Monday, January 9, 2012

Fracked Up

New Year's Eve this past year in Ohio came with a little bit of an extra "bang," thanks apparently to "fracking." (see here for the whole story) A quick search on Google turns up a few more articles on this happening in other places -- in England and Oklahoma as well. Obviously, a 5.0 (or even 6.0) magnitude quake is not a monster, apocalyptic-level event in any sense, this shows another serious problem with pushing for more and more oil production, now that all the "easy" oil is gone. And this doesn't even begin to take into other issues, including contamination of groundwater, and so on.

Hmm. Putting up with eathquakes so that we can milk the planet just a little bit longer, keep the machines going just a little bit longer, even while we experience potentially catastrophic environmental catastrophes. I mean, doesn't this come off a little bit like a bad science fiction movie? I expect the Klingons to do something like this, but....

The idea of fracking, whatever the soundness of it from a geological or environmental perspective, and whatever ultimately comes of it, is just another attempt to maintain the modern industrial lifestyle that the world has become dependent on. It is this idea -- overextending ourselves to maintain this lifestyle -- that is taking us down another parallel road, with this one based on the squandering of capital in the endless pursuit of trying to acquire more capital and goods.

It isn't really until we step back and look at all these things as a pattern, that we begin to see where we really are as a culture and a civilization. We have built an impressively interconnected society, where it's possible to travel far and wide in days, or even hours, can communicate almost instantly with anyone else around the globe, can access all the important data ever recorded by mankind, pick something. At the same time, we're generally not aware in our minds of what the cost of these advances truly is, nor do we understand that we cannot keep them going forever.

If we think of earthquakes as being the first warning sign that the process of fracking may not be what we thought it was, what is going to be the first warning sign that civilization itself is running on empty? Is it Greece? Europe as a whole? The fact that our politicians don't even bother to talk about reducing the debt, but only about reducing the deficit? When we consider that it's good news that unemployment has dropped down below nine percent, but ignore that the statistic is due to many people finally giving up the job hunt?

It's hard to say what the real takeaway from this is. People who protest fracking have legitimate concerns about the environment, but how do we address the billions of people who depend on fossil fuels to survive? People who protest the debt and spending are correct when they state that the party can't go on forever, but where does that leave the people who are invested in the system and have no means outside of it?

It is when we get down to this point -- where we know that we're going down a road that looks narrower, rougher, and more dangerous the longer we're on it, but a road we can't get off of -- that we know we are destined for a hard crash. The only realistic action at this point is to cover our own butts and make sure we're able to ride out what is sure to be a coming storm.


  1. You have read to many Cormack McCarthy books. Hell we have been in a dark age for well over a hundred years already. A complete fantasy that could never last. Think of it as a re-awaking to our real self's something we have evolved with for millions of years. The wildness and the opportunity to create anything we want. Those that cannot adapt and cooperate will not survive.

  2. quit advertising your crappy blog at cluster fuck nation


  3. Well, I actually wanted to quit writing it, but when I took it down, I got a bunch of Emails wanting me to put it back up. So, I figured it serves some sort of purpose to at least some people and thought I'd keep writing it off and on.

    Guess if ol' JHK himself had a problem with people posting links, he'd ban it or have moderated comments or something like that.

  4. I appreciate your blog...& cant belive that fudge packer, telling you to quit kunstlers blog...who does he think he is ? JHK's personal bodyguard or something...jeezo ! has to hide behind an anonymous comment !

    the collapse of industrial society fills me with great joy & graceful laughter...
    mankinds greatest folly..a lesson for us all

    i'd like to throw in this link that i got from cluborlov...
    useful ideas for a post industrial future...

  5. Mark,

    How dare you advertise a link on my blog! (lol)

    Yeah, I dunno. I've never heard a murmuring word from JHK, his webmaster, PR agent, or anyone associated with him, good or bad, about his blog, or posting a link to my blog in his comments section. I have a link to his site on here, and have mentioned him favorably off and on. John Michael Greer and I had a nice exchange a while back. Even though we're not quite on the same wavelength, there is still value for everyone in being connected.

    I guess we can take it for what it's worth, simple trolling. Truthfully, with age, I have found that I couldn't care less about what people think about what I say, only that I'm getting my thoughts out in a coherent manner. The Internet is big enough for anyone to voice their opinion, if they want to. Here and there, we actually find some wisdom among the noise.

    As time goes on, I find myself getting more and more indifferent to collapse of industrial society. What really concerns me more is the survival of certain ideas which are timeless and have come to represent the "best" that human civilization has produced (e.g. the idea of all people being equal before the law, natural rights, due process, pick something), although, ironically, these ideas seem to be taken for granted in more "primitive" societies -- while not perfect, the ancient Germans seemed to have a workable system, for example.

    After all, the world isn't going to instantly vanish at some pre-determined point. People are just going to find that what they have always taken for granted is no longer there to be taken. I once read the most inane comment about the "doomer" crowd, that many of them were older and were mingling the fear of their own death with the death of industrial society.

    Maybe, but I think that people who cling to the idea of industrial civilization are making just as grevious an error, except in the opposite direction. If anything, we are all free to look at the facts and draw whatever conclusions we want.

  6. I finally decided to follow your link from Kunstler's blog. Liked your post.

  7. thanks for the reply, i agree, and in Greers most recent post, were looking at a stepwise decline...less complexity year on year, sounds a bit like brain cells after age 21...
    for me discussing 'peak oil', unless the person is interested...makes me feel like 'chicken little' forecasting the sky is away to fall !
    I'm thinking indifference is a form of energy conservation.

  8. Have seen your link numerous times on JHK's blog, decided to follow it today. Glad I did. Thanks.

  9. I also found this blog through Clusterfuck Nation and am glad that I did. I agree with the general take, industrial civilization is in decline as fossil fuels become more expensive to extract, is there anything we can salvage from the wreckage?

    As for fracking, I am also of two minds about this. The implications of peak oil are not that the exploitation of fossil fuels will come to a complete stop, it is that they will be increasingly costly to extract. "Costly" includes environmental costs, so a process that may be cheap financially may be prohibitively costly in its environmental effects. We see this with deap sea drilling as well. At some point people will have to stop trying to extract fossil fuels, but when?

    I lean towards the pro-fracking side because its clear that most of the world, and this includes the "developing" world to a lesser extent, is not ready for the transition. But I don't know when it will be ready. Also, forgoing exploitation now means a couple of lost generations (unemployed or underemployed, with a lower standard of living than their parents, with fewer intact families) but this also might be unavoidable in any case.

    Speaking of Greer, his latest post, suggesting that we have wound up in a pulp fiction novel, is particularly good:

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  11. Add me to the number of people who got to you through Kuntsler. I have to say that I'm glad I found you. Don't know what's up with Anonymous, but I think he's full of crap. Keep on truckin' and don't mind the riff raff.

    As for fracking, fossil fuels, atomic energy, and thousands of other trappings of modern post-industrial civilization, there's one ironclad imperative that rules: every human venture is subject to the law of unintended (unforeseen) consequences. And its corollary: the consequences are rarely, if ever, good.

    Keep at it.

  12. I wonder what Brother Francis Gerard of Utah will make of this blog when he finds it. ;-)