Mythology—one of my first high school classes—heightened disbelief rather than admiration. I couldn’t understand how people who gave us Socrates, Aristotle, Archimedes and Euclid could believe gods and goddesses lived on Mt. Olympus, influencing their daily lives. I did admire the sturdiness and beauty of the temples like the Acropolis, still standing in spite of repeated bombings. How could the Greeks, with their Lyceums, amphitheaters, sculpted columns, and beautiful temples actually believe in the stories of Mercury, Narcissus or Hydra? Mythology is indeed seductive, no matter how intelligent the believer. Take for example:
Myth #1: Fracking provides jobs.
Minimum wages jobs for road building, clearing and digging are available then discontinued, once the preliminary work is done. In-sourced employees perform the high technology work. Mobile towns sprout up along with gambling, prostitution, and alcoholism. Oil and supplies are trucked in and out. At least trucking pays well. Yet jobs alone do not fulfil human needs; people want quality of life with schools, clinics, markets and village life for socializing and making friends.
Myth #2: Fracking provides energy independence for our country.
Remember capitalism and the free market? The oil and gas extracted will go on the open market and sold to the highest bidder, probably not stay here. And suppose we do become energy independent. Will we enjoy living in a changed climate? Will we like going to the supermarket to find shortages of bread, meat and eggs? Fresh oranges, apples, lettuce and carrots? Polluted and inadequate water destroy crops. How about more droughts, forest fires, floods and hurricanes? Will we choose wealth and power or choose the people?
Myth #3: Fracking will grow our economy.
Economic growth has limits. Data show that after reaching a certain level, gross domestic product (GDP) levels off and begins to decrease. People want increased quality of life; this means good schools, health care, adequate housing, and a vibrant community with friends, libraries, sports and cultural events. People want fresh air, trees with shade, plenty of healthy food, and happy children with potential futures of fulfillment.
Myth #4: Fracking will not pollute our water.
We cannot allow quality drinking water taken wastefully to be polluted with irremovable poisons like hydrofluoric acid, benzene and toluene. Once chemicals like benzene and toluene enter the water supply, they become impossible to remove. Aromatic type organic chemicals like these can only be removed by fractional distillation, an industrial process that cannot be duplicated in nature. The natural process is evaporation, changing water to vapor which rises into the air forming clouds. Solutes, salts and particulates remain behind where they concentrate in the ground and ponds. However, some benzene and toluene does vaporize, causing breathing problems like asthma and chronic lung disease. Vaporized chemicals will rain down again, polluting the ground and water. Benzene and toluene are related to gasoline, making them highly flammable. That is why some families in the Midwest can strike a match to their tap water, watching it burst into flames.
Myth #5: Fracking will not pollute our air.
Adults and children develop asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by poor air quality, exacerbated by exhaust and dust from increased traffic of heavy-duty trucks and eighteen-wheelers.
Myth #6: Rain will give us plenty of water.
In this severe, exceptional drought, farmers are unable to plant. Our creeks, like Santa Ana, Pacheco and Tres Pinos, have no run-off from our beautiful hills to percolate into and replenish our ground aquifers. Demands on the San Luis Reservoir limit our allotments. It makes no sense for fracking wells to pump up delicious drinking water, contaminate it, then return it to toxic ponds, or, worse, to our aquifers. Living in a time of climate change makes rain undependable. So our water must be carefully managed and controlled. We simply will no longer have enough water as before.
Myth #7: Fracking will affect climate change.
Fracking to produce fossil fuels, when used for energy production, will increase climate change and warm the planet, in turn increasing wealth for investors, owners and exporters while taking advantage of and impoverishing local resources. This one is true. It is no myth.
Please consider Measure J a treasure. Vote Yes on Measure J in November to ban nasty oil and gas activity in our beautiful county.
M. Rosemeyer, Dimensions of Sustainability, 1996