We’ve been enjoying the benefits of energy independence and record-low oil prices for almost a couple of years now. This has impacted everything from low prices at the pump to cheaper groceries and consumer goods. However, this reprieve comes at a cost, and we are making a very dangerous gamble to our health and well being as a result of the way in which we are obtaining all of this cheap oil. Fracking may help our wallets, but it is also putting a significant portion of the population at risk, and the government is trying hard to keep this reality off of the public radar.
We’ve seen an increase in seismic activity in areas where fracking occurs. One of the larger ones occurred in 2016 when a magnitude 6 quake struck Oklahoma and was felt in seven other states. Fortunately, it caused minimal damage, but that was only because its epicenter was far from large cities. It’s only a matter of time before a quake strikes near a populated area and causes significant damage.
Earthquakes caused by fracking occur because the process of extracting oil from the ground below fractures the underlying bedrock. This creates man-made fault lines, and they will only get bigger over the course of time, just as a small crack on a pane of glass can rapidly expand with little effort. A lot of people dismiss this as being overly-paranoid or a tool by environmentalists to stop fracking, and this misinformation is produced by large oil companies and the government, but it’s a reality that impacts all of us.
Water Shortages and Contamination
We’re in the midst of one of the worst droughts in recorded history, and it’s not limited to California. The entire western half of the United States is facing an unprecedented water shortage. This is impacting everything from crop production to delivering drinking water to more than a hundred million people. It will only get worse over time, but the threat is often unnoticed by the average American because it’s not mentioned in the media.
Fracking accounts of the largest source of groundwater depletion, and supplies are dwindling fast. Look at it this way: It takes an average of 8 million gallons of water to operate a single fracking site. Currently, there are over a million oil and gas fracking sites in the United States alone. To make matters worse, most of the water that is used for fracking becomes contaminated with over 600 toxic chemicals. Furthermore, the clean water that is removed from groundwater sources is not replenished. Instead, it travels into rivers and streams, ultimately entering the Gulf of Mexico where it is having a documented impact on fisheries.
The water that does re-enter the groundwater supply is contaminated. Unfortunately, municipalities do not have the capability to remove these contaminants before it’s delivered to our homes. The only thing we can do to avoid exposure is to buy bottled water, since traditional filtration techniques don’t work. Remember that boiling water or using a filter is intended to kill off bacteria and microorganisms that can make us sick. It does not eliminate chemicals.
Another byproduct of fracking is air pollution, which is another thing that the government doesn’t want us to know about. While we see blue skies, gases emitted from fracking, which are often odorless and colorless enter the atmosphere and can be transported very long distances. Remember acid rain due to pollution from manufacturing? Fracking is doing the same thing. The only difference is that we can’t see it.
The contaminants that enter the atmosphere are called Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. VOCs are linked to a wide-range of health problems that include birth defects, anemia, cancer, autism, the destruction of the immune system and heart problems. Medical experts and toxicologists who have been following pollution caused by fracking have concluded that people who live near or downwind from fracking sites are up to 30% more likely to have babies that are born with birth defects. Again, this is something that isn’t made public by the government or energy industry, and they’ve been largely successful in convincing the American people that these health risks are unfounded.
Get Informed, Stay Healthy
This is just a short list of the many hazards over fracking that we are going to have to come to terms with sooner or later. Unfortunately, there is also little that we can do to stop them from happening since the damage has already been done. The best advice is to obviously avoid living in areas that are impacted by fracking or drinking contaminated water. However, how can this be even remotely-practical if the majority of people in the Western United States are at risk?
I’m not trying to knock fracking, but there are better ways to go about it in order to protect our health and the health of generations to come. Unfortunately, the government, along with the energy industry is reluctant to invest the money necessary to minimize risk. So, once again, its on us to take matters in our own hands. One thing that we can all do is purchase a water test kit that looks for VOCs. Another option is to ensure that we are getting water from clean sources.
Finally, it may sound extreme, but moving to a safer area may also minimize the impact that contaminated water can have on our health, well-being and survival. This isn’t a political issue. This is a life-or-death threat that is exposing a third of our population to serious health risks. If you are serious about preparedness, then learn more about fracking and how it may be impacting water quality in your area. The more you can do to minimize risk now will pay big dividends in the future, and this is no joke. We’re facing a public health threat that none of us have seen before, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.