Last month, a report confirmed that close to 3 billion gallons of wastewater containing toxic chemicals like arsenic and thalium (also found in rat poison) were dumped into California aquifers, contaminating clean drinking water and jeopardizing the health of countless residents. The chemical wastewater is a biproduct of hydraulic fracturing or, fracking, a process of extracting fossil fuels by drilling into the ground with a mixture of cement, chemicals, and, ironically, a lot of water. Fracking is already an incredibly water-intensive process, and so the pollution that has resulted from dumping this wastewater into CLEAN water only adds insult to injury. Actually, it adds undrinkable water to a dwindling amount of drinkable water. Great. With water already in such drastically short supply in California, this act of carelessness by all those involved is another example of energy (and ultimately) money-minded individuals ruining things for the rest of us.
But it’s too easy to create an “us vs. them” scenario here. That doesn’t help us as a collective society. Whether you’re an oil executive, politician, a government regulatory agency employee, or just an average citizen, we all need to be aware of the implications of both our actions and our apathy.
Don’t let the term, “Natural Gas” fool you. Fossil fuels are fossil fuels, and we have to be aware of the consequences of the blatant disregard for safety and health regulations that seem to occur wherever fracking occurs, whether in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and now, Virginia. Specifically, the George Washington National Park. Were the same sort of incident to occur here, it could potentially contaminate both the James and Potomac rivers. We need to be very careful about this.
We all need to address fracking, oil drilling, coal mining, and other ways we power our homes, appliances, and livelihoods. Just like with food, we cannot ignore where our energy comes from, how it’s produced, and what that means for us, the planet, and our future. Unless we are truly and honestly conscious of our own actions, we cannot possibly help anything or anyone else.
Reducing your water, electricity, and gasoline use doesn’t have to be seen as a limitation in your daily life. Instead, see it as the ability to live your life without being dependent on companies for comfort. Consuming less of everything isn’t a downgrade. It’s an empowering process that can help lead you away from “stuff,” and towards true happiness and contentment. Don’t even do it for environmental or social reasons, do it for yourself. Because you can’t save the world without saving yourself first.