As the world keep modernising, it needs more and more energy to run. This energy is obtained from various sources. Energy sources can be classified into two broad categories on the basis of their nature. These categories are – renewable and non-renewable. Renewable energy sources including solar energy, wind energy, hydro energy, et cetera. Non-renewable sources of energy are fossil fuels. Furthermore, there are various types of fossil fuels. These include natural gas, petroleum, coal, et cetera. There are also multiple ways to obtain these fuels. One of those ways is fracking. As is true of all things, fracking has its own advantages and disadvantages.
WHAT IS FRACKING?
Fracking is short for “hydraulic fracturing”. It is the process of drilling deep into the ground to extract fossil fuels such as natural gas or oil.
This process starts by drilling a well of 1.5 to 3 kilometres into the ground. After this, steel or cement is used to encase the well. This ensures that the well does not leak into nearby groundwater.
After reaching the layer where the fossil fuel is found, the well is curved. The angle of the curve is nearly 90 degrees, so that it begins to drill vertically.
After the entire length of well has been drilled and encased in cement/steel, the well is pumped with fracking fluid. This fuel is pumped at an extremely high pressure. This pressure needs to be strong enough to fracture the surrounding rock. This ensures that it creates cracks in these rocks, allowing gas or oil to flow through.
This fracking fluid is mostly made up of water. In addition to that, it also contains sand and ceramic particles. These are added to hold the cracks and fissures open after the pressure has been relieved. They are also known as “proppants”, and ensure the free flow of natural gas and oil from the well.
Advantages of Fracking
Access To More Gas And Oil
No matter what you say, fossil fuels remain the lifeline of the modern world. From cooking to heating to running industries, vehicles and electricity, these fuels are required in almost every aspect.
As fracking can reach to the depths that other extraction methods cannot, it gives us access to more if these fuels. One of the major fears of the world is that fossil fuels are reaching the point of extinction. We still can’t imagine a life when that happens.
With unconventional sources of fossil fuels, fracking can elongate the time. This has a major advantage. Scientists get more time to search for more viable alternative fuel options for the ultimate future.
Leads To Lower Taxes
A knock on effect from having access to more gas and oil is the lowering of taxes on essential things like gas and oil. Petroleum for cars as well as gas for cooking will become easier to access and, therefore, cheaper.
These are the things essential for living but also the most heavily taxed and expensive. The poorer sections face the brunt of this. Fracking helps to reduce this cost to a great extent.
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Leads To Self-Dependency
A major factor in international diplomacy in modern times are fossil fuels. Countries which have vast resources enjoy a greater seat at the negotiating table.
Many times, they also influence decision making within countries they help through fossil fuels. Even in the recent past, the inability of many countries to call out the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia was because of the country having great fossil fuel resources.
Fracking helps countries become self-dependant by identifying oil and gas in their own countries.
Better Air Quality
Fossil fuels have long been said to be environmentally dangerous because of the chemicals that they release into the atmosphere. At least, this is true of coal.
However, access to more gas means that we naturally start to use more gas, and as more gas is used, less carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. This means that gas is a much cleaner fossil fuel, and, if more people start to use gas, the quality of air will start to improve.
This is one of the major advantages of fracking as it gives us access to even cleaner fuels that might not have been available.
More Employment Opportunities
Fracking is a relatively new industry. Henceforth, it has been able to create many new jobs.
In a world suffering from a crisis of employed people, this serves as a welcome change for the people.
Disadvantages of Hydraulic Fracturing
Reduced Focus On Renewable Energy
The moment that we find a way to use fossil fuels for a longer time, our search for better renewable energy alternatives stops right there. Scientists had started looking beyond fossil fuels to look for cleaner energy alternatives.
If we have plenty of gas and oil left thanks to the improved method of extraction, the need to find alternative energy sources is drastically reduced.
Henceforth, people go for the more easily available fossil fuels.
Increase In Water Pollution
Even though fracking might have a good impact on the air quality, water is facing a threat because of it.
It uses a hundred times more water than any other conventional method of extraction. This leads to a depletion of the water resources in and around the source of fracking.
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In addition, a great degree of chemicals is released during fracking. Even though most of it might be collected, some manages to seep through and enter reservoirs. This ends up destroying the well-functioning ecosystems.
Leads To More Droughts
Fracking uses so much more water than other techniques employed to extract fossil fuels from the earth that there has been an increased number of droughts in and around areas in which fracking has taken place. In addition, some people are starting to have a problem with the idea that half of the country is suffering from natural droughts but that the biggest energy companies are still allowed to use huge amounts of water – that would have otherwise been good for drinking or watering gardens – to get gas that we do not strictly need.
On one hand, we spend millions to cultivate good water conservation techniques, while on the other hand, methods like fracking destroy all that hard work by their devastating impacts.
Noise pollution is on the rise as a result of fracking. It is a very loud process and goes on for ages. For people living very close to places where fracking is taking place – since it can take place almost anywhere, including areas that are otherwise highly populated – the constant noise of heavy vehicles coming and going for days on end can have a huge impact on daily lives.
The sounds might create hearing problems for people as they are continuously exposed to these extremely loud sounds.
This has a specifically bad impact on young children and on old people.
Nature Of The Mixture Used In Fracking
Extraction companies are still secretive about the mixture that they have been using in fracking. This leaves them out of the eyes of scrutiny about the nature of the substances that they have been using. Most often, dangerous substances are being employed.
This has extremely dangerous impacts in the longer run.
Pros and Cons of Fracking
|Access to more gas and oil||
Reduced focus on renewable energy
Leads to lower taxes
|Increase in water pollution|
|Leads to self-dependency||
Leads to more droughts
Better air quality
|More employment opportunities||
Nature of the mixture used in fracking