Explainers & Tips
Fracking - what is it? And is it bad?
Right, fracking, it's pretty controversial, but what the frack is it all about?
Fracking is a way of extracting natural gas or oil that’s trapped deep underground in shale rock - hence it is often referred to as shale gas or shale oil. But how does it actually work?
How does fracking work?
Firstly, you drill a huge well deep into the ground – literally hundreds of meters down.
Secondly, water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the rock at an aggressively high pressure. This causes the rock to crack, which releases the trapped gas and oil.
Finally, this gas and oil are then collected to burn as fuel.
Why is fracking controversial?
You might have gathered that fracking is somewhat controversial, but why?
- The drilling process can cause earth tremors (basically mini earthquakes)
- There’s a risk that the chemicals could contaminate the water supply
- It uses an obscene amount of water
- It releases the really potent gas methane (a greenhouse gas that affects global warming by 28-36 times more than CO2 over a period of 100 years)
- And obviously drilling loads of massive industrial wells isn’t great for nature and biodiversity in these areas
But most importantly... it will lead to more fossil fuels and more global warming. When instead, we could be investing the money in cleaner, safer renewable energy.
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