Fracking and other stumbling blocks

UK’s on the hustings. So Scotland as well, of course. The 55th General Election is scheduled for the coming May 7th, 98 days to go therefore. The critical phase of 100 days started past Monday. And in Scotland – or UK, that is – it’s not so very different from Germany: Parties and their leaders would proverbially sell their grans for more votes. Everyone tries to hit the taste of their target group and beyond. Just natural. That’s how campaigns work. I’ll have a closer look at the rhetorical methods used another day, that’s too interesting a topic to just rushing over. Because it’s obvious that badmouthing the opposition plays a bigger part than it would do in Germany.

Today, let’s check out the main topics first. At first glance, it’s much less emotional than the referendum campaigns were, hard facts and disputatious topics are in the foreground. But that’s emotional too, after all. Some of the most discussed are: immigration, austerity (or let’s call it economy, that’s less polemical), NHS/health, Europe and fracking.

The last is a funny thing in an odd way, because everyone tries to use it for their own arguments, and everyone’s right, partly anyway. The Greens and left wing parties or at least parts of them are against fracking, of course, and emphasize how risky that kind of intervention is or can be as it’s not foretellable what it might cause referring to subterranean water and soil conditions. There’s not one party that shrugs their shoulders and says “who cares”, and that’s just understandable (even if they thought “who cares”), because pretty much everyone is concerned about the future of climate and environment, and clean water is the source of all life on earth, so joking about “who cares” isn’t funny when it comes to endangering water supplies.

But water is a good key word here and for fracking supporters as well. A study (amongst others) stresses that fracking saves water, compared to other methods of winning gas and coal. So fracking can be an environmentally and even socially compatible method, on the other hand. Socially, because it’s no secret that the working conditions of miners in conventional settings aren’t the best and dangerous on top. But there’s still a “can be”, and that’s quite silent when parties speak of the fracking pros. The sticking point is the question whether or not chemicals and especially toxical chemicals are used.

Yes, there are clean fracking methods, and not just since yesterday. It’s more than three years ago that I first read about fracking without toxics and polluting chemicals here, and it’s very likely that these methods have been improved meanwhile. There’s a big “but” though. Why don’t all people buy fair trade products? Because they are more expensive. Why does the industry use cheap scents to flavour cosmetics and stuff although the number of allergy sufferers grows? Because of the price. And the price is the crucial point as well when it comes to clean versus conventional fracking. The profit margin is bigger when cheaper materials are used and the maximum is won. And chemicals are cheaper – or aren’t they? This article, just a month old, argues for a cheaper and cleaner fracking with plasma. But if something is new, we don’t know anything about possible long-term damages.

And back we are to the Greens’ arguments against fracking. So effectively, both sides have their points. It’s a pity that both sides reduce their own reliability by keeping quiet about the refutations. If fracking supporters said “yes, it can be a damage to our environment, but there are methods to avoid this, and think about how important it is to be self-sufficient in turbulent times like ours” or if the fracking detractors said “yes, we do need gas, and it’s important to be self-sufficient, but how can we make sure that only clean methods will be used in our country and what they will do to our environment, so think about our children’s future first and forget about the profit”, I’m convinced it would be much more effective than the usual “fracking is bad” versus “we need fracking”. People need explanations, they are no experts, and they believe in explanations more than they believe in claims. So let’s keep an eye out for reliable explanations henceforth.

©Maria Pakura

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