Friday, April 15, 2011

FFFFracking again!

Saliem Fakir, the head of the Living Planet Unit at the World Wildlife Fund South Africa, hasn't wasted a moment. Shell has just announced release of its environmental management programme for its drilling for shale gas, and the unshaven one is out there with his usual list of "could"s and "might"s and "legitimate concerns".

What it adds up to is another step back into the dark ages, yet another potential source of energy and wealth doomed to the gloom of GREEN. When will these Job's comforters wake up to the fact that nothing we do is without risk? Risks can be managed - that is what engineering is all about.

In this case, fracking will be about 1000m deep, way below the water about which WWF is so concerned. Yes, a pipe containing chemicals will pass through the valuable aquifer, but that does not mean it will contaminate the aquifer. Yes, there is a risk the pipe might break, but that is remote if it is properly engineered. Yes, fracking will involve the use of some water - but if successful, it could create billions of rand, which our country needs, as well as giving us a source of energy which is far cleaner than coal.

So all the "could"s and "might"s and "legitimate concerns" are postulates which have to be offset by the far more important postulate, that this could be a source of wealth for all our people. Whom should we believe? asks Fakir. What do you want, and what are you prepared to risk? That should be the question.

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