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Op-Ed: Can people power stop fracking worldwide?

By Alexander Baron     Aug 19, 2013 in Environment
Balcombe - Activists who have descended on the village of Balcombe in South East England have brought a temporary halt to fracking. Can they do this worldwide?
This story has made considerable headlines over the past few days. Not everyone shares the view of the protesters. According to a BBC report today, this technique is "designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock [and] has not caused a single, serious shift in the earth either here or in the US".
Is this the case, and even if it is, are there any alternatives? One person who thinks not is Conservative MP Mark Reckless. Yes, that really is his name. According to City A.M. he takes a dim view of the protesters: "It is incumbent on the government to protect people who abide by regulation rather than give in to mob rule”.
Another MP put her money where her mouth is; Caroline Lucas and her son were among protesters arrested at the site in West Sussex where the firm Cuadrilla is attempting to drill for oil. Miss Lucas (or to use her married name, Mrs Savage) spoke to the BBC about leaving fossil fuels in the ground in order to avert or retard global warming. Let's though not talk about global warming, let's look at this from another, albeit slightly unusual angle.
Coal has been mined extensively in Britain, and this can lead to subsidence. Off-shore, inland and indeed around the world, oil and gas have been extracted from the Earth in enormous quantities. Two years ago the US alone was using over 18 million barrels of oil a day. It is well known that Nature abhors a vacuum, so if you keep extracting solid matter, liquids (oil) or even gas from under the Earth including under the sea, at some point, something is going to have to fill the space. This has been going on for decades, but how much longer can it?
Have you ever wondered where sinkholes come from? And are these stories about fracking causing tremors and even earthquakes really totally without foundation?
Even if the risk has been greatly exaggerated - a big if - do we really need fracking when we have solar energy, wind turbines, wave power, and young girls developing batteryless flashlights?
Existing and new clean, renewable technologies can be developed over the next few years if all that quantitative easing money - money created out of thin air - were to be invested in solar power, wave power, kite energy systems...
There is one thing that might just encourage our governments to do this; the protest at Balcombe appears to have been successful, temporarily. If that sort of pressure and then some can be developed at fracking exploration sites worldwide, governments might decide they have only two alternatives: shoot the protesters, or abandon them and concentrate on solar power, etc. Even in this day and age, shooting unarmed environmental protesters might just be construed as a step too far under either the Coalition Government or the Obama Administration, especially if a few elected politicians follow in the footsteps of Caroline Lucas.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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