Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fracking in the Karoo

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!)


  1. I have just been learning about how totally devastating fracking is to our fragile planet.

    Thank you for spreading the word. My problem is that I do own a car and drive and feel like a hypocrite sometimes, though I do live lightly on the earth.

    Sending thanks to you across the miles,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  2. Thank you Marie. Fracking is TOTALLY UNTHINKABLE in our pristine Karoo. Shell - go away and leave South Africa and the Karoo ALONE.

  3. Thanks for this. My parents work at a Aids hospice in the Karoo every year, it is so close to their hearts, I will pass this on to them. Belinda x

  4. Marie,

    Thanks for your influence:)

    The fracking I've bloggered on about is for NY state, as PA has already been fracking for a couple of years (Gasland, Dimock, etc., etc.)

    The frack is worldwide now, and why wouldn't it be? But what I would like to see here is oil and gas drilling submit to the on the books clean air and water laws. That's it. After that, enforcement of those laws.

    Yep, we're carbon burners, alright.

  5. Similar stories here.
    I've signed and sent the info. to others.

    It's not easy being green when my housekeeping $ comes from coal!

  6. Signed. No fracking way. Many thanks for the alert Marie.

  7. Good Morning from the USA.

    Marie, I just love the photography, and once again reminded of how beautiful the Karoo is.

    I have an energy blog in the USA www.rereact.com, and added your blog link under one of the Karoo articles.
    ReReact is a great place to sample energy articles, and find educational links on various energy topics.

    Baie dankie/Thank you.
    Salome Viljoen

    PS: I was born and raised in Piet Retief

  8. Did you know there's fracking here in Pike County?

  9. Shell have devastated parts of Nigeria an other parts of the forld.Now they want to Frack up the Karoo as well!!!Only Shell and the Government Fat Cats will benefit and we will be left with a devastated land.Short term gains and long term problems.
    Robin Jofe.


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