http://www.examiner.com/progressive-in- ... -residents
Fractal drilling upsets Mother Nature and Cleburne, TX, residents
June 24th, 2009 3:53 am MT
For almost a century, the economy of Texas has thrived on oil and natural gas, which can only be obtained by drilling deep into the earth and extracting it by various means. Recently, however, they’ve reached a point where they have to do a serious bit of "house moving" to get at those supplies. One method is called "fractal drilling." That’s where they inject water into the ground to break up subterranean rock formations so the planet will let go of those precious supplies of oil and gas.
But just like the old margarine commercials used to warn us: "It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature." And I suppose you can add the motto: "Don’t Mess with Texas." It seems that fractal drilling is doing both by unsettling the stability of the shale rock base beneath the ground that holds lots of precious natural gas.
Lately, places like Cleburne, Texas, are experiencing earthquakes in locations where they’ve never occurred before. They’re not the really serious earth-shakers like they have in the Pacific rim yet, but you never know how much worse things can get. And now the citizens of Cleburne, TX, are weighing the stability of their homeland against the size of their quarterly royalty checks. That’s the money that oil companies pay landowners for the privilege of removing mineral deposits from their property, in this case, the oil and gas that lies beneath their land.
The recent case of the "shakes" in the Lone Star State isn’t the first time Mother Nature has responded negatively to humans removing her bounty from her bosom. When we lived in Baytown and La Porte, TX, a high-end Baytown subdivision was taking on water so fast, the wealthy professionals who’d bought expensive homes there had to move out one by one, including a doctor I used to go to. Geologists discovered that the cause of the subsidence was the rapid removal of groundwater for commercial purposes.
So, no matter how much we depend on the resources that lie beneath the earth, removing them is not without consequences. Add the political consequences of our dependence on foreign oil and gas, and it’s obvious that establishing a comprehensive program of alternative energy resources is absolutely vital. But as logical as this forward step is, there are still people who object to such progress on aesthetic grounds.
They complain that things like wind generators simply aren’t pretty enough to please them, and they don’t like the sounds the windmills make. Of course, there is one argument that does make a certain amount of sense: windmills can be dangerous to birds. But since the people who parrot this argument most ofter also lean on the other points of objection, I doubt their hearts are wholly with those poor birds.
Interestingly, when a group of Texas landowners tried to keep windmills out of their neighborhood because they objected to the sound of the apparatus, the Texas Court of Appeals told them that was too bad. They’re going to have to put up with it for the sake of progress.
In the end, several factors have to be considered in this discussion. Every step in developing technology to advance civilization goes through similar growing pains. Think back to those ugly old electrical wires that used to be strung up along roadways between creosote-slathered poles all over the country. Actually, here in Arizona, we don’t have to remember them, because in the wild western desert there are still a lot of aerial electrical lines in rural areas, including the small town where we used to live just south of here.
Yes, the aerial lines are ugly, and when a good windstorm comes up, which it does often during the summer monsoon season, a line was certain to get tangled and something would blow, and we’d be without electricity for a while. Oh, and it’s definitely dangerous for birds. But electrical service has been a necessity for the advancement of society ever since old Thomas Edison first started inventing all those gadgets that made it a good idea to start providing electricity to every home in the country.
So, the task was to find a way to provide the service of electric transmission without the ugliness of all those wires in the air and dirty poles, and--oh yes--the dead birds. Eventually, utility companies found a solution, and in recent decades, they’ve buried most of their lines underground--except for a few cooperatives that manage electrical service out here in the wild, wild west.
So, now we’re looking at windmills that people object to because they don’t like the looks of them, the sound they make, or the fact that they kill birds. Fortunately, my husband found a company in Chicago that has developed a new kind of windmill that will solve two of those three problems: no more noise and the birds will be safe too. As for the looks, well, that’s in the eye of the beholder.
Between you and me, I always wondered why everyone thought the Eiffel Tower was considered such a beautiful landmark, that massive pile of steel plunked right down there in the middle of one of the most beautiful cities of Europe. Granted, it’s an engineering marvel, but aesthetically, well, it just doesn’t move me. The Grand Canyon? Now that moves me!
So, to each his own, but when it comes to advancements in technology, we’re all just going to have to grin and bear it as we move into the 21st century and away from our dependence on fossil fuels. It’s the only logical thing to do.