It’s official: The Scottish government has announced that they will be enforcing a ban on fracking. Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse explained that this ban is set to come into effect immediately, as he told MSPs: “Let me be clear that the action is sufficient to effectively ban the development of unconventional oil and gas extraction in Scotland. . . . The decision that I am announcing today means that fracking cannot, and will not take place in Scotland.”
This ban doesn’t come without significant support, either. A public consult that received over 60,000 votes regarding the matter found that 99% of people were opposed to fracking. Most cited health and environmental concerns as the reasons for their opposition.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term “fracking,” it’s short-form for hydraulic fracturing. Fracking is simply a method of extracting oil and gas from shale rock, but it’s a fairly controversial one given its potential risks. The process involves high water usage because they must drill directly into the Earth’s core, and then high-pressure water is applied to the rock in order to fracture it and release the gas inside.
The process also involves injecting chemicals into the rock at a high pressure, which people have raised concerns over. These chemicals are potential carcinogens and pose a risk of contaminating groundwater nearby. Fracking is not a pretty sight, and although it may be lucrative, the risks outweigh the benefits (trust me, I used to work in the mining industry).
Of course, the ban will not be put into place without some criticism. Those opposed to the ban worry about the economic impact it will have on Scotland, as fracking is a lucrative business that requires many jobs. Their concern is that these jobs and this money will simply vanish, and that job opportunities will be taken away from citizens.
However, like any large-scale shift in society, as certain jobs are lost, more jobs will be created in different sectors. We witnessed a similar shift in the industrial revolution. People were terrified that machines would take their jobs and livelihood and that they’d have nowhere to go.
In reality, the transition toward renewable energy and away from oil and gas will actually present more jobs for people. The argument that oil creates more jobs than clean energy is nothing more than an old school scare tactic. Solar power alone employs more people in the U.S. than oil, coal and gas combined.
Dr. Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, commented: “It’s excellent news the Scottish government has listened to the thousands of people, campaigners, and politicians across the country who have been calling for a permanent ban to fracking. . . . The climate science is clear. The vast majority of fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground.”
This isn’t just a victory for the environment, it’s a victory for the people, too! 60,000 people, to be exact, clearly supported the Scottish government’s ban on fracking. People want clean energy, and soon enough people will need clean energy.
We often forget that we don’t have an endless supply of oil and gas. These are finite resources, and they come at an extreme cost. We have safer, cleaner options that don’t contribute to the destruction of the environment. It’s time that we make the shift toward renewable or even free energy, so we can say goodbye to fossil fuels once and for all!
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