Tuesday, March 29, 2011
If you would like to protest Shell's plans to start fracking South Africa's pristine Karoo, please sign this online petition to Stop Fracking in the Karoo.
What is fracking? High-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing. It is a drilling method that accesses subterranean gas. Massive amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, are injected at high pressure to break up rock formations and release the gas. I first learned about the practise from the New York City Garden blog, where Frank wrote about plans to start fracking in New York [earlier I wrote Pennsylvania, in error].
The Karoo lies close to my heart. Every year as a child we hurtled through it on the way to the sea, from the interior. It seemed dry and flat with distinctive koppies in parts and distant mountains in others. In cold winters they are dusted with snow.
As an adult I learned that the dry Karoo rewards close inspection. It is vast, silent, the sky above it a blanket of stars. The air is pure. In spring little violets pop up in dense tussocks. After summer rain green grass furs the roadsides where water has swept off the tar. Flowers open. At night winged ant lions whirr around the light of your camp fire.
Hundreds of millions of years ago this semi desert was a primeval swamp, populated by dinosaurs.
Now that swamp is a source of profitable gas, trapped below the surface.
To learn more about what fracking can do to the environment, here is a link to a New York Times article on the subject. (Under the new subscription rules I have 2 articles left to read this month. Hopefully you have more!)