Hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, is a technique of extracting gas that cannot be reached by conventional drilling. It’s taking place on a large scale in the US and Canada and the gas corporations are constantly looking for new areas to explore and extract.
Geological surveys found shale gas deposits in Europe, and while at the beginning the initiative was met with enthusiasm, very soon the fear for safety as well as ecological concerns and simply lack of economic viability compelled some European countries to issue a ban on fracking.
Still there are many governments that strongly lobby hydraulic fracturing even though public opinion largely opposes the new enterprise. UK, Spain and Denmark as well as many Eastern European countries allow fracking, however new drilling projects are often hampered by local residents as well as environmental protesters.
The supporters of fracking claim that shale gas could be the best source of energy for the transition period between leaving fossil fuels and switching to alternative sources such as wind and solar energy. They also say that fracking could create thousands of new jobs and help boost the economy. But at what price?
Fracking requires between three and eight gallons of water per well that is transported by a fleet of trucks. Water is mixed with sand and other chemicals that turn the mixture into a homogenous fluid as well as prevent bacteria and yeast contamination and stop rocks from clogging in.
What exactly goes into the chemical cocktail is a trade secret, but analyses of fracking waste have identified formaldehyde, acetic acids, and boric acids, among hundreds of others. The fracking fluid is then injected at high pressure to fracture the rock causing de facto a small earthquake.
The gas is released from the shale and flows to the head of the well along with about half of the fluid and some dirt and rock that could be radioactive.
The gas needs to be purified and compressed and its pollutants, carbon-based gaseous substances and other dangerous chemicals are burned off directly on-site polluting the air.
The fracking fluid of which only about half is returned becomes a toxic waste that is left in huge open pits to evaporate into air. The other half of the fluid stays underground polluting not only the soil, but more importantly the underground water.
The levels of methane in the water wells around the drill area are sometimes so high that the water becomes flammable and the hundreds of health problems caused by the contamination are quieted down often by huge compensation sums from gas companies eager to keep up the appearances.
Faith Against Fracking
It’s all very bloodcurdling and it’s hard to imagine that anyone would like to have a fracking well in their back garden or in their town. And it’s actually the local residents that are the strongest force stopping the aggressive expansion of fracking operations in Europe.
People are determined to save their homes and they are backed up by organizations which fight to prevent global climate change caused by irresponsible exploitation of natural resources.
Many religious leaders have spoken against fracking and there is even an organization called Faith Against Fracking working to raise awareness and ban extreme fossil fuels extraction.
Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical on Climate Change called on all people to be good stewards of the planet, “to protect the world, and not prey on it.”
The Islamic Shari’ah asks us as humans to be responsible for the management of Earth’s resources since it’s something that we will be accountable for. Thus, it’s time to voice our opinion and join the coalition against fracking.
It’s time fatwas are issued and Muslim organization put it on their agenda to protect Muslims around the world from the destructive consequences of fracking and other aggressive fuel extraction operations.
Among Muslim NGO, only MADE in Europe had anything to say about fracking, when they voiced their opposition as part of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition back in 2012.
They are also running the campaign ‘Green Up My Energy!’ advocating the transition to renewable energy sources in Europe. It’s a great initiative and I hope it’s just the first of many.
– Klein, Naomi “This Changes Everything”, Penguin 2015.
– Lallanilla, Marc “Facts About Fracking”, Live Science http://www.livescience.com/34464-what-is-fracking.html Accessed on 18/08/16.
– “What is fracking and why it is controversial?” BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14432401 accessed on 18/08/16
– “What ever happened with Europe’s fracking boom?” DW http://www.dw.com/en/what-ever-happened-with-europes-fracking-boom/a-18589660 Accessed on 18/08/16.
– Bateman, Christopher “A Colossal Fracking Mess” Vanity Fair Hive http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2010/06/fracking-in-pennsylvania-201006 Accessed on 18/08/16.
– “Fracking Threat to the UK”, Frack Off Extreme Energy Action Network http://frack-off.org.uk/fracking-hell/ Accessed on 18/08/16.
– Petkova, Mariya “Anti-fracking campaigns freaking out Europe” http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/06/anti-fracking-campaigns-freaking-out-europe-201462773614979427.html Accessed on 18/08/16.
– “Green Up My Energy!” Muslim Action for Development and Environment https://www.made.ngo/campaigns/greenup-2 Accessed on 18/08/16.
– Abdullah, Zaynab “Fracking: What’s the fuss about?” Muslim Action for Development and Environment https://www.made.ngo/updates/2012-11-21-13-50-22/item/fracking-what-s-the-fuss-about?highlight=YToxOntpOjA7czo4OiJmcmFja2luZyI7fQ Accessed on 18/08/16.