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The Intersection Between Hydraulic Fracturing and Climate Change: 6 min video

The Intersection Between Hydraulic Fracturing and Climate Change: 6 min video


I’m Professor Tony Ingraffea from
Cornell University and President of Physicians Scientists and Engineers for
Healthy Energy. Over the next few minutes I’m going to
summarize the best available science on the question of the intersection between natural gas and climate change. So why should we be concerned about
methane? Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. That means that a very small quantity of
methane emitted to the atmosphere without
being burned is very, very bad for climate change. Where does the methane come from? What you’re seeing in this video in
false color is the emission of large quantities of
methane – natural gas – during the flow back period of a well that has just been hydraulically
fractured. everything that yellow is methane – natural gas. As you can see there are large
quantities being emitted and these emissions occur over days. Hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of
methane are being vented into the atmosphere to become a greenhouse gas, which over short period of time, is a hundred times more potent than
carbon dioxide as a climate change agent. This bubbling is occurring in a pool of
water that’s accumulated around the wellhead This is methane, and perhaps other
hydrocarbon gases, leaking from outside the well and getting into the atmosphere. This occurrence is not uncommon. Data from Pennsylvania in the last
three years showed that this kind of leaking occurs in about one out of every twenty brand
new wells. Industry data shows over time that this
kind of leakage begins to occur much more frequently is that wells age. So, those are two examples by video of how methane is emitted into the atmosphere without
being burned and becomes a very potent greenhouse gas. This graph shows that along many of the streets in boston the concentration of methane in the
atmosphere is ten to fifteen times the background. Conclusion? The pipes are leaking. The pipes are leaking methane. How much leaks is a critical technical
question. So, we go to the recent literature. Two recent results showed that in Utah up to 9 percent of all the methane being produced by gas
wells out there was being leaked into the atmosphere. In Colorado, anywhere between 2.3 and 7 percent was being leaked into the atmosphere. We’re gonna see that shell gas is not
the cleanest, not the least worst of all the fossil fuels; it’s the
dirtiest it’s the worst. So,any transfer of using coal or oil to natural gas is
going in the wrong direction. It’s not helping climate change, it’s making it worse. We have a choice. If we choose business as usual – increasing the rate at which were
burning fossil fuels – the computer models say we’re on that purple line. And it says we’re going to get into a danger
zone, where we’ve changed the temperature by two degrees centigrade by about the year 2045. James Hansen, perhaps the most famous of
all climate scientist at NASA, has predicted that when we get to that
two degree centigrade change we’re going to see 4-9 meter rises in the oceans around the world. That’s not a 100 years from now; it’s only about thirty years from now. This photograph shows you black carbon soot from a processing unit. It’s emitting large quantities of black
carbon into the atmosphere. So, at all levels and unacceptable amount of methane and
black carbon are being produced because of shale gas
activity. It’s much more effective in the short
term to fight climate change by reducing
methane and black carbon than it is to reduce carbon dioxide. obviously we want to reduce all three.
The computer models say, had we begun to do that in 2010, we’d never get to that two degree
centigrade temperature change. We’d give our kids and our grandkids a
fighting chance. We don’t have to increase the production
of shale gas everywhere; There’s a much better alternative. So, in March of 2013, a group of engineers, scientists, economists, investment bankers published a paper which shows that there is a viable plan
to convert New York State completely to the use of non-fossil fuels within twenty to thirty years. It’s a peer reviewed refereed journal
publication paper; it’s bona fide science. We own the wind: you own, I own it,
everybody owns the wind. The same with sunlight. The same with water. We don’t have to fight each other for it. It gives every country the opportunity
for energy independence and energy security Moreover, fuel cost is zero. Therefore, is economically feasible to transform our energy sources in New York State
entirely to wind, water, and solar in just two or three decades. It’s economically feasible. It’s
technically feasible with the technologies that we have today. If Germany can do it and Denmark can do it, then other states and other countries can do
it. We can as quickly as possible involve our legislators, our regulators, our investment banking
community, and every individual citizen to get started on this. So, let me conclude by saying what I’ve
already intimated: given a choice between shale gas and the
inevitable emission of methane and black carbon from shale gas activities – which we now know will not make climate
change stop or slow down, it will make it speed up – or doing something that is obvious – wind, water, and solar. I’ll conclude by saying again, we own
the wind we don’t have to fight for same thing with the sun and water as energy
sources. They will make us energy secure and energy
independent. It’s really up to each of us to begin to work
in our own homes, in our own communities, to inform our
legislators and our regulators from local level through state level to federal level to recognize that carbon dioxide is not the
only thing we should be concerned about. Methane is at least as important, and in some cases more important, in terms of quickly slowing down climate
change.

13 comments on “The Intersection Between Hydraulic Fracturing and Climate Change: 6 min video

  1. I think that the only reason it is believed that carbon is more of a threat than methane is because there is more carbon being emitted than methane. Although as stated in the video, methane is, however, worse per unit than carbon. If I'm wrong someone please reply.

  2. we need to add subtitles to this video… couse we are fighting against fracking all over the world.. SHARING SHARING SHARING in Argentina too

  3. If you people are so worried about global warming and dangerous gases being released into the atmosphere why don't you people do something about volcanoes one volcano erupting pumps more of these what you people call greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in one day then all the fracking plants in the world since there existence

  4. Great video! I was a little surprised to see Water grouped in with Wind and Sunlight as a publicly-owned resource. Water is easily diverted away from the poor and hoarded by the rich. Look at the fight over water rights in the western United States, in India, in Mexico, and all over the African continent. I might put Geothermal energy in the category long before Water.

    Jacob, "we people" are worried about what other human beings are doing to our planet. Volcanoes are natural. Fracking is NOT!

  5. Great video. Agreed with everything, except the situation is worse than you mentioned.
    You forgot to mention the huge amount of fracking released methane that does not get captured but leaks through the soil into the atmosphere. That is NOT measured or taken into account.
    Already, methane accounts for about 40% of the warming.
    Our government is controlled by the flat-earthers and CC deniers. Government will do NOTHING. I laud your wasted effort.

  6. We cannot do anything about volcanoes, so why worry about them?
    We have to be concerned about that which is under our control, and extracting methane from underground is something that humans control.

  7. Surprised to see that tidal power is left out of this, and many presentations. There is enough coastal area in the US to use the natural occurrence of the tides as a very reliable source of energy. River currents, such as those on the East River in NY should be exploited to make NYC energy independent.

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