Oil is one commodity that is precious to our civilization since most of the civilization depends on it. Whether its transport or production every cog of the well-oiled machinery called civil society depends on it. That is why, there is always a kind of race to occupy and mine the Earth’s remaining subterranean oil reserves among the superpowers of the worlds. These new methods of oil mining are developed every day to produce more and more oil from a reserve. One such method is Hydraulic Fracking.
What is Hydraulic Fracking?
Hydraulic Fracking is one of the most efficient ways of mining oil from reserves deep underground. It involves creating fissures by injecting a highly pressurized fracking fluid which consists of water sand and other materials suspended in thickening agent and creating more pathways for petroleum and natural gas to flow more freely. In the absence of the pressure created by the fluid, the sand and other solid constituents of the fracking fluid hold these fissures open.
Looking at this method from a purely commercial point of view, fracking is highly successful and the most efficient way of mining oil that is also economical. However, it does have quite a few drawbacks which have brought it under the scrutiny of many countries.
Increase in seismic activity due to fracking along previously unknown faults is one of its major drawbacks. However, its impact on the environment is even more damaging. It is known to cause noise pollution and also cause contamination of groundwater, not to forget the afore-mentioned earthquake triggering. This is just the tip of the iceberg though. Many countries have banned this practice due to fear of decay of existing ecosystems on which it also has a grave impact.
Impact on various ecosystems:
Various ecosystems are hit hard by this practice of fracking. One of the hardest hit is the river ecosystem. Hydraulic fracking uses a lot of water, millions of gallons in fat, not only that this water, when not directly available from local sources is ultimately drawn off from rivers and supplied to the fracking site. Thus it reduces the amount of available freshwater. It doesn’t stop there. The chemicals that are used in this process have a tendency to seep back into the source, which so often happens to be rivers and freshwater lakes. This directly affects the river’s ecosystem and endangers fish and aquatic plants that all grow with the river as their centre of life. Fracking also endangers human life by contaminating the surface water and reducing its availability.
Vegetation is also at risk since it will take one oil spill to destroy the soil and its composition thereby destroying the vegetation growing on it. Unfortunately, while this risk is always there in the oil-mining business fracking increases this risk manifold.
So, is fracking worth all of this damage? No. It puts a great strain on the overall environment of the site and the existing ecosystems. To mine more oil at the expense of Mother Nature does not seem to be a humane thing to do and while it could put a wider supply of fuel at our feet for our needs, it is not ethical or moral especially if we cannot fix the damage that is done by fracking to Nature which is often permanent and irreparable.