t mean that you can’t drive cars, but what it does mean is that you have to grow the fuel you want to use such as Rapeseed Oil
So, from a CO2 and global warming perspective, the shopping list looks like this:
Coal – BAD
Wind – GOOD
Oil – BAD
Nuclear – GOOD
Fracking – BAD
Solar – GOOD
Any short-term gains fracking offers from a low cost and accessibility perspective must be offset agains the long term climate damage of burning yet more fossilised carbon-based fuel.