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What’s With All The Fracking?

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“Rethinking energy at the end of the era of cheap energy is crucial and is not optional–the laws of Thermodynamics cannot be repealed and Mother Nature has a way of settling such issues for those who choose to ignore them.” David Hughes

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For those unfamiliar to the process of hydraulic fracturing also known as hydrofracturing, fracking (or fraccing) is another method used by the oil and gas industry to release hydrocarbons from deep under the earth’s surface. The technique of fracturing rock formations entails oil and gas companies drilling a vertical shaft, often penetrating the earth for some two or three kilometers. Then, a horizontal well bore is drilled in an area believed to contain trapped natural gas or oil. Under high pressure a cocktail of chemicals, water, and sand are pumped into the well. This pressure creates fissures in the shale formation, from which oil and gas can escape.

Fracking Rushed Through to Avoid Protests and Maximize Profits

While oil and gas companies have been quick to develop and implement fracking operations, there has been little empirical evidence and few long-term studies conducted to test the safety on natural ecosystems and human populations. It is only more recently that studies have been undertaken which highlight the consequences. A recent study by a Cornell University-led research team, published in the National Academy of Sciences, underscored the risks of these operations. The report into 41,000 conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania revealed that many of the oil and gas wells tapping the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania are leaking methane gas, either into the air or into underground sources of drinking water. (1)

Another more recent study showed that oil and natural gas fracking, on average, uses more than 28 times the water it did 15 years ago, gulping up to 9.6 million gallons of water per well and putting farming and drinking sources at risk in arid states, especially during drought. Fracking was banned in New York last week due to water pollution and climate concerns. While the amount of water used for fracking varies widely from well to well, it seems strange to risk contamination of underground aquifers and ecosystems by polluting the most crucial resource on the planet. (1a)

The Low Hanging Fruit Are All But Gone

David Hughes a geoscientist who has studied the energy resources of Canada for nearly four decades, including 32 years with the Geological Survey of Canada, has most recently worked on a paper titled “Drill, Baby, Drill, Can Unconventional Fuels Usher in a New Era of Abundance.” In conjunction with the Post Carbon Institute, he outlines the fundamental problem with unconventional resource plays such as fracking: “The net energy, or ‘energy returned on energy invested’ (EROEI), of unconventional resources is generally much lower than for conventional resources (traditional oil fields such as those found in Texas and the Middle East). Lower EROEI translates to higher production costs, lower production rates, and usually more collateral environmental damage in extraction.” (2)

So why is there so much fracking going on?

It is estimated that over 500,000 wells have been developed in the U.S alone over the last decade. Unlike traditional (conventional oil) fields which can take decades before they enter decline, fracking has high depletion rates. Estimates and predictions on the rate of depletion from unconventional oil and gas plays vary. However, it is generally agreed that decline rates of individual wells are very steep, especially early in the life of the well (as much as 75% in the first year for the average Eagle Ford), though the decline rates become lower over time and eventually stabilize at around 6 to 7% per year in the Bakken. (3) This means that once a well is fracked, most of the resource has been utilized, hence, the continual need to expand and move to new locations. To put this into context, one of the largest oil fields in Saudi Arabia and the world, “Ghawar,” produced up to 5 million barrels of oil per day in 2009.(4) It takes U.S. fracking operations thousands of wells and fields to match this one well’s production output. Some of the U.S. fields are retrieving as little as 100 barrels of oil per day from a well, hence why they need to exploit more and more territory. While significant amounts of (natural gas) are extracted through fracking, the more highly valued and prized product is shale oil, also known as tight oil.

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Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

The world now uses approximately 93 million barrels of oil each day. This is a dramatic increase from the 1980’s when the world was using around 58 million barrels per day.(5) Back in 1980 there were just over 400 million vehicles on the world’s roads, today there are over 1 billion, most of which run on some form of crude oil. Similarly, in those days China and India weren’t major consumers of oil. Today China uses around 10.68 million barrels per day compared to the 19 million of the U.S. The People’s Republic of China now has the second largest fleet in the world behind the U.S, with slightly more than 78 million vehicles, overtaking Japan in 2010. (6)

This thirst for black gold has seen the development of fracking, tar sands, and deep water drilling as conventional fields start depleting. All these activities represent efforts to maintain production and keep up with global demand. Thus fracking has spread out of the U.S, where it originated, to many corners of the globe. Off the back of the Josh Fox documentary “Gasland,” “Frackman” is taking to the streets in Australia to raise awareness and try to put an end to the environmental destruction being perpetrated. Check out his efforts to help put an end to Coal Seam Gas exploration down under…

WATCH TRAILER TO FRACKMAN BELOW

Article compiled by Andrew Martin, editor of onenesspublishing  and author of Rethink…Your world, Your future.

RethinkcoverCE2Source: excerpts from Rethink…Your world, Your future.

(1) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/is-fracking-safe-for-the-public-and-environment/

(1a) http://www.climatecentral.org/news/fracking-water-use-skyrockets-19177

(2) J. David. Hughes. Drill, baby Drill, Can Unconventional Fuels Usher in a new era of energy abundance?, Post Carbon Institute, February 2013.

(3) http://peakoilbarrel.com/oil-field-models-decline-rates-convolution/

(4) http://www.geoexpro.com/articles/2010/04/the-king-of-giant-fields

(5) http://www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx

(6) Automobiles and Truck Trends.” Plunkett Research. John Sousanis (2011-08-15). “World Vehicle Population Tops 1 Billion Units.” Ward AutoWorld.

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America’s Largest Milk Producer Files For Bankruptcy – Cow’s Milk Is Inhumane & Unhealthy

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Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Dean foods, the largest milk producer in the United States has filed for bankruptcy.

  • Reflect On:

    Independent media and activists around the world do have the ability to make change, and this is one of many examples. The world is waking up, even in the face of massive censorship of information. We are more powerful than we know.

Dean Foods, the largest milk company in the United States has recently filed for bankruptcy. The reason? Because Americans, and people all of the world for that matter, are not drinking as much cow’s milk as they used to. Brands that seem to be growing and having success are the ones who are now offering dairy free options.  Oat milk, for example, saw U.S. sales rise 636% to more than $52 million over the past year, according to Nielsen data. Sales of cow’s milk dropped 2.4% in that same time frame.

Chief Executive Officer, Eric Beringause stated: “We continue to be impacted by a challenging operating environment marked by continuing declines in consumer milk consumption.” He’s right, the demand for cow’s milk has dropped nearly 50 percent since 1975.

So, why are people doing this? Well, it’s happening for a number of reasons. First of all, the industry is full of animal cruelty. Cow’s are forcefully impregnated so they can produce milk, and their babies are taken from them for beef so the milk can be drained from the cow so humans can drink it. This causes tremendous heartache. Cows are living in poor conditions where they constantly suffer both emotionally and physically. Furthermore, they can often be abused by workers, but the conditions they live in on factory farms is already seen as abusive to many.

Not only are we starting to become aware that our milk-drinking habit is one of the most cruel industries that exists on Earth,  we are realizing waking up to the fact that 80 percent of the Amazon rainforest destruction is the result of grazing animals for meat and dairy production. It’s one of the main sources of environmental degradation and pollution on our planet. It is destroying our Earth, and the waste is polluting our environment and waterways at an alarming rate. 90 percent of soy used, which is also creating massive amounts of deforestation, is used for animal feed, not humans. So, animal product consumption is clearly the biggest factor when it comes to deforestation and environmental degradation, yet there doesn’t seem to be enough emphasis put on it like there is for C02. Why?

When it comes to the health aspects, I remember being in shock when I came to the realization that we were the only animal on the planet who drank the milk of another animal. Furthermore, we are the only species on the planet that drinks milk after weaning.

There are multiple studies showing that drinking milk from a cow leads to an increased mortality rate and actually makes bones more prone to fracturing, not less. One example would be this giant study from researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden. How ironic is this given the fact that milk has always been marketed to humans as necessary from strong bone health?  Calcium is available in high quantities in a number of planet, how come we weren’t marketed with that?

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One thing milk protein does is trigger metabolic acidosis. This happens when the body produces too much acid and becomes very acidic, which can be caused by multiple things, including the absorption of casein found in animal protein. Casein makes up almost 90 percent of the protein in a cow’s milk. When the body experiences this type of acidosis, it actually forces the body to compensate by leaching calcium from the bones to help neutralize the increased acidity. This became known to me through the work of Dr. Colin Campbell, an American biochemist who specializes in the effect of nutrition on long term health. He is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. Scholars like Campbell are vital to the world, because they are among the few who actually examine and study nutrition and health, something that our modern day medical industry completely ignores. You can watch a video of him explaining, here.

Dr. Campbell also discovered that animal protein (casein) can accelerate and “turn on” cancer, while plant based protein has the opposite effect. You can read more about that and which him explain in this article.

If we look at all other animals who don’t consume the milk of another animal or after weaning, it is because they do not have the enzymes to break down the sugar found in milk. We are no different, and this explains why in some ethnic populations around the world, lactose intolerance is present in 90 percent of the population. A staggering 70 percent of the world’s population has some degree of lactose intolerance.

Humans actually never had this enzyme, and to digest the sugar in cow’s milk, we had to develop the LTC gene, which was acquired by mutation. This is the lactase gene, which allows us to process lactose as adults. Clearly, we are not doing what is natural and in accordance with our bodies. I first came across this information from Katherine S. Pollard, a PhD at the University of California, San Francisco, in this lecture.

That being said, some people might have evolved and developed on cows milk just fine, which is why this information may not apply to everybody but overall, it definitely appears we are doing something unnatural.

More doctors are waking up, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) recently submitted a citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change labeling on cheese to include a cancer warning.

The petition states:

High-fat dairy products, such as cheese, are associated with an increased risk for breast cancer. Components in dairy such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and other growth hormones may be among the reasons for the increased risk for cancer.

To ensure that Americans understand the potential significant risks, and resulting long-term costs, of consuming dairy cheese products, the FDA should ensure that the notice above is prominently placed on product packaging and labeling for all dairy cheese products.

The list goes on and on, what’s presented in this article is simply a tidbit with regards to why big milk is going out of business. People are waking up.

When it comes to health and cruelty, it’s not just dairy, it’s also meat-eating as well. It’s very in-humane, not all that healthy, and is also destroying our planet.

You can read this article for more information about that: Another Study Suggests That Human Beings Are Not Designed To Eat Meat

The Takeaway

It’s great to see the dairy industry forcing to transition, although there is still a long way to go, it’s quite clear through the efforts of various forms of activism around the world that more people are becoming more empathetic, compassionate, and caring about our treatment of animals and the planet. These are qualities our world certainly needs more of. In conjunction with  the massive amount of animal cruelty that’s being exposed, awareness with regards to the health and environmental consequences of consuming dairy are also skyrocketing.

We are more powerful than we know, and at any time, if we come together, we can change the game big time.

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IKEA Plans To Switch From Styrofoam Packaging To A Mushroom-Based Alternative

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Styrofoam is harmful to our planet, which is why it's great to see IKEA switching all styrofoam packaging products to a compostable mushroom-based alternative.

  • Reflect On:

    If more sustainable options exist why wouldn't we implement them now? As consumers we have a say in creating the type of world we want to live in.

The cat’s out of the bag, by now the vast majority of us are aware that Styrofoam is bad for our environment as it doesn’t decompose and, in its production process, leaches toxic chemicals into our environment. Yet, despite this awareness, it is still being used on a massive scale to package anything from your new flat screen TV to your late night sushi rolls. As consumers we can choose to either support the companies that are contributing to the waste epidemic on our planet — or not.

Thankfully, as awareness grows, some large corporations like furniture giant IKEA are leading the way and choosing more sustainable and harmonious products. No doubt these sustainable options will appeal more to the conscious consumer and even though we can’t be clear as to whether or not these decisions are being made because of a general concern for our environment or because of growing consumer awareness, it doesn’t really matter because, regardless of the why, things are shifting for the better.

Compostable Alternative

Ikea has announced that they will be looking to switch all of their packaging materials from Styrofoam to a new substance called MycoComposite, which is made out of mushrooms and other organic materials. This material is entirely natural and compostable; it grows within a week and will decompose within 30 days. It can also be reused if it is kept dry.

This was a product we wrote about 7 years ago! And here it is today, finally getting the attention it deserves.

The process to create this packaging material is quite simple really–from Intelligent Living:

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  • Agricultural byproducts such as hemp, husk, oat hulls, and cotton burrs are pressed into the desired shape that can fit around items as packaging.
  • Then, it is seeded with mushroom spores that sprout mycelium (a root structure) after a few days.
  • The mycelium threads rapidly through the structure and binds it together to form a shock-resistant and durable packaging material.
  • The last step is to heat-treat the material to kill spores in order to arrest further growth of the fungus.

Mushroom-based packaging uses only about 12% of the energy that is used in plastic production and produces 90% fewer carbon emissions than plastic/Styrofoam production. Non-petroleum-based packaging is just another step towards ending our reliance on fossil fuels; there are plenty of alternative options available, we just need to look. In some cases we simply need to put on our thinking caps, we are a creative, problem-solving species and no doubt there are much more harmonious alternatives for many of our current processes.

The SWOT Analysis below conveys the advantage that Mushroom based materials has over plastic.

Strengths

  • Biodegradable
  • Easily grown from agricultural waste products which are plentiful
  • Strong, lightweight, mouldable
  • Produced using less energy
  • No waste or pollution from the process itself
  • Inexpensive
  • No health risks

Weakness

  • Takes longer to produce than most plastics
  • Less variability and range of products can be produced
  • Not as fire resistant/good as Styrofoam

Opportunities

  • Replace plastic products as a socially and environmentally safe alternative
  • Research is ongoing to improve and create more products
  • Community development through GIY initiatives

Threats

  • Compete against already strongly established plastic dependence (suppliers, manufactures, buyers)
  • Opposition to fungus grown product, misinformed views

One Small Step Towards Massive Change

Just think for a moment, not even just about the hundreds of IKEA stores worldwide, but consider all the big box retailers like Amazon and ALL OF THE STYROFOAM packaging that is being used and where all of that ends up. The fact that technology even exists for us to use a compostable alternative should leave the other substances completely behind. Because why would we continue using materials that are harmful for our planet if working alternatives already exist? That’s a whole other topic, and I’m sure you already know all about the why.

IKEA’s Head of Sustainability, Joanna Yarrow, said this was the retailer’s “small yet significant step towards reducing waste and conserving ecological balance.”

Another Ikea spokesperson told The Telegraph, “IKEA wants to have a positive impact on people and planet, which includes taking a lead in turning waste into resources, developing reverse material flows for waste materials and ensuring key parts of our range are easily recycled. IKEA has committed to take a lead in reducing its use of fossil-based materials while increasing its use of renewable and recycled materials.”

Yes, it may be a small step, but just think of how big this step really is, and we can only hope that other retailers will follow in the footsteps of IKEA. Maybe it goes without saying, but we do have a say in the matter. If other retailers aren’t willing to give up their use of Styrofoam, then we can choose to shop elsewhere, and if enough people do the same, then these other retailers will have no choice but to change their ways. This is why raising awareness is so important.

Much Love

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EU To Ban Bayer’s Pesticide Linked To Harming Bees

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    European Union governments recently widened the EU ban on pesticides linked to harming bees after deciding not to renew their approval for Bayer’s insecticide known as thiacloprid.

  • Reflect On:

    How are these substances constantly approved in so many countries when the science clearly shows they are extremely harmful to the environment, and all animals and insects? What's going on here?

Governments within the European union recently decided to increase their ban on pesticides that have been strongly linked to killing and harming bees after deciding not to renew their approval for Bayer’s insecticide known as thiacloprid. The ban officially goes into effect in April of 2020 but after that, no more spraying is allowed.

The move comes shortly after the EU completely banned the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides everywhere in April of 2019, except within greenhouses. Multiple countries within Europe have outlawed them.

The recent move to ban thiacloprid comes after the European Food Safety Agency published an assessment in January 2019. That report brought to light several concerns about the substance not only killing bees, but also being toxic for humans. The report shed light on the fact that it’s present in ground water at already unsafe levels.

Bee populations have collapsed around the world and the use of pesticides is said to be the main cause. A 2019 analysis of 353 wild bee and hoverfly species in the UK found the insects have been lost from a quarter of the places in which they were found in 1980. The science linked bee deaths to several different pesticides and herbicides is abundant, and it’s available to anyone who simply does a quick search. It’s been published, and has continued to be published for a very long time.

This is a great move, especially given the fact that big corporations, like Bayer, seem to dictate government policy through their stranglehold on various governments and politicians.  This is precisely why it’s taken so long for these bans to come into place.

This particular move by the EU comes after sixteen member states and the European commission had lobbied against it, hoping to actually weaken EU rules on bee-harming pesticides. It was great to see MEPs block this move.

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We’ve seen this type of influence and corruption before, for example, Glyphosate, an active ingredient within Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, was recently re-licensed and approved by the European Parliament. However, MEPs found the science given to them was plagiarized, full of industry science written by Monsanto, which was recently bought by Bayer.

MEPs found plagiarism in half of the chapters assessing published studies on the health risk, which means that half of the science came directly from Monsanto themselves, because the plagiarism was of industry science.  And what does the industry do? Jane Goodall, although referencing GMOs, hammers home the point:

As part of the process, they portrayed the various concerns as merely the ignorant opinions of misinformed individuals – and derided them as not only unscientific, but anti-science. They then set to work to convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that GMOs were safe. (source)

This seems to be the exact same thing that has happened which has seen various pesticides and herbicides become approved over the years.

Unfortunately,  this is how our world is currently working when it comes to such products, so it’s good to see that it’s becoming harder and harder for these substances to be approved. We are making headway.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced their “emergency” approval of spray sulfoxaflor — an insecticide considered “very highly toxic” to bees — on nearly 14 million acres of crops known to attract bees. Crops of cotton and sorghum in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia are all included in the approval, and 10 of the 11 states have been granted approval for at least four consecutive years for the same “emergency.” Five have been given approval for at least six consecutive years.

5.8 million acres in Texas are implicated, which is home to more than 800 species of bees native to that area. This also includes Monarch butterflies and eight species of bumblebees.

You can read more about that story here.

So, as you can see, there is still a long way to go.

The Takeaway

It’s great to see more people realize that the approval of certain substances, like many herbicides and pesticides, is simply unnecessary and very harmful to planet Earth and all who live upon it. Awareness has grown tremendously, and bans like the one discussed in this article are a result of that awareness and the sharing/spread of information. Let’s keep it going!

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