Fracking: Economics of Extinction
March 13, 2014 • 5:11PM

by Liona Fan Chiang

At a time when half the country is in drought, when 80% of the national crop is threatened and communities are faced with the prospect of turning on the faucet to see no water run, whatever temporary economic relief hydraulic fractured natural gas is bringing to communities, the net effect of this boom is criminal, and coheres with the colonial free trade policies that have brought us the drought and gutted our infrastructure. This is why Lyndon LaRouche and LaRouchePAC have been so adamant that we shut this fracking boom down. In fact, as you will see, the industry would not even exist, or would exist in a very different form, if the progress of nuclear power had not been halted many decades ago.

There are about half a million wells for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or fracking (or ‘fracing’ or one of many ‘unconventional gas drilling’ or ‘shale gas’) in the United States. Each uses 1-8 million gallons of water per tap, and each is tapped 1- 20 times. After the water goes into the ground one mile down, only about 15% of it comes back up, which can be reused for more fracking. Half of these sites are in the drought stricken areas, meaning people are dying from lack of water and, soon, food, while this water intense, so-called economic and clean, process grows. To add insult to injury, much of this gas is being exported, rather than being used to develop the United States. 1VIDEO - Drought: The Time for NAWAPA has Come

Existing arguments of both the opponents and proponents of fracking are equally shallow and short sighted.

Many environmentalists have been up in arms about fracking because of pollution and corruption involved. Much press exposure has been given to claims of contaminated groundwater resulting in water so saturated that it can be lit on fire, or is of a putrid color and smell. Meanwhile, big oil, including Dick Cheney’s Halliburton, has their grubby hands all over the regulatory policies. The EPA and other government agencies have been criticized for turning a blind eye or even helping the oil companies get around regulations. This article has a list of the top most highly bought off congressmen. The proprietary nature of the slush of chemicals, like the secret ingredients in Worcestershire sauce, that are used make it almost impossible to regulate, such that investigators are partially telling the truth when they say that they cannot implicate the companies for hazardous materials, for there is no documentation. Earthquakes have also been reported in areas that have never previously had them.

However even if the fracking industry and the regulatory agencies were able to resolve all of these issues, the fracking boom would still be extinction economics.

Similarly, arguments for fracking have largely grown out of opportunism rather than out of a serious concern for the growth of the U.S. economy. That is why you will find many people who seem to know nothing about the subject arguing for it, including members of congress. Many people are getting some kind of dividend from this heist. For example, a land owner might get paid thousands per acre to lease their land to the frackers, an amount that is likely a drop in the bucket compared to the profit the companies get from the gas. Others are employed in making machines for the industry etc. It’s cheap, employs people, is driving some amount of innovation, and is making profit for America, so why not?

Economics 101

First ask yourself, “what would I think about fracking if we were building nuclear power plants instead?”

Then ask, “what don’t we have since we aren’t going nuclear?” Where would all those resources be if we were on our way to a fusion economy. Humans will progress in any field. The question is to what end. We have already seen that technology and employment involved in video games, no matter how advanced, serves to deaden the minds of the next generation, therefore creating a net loss overall. If we were building fourth generation nuclear plants now and had an intensive fusion R&D program, what types of innovations would flourish? More importantly, what types of new fundamental scientific principles would be discovered?

The real cost is clearer in hindsight, that is, from the standpoint of 50 years from now, looking back. Every energy platform is built on the prior. Meaning, each new technology that leads to the next energy base, such as wood, charcoal, oil, or nuclear fuel, is discovered, tested and built with the previous power source. Each new advance is also dependent on this continuity, in that each denser power source required the development of the prior, in order for it to be even potentially accessible. How many field hands does it take to build a nuclear rocket?

What this natural process implies is that if the previous resource, which will eventually run out, is not used for the creation and development of the next, not only does this progress stop, but that once the current resource runs out, or is rare enough that wars start over gaining it, then that society no longer has the ability or resources to achieve that next platform. The result is a decreasing ability to support the current population, and therefore war, disease and famine. Mr. LaRouche has termed this process a decrease in potential relative population density.

What may be ironic to some, but not to people who deal with long term investments (more than a few years), is that in order to progress you have to increasingly use more of your current resource. To conserve is like the couch potato who refuses to go out to find a job because that would require him to use up resources from his already low supply. Eventually even the potential disappears.

Finally, besides new technology, a new fuel base means a new scientific principle has been discovered. The drive towards fusion power and a fusion based economy will make that very apparent. This has two implications. First, were our workforce to be involved in the various aspects of building a nuclear and thermonuclear economy, whose energy base is fission and fusion, and whose control of materials, medicine, and chemistry in general is at that level of precision, that workforce would be qualitatively different. With the implied access to space travel, utilization, and colonization and many other frontiers we have not yet conceived, the average worker will have much more constant input toward improvement.

The second implication of moving to a new, higher, more energy dense fuel base, is that the previous fuel is revalued. For example, moving to nuclear and thermonuclear right now would put petroleum and natural gas primarily into the more useful, efficient, uniquely suited for, and thus overall more valuable employment of being feedstock for petrochemicals, plastics and other derivatives, and fertilizer, just to name a few, instead of burning them at 30% efficiency for electricity. In general, the effects of a newly discovered and activated scientific principle redefines everything it its place. While technological advances will make each worker more productive, the same farmer, with the same skills and technology, becomes more valuable as he begins to feed a society made of people creating a new mankind, instead of one that is working for Wall Street or trying to create a new Saudi Arabia out of the United States (which may amount to the same thing).

Therefore, step back and relook at the fracking and other fossil fuel extraction policies. In terms of economic value, the current practice of employing engineers and others to contribute to creating a colony-like raw materials exporter out of the United States actually amounts to a net loss. The argument that natural gas, especially aided by fracking, is cheaper than nuclear power, an argument which has been used against building new plants, is just wrong.2Obama’s feared EPA has done its part in creating a backwards colonial society by requiring extensive and expensive environmental impact reports and the like from civil engineers trying to build a dam or anything useful, while it has either turned a blind eye, or explicitly protected the frackers.

Saudi Arabia

Look at the data. Since Obama came in, he has promoted the natural gas business in many ways, trying to claim that it is a clean fuel, though definitely not renewable. Total production has gone up. The ratio of the water intense fracking has shot up. Though Obama was lobbied to impose more export restrictions he instead relaxed them, opening the floodgates for exports.

In 2012, Obama boasted that the United States is becoming the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.3President Obama Discusses Energy in Colorado January 26, 2012 If you are familiar with Saudi Arabia, you are probably insulted. If you are not familiar, briefly: Saudi Arabia is infamous for its wealth of oil, which, instead of investing in the development of it’s people, it exports to fund its many terrorist irregular warfare operations around the world. In fact, though acting outraged at human rights violations in Syria and other places it has shipped weapons to, it boasts the most backward practices. Just one example is that women still have no rights. They cannot drive, they cannot be elected to political office, and their big breakthrough is that in 2015 women will finally be able to vote for the first time.

In other words, you should be alarmed that Obama is declaring that the United States is striving to become like Saudi Arabia in any way.

If anyone is serious about energy self sufficiency, jobs, a better standard of living and non-extinction, first take Obama and imperialism out of the political picture, then let's talk.

Footnotes

2Obama’s feared EPA has done its part in creating a backwards colonial society by requiring extensive and expensive environmental impact reports and the like from civil engineers trying to build a dam or anything useful, while it has either turned a blind eye, or explicitly protected the frackers.

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