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Environment Agency backs fracking

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Lord Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, has given his support to the expansion of the controversial ‘fracking’ method of extracting natural gas from shale rock in the UK.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord Smith said he believed the controversial method of extracting natural gas could be done safely, despite environmental concerns.

However, he did add that “it has to be drawn out of the ground effectively and safely. That means worrying about the way in which drilling takes place, worrying about making sure the methane is captured rather than being discharged to the air, and making sure that none of the contaminated water gets into the groundwater that sometimes can fill our water supply.

“We would want to monitor and regulate that process very rigorously and we will, wherever it happens.”

Fracking gets its name from the term ‘hydraulic fracturing’ in which fluid is injected into rock layers to release hydrocarbon deposits. An increase in the demand for less expensive ways to increase energy supplies has seen a dramatic rise in the process being implemented worldwide.

However, fracking has been linked with the pollution of underground and surface water supplies as well as causing earthquakes.

Many energy companies believe fracking will lead to cheaper energy supplies but critics fear the risks of the process, which have been linked to two earth tremors in Lancashire.

In April this year, the Department of Energy and Climate Change published an independent report recommending measures to mitigate the risks of earth tremors from hydraulic fracturing. The report reviews a series of studies commissioned by Cuadrilla, whose fracking operations in Lancashire resulted in public debate, and confirms that minor earthquakes detected in the area were caused by fracking.

Ahead of a keynote speech by Environment Agency Chairman Lord Smith at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), in which he is to give his support to fracking and nuclear power as well as the development of renewable energy, Friends of the Earth’s senior climate campaigner Tony Bosworth said, “Lord Smith rightly highlights the unknown environmental impacts of fracking—until it’s proven to be safe, this technology should be shelved in the UK as it has been elsewhere in the world.

“We know 85% of people want to see more clean British energy, not gas – Ministers should focus on this instead of backing technologies which are unproven or, like nuclear, are consistently late and reliant on vast public subsidies.

“The Government’s plans for the electricity market must ensure that renewable energy fills the gap caused by the closure of power stations and the collapse of nuclear investment – this will boost our economy by creating thousands of new jobs.”

Writing for The Guardian, Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne was realistic about the future and said, We will need shale gas to compensate for the costly production of declining oil.”

However, his opinion piece about the growing cost of energy in the UK also looked at other areas of the world that use fracking and its impact on the environment.

The footprint of shale wells is large, and environmental concerns about water pollution have already led to bans not just in France but also in US states like New Jersey and New York. 

“Outside the US, mineral rights are usually owned by governments rather than landowners, which means there is less incentive to drill and more incentive to argue “not in my back yard“.

“Many shale-rich areas (China, for example) are short of the water that is essential to the fracking process.”

With so many renewable energy options available to us, investing time, money and resources into risk-prone fracking, whose very name is objectionable, seems foolhardy. Disrupting the very rock beneath our feet to gain access to one resource by blasting in large quantities of another very precious resource—water—all whilst risking contamination of our water supply starts to sound nightmarish.

Supporting truly sustainable sources of energy, such as wind, sun and sea, is the true path to energy security. You can play your part by contacting Good Energy—the UK’s only supplier of 100% renewable energy. 

Further reading:

DECC report suggests continued but controlled fracking

Fracking debate reignited after new protest

Surviving without nuclear power

Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Rawpixel.com -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/rawpixel

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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