Climate Change vs Fracking

by Kathryn on February 13, 2017

Fasten Your Seat Belt

Four years ago, I attended a fascinating talk by Richard Alley about melting ice and climate change at the AAAS conference in Boston. Read my post about it here.

When I found out that Muse magazine was going to focus an upcoming issue on climate change, I immediately remembered that talk and pitched an article based on some of its themes. Here’s my favorite line in the article:

“Arguing that we shouldn’t do anything to prepare for climate change because disaster is unlikely is like arguing that you shouldn’t wear a seatbelt because you probably won’t get into a fatal accident.”

A few weeks after this article came out, I received author copies of my latest book: Special Reports: FrackingAt first glance, it seems as if these two projects oppose each other. After all, fossil fuels (such as the natural gas extracted with fracking) are to blame for climate change. In order to limit the negative effects of climate change, we have to stop fracking, right? Probably.

Actually, the book on fracking attempts to take a fair look at both sides of the controversy surrounding this drilling technique. And climate change is one of the most interesting aspects of the debate because the two sides claim opposite things! Pro-fracking folks (the ones who actually believe in climate change) claim that natural gas provides a cleaner, more climate-friendly alternative to coal and oil. Natural gas emits much less CO2 when burned. That is true. Anti-fracking folks say that cheap natural gas slows the adoption of cleaner energy choices (like solar and wind). Also, natural gas extraction, transportation, and storage sometimes leaks methane into the air, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Also true.

While working on this book, I enjoyed walking a line between the extremes of the environmentalists and the energy companies. Both groups have many fair points to make. The more everybody educates themselves about the issues, the more productive conversations about climate change can be. And maybe we can get that seat belt buckled in time!


PS. I also wrote another book: Bad Days in Exploration. This one isn’t one of my all-time favorite projects. It’s mainly a compilation of silly and strange facts. But I’m still happy it’s out!


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