Here’s an animated take on 300 years of fossil fuels (via Crooks and Liars):
This feels somewhat disjointed. How do you get from coal to the collapse of the global financial system? But this does make sense.
There’s a Pulitzer Prize winning book called “The Prize,” written in 1994 by Daniel Yergen, that shows how oil is tied to every major development since the discovery of the first oil field in Pennsylvania in the 18th century. Gasoline went from being a useless byproduct that oil companies couldn’t even give away (they made their money on kerosene) to the foundation for industrial domination and political power.
The global impact: A bunch of nomads in the deserts of the Middle East became billionaires because they happened to reside on a part of the planet that has some of the world’s biggest oil reserves.
The military implications: World War I launched warfare on an industrial scale. The day the generals in Paris commandeered the city’s cab drivers and got them to drive soldiers to the front to fend of the German invaders showed that an effective mechanized fleet instead of horses would forever change military strategy.
Infrastructure: General Eisenhower took a look at the Autobahn in Germany and realized the importance of an elaborate national highway system. President Eisenhower launched the development of the interstate highway in the U.S.
And now that we’re addicted to oil, we’re being asked to go cold turkey because the junk is killing the planet. Yes, global warming has been an issue for a while, and despite the fact that it’s real, deniers still pull out all stops to ensure nothing is done to address the issue.
The new oil extraction technique, fracking, is now being blamed for another environmental trauma:
Cuadrilla Resources, a British energy company, recently admitted that its hydraulic fracturing operations “likely” caused an earthquake in England. Predictably, this news quickly sent a shockwave through the U.K., the oil and natural gas industries, and the environmental activist community. And it certainly feeds plenty of speculation that the same phenomenon could be occurring elsewhere.
Speculation that would be well-founded, evidently. Right on the heels of Cuadrilla’s announcement, news is spreading that the United States Geological Survey has released a report (pdf) that links a series of earthquakes in Oklahoma last January to a fracking operation underway there. Evidently, a resident reported feeling some minor earthquakes, spurring the USGS to investigate. They found that some 50 small earthquakes had indeed been registered, ranging in magnitude from 1.0 to 2.8. The bulk of these occurred within 2.1 miles of Eola Field, a fracking operation in southern Garvin County.
An exaggeration? I don’t know, considering this happened this weekend:
In the heart of tornado alley, Oklahoma is no stranger to mother nature’s wrath. But in 2011, extreme environmental conditions have risen to another level, with records set for a potpourri of natural hazards including earthquakes, heat, cold, wind, hail, and snow! And that’s not to mention one of its worst droughts in memory.
Saturday night’s 5.9-magnitude earthquake was the largest in the state’s history. The quake was felt as far away as Dallas and Des Moines and followed up by nearly 20 aftershocks.
The record earthquake comes on the heels of unprecendented heat across the state this past summer. Oklahoma’s July average temperature was a scorching 88.9 degrees, the warmest to occur in any state during any month on record.
Bizarre weather. Earthquakes. Maybe Oklahomans don’t believe in climate change, and would rule out fracking as something that’s destabilizing the ground under them. But if you want to place bets on the cause of their problems the answer could be closer than you realize.
- USGS Report: Link Between Fracking and Oklahoma Earthquakes (crooksandliars.com)
- Fracking May Have Caused 50 Earthquakes in Oklahoma (treehugger.com)
- Experts Say Oklahoma Earthquakes Stronger Than Fracking Tremors (huffingtonpost.com)
- British Fracking Causing Quakes? (energyindustry002.wordpress.com)
- Fracking Firm Admits It Caused Earthquakes in England (treehugger.com)