Fracking, in principle the process of drilling into the ground in order to release gas, is probably one of the most controversial political topics currently in the public eye. Attention towards the issue has been building over the past few months, even more so now as the Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he wants fracking to be rolled out across the UK, following in the footsteps of the US.
It is a controversial subject because, on one side of the argument, a large amount of gas has the potential to be extracted (and consequently produce more money for the energy companies and the government). Whereas, those opposed argue that drilling underground to reach trapped gas particles would cause water contamination as well as earth tremors.
But are we missing the bigger picture?
Digging deep into the earth for gas is not going to miraculously solve Britain’s dire economic situation, despite the PM’s predictions of 74,000 job creations and reduced fuel bills. But neither is it going to cause your house to fall down.
However, burning gas still causes the creation of greenhouse gases, which are allegedly responsible for increasing the rate of global warming – CO2 emissions would still, therefore, be increasing. Nevertheless, David Cameron, whose government is supposed to be committed to producing ‘greener’ energy, commented on fracking saying, after encouraging all councils to agree to the process, that: “Nothing would go ahead if there were environmental dangers.” This seems like an ignorant thing to say considering that the Prime Minister should be aware of the detrimental effects of burning gas on the environment. The government is, after all, pumping millions of pounds into constructing wind farms so as to avoid further excess CO2 emissions. Although of course the money saved and generated by fracking is enough to make any politician follow in the steps of America – except this time it’s not for oil and the war is being fought in our own country.
Personally, my biggest problem is that fracking for gas is only a short term solution to a long-term problem. Gas is a non-renewable energy source – it will run out one day. What happens in a few years’ time when we discover that all the natural gas has been used up? It would therefore surely be more beneficial to the country in the long run to encourage investment into renewable sources of power production such as tidal or wave power generators. Gas is all well and good for the time being, but the consequences of such a haphazard idea will become known when the gas starts to run out.
The pound signs flashing in front of David Cameron’s eyes are clearly blinding his vision. The Prime Minister doesn’t know in which direction he, his party and his government is going; another U-turn on the cards perhaps? One minute he's running the most eco-friendly government the UK’s ever seen; the next minute he's rallying the production of gas. One thing is for sure though; he's in a political minefield.
By James Morris