In June 2013, Los Angeles began requiring oil and gas companies to disclose chemicals used in “unconventional operations.” Taking advantage of that push toward transparency, four environmental groups analyzed the collected data, shedding light on the often inscrutable activities of gas and oil companies drilling in California’s Monterey Shale.
Their report reveals that 44 toxic chemicals — 45 million pounds’ worth of them — were used in the Los Angeles area by the oil and gas industry last year.
The chemicals were pumped into the ground as part of the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and in the related processes of acidization and gravel packing, which are also used to extract oil and gas from wells. Southern California Public Radio reports on the chemicals, all of which become toxic — in some cases carcinogenic — when they escape into the air:
The top chemicals used during the past year include crystalline silica, methanol, hydrofluoric acid, and formaldehyde.
Crystalline silica is a cement additive also known as “frac sand.” It’s used to hold open cracks in underground rock formation so that gas and oil can travel into the well. While crystalline silica is naturally-occurring, respiration of the fine sand can cause silicosis, an incurable lung disease.
Methanol is a volatile gas, with wide-ranging health effects from exposure.
…In an e-mail, Colin Maynard with the Western States Petroleum Association said that oil and gas production has occurred in Southern California for close to a century. “That production takes place day in and day out in the most heavily regulated environment in the world, and it takes place without harm to the environment or communities,” he wrote. - Salon
Most cities have a veil of hazy smog laying over them. You're breathing it in while you're walking down the street, it clings to your clothes and seeps into your skin. The hundreds of cars that pass by you are each pumping out noxious fumes that could kill you if you are in a locked garage with just one car. The Earth is a big place - but it is not infinite. What happens when all the toxins we create become too much and nature's detox no longer works?
It doesn't take much to put together the bigger picture of how much crap we put into this planet. We have left more than one toxic wasteland - and most were intentional. We strip down the flesh of the planet and leave only mud and muck when we're done so that nothing can grow there again.
There is a lot of talk about sustainability these days, but when you take into account the sheer volume of toxic waste that we produce in our ventures for capital, you have to wonder if this kind of talk is even close to being enough to bring about substantial changes that would guarantee the safety of our future generations. Let's face it, safety is not just about war and violence anymore, safety now must include the degree of toxicity in the environments around us. Is that stream safe for children to play in? Is our drinking water clean? Will our soil cause our food to be toxic? Will the pastures nourish our livestock well enough for the livestock to nourish us? These are becoming increasingly relevant questions, but we have to wonder if they are being asked and answered fast enough to be able to prevent calamity.
So, what happens to all the toxic waste that is part of the unfortunate byproducts that our unfortunate habits produce? It's not like we can teleport the stuff to Mars or something - whatever we do with it we must do here on this planet that we live on. It is naive to think that if we bury it deep enough that it will never seep into our groundwater. It is criminal to believe and promote that toxins are harmless. It is criminal to act as if our actions will have no repercussions. It is criminal to be willing to put people in dangerous positions when they have no other choice for earning a living - that is extortion, plain and simple.
There are solutions being developed to counteract this destructive nature of humanity like the Living Income Guaranteed. The greatest challenge we face is us, we are the ones who continue to believe that "things will sort themselves out". We are the ones who act first for money and last out of a respect for basic human rights. We are the ones who have assassinated and then idolized leaders for their messages without actually living those messages. When Jesus said "love thy neighbour as thyself" he didn't mean that you should only do it when it is convenient to you or because it has become necessary for your survival. It's time to pony up and actuallybe the good people that we pretend to be.