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My gut feeling about fracking:

Displaying poll results.
It's just fine for all involved
  1940 votes / 7%
It's mildly bad, but worth the risks
  2651 votes / 10%
Not sure whether risks outweigh benefits
  7557 votes / 31%
The risks clearly outweigh the benefits
  8945 votes / 36%
I'm sharpening my monkeywrench
  3161 votes / 13%
24254 total votes.
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  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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My gut feeling about fracking:

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  • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:29AM (#39610575)

    It's amazing the number of things that are safe if you completely ignore the chance of human error.

    I don't mean to be sarcastic to you specifically but one of the things that sets of all sorts of alarms for me is that the gas companies never talk about what CAN go wrong. It's always nothing WILL go wrong. Honestly, if there were going around talking about how "yes, there are some potential problems but this is how we deal with them" I would have far more faith in the process. Instead we get "it's 100% safe all the time LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU".

  • Who to trust (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:43AM (#39610611) Journal

    I don't know enough about it to make a decisions one way or the other, but I'm sure there are people who do. The problem seems to be identifying them. Here's a hint though, they're probably the ones with degrees in geology, chemistry, and physics--not businessmen, not shareholders.

    Capitalism is woefully ill-equipped at dealing with external costs/risks. Fracturing could be very profitable, but it could also be very risky. When the people who stand to profit aren't the ones who'll suffer any consequences if it goes wrong (or if it's not possible to do "right") then you have a recipe for reckless behavior.

  • by AxemRed (755470) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @01:59AM (#39610843)
    It's also amazing the number of things that are horribly unsafe if you factor in the chance of human error. Gas companies don't talk about what can go wrong with their work but neither do airlines or construction companies.
  • Re:Who to trust (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DerPflanz (525793) <> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:48AM (#39611103) Homepage

    Your argument is false. Because another type of government is just as bad or worse, doesn't dismiss the argument that capitalism is ill-equipped at dealing with external costs.

    And as far as "taking energy companies to court" goes, you sound a little too idealist about how the real world works. Trying to take on a multi-billion dollar (or euro for that matter) in court takes a lot of time and more importantly, money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @07:04AM (#39611547)

    For airlines and construction companies in most developed countries, there are all sorts of legislation, procedures, reviews, etc. in order to make things safer, including decreasing the threat of human error. These processes correlates well with the low number of accidents or disasters that are observed in the airlines and construction companies. One of the major differencies between airlines and construction companies, and gas companies, is that airlines and construction companies deal with well-understood and established technology and science. Since fracking and the consequences of it is not well-understood, especially in the light of possibly related occurences (air-pollution, groundwater contamination, earthquakes, etc.), a highly conservative approach together with independent and extensive scientific investigation seems like the better option. Finding solid scientific facts that can help determine when fracking is harmless and when it is not seems like the better, safer and ultimately more economic (in terms of environment, human life, damaged buildings, etc.) option.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:36AM (#39612037)

    I'll put it this way. It is about as safe as flying in an airplane, which is also fundamentally "unsafe". Yet there is no inherent reason why it must be *so* unsafe that it shouldn't be done.

    Are there risks? Of course. Including risks of catastrophic and spectacular failure, especially if people are negligent. But there's no reason it can't be done safely and usually it is done safely. "Gasland" is like the airplane-disaster-movie version of gas exploration and production. It correctly identifies that there are genuine risks to the technique, but it terribly and misleadingly exaggerates them. And because most people don't have two clues how gas exploration, groundwater, or subsurface geology generally works, the Hollywood version is enough to make them worry unreasonably.

    I mean "risks clearly outweigh the benefits"? Seriously? That's the one that is winning in this poll? Yet the risk from groundwater contamination from ordinary gas station spills, tanker spills, septic fields, agricultural waste, improper industrial surface water use and disposal, etc., must be 100x the risks from hydraulic fracturing, which usually occurs kilometres below the surface, at depths where nobody draws groundwater anyway. Improve the standards and oversight and nail any company that deviates from them? Absolutely. But people have blown this all out of proportion.

  • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:02AM (#39612145)

    barring the sort of human error which always ends up causing problems.

    So, basically, fracking is a lot like Communism; great in theory, horrible in practice?

    Since humans will never be removed from the equation, then said human error must be taken into consideration. Even if the reports concerning the link between fracking and geological instability [] are still being reviewed, prudence would still dictate that we stop until we know for sure what the effects might be.

    Well, unless you stand to profit, of course. Then it's full speed ahead, damn the consequences...

  • by Raul654 (453029) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:12AM (#39612177) Homepage

    Won't work. Once they've caused a disaster, they can simply declare bankruptcy. They would either have to put up the money into an escrow account in advance, or purchase insurance against such a possibility. (And greedy bastards that they are, the insurance companies can provide a very useful oversight role in such a role)

    On the other hand, it strikes me as a fundamentally radical policy that we are willing to accept the possibility of long-term, effectively unfixable contamination of our underground water sources in exchange for a temporary fix to our energy needs.

  • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:04PM (#39612711)

    At the start of every airplane flight the attendants stand at the front and talk about exactly what can go wrong as what your response should be.

  • by Will.Woodhull (1038600) <> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:38PM (#39612911) Homepage Journal

    Every time there has been an airline crash or construction accident, the companies involved have been forced to talk about what can go wrong. The gas drilling companies are not being held to the same standard for one reason only: at this point we do not even know when they have screwed up.

    There has been enough fracking done by now that even if the risk is much less than an airline crash, there are bound to have been some screw-ups. The public just does not know when or where, and has not a clue about what went wrong. The argument that fracking is safe is the black box fallacy that since you cannot know when something has gone wrong within the black box, you have to have faith that everything in there always works just perfectly.

    Faith is the stuff of churches. It has no place in science, technology, or engineering. And definitely no place in decisions made by corporations.

    I am somewhat negative about fracking. It might be perfectly okay most of the time, but we need a technology that will show us when a crash has happened, and we do not have that. While we are waiting for that, perhaps we could require drilling companies to put most of the profits of a well into escrow for maybe 10 years as a hedge against possible damage claims. That would shift the cost/benefit ratios used in making decisions about drilling in such a way that the black box risks would probably be reduced. And it would encourage those companies to invest in monitoring technologies that would peer into the black box. That would allow them to identify the risks more clearly, but also allow independent monitoring of what they are doing.

  • by Tuan121 (1715852) on Monday April 09, 2012 @08:02AM (#39617633)

    The problem with the oil industry is that they "assume" nothing will go wrong

    Oh come now. You are saying they assume nothing will go wrong? If for absolutely no other reason, they would want to make every assurance that nothing does go wrong or their product is lost and massive investments go to waste.

    Do you think they invest hundreds of millions on a new rig and just say "well I think this is going to work, but if something happens it's ok, we don't mind bankrupting ourselves".

    Your stereotypical lalalacoprationsarecompletelyevillalalal is lacking a little substance here.

  • by Tyr07 (2300912) on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:33AM (#39618689)

    Nuclear power is safe too except when there is human error.
    Or unforseen natural disasters.

    You know, because, something like that wouldn't affect someone fracking either...right...

  • by godglike (643670) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:36PM (#39624427)
    "better regulated market like the North Sea"

    Seriously? The North Sea, split between famously cooperative countries like Britain, Holland, Germany, Norway, is better regulated than the interior of the USA?

    You guys are in serious trouble.

Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.


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