Tanker Truck in Holding Pond

Residual Wastewater Tanker Truck Out of Control in Holding Pond

Commentary by S. Tom Bond, Retired Chemistry Professor and Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV

Recorded human history goes back some 8 or 10,000 years. How much future does the human race have?

I recently came across a reference to an article in the Oil and Gas Journal published in 2012 which states that the following: “The recovery efficiency for the 5 major [shale gas] plays averages 6.5% …. This contrasts significantly with recovery efficiencies of 75 – 80% for conventional gas fields.” That means that with present technology, some 93.5% of the gas in place is left behind, with the shale altered in such a way that requires still another technology as yet un-conceived-of to remove it, if it is ever done. Not what you would call a mature, efficient technology.

I sent the above picture to a friend at the top of another business in California. He sarcastically remarked, “Is that tanker demonstrating a method of loading the truck by submerging it, like pushing a water pail under the surface of a pond?” Then he said, “If they can’t even keep their trucks from falling into the pond, what can they be expected to control?”

Another interesting article appeared in the Financial Times section on CNBC. Shale gas now amounts to 40 percent of all gas produced in the U. S. Also, the vast reserve claimed depends on what can be removed with technology available today, but without regard for cost of extraction. To use this small fraction it must be available for 12, 14, 18 dollars a thousand someday. When?

Resource exhaustion, and global warming are among several hugely divisive public concerns today. Ignoring them seems to be the litmus test for conservatives. Modern “conservatism” isn’t an extension of what it meant to be a conservative 40 or 50 years ago, but a radical new position favoring big business and concentration of wealth in the hands of those who control these business interests. The rest of us should be content with “trickle down,” to use Ronald Regan’s term. It is no accident that the leading climate change denier in the Senate is Jim Inhofe, of Oklahoma, where oil and gas rule.

There is an article in a newspaper from our state capitol that suggests some modern conservatives are getting the message. In part it reads: At a House hearing on climate change, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) mocked his Republican colleagues for refusing to acknowledge the truth and danger of global warming. “You need to be accountable for all of your costs,” Inglis said, referring to future costs, including environmental damage. “We need to put an ‘upstream tax’ at the mines and at the pipelines to pay for the social costs of [producing and transporting] fuel. We can increase costs of production and cut some taxes.” So what needs to be done can be done with classic conservative principles, he says.

Both considering resource exhaustion (allowing for a lengthy future of the human race) and global warming are wrapped up together. The replies to an article that appeared in Chemical and Engineering News in January include the following comments:

(1) The issue of exporting natural gas comes down to how fast we are willing to hydraulically fracture or “frack” shale to get the gas. The faster we go, the cheaper the gas and the greater will be the urge to export it.

(2) Could it be that the gas industry wants to rush, not just to make money today, but also fearing that slowing down would result in a better understanding of the risks?

And finally, (3). Decades ago, several people in the [chemical] industry were pointing out that crude oil (and natural gas) are so valuable as feedstocks for production of chemicals that maybe those fossil fuels should be saved for chemicals production rather than the ca. 4% currently used.

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A View from the Future (2393)

Some 14 concepts that will be obsolete after catastrophic climate change

From an Article by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, Authors of Book, Washington Post, July 25, 2014

Naomi Oreskes is a professor of the history of science at Harvard University. Erik Conway is a historian of science and technology at the California Institute of Technology. They are the co-authors of “The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future” (Columbia University Press), from which this article is excerpted.

It’s 2393. A historian is recounting the collapse of Western civilization due to catastrophic climate change. In her anniversary lecture, she explains how the carbon-combustion complex and blind faith in free markets during the late 20th and early 21st centuries conspired to prevent action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, until it was too late to prevent the Mass Migration of 2093 and the inundation of the world’s great coastal cities. But first, she has to introduce a few old concepts and terms that may no longer be familiar to her audience:

Bridge to renewables

The logical fallacy, popular in the first decades of the 21st century, that the problem of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel combustion could be solved by burning more fossil fuels, particularly natural gas. The fallacy rested on an incomplete analysis, which considered only the physical byproducts of combustion, particularly in electricity generation, and not the other factors that controlled overall energy use and net release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Cryosphere

The portions of the Earth’s surface, including glaciers, ice sheets, sea ice and permafrost on land, that used to be frozen.

Environment

The archaic concept which, separating humans from the rest of the world, identified the nonhuman component as something that carried particular aesthetic, recreational or biological value (see environmental protection). Sometimes the “natural” environment was distinguished from the “built” environment, contributing to the difficulty that 20th-century humans had in recognizing and admitting the pervasive and global extent of their impact. Radical thinkers, such as Paul Ehrlich as well as Dennis and Donella Meadows (a 20th-century husband-and-wife team), recognized that humans are part of their environment and dependent upon it, and that its value was more than aesthetic and recreational; that the natural world was essential for human employment, growth, prosperity and health. These arguments were commonly disparaged, but the idea of environmental protection contained at least partial recognition of this point.

Environmental protection

The archaic late-20th-century concept that singled out the nonhuman environment (see environment) for legal protection, typically in response to damaging economic activity (see external costs).

External costs

In capitalist economic systems (see capitalism; invisible hand), prices for goods and services were based upon what the market “would bear” (i.e., what consumers were willing and able to pay), without regard to social, biological or physical costs associated with manufacture, transport and marketing. These additional costs, not reflected in prices, were referred to as “external” because they were seen as being external to markets and therefore external to the economic system in which those markets operated (see market failure). Economists of this era found it difficult to accept that one could not have an economy without the resources provided by this “external” environment.

Fugitive emissions

Leakage from wellheads, pipelines, refineries, etc. Considered “fugitive” because the releases were supposedly unintentional, at least some of them (e.g., methane venting at oil wells) were in fact deliberate. While widely acknowledged by engineers to exist, the impacts of fugitive emissions were minimized by the carbon-combustion complex and its defenders, and thus went largely unaccounted (see bridge to renewables; capitalism; external costs). Some went so far as to insist that because methane was a commercially valuable gas, it was impossible that corporations would allow it to “escape.”

Human adaptive optimism

(1) The belief that there are no limits to human adaptability — that we can either adapt to any circumstances or change them to suit ourselves. Belief in geoengineering as a climate “solution” was a subset of HAO. (2) The capacity of humans to remain optimistic and adapt to changed circumstances, even in the face of daunting difficulties, and even if the form of “adaptation” required is suffering.

Invisible hand

A form of magical thinking, popularized in the 18th century, which held that economic markets in a capitalist system were “balanced” by the actions of an unseen, immaterial power, which ensured both that markets functioned efficiently and that they would address human needs.

Market failure

The social, personal and environmental costs that market economies imposed on individuals and societies were referred to as “market failures.” The concept of market failure was an early recognition of the limits of capitalist theory.

Physical scientists

The practitioners in a network of scientific disciplines derived from the 18th-century natural philosophy movement. Overwhelmingly male, they emphasized study of the world’s physical constituents and processes — the elements and compounds; atomic, magnetic and gravitational forces; chemical reactions; flows of air and water — to the neglect of biological and social realms, and focused on reductionist methodologies that impeded understanding of the crucial interactions between the physical, biological and social realms.

Sink

A place where wastes accumulated, either deliberately or not. Industrial powers of the 20th century treated the atmosphere and oceans as sinks, wrongly believing them capable of absorbing all the wastes humans produced, in perpetuity.

Statistical significance

The archaic concept that an observed phenomenon could be accepted as true only if the odds of it happening by chance were very small, typically taken to be no more than 1 in 20.

Type I error

The conceptual mistake of accepting as true something that is false.

Type II error

The conceptual mistake of rejecting as false something that is true. In the 20th century it was believed that a Type I error was worse than a Type II error. The rejection of climate change proved the fallacy of that belief.

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Scientists Link Frack Wastewater Well to Over 200 Earthquakes

July 26, 2014

University of Colorado  Scientists Link 10,800-Foot-Deep Fracking Wastewater Well to More Than 200 Earthquakes From an Article by Brandon Baker, EcoWatch.com, July 25, 2014 When the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ordered NGL Water Solutions to stop fracking wastewater injection operations a month ago, a team of University of Colorado Boulder researchers began conducting its own investigation. [...]

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Health Professionals are Concerned about Frack Area Residents

July 25, 2014

Families sick from fracking exposure turn to concerned scientists From an Article by Lisa Song, Inside Climate News, July 23, 2014 Like people in other regions transformed by the shale energy boom, residents of Washington County, Pennsylvania have complained of headaches, nosebleeds and skin rashes. But because there are no comprehensive studies about the health impacts [...]

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Water Tank Truck Driver Killed on PA Route 88 in Greene County

July 24, 2014

Driver killed after water tank truck goes off Route 88 in rollover crash in Greene County From a News Report of WTAE, News 4, Pittsburgh, July 16, 2014 JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - A driver who carried water for the oil and gas industry was killed after his large tank truck rolled over, hit another vehicle and [...]

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Huge Loss of Jobs Forecast for Europe due to US Shale Boom

July 23, 2014

Europe Risks Losing 30 Million Jobs to U.S. Shale Boom By Priyanka Sharma and Lananh Nguyen, Bloomberg News, July 17, 2014  The U.S. shale-gas boom is placing 30 million jobs at risk in Europe as companies with greater reliance on energy contend with higher fuel prices than their American counterparts, the International Energy Agency said. Manufacturers [...]

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Over 70,000 Fish & Aquatic Creatures Killed by Pollution from Ohio Frack Well Fire

July 22, 2014

Evidence shows that frack well site fire polluted creek & killed fish and other creatures From an Article by Casey Junkins, Wheeling Intelligencer, July 22, 2014 Article Photos: An EPA report states that about 70,000 fish and other aquatic life were found dead near the Statoil Eisenbarth well pad and Opossum Creek in Monroe County [...]

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Two New Fracking Videos of WV by Cineplex Rex

July 21, 2014

Two New Fracking Videos by Cineplex Rex, July 18, 2014 Who doesn’t remember the John Denver song with lyrics about “Take Me Home Country Roads”, and “Almost Heaven — West Virginia”? Many people have had wonderful life experiences in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia. Unfortunately now it is more like ‘Oh My God!’  What are they [...]

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Upcoming Meetings: WV-SORO Membership Meeting, August 23rd

July 20, 2014

WV Surface Owners Rights Organization — Update From a Letter by Julie Archer, July 18, 2014 Mark Your Calendars: WV-SORO Membership Meeting, August 23rd Please mark your calendars for WV-SORO’s upcoming membership meeting. The meeting will be Saturday, August 23rd at Salem International University in Salem, WV, from 10 AM-4 PM, followed by a public [...]

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Part 2. Catastrophic Climate Change in the Seventeenth Century — Lessons from the Past

July 19, 2014

PART 2. “Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century” by Geoffrey Parker A Book Report by S. Thomas Bond, Resident Farmer & Watershed Volunteer, Lewis County, WV There were just three areas on earth that managed to prosper in the Little Ice Age.  One of them was Japan.  It had just undergone [...]

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