Recent Obsessions

A random assortment of subjects pique my interest lately.  They are as varied as they are usually hot-buttoned.

Obviously, feminism and feminist values are very important to me.  One of my goals in life is to help as many young women as possible know they are, in fact, feminists themselves.  Some may not realize it, and others may be socialized to resist it, but their sense of self surely stands upon that rock of sustainability in modern society.  The way things have always been is not the way things should always be.

I hope for a day (stated in most Martin Luther King Jr.-ish mental voice) when all women realize they are not second-class citizens and do not have to follow heretofore accepted boundaries of patriarchy.  Surely no one can argue against the intrinsic value of all human beings.  Only a true cad would brazenly downgrade the female contribution to civilization in an open, mixed-company forum.  Some sexists continue to do over the airwaves, much to the detriment of their commercial success.

Another topic of paramount importance to me is ecological protection and restoration.  I have only relatively recently become more aware of the growing concern over safe drinking water in other parts of the United States.  Northeastern states and parts of the northwest are specifically affected, as they are states where pollution incidents are more frequently occurring.  We live in a country where we take things like air and water quality for granted.  Assuming we are safely ingesting these elements is somewhat naive on our part.

I hope for more clean energy alternatives from here forward in our nation.  We remain too dependent on other countries for energy sources, especially petroleum products, while we continue to over-consume gasoline.  Once again, it is taken for granted, but we could be using up remaining fossil fuels that those who come after us may grow to desperately need.

Dependence on energy sources is my latest area of concern, specifically natural gas drilling.  Our ancestors may not have had the luxuries of heated homes and bath water, perhaps even running water inside.  The oil companies keep searching for different ways (not always safe or clean) to keep our standards of living at a level that may have seemed luxurious in that not-so-distant past.  We can’t keep burning coal forever or casually afford the cost of electricity as a singular source of power.  Oil barons are, therefore, digging deeper into the earth for gases trapped within shale layers.

Hydraulic fracturing is a relatively new process that allows the depths of rock to be probed for trapped gas.  However, the processes are yet to be perfected and more “accidents” are occurring as a result of the experimental learning curve.  There are suspiciously more frequent earthquakes happening in states such as Arkansas some environmental agencies are linking to fracking practices.  My curiosity was especially piqued by these quakes cropping up in our southward neighboring state.  I worry about the San Andreas fault line being somewhat off the path from Arkansas and ask myself why else would be shaking the earth down there.

The contamination of many water sources is also allegedly caused from “fracking.”  Testing continues for danger elements leaking into water wells in adjoining homes.  The seepage of dangerous substances are being blamed by residents as the source of their illnesses and that of their livestock.  Dangerous levels of sodium, methane and other toxic chemicals are being traced back to the polluted drinking water, which is linked as a side affect of hydro-fracking.  Land owners are concerned for the health and safety of their families and animals if hydro-fracking is happening near their property.

Information is quite proprietary about what all is involved in extracting the gas from our earth.  If only the EPA could more accurately link these health concerns directly to the hydro-fracking process.  Otherwise, more and more tragic instances will continue while big oil companies denying the connection to their practices and falsely assuring citizens and governmental oversight groups of their so-called safe drilling systems.

Many more cases are cropping up in Pennsylvania (drinking water contamination).  There is a website specifically dedicated to that state’s fracking problems (Pennsylvania).  The federal guidelines are hoped to catch up with the growing need for tighter regulation, and it seems Ohio is in a specifically volatile condition (Governor beseeches President).

Oil profits, after all, are potentially at stake here.  The proverbial bottom line seems the biggest concern, even over any jeopardy posed to human and animal life.  Only the biggest liar of company executives would say they wouldn’t mind if a flame to come out of a water faucet in their home when a match is struck nearby.  Only a sadist would care about money more than fire expelling from a tap.

I am glad to see The New York Times continues to release information on this important subject as more incidences occur.  The paper is serving as somewhat of a pooled resource for issues related to fracking.  We don’t have a “right to know” guaranteed in our country, but we have the privilege to be informed on issues of public concern.  We can then look to that news outlet for up-to-date information concerning how American citizens’ health is potentially in peril.  Some op-ed columnists are specifically addressing the lower costs claims, too.

Smaller, regional publications seem to stress only the positive aspects of alternative methods, citing only the proposed savings, which I suspect is misleading the general reading public here.  Saving a few bucks can be all that matters to downtrodden consumers right now.  What concerns me is whether or not drillers will invade possible reserves in our middle United States.

Conservatives may call me a crazy liberal or a tree hugging, Al Gore-following imbecile, but scientists are paying closer attention to these issues.  And they are much more knowledgeable and informed than me or any other average schmo, regardless of our individual political leanings.  Science trumps opinion, as far as I’m concerned, and as citizens of our planet, we should pay attention to these new studies.  Erin Brocovich is not the only person who should help ensure the water is safe.  I also want to know whether or not it’s okay to drink the Kool-Aid.

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