|Image Source: forbes.com|
The catalyst for Mr. Mead’s blog post was this report in the Washington Post detailing the findings of a federal report regarding the cause of the major drought that affected large parts of the nation last year. Where climate alarmists had quite predictably leapt to the conclusion that such a harmful weather event had to be caused by the all-encompassing “global warming”, the group of federal scientists who conducted this study found that the drought was actually caused by natural weather cycles. Here is the key excerpt:
Scientists say the lack of moisture usually pushed up from the Gulf of Mexico was the main reason for the drought in the nation’s midsection…Thursday’s report by dozens of scientists from five different federal agencies looked into why forecasters didn’t see the drought coming. The researchers concluded that it was so unusual and unpredictable that it couldn’t have been forecast.
What Mr. Mead wrote in response to this finding grabbed my attention:
At Via Meadia, we think there really is such a thing as climate change, but we also believe that there are plenty of emotionally unbalanced greens whose unrealistic climate alarmism gets in the way of thoughtful policy debate. To listen to the alarmists, floods, fires, droughts, hurricanes and blizzards are all the product of global warming. But, as this report shows, things aren’t that simple.
Unfortunately the climate alarmists are as bad at making policy as they are at reading the signals of the climate system. Until the nut cases and the Chicken Littles get sidelined by smart and responsible greens, it’s going to be hard to have the kind of debate our planet needs.
I found this analysis to be interesting because the very same points can easily be made about the ongoing debate around Hydraulic Fracturing – or “Fracking” as it has come to be commonly known in the news media. Fracking is a vital contributor to the recent renaissance in the U.S. oil and natural gas supply picture, as it is the technology, along with horizontal drilling, that makes producing oil and natural gas from very tight shale rock formations possible. The marriage of these technologies has already dramatically reduced U.S. imports of foreign oil and has made it realistically possible for North America to become completely independent from imported crude from overseas within the next decade.
But Fracking, like any heavy industrial process, has real and potential impacts that must be mitigated and properly regulated. Among those impacts are substantial water usage, damage to roads by heavy truck traffic, potential spillage of frac fluids and management of the chemicals used in the process. Everyone acknowledges these and other possible issues, and like the global warming issue, there are well-intentioned people – in the industry, in responsible environmental groups, in government and the general public – working diligently to find the best approaches to minimize impacts on the environment and the public.
But also like global warming, Fracking has become a money-raising and attention-grabbing boogeyman for all manner of nutcases, chicken littles and radicalized environmental organizations. To hear these anti-fracking agitators tell it, Fracking is responsible for everything from killing Bermuda grass lawns to under-weight cattle to flaming water faucets in “Gasland” to elevated rates of breast cancer to earthquakes to destruction of entire ecosystems. Noted anti-frack activist Yoko Ono was even quoted in the New York Times late last year as saying “Basically, if we don’t do something about it (Fracking), we’re all going to die.”
Yes, that’s a real thing. John Lennon’s widow actually said that, and with meaning. Imagine.
This Forbes.com article
These sorts of wild allegations are invariably disproven upon investigation, but that is of little consequence, because those who make the most noise – and anti-Frackers, like climate alarmists, are quite loud – get the most attention from a news media that thrives on conflict. So the allegations make lots of news and result in lots of calls and letters to policymakers who then feel the need to “do something”, even if that something is completely wrong-headed. Meanwhile, the truth comes out weeks and months later, doesn’t make much news and doesn’t generate much messaging volume into policymaker offices around the country.
As a consequence, good faith efforts by well-intentioned stakeholders in getting it right when it comes to regulating Hydraulic Fracturing and mitigating its real impacts have a difficult time cutting through all the noise in the system to get to real, sensible solutions. And responsible environmentalists who do choose to engage in such good faith efforts often find themselves shunned and vilified by the more radical greens.
This is a shame, and quite counterproductive to the ongoing development of good public policy.
Yet, progress continues to be made despite the anti-frackers’ best efforts to gum up the works. A good example is here in Texas, where the Texas Railroad Commission will soon finalize its rewrite of Statewide Rule 13, which governs well completions and Hydraulic Fracturing operations in the state. This will come after an 8 month long process of public consultation, an effort in which several responsible environmental groups participated in good faith. The final result will represent a great improvement over the pre-existing rule, which had not been updated in two decades.
In the final analysis, the opportunity for American national security and economic prosperity that shale oil and natural gas represent are too big and too important for policymakers to ignore. Thus, while the anti-fracker zealots will continue to make the most noise, make the most news, and raise lots of money, the search for and production of shale oil and natural gas will go on.
More updates on efficient natural gas production can be accessed by following this Dr. Ali Ghalambor Twitter page.