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Monday, June 17, 2013

Ecofriendly Economics & Harsh Facts: Drilling

Harsh Facts of the Week

American offshore oil drilling extracts about 1.5 million barrels a day. In comparison, the current daily oil consumption of the United States is 21 million barrels.

Drilling technologies have improved, leading to less spill occurrences. However, at current extraction rates, predictions indicate that in the Gulf of Mexico over the next forty years, there will be one oil spill per year of at least 1,000 barrels.

An average hydraulic fracturing (fracking) well requires three to eight million gallons of water over its lifetime.

In 2011, France became the first nation to ban hydraulic fracturing. 

Natural gas extracted by fracking may have a significant environmental advantage over coal mining; when burned, shale (natural) gas emits half the carbon dioxide per unit of energy as coal. Regardless, fracking adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere through extraction leakage and emissions from burning natural gas. Methane, a greenhouse gas about twenty times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, can leak during hydraulic fracturing. So, it is unclear which is potentially “healthier” for the environment.

Fracking for natural gas provides major economic advantages and allows access to stores of fuel that otherwise would have remained untouched. If you read up on the topic, you’ll find that hydraulic fracturing has disadvantages and advantages, both of which can be heavily and extensively argued. While fracking supporters provide some solid defenses, I still find myself opposed to fracking for one major, overlaying reason.
Our Earth’s fuel resources are limited. Finding new places and ways to obtain it is helpful in the short run. However, in the long run, we’ll eventually be left high and dry, or we’ll suffocate on our own fumes, whichever comes first. Every time the sun shines, a wind blows, and a river flows, there’s raw energy that can be tapped into, perhaps indefinitely so. I want my country, and at the very least, New York State, to realize the superior long term benefits of focusing on renewable energy, rather than temporary solutions to the energy crisis. Instead of pouring oceans of money into lobbying, promoting, developing, and executing fracking, I want the efforts to be shifted to renewable. Developing renewable energy can provide just as many jobs and will be more economical and ethical to carry out than harvesting fossil fuels.
Most importantly, renewable sources are the only reliable way to provide energy to the masses without further damaging the environment. It’s such a simple, healthy concept. So why is a big chunk of society and business fighting back against its evolution? 
We have an addiction to fuel, all of us, myself included.  I’m ready to beat my addiction. That’s why I traveled to Albany today and rallied in the capitol against fracking for over three hours. The details of my experience will be described in a separate post.


Ecofriendly Economics
Paper Straws
            To reduce your plastic use and landfill waste volume, consider purchasing biodegradable paper straws instead of conventional plastic straws. Paper straws are strong enough not fall apart while you use them, but the material they’re made from has a much better impact on the environment.
            So, for all your birthday and graduation parties, vacations, holidays, and various events over the summer, use and provide paper straws instead. They come in all sorts of decorative designs; perfect for parties and celebrations. Kikkerland and Greenmunch offer a menagerie of colorful and festive designs that you can order on their websites. Check Greenmunch’s retailer list to find where you can buy them at a store. Amazon also has a wide variety of paper straws to choose from. 
Kikkerland Decorative Paper Straws
            Get active and vocal! Contact your local restaurants via letter, phone call, or meeting, and urge them to take a simple step in the right direction for the environment and invest in paper straws. Email me at and I will supply you with a premade business letter that will only require you to fill in a few blanks.  

Animal of the Month Update

The scientific name of the Ganges shark is Glyphis gangeticus. Unlike bull sharks, which Ganges sharks are often confused with, they do not need to migrate to salt water to reproduce. The six known species in the Glyphis genus are true river sharks. 

Much is unknown about the ecology of Ganges sharks, but educated inferences can be made based on their body structure. For example, because its eyes are tilted towards its back rather than to the sides or bottom, it can be assumed that Ganges sharks swim along the bottom of a water body, scanning above itself for potential prey back-lit by the sun.

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