Shale Gas Fracking-Friend or Foe?

By December 12, 2012 In the News, Uncategorized, W2O Blog

Fracking Diagram from Legal Press

Whilst the Doha Conference on Climate Change focuses on policy-driven initiatives to limit CO2 emissions, an article in this month’s National Geographic demonstrates the importance (and questions) of commercially-driven action.

Fracking, the process of accessing natural gas deposits in shale, has reduced US reliance on dirty fossil fuels, such as coal and oil and helped reduce CO2 emissions by more than 7% since 2005 ( US Environmental Protection Agency).

The picture sounds rosy, except that as CO2 emissions have declined, methane emissions have risen and methane traps at least 25 times as much heat.   Just last week the EPA released a study of its final research of hydraulic fracking and its effect on the environment.  The Huffington Post published an article with the pros and cons that outlines the risks and the benefits. Could shale gas be worse for the environment than coal? Should we be investing in hydraulic fracking or look to renewable energy to help curb our emissions?

Still, some hope lies in the fact that the capture of methane is a great opportunity to slow global warming, since it is much easier to capture than CO2.  Moreover, as a valuable fuel, it raises the possibility of its capture as a commercially-driven prospect rather than policy-driven. One thing that is very clear; there isn’t an easy answer and something needs to happen to protect our already fragile environment and the health of future generations.

Claire Calleawart is a W2O Board Member. She has her Masters in Zoology from Cambridge University. Read more about Claire in the November Board Member Profile

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