Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Gas Boom Projected to Last for Decades (google.com)
34 points by geargrinder 1691 days ago | hide | past | web | 28 comments | favorite

Paywall-less Google link to article: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&#...

This is based on an enormous unproven assumption, which is that fracking can be done without incurring catastrophic environmental costs. Coal mining and cigarettes look economical too as long as you foist the real costs onto the general population.

I found this short fracking discussion enlightening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW_xJqPjE_I#!

Thanks for the link. The expert in the video says that he believes fracking is safe, yet the facts he cites support the opposite conclusion.

According to the video, unlike ordinary natural gas drilling, fracking involves pumping toxic chemicals (including benzene and formaldehyde) under pressure into the ground. But like ordinary drilling, failures can and do occur. The video cites faulty drilling casings and operator incompetence as the causes of two incidents where water was contaminated with natural gas, and a third incident where water was contaminated by trucks bringing benzene to the drilling site. That the first two failures weren't unique to fracking and that the third was not directly related to the drilling itself are not rational reasons for discounting them in assessing the overall risks of fracking.

Even if the expert is correct in saying that the risk of failure is the same as ordinary drilling, it is the consequence of failure that must be considered. If the risk for a plumbing failure at a nuclear power plant were the same as the risk of a leak in my garden hose, no reasonable person would conclude that the plant was therefore no riskier than watering my lawn. Yet that is essentially the logic applied by the video's 'expert'.

Potable water shortage projected to last indefinitely.

I think it's rather that there is another totally reasonable and historically accurate assumption that catastrophic environmental costs need not factor into the projection.

It is not reasonable to assume that because a phenomenon is not observed in a small sample size, that it will also be absent in a much larger sample size. The volume of fracking fluid being pumped into the ground today is orders of magnitude larger than has been used historically.

I think he means that the companies have a history of not being stuck with environmental cleanup costs or other secondary costs- and thus even if there will be enormous damages, it won't impact their profits.

Ah yes, under that interpretation I would agree wholeheartedly.

Eh, yeah and that's the correct one. In the interests of brevity I guess I left some ambiguity there in what I meant.

If our anonymous downvoter has information to the contrary, it would be helpful if they would post it.

In other news, the wanton, unregulated, for-profit destruction of our water table and environment is projected to last for decades.

If not here, then elsewhere. We're decades away from a green economy.

We would be decades away even if we decided to invest what was necessary to get us there, and with the current levels of investment, I would be unsurprised if we're still drilling for oil full blast when I die.

Oh, it's definitely elsewhere as well. They're doing it on the outskirts of Melbourne now, too. Australia is full of the stuff and it's only just now beginning to be exploited.

Can we not submit stories that have a paywall? This sounds like something I'd be interested in, but not $21.99 interested.

Paywalls aren't ideal, but they often have the better content.

Easy way to hop over the WSJ paywall: search title on Google, open link in incognito NYTimes paywall: Open link in incognito. After 10 articles, close all incognito windows and try again.

Well, solar boom has been going on for billions of years and predicted to last billions of years. And most of it is FREE or LOW MAINTENANCE. Oil guys should think about it.

I would not be so enthusiastic. It has also been well established that this solar curse is the driving force behind global warming.

To be more fair natural gas is our perfect bridge fuel to a renewable future. Coal powerplants can be replaced right now instead of waiting for unsubsidized competitive solar. Nuclear powerplants can be brought down for maintain and improvements. Cheaper energy will drive manufacturing and save families money on heating.

Problems exist to be solved, fracking's problems are no exception and the reward is progress.

Problems exist to be solved, fracking's problems are no exception and the reward is progress.

Yes, we just need to get the drilling industry to recognize there is a problem. Necessity is the mother of invention, and regulation is good way to create necessity. Auto manufacturers fought clean air restrictions and fuel efficiency requirements, but those regulations spurred them to innovate. I'm sure the drillers would as well.

>I would not be so enthusiastic.

Why not? Germany is ramping up renewable output pretty fast these days.

It's not cheap, but it's sustainable and affordable, and you're protected from volatility in the hydrocarbons market.

Energy is needed to produce those solar panels. You also need space and the grid to move the electricity around. Oh and store it at night (if you don't have a backup source of power).

I'm partial to nuclear, there is enough Uranium in Australia to keep us going for at least 1000 years or so.

Solar is not even close to free. The systems and materials you need to collect it cost huge amount of both money, and environmental impact.

Nuclear plants and coal-powered plants also require environmentally-unfriendly material to build and maintain, no?

Coal-powered plants, sure (they even release radioactivity, moreso than nuclear plants). But while nuclear power plants are generally huge (no good reason for that, though, you can make them the size of car too), their environmental impact relative to their production is almost nil.

Why ?


Calculations suggest that nuclear power has less impact than solar power installations (panels need to be produced, contain lots of toxic chemicals, take yet more toxic chemicals to produce, and -eventually- end up in the garbage can. Add to that, that panels are only specced to produce about 20x their energy production cost over a period of roughly 20 years. Installing solar panels means that the first 3-4 years (more if you're not in Florida) you're actually making the co2 problem worse). The worst nuclear power plants produce 50000 times the energy needed to build them on a yearly basis (compare solar panels, perfectly placed, 1/4th to 1/3rd). For the best ones, that factor is tens of millions.

If you actually need power, of course the only metric that matters is environmental impact relative to power production. Now we can argue about what is included in that and what isn't, like mining (coal, of course, has mining too, and much worse). And look at that graph, in reality uranium mining is less impactful than coal mining for thousands of time more energy.

I also like the argument that when people say "but nuclear plants produce long-lived radioactive waste". Well, no, technically they massively reduce long-lived radioactive waste. If we don't use it, it's effectively in the ground, massively dispersed over large areas (generally not deep), and not dug up, constantly irradiating humans and animals. There's a city (in Iran, called Ramsar) where the natural background radiation level is more than in the reactor of a nuclear power plant. It's healthier to swim in the reactor pool of a nuclear reactor than to walk around in that city. Yet people just live there, unaware and unbothered.

  > U.S. natural-gas production will accelerate over the next three decades, new research indicates
The graph seems to indicate a slowing rate of increase? Of course, it only shows gas as a percentage of US production, and I guess oil and coal production is projected to go down -- so the only way for the graph to be negative was if gas was depleted sooner than oil and gas?

"Oil and gas production from fracked wells thus starts out high but suffers ferocious decline rates—up to 90% in the first year alone." http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-end-of-sh...

Sorry about the pay-wall link. Hard to tell which link I had. The free one was shared by shard below. Maybe the mods can fix the link in the original.

It looks like IRC Chapter 1, Subchapter I - Natural Resources is in for a re-write as the USA no longer needs to encourage domestic production.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact