Did you know that a 2011 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Oklahoma was caused by fracking? (Pritchard,1) This is shocking because the area isn’t particularly known for earthquakes. Evidently, many effects arise from fracking, including positive economical effects and negative environmental. Each day, fracking is becoming a more and more controversial topic. It has even been banned in certain parts of the world. But what is fracking? Fracking, the use of highly intensive fluid pressure to retrieve natural gasses from below earth’s surface, is a economic and environmental conflict that impacts the world in many ways, such as giving us access to oil that can’t be accessed regularly, however it also affects us by speeding up global warming, therefore finding a balance and understanding this issue is important for the future of the world. In order to understand fracking, its causes need to be understood.
A 2018 study by BP found that the United States is the world’s leading oil producer with over 15% of the world’s oil producer passing Saudi Arabia this year. Globally, 92.65 million barrels of oil is produced a day, but why? (Nick, 1) This is because oil is used in many ways every single day, varying from things such as cooking or transportation. With all the need for oil, there had to be a more productive way to get it. Consequently, fracking was discovered and has been in use for generations. But when was fracking discovered? Fracking has been around since the days of the Civil War (1860s) and is still around today. Early forms of fracking include the use of a torpedo in an iron case to extract oil from oil wells. (Manfreda, 1). However, fracking became more advanced in the 1930s when acid was used in place of nitroglycerin. The following decade was when the first discovery of hydraulic fracturing, modern day fracking. Modern fracking was advanced in the 1990s, with a horizontal drill added. Fracking will likely continue to evolve and become more and more productive. In summary, fracking is a constantly advancing way to access natural gases and was caused by the world’s need for a large oil supply.
The second cause of fracking deals with economy. There are many countries that rely on oil production for their main source of income including Iraq, Libya and Algeria. For example, 99.8% of Iraq’s income comes from oil and natural gases (Hutt, 1). Given that Iraq’s GDP is approximately 199 billion USD, (Trading Economics, 1) we can calculate how much Iraq’s economy would be affected without oil and natural gases. Multiplying, 199,000,000,000 with 0.002 is about 1,400,000,000. Therefore, without oil Iraq would have 1.4 billion USD left. That isn’t enough for a country with 38 million people to thrive. But is that really enough for any country to thrive? Fracking enables these countries to expand their economical outreach and further their international capability. In conclusion, many countries rely on oil production in order to stay self sufficient and fracking is able to help them grow as a country. On the contrary, what if fracking was more of a setback than a way to improve?
With fracking becoming more popular the question arises… What are the consequences of fracking? The main consequences of fracking are how it affects global warming and how it affects water. When fracking, natural gases such as methane are released into the atmosphere. This means that fracking is just as dirty as coal is. In fact, natural gas wells produce up to 60% less methane than fracking wells (Fracking and Climate Change, 1). Fracking is not just bad for global warming but it also affects water usage and contamination. Fracking affects water usage because the fracking process takes millions of liters of water. One study shows that to produce 441 million barrels of oil, it took 632 million barrels of water (Dickman 20). Fracking also takes up water that should be used in homes and businesses. In addition, fracking contaminates water with methane in groundwater. Studies have even shown that methane is up to 105 times worse than carbon dioxide for the atmosphere in context of global warming (Fracking, 1). The contaminated water isn’t easily disposed of either and has caused several recent earthquakes (Dickman 25). This means the water people drink may not be safe if they live close to fracking wells. This can take away the humanitarian right to feel safe and secure. Not being able to drink water without second guessing it, is definitely an issue. All in all, fracking negatively impacts the environment in terms of water and global warming. It can also take away rights of everyone in not being able to feel safe. However, there are ways to fix the fracking issue.
There are numerous ways to fix the issue of fracking and protect everyone’s rights. One solution involves replacing water with liquefied petroleum gas. With this, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) can be used in the same process of intensive pressure to release natural gases from shale rock (Westerling, 1). This will enable the continued use of fracking and saving water. On the other hand, LPG is only useable with select shale rocks. This will limit the outreach for this solution. A different solution is to use recycled water instead of the typically used fresh water. This method involves making the recycled water into a highly viscous fluid in order to be used like fresh water (Kiger, 1). For this reason, recycled water is an ideal way to continue fracking without using excess amounts of fresh water. Lastly, fracking may have devastating consequences but it also has resolutions in preparation.
In conclusion, one of today’s most controversial topics, the economical and environmental conflict in hydraulic fracturing or fracking, is one with great advantages and major drawbacks. Fracking can damage the environment in terms of contributing to global warming and by eliminating freshwater and contaminating it. However, it can also boost the economy and is necessary in the daily lives of everyone. In the end, fracking can be considered a way to improve life or to ruin life, depending on the point of view. Despite what people may believe, it is important to remain educated on the topic and to understand it through tests and research. Fracking isn’t just about an issue on supplying natural gases, it is whether or not a thoughtful decision is made.
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