Frack Now. Repent – But Not At Leisure

Think of going the wrong way up a one-way street and multiply the feeling by a hundred for the feeling you get the moment you realise you are approaching a motorway on the wrong slip road. See the ‘wrong way’ sign and feel the fear. Now think of fracking.

 Fracking the earth for shale gas is the ‘Wrong Way’. The implications of fracking for the future of the planet are as frightening as approaching a motorway on the wrong slip road, without the time or the means of turning back. 

Fracking involves drilling at great depth, vertically and then horizontally, for long distances (it is not a small local operation) under the earth’s crust, causing it to crumble and disintegrate from within. This is brought about by the use of toxic chemicals and enormous quantities of water which, when combined, release methane and combine with other chemicals to poison the water that comes out of the kitchen tap. Residents of Butler County Pennsylvania, where extensive fracking was employed in 2019, reported, among other things, sudden attacks of projectile vomiting, headaches, strange rashes and the instantaneous death of a dog who had drunk from a nearby water source. They also reported incidents of water emerging from taps as fire.  

We can only begin to guess at the long term, possibly irredeemable, effect this activity may have on the fresh water we rely on for drinking, agriculture and the ongoing sustainability of the planet as a whole, not to mention our immediate surroundings, were fracking to be employed in a place nearby, as it was for the residents of Poulton-le-Fylde near Blackpool in 2011. That particular Tory constituency has now begun capping its gas wells.

Added to this, is the internal and barely imaginable effect of smashing the very substance of the earth, what holds it together from within and keeps its relatively fragile surface intact. The earthquakes and tsunamis we have seen in the past couple of decades would bear no resemblance to the kind of whole scale and pretty well permanent devastation which the internal fracturing of the earth could bring about within a very short time scale on our own door steps. A British Geological Survey linked the two minor earthquakes near Blackpool which occurred on April 1st and May 27th 2011 to in depth fluid injection linked to the Preese Hall shale gas drilling site. The epicentre of the May quake was within 500 metres of the site.

It is not good enough to vaguely hope that somehow the scientists engaged in researching more viable ways of sustaining human life without damaging what it most depends on, will find a solution and solve the problem in time, or in believing the reassuring platitudes of politicians and others with a vested interest in this industry. Neither can we trust that right thinking and preventive action will somehow prevail.

Christians, the institutional Church and all people of faith need to act on this one before it is too late. Door to door petitions, lobbying MPs, and any kind of peaceful intelligent protest and, where possible, outright resistance, are urgently needed.

Author: Lorraine Cavanagh

Anglican priest living in Wales, UK. Author. Books include 'In Such Times - Reflections On Living With Fear' (Wipf and Stock 2019), 'Waiting On The Word - Preaching Sermons That Connect People With God' (DLT 2017), 'Finding God In Other Christians' (SPCK 2014), 'Beginning Again' (Kindle e-book 2015) All books available from Amazon

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