Sunday, July 3, 2011

Do 'Green' movements prevent progress?

I came across an article with a title that amused me yesterday about France outlawing hydraulic fracturing as a means for extracting natural gas and oil.  The title of the article is France Vote Outlaws 'Fracking' Shale for Natural Gas, Oil Extraction.  If you are a fan of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, then you should know why that title sounds amusing.

But it turns out this 'fracking' is just a shortened term for hydraulic fracturing and has nothing to do with the similar term in Battlestar Galactica (which is typically spelled without a c).  I wasn't really all that familiar with the fracking process prior to reading the article, but apparently Green groups aren't to fond of it.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

Fracking, widely used in North America, uses a mixture of water, sand and chemicals injected under high pressure to break dense rock to release trapped oil and gas. Green groups and politicians led protests across France, saying the method could cause environmental damage. Government ministers and industry representatives say it is the only method currently available to extract hydrocarbons from the rock.

I got to wondering after reading that if Green groups prevent progress.  Granted, I do think anthropogenic global warming is a scam devised to collect taxes and redistribute wealth, but overall I am in favor of conservation and protecting natural environments.  We have dominion over this planet so we can do as we see fit, but if we are to be good masters of this planet, then we should protect it's natural environments.  But where do we draw the line between conservation and progress?

I don't know much about the effects of fracking, and maybe it isn't even the best example to use here, but it's not the first time Green groups have been opposed to something due to environmental concerns.  But the Green movement is a fairly new movement.  What if it had been around earlier?  Would we be where we are today?  Whenever the first fire was started, what if there had been someone there to put it out due to the environmental concerns?  What if they claimed the smoke was unhealthy and should be banned?  And that the ash left was unsightly in a natural environment?  Or what about when the first settlements with homes built out of wood were being built?  What if someone had been there to say that chopping down trees was destroying the natural environment and should be banned?  What about when roads were being built?  What about the industrial revolution?

Where would we be today if all of those things had been stopped by some kind of Green movement?  Where can we draw the line between conservation and progress?  I'm in favor of preserving earth's natural environments, but what kind of future progress might we be limiting if we allow Green movements to stop everything that may (or may not) be an environmental concern?

But on the other hand, maybe these Green movement's can actually help us make progress.  With the rising cost of gasoline, I'd like to see some cheaper alternative fuels replace oil and gasoline.  Maybe if oil and natural gas extraction becomes more difficult to get approval for, there will be an incentive to make alternative fuels more available and common.  Maybe that is the progress we really need?

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