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Finding Fault With Anti-Fracking Science Claims

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the grain-of-salt-reads-like-an-editorial dept.

Earth 505

A widely carried Associated Press article (here, as run by the Wall Street Journal) reports that some of the convincingly scientific-sounding claims of opponents of fracking don't seem to hold up to scrutiny. That's not to say that all is peaches: the article notes, for instance, that much of the naturally radioactive deep water called flowback forced up along with fracking-extracted gas "was once being discharged into municipal sewage treatment plants and then rivers in Pennsylvania," leading to concern about pollution of public water supplies. Public scrutiny and regulation mean that's no longer true. But specific claims about cancer rates, and broader ones about air pollution or other ills, are not as objective as they might appear to be, according to Duke professor Avner Vengosh and others. An excerpt: "One expert said there's an actual psychological process at work that sometimes blinds people to science, on the fracking debate and many others. 'You can literally put facts in front of people, and they will just ignore them,' said Mark Lubell, the director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis. Lubell said the situation, which happens on both sides of a debate, is called 'motivated reasoning.' Rational people insist on believing things that aren't true, in part because of feedback from other people who share their views, he said."

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505 comments

Happy Sunday from the Golden Girls! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732419)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Re:Happy Sunday from the Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732713)

No, the card attached would tell you to go slit your fucking wrists fucktard.

Re:Happy Sunday from the Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732881)

Aww, the little nigger got his feelings hurt by 4 little old ladies. :( Would a good lynching make you feel any better?

Common sense (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732427)

Dictates that whatever the oil industry want's to do, its probably wrong.

Re:Common sense (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732461)

Dictates that whatever the oil industry want's to do, its probably wrong.

You don't need common sense, just automatically vilifies anything the oil industry does. It's as easy as breathing.

Re:Common sense (5, Informative)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732551)

Unfortunately, this is true in the most recent victory for fracking: drilling where I live in North Carolina, specifically Durham, and Chatham counties. The oil industry wrote this bill, and the Republicans, with one unwitting Democrat, passed it over our governor's veto.

Now, I'm not against fracking, done responsibly, and if we get something for it. A law I would support would have a public commission with over 50% of it's members voted into the position from counties where fracking occurs. It would have public meetings, and make public exactly what is being pumped into our ground. It would have tough penalties for frackers who pollute our ground water, and the city, county, and state would be free to levy taxes on natural gas profits.

That's not what we got. Thanks to NC redneck Republicans, we're simply a slutty high school girl begging for any boy with a penis to have a good time. They are keeping all records secret for two years in an ongoing way that insures no public information will ever be timely enough to do anything about any crap that happens. The board will meet in secret as often as they like, and are appointed by the Charmain of the House and Governor, who will most likely be Republican when the time comes. The law explicitly forbids the government from informing the public about what chemicals are being pumped into the ground. If you don't want fracking on your land, your neighbor is allowed to force you to, with nothing more that a board rubber stamp. All local laws are automatically revoked if they interfere with fracking. Only a stupid $30K one-time tax can be levied per well by a county, and the law has no state taxes at all for the oil guys.

If that's not enough to give every fracker out there a boner, we also sweetened the deal with a big fat pay-back to T-Bone Pickens, who will get millions for installing natural gas infrastructure in NC. I wouldn't have a problem with this, except T-Bone is a big Republican backer, who just bought himself another fat state contract.

Re:Common sense (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732653)

Gotcha Republicans are greedy, Democrats are too stupid to dress themselves.

Re:Common sense (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732999)

Gotcha Republicans are greedy, Democrats are too stupid to dress themselves.

That actually describes US politics pretty well.

Re:Common sense (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732925)

slutty high school girl

And the true colors are shown of what liberals think of assertive women that don't tow the party line...

Re:Common sense (1, Insightful)

Cwix (1671282) | about a year and a half ago | (#40733013)

I see you have been paying attention in straw man creation.

Take something out of context? Check
Place it in context that puts words in someones mouth? Check
Have nothing at all to do with the subject at hand? Check

In case this was a reading comprehension fail, then you will notice that the parent was saying the state of North Carolina has become like a slutty girl. This displays an analogy and a personification, so elementary readers may not fully comprehend the post. In no way does the parent compare anyone in particular with a slutty girl.

Re:Common sense (-1, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732985)

wow, just wow

what is wrong with people?

the people in power without any conscience or sense of decency or responsibility to the common man, who hold making cash more important than people's lives (the integrity of their water supply for dozens of generations)

and the complete and utter propagandized idiots who keep voting them into power

because... gay marriage!

wow, it's utterly depressing

Re:Common sense (5, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732545)

I call bullsh*it. If you really believed that you would boycot the evil energy companies. Which would of course mean you wouldn't be posting on the Internet.

You want energy. I want energy. They want to sell us energy. Where is the evil in any of that?

God Damn, man! They are selling gasoline cheaper than milk right now (US). All you have to do to get milk is feed cows and wait, gas needs a LOT of work to obtain, complex chemistry to refine and a complex worldwide distribution network for both crude and the end products. If you weren't a fool you would give thanks for the hard work being done daily by millions to supply the energy you take for granted. And those 'evil' profits flow into pensions, dividends and lots of other productive uses. And never forget that those evil profits are the thin sliver left over after expenses and a shocking amount of taxes flowing into the welfare state that I'd bet good yellow gold YOU depend on.

Re:Common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732731)

"All you have to do to get milk is feed cows and wait, gas needs a LOT of work"....

Ummm, so says the cuddled technology worker sitting on his butt on a Sunday night...

All you have to do to get oil is drill a hole in the ground and heat it up.

Re:Common sense (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732781)

You want energy. I want energy. They want to sell us energy. Where is the evil in any of that?

No "evil". Evil is a religious term. It's just bad policy.

From the article:

the article notes, for instance, that much of the naturally radioactive deep water called flowback forced up along with fracking-extracted gas "was once being discharged into municipal sewage treatment plants and then rivers in Pennsylvania," leading to concern about pollution of public water supplies. Public scrutiny and regulation mean that's no longer true.

Where was the "public scrutiny" coming from? And regarding the "regulation", isn't a big part of the GOP platform to disband (yes, entirely) the EPA and the Dept of Energy? So where is that "regulation" going to come from then? Is the industry going to regulate itself?

They are selling gasoline cheaper than milk right now (US).

So what's the problem? And natural gas is cheaper still, so cheap in fact, one wonders what's behind the push for increased fracking. Doesn't the "law of supply and demand" indicate that when prices are low, production slows?

There's a serious problem now that energy has completely been disassociated with the "law of supply and demand".

And never forget that those evil profits are the thin sliver left over after expenses and a shocking amount of taxes flowing into the welfare state

Do you know how much the "shocking amount of taxes" Exxon paid to the "welfare state" in the last three years was? Go ahead, guess. And do you have any idea what percentage of "welfare" ends up going to pay for energy, putting it right back in the pockets of the energy industry? And let's not forget how "shocking" the percentage of Exxon's oil and Koch Brothers' fracking comes from underneath public land. Now certainly they get oil and gas from under private land, too, but the "shocking amount" of gas and oil under the private land belongs to us and the lease royalties they pay are calculated in the most unbelievably bad deal for the owners (us). We got a look at how much of that oil is under public lands when BP killed a bunch of expendable employees and let a whole bunch of it just spill right off your coast. Oh yeah, they still haven't paid but a fraction of the damages they were supposed to pay to all your fellow gulf state folks that had their livelihoods ruined.

And never forget, friend, that your home state gets a lot more money BACK from the federal government than you pay in taxes, so I'd have a much better chance betting "good yellow gold" that you're getting a bigger taste of that "welfare money" than those of us here in Chicago or New York or Los Angeles.

And you're welcome.

Re:Common sense (5, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732825)

The regulation of most fracking is not coming from the EPA. It is coming from the same place it would come from if the EPA was disbanded, state level departments of environmental resources (or equivalent).
The rational for the creation of the Department of Energy was to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign energy supplies. The thing is, since the establishment of the Department of Energy, the U.S. has become significantly more dependent on foreign energy supplies. That means that the Department of Energy has been a complete failure at the mission for which it was created (or at least the mission which was claimed to be the reason it was created).

Re:Common sense (1, Flamebait)

Onuma (947856) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732873)

Unfortunately, the trend of USG full and sub-departments completely shooting themselves in the foot is not uncommon.

Department of Energy makes us more foreign-energy dependent.
TSA makes airports less secure than ever, while also more inconvenient and congested than ever.
DEA is attempting to enforce the unenforceable. People want to get high - they're gonna get high! BATFE/DOJ is running guns to Mexican cartels and getting Mexicans and Americans killed in the process.

Basically, if you need a task done as inefficiently and back-assward as possible: hire the gov't!

Re:Common sense (0, Troll)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year and a half ago | (#40733015)

Hell, they can't even run a Brothel correctly. And people think that we're gonna have BETTER health care with Government involved?

Re:Common sense (1, Offtopic)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#40733023)

The rational for the creation of the Department of Energy was to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign energy supplies

No, the rational for the Department of Energy was to add to the defense budget without it looking so bad. The Dept of Energy manages the nuclear stockpile.

The regulation of most fracking is not coming from the EPA

No, that's not true. All gas exploration is subject to EPA regs.

Re:Common sense (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year and a half ago | (#40733007)

no, they're not welcome

we need to hold the propagandized fool's feet to the fire of the stupid things they believe

by which i mean: they should get an earful of what their toxic stupid social and economic policy beliefs actually result in, before we as well have to suffer for their idiocy

Religion (-1, Flamebait)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732441)

Genesis being one of the best examples of 'motivated reasoning' that there is.

Re:Religion (0, Troll)

The Snowman (116231) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732649)

Genesis being one of the best examples of 'motivated reasoning' that there is.

As a Christian myself, I have to agree. Genesis is full of allegories, the Judo-Christian version of mythology. Much of the Bible is. That is why in some cases, for example the Gospels, there are multiple accounts of the same events: the humans that wrote the books, sometimes decades after the events took place, are fallible and forgetful. I just wish most religious types would understand this, and get off their soapboxes sometimes.

It is the same thought process as what the article is talking about: people believe what they want to believe and will argue until their death about it.

Re:Religion (0)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732815)

It is interesting to note that the order of creation starts at those things far away and stars etc. and ends with birds, fish, animals, man. Slowly getting closer to Man at the center.

Re:Religion (1)

Teresita (982888) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732951)

Actually, the stars come in on day four, long after the sun and moon and continents. Which of course reflects the Hebrew's cosmology, which had the stars as basically just decorations in a tin ceiling over the Earth, as indicated in this thing I whipped up here. http://www.cleanposts.com/images/6/67/Firm2.png [cleanposts.com]

Motiviated reasoning? (5, Insightful)

Tanktalus (794810) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732443)

I've always just called it "confirmation bias." I see it just as much in the left wing as the right, and nearly every other area of human interaction. Why should sciences be exempt?

Re:Motiviated reasoning? (1)

noh8rz6 (2689737) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732471)

and how can WSJ get away with putting an AP article behind a paywall??? yeesh...

Re:Motiviated reasoning? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732559)

Because they pay for AP articles? They aren't free.

The other news organizations that pay for the articles and subsequently give them for free are the stupid ones.

Re:Motiviated reasoning? (1)

timothy (36799) | about a year and a half ago | (#40733031)

Does the article link here send you to a paywall? It doesn't hit a paywall for me, and I'm certainly not a WSJ subscriber or anything -- we try to avoid paywalled* sources (and if a paywalled source *is* linked, our intent is to label it).

Nowadays, "paywalled" is a continuum, though, rather than a binary ... some sites, like the NYT, are free of charge for x-many articles per month, or require trivial not-exactly-registration, like some sites that have required zip-code entry, to satisfy their marketing departments, I guess.

WSJ has a mix of articles, many of which are fully paywalled, but again, this one doesn't appear to be at all blocked to me ...

Re:Motiviated reasoning? (4, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732639)

Confirmation bias certainly exists throughout the political spectrum. However, it does seem that political partisanship has made it worst in the right end of the political spectrum than the left end. In particular, the more educated self-identified conservatives are, the more they doubt climate change is real. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1871503&http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1871503 [ssrn.com], but the reverse occurs for nuclear power and liberals, or vaccines and liberals, the more educated they are, the more likely they are to agree with the scientific consensus despite the views associated with their end of the political spectrum that run against it. This breaks down pretty badly outside the US though http://www.esds.ac.uk/doc/5357/mrdoc/pdf/5357userguide.pdf [esds.ac.uk]. Similarly, there's some evidence that conservatives respond more poorly than liberals to data that undermines their ideological claims (there was a Slashdot article that linked to this but I can't unfortunately find it right now). The upshot is that while there's definite political tribalism and confirmation bias throughout the political spectrum, at present there seem to be cultural issues that are making the problem more extreme among self-identified conservatives, although why is not at all clear.

Re:Motiviated reasoning? (5, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732705)

Confirmation bias certainly exists throughout the political spectrum. However, it does seem that political partisanship has made it worst in the right end of the political spectrum than the left end.

I see what you did there....

And then you circle back around (1)

Quila (201335) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732773)

Remember the political spectrum isn't a straight line, but a circle; go far enough right you end up left.

Re:Motiviated reasoning? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732805)

>>>However, it does seem that political partisanship has made it worst in the right end of the political spectrum than the left end.

Not true. /. just ran an article two days ago about political bias, and people's opinions on the weather. Right-leaning persons said it was no warmer over the last decade, while left-leaning persons estimated it was 5 degrees warmer. Turns out neither was right (temperatures increased 1/2 a degree). Furthermore they were *equally* wrong, and one side was not more wrong ("worst") than the other.

Re:Motiviated reasoning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732831)

So that's one study on one issue.

I'm not saying it doesn't exist, or even that it doesn't exist equally (I don't know)... just that you've plucked a small example and extrapolated wildly.

Re:Motiviated reasoning? (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732853)

So what you're saying is that on that measure, left-wing persons had a higher absolute error and right-wing persons had a higher relative error. So the GP is correct for some definition of "worse".

Re:Motiviated reasoning? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732899)

As I read it, the article concludes that people who distrust authority tend to trust climate change scientists but are skeptical of nuclear scientists, while people who trust authority tend to be skeptical of climate change scientists but more trusting of nuclear scientists. The conservative/liberal angle is yours, but both groups are selective in what science they trust or distrust. From the article:

Egalitarian Communitarians possessed of high science literacy and numeracy were most likely to diverge from the mean subject’s presumed underestimation of climate change risks. Yet on nuclear power risks, those same respondents shared the mean subject’s presumed overestimation of the dangers of nuclear power. Likewise, Hierarchical Individualists who displayed high science literacy and numeracy were the least likely to see nuclear power as unsafe but the also the most skeptical of climate change.

Re:Motiviated reasoning? (1)

bug1 (96678) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732745)

I've always just called it "confirmation bias."

Ive always called it trust, people dont trust an oppenent to tell the truth, they judge it subjectively rather than objectively.

Re:Motiviated reasoning? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732823)

Rational human beings are a mythological creature, much like unicorns. It's an attractive lie, especially to introverted, thinking individuals, but it's still a lie. As rational as you want to be, you still have to weigh the "credibility" of every piece of evidence, and that is often an irrational value judgement, based partly on the actual merits of the evidence, partly on your perception of bias in the generation or reporting of the evidence, partly on your perception of bias in the relevant technical discipline (ie: you may give more weight to one study that shows fracking is bad because you believe the preponderance of research would be performed with the goal of demonstrating that fracking is safe). So, even if you can actually perform your rational analysis perfectly, the inputs to that analysis have already had their rationality removed.

Even adults would rather have one marshmallow right now than two in ten minutes. The difference is that an adult will synthesize a rational justification for his irrational behavior

One Sided science (3, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732457)

When some of us question the shaky science of AGW we are called anti-science, 'deniers' and worse. Hell, semi reputable idiots on the AGW team actually say we should be outlawed or otherwised silenced. I await with breathless anticipation the sudden 180, where dissent is again patiotic... and we have always been at war with Eastasia.

Why not lets meet in the middle and admit what my team has been saying for a long time, that science, being a human endeavor, has been politicized. Then we can all agree that every idiot in a lab coat (or worse, a politican who wears one on TV) shouldn't be blindly trusted. That science, and more importantly the ways of science, are important tools to knowledge but that scientists should only be allowed to inform policy decision, never to use argument from authority to impose policy.

Re:One Sided science (4, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732591)

When some of us question the shaky science of AGW we are called anti-science, 'deniers' and worse

Then perhaps you'd be well advised to start making formal scientific arguments in the peer-reviewed literature, rather than going through public relations firms hired to appeal directly to the public. If the data is on your side, then work it up to the same standards as everyone else and present it. Unless you do that, it's not science.

Or, like the GOP, you could just claim that more research is needed before actionable conclusions are made, all the while trying to cut funding for the very research you say we have too little of.

Re:One Sided science (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732727)

Then perhaps you'd be well advised to start making formal scientific arguments in the peer-reviewed literature,

But ... but I did do that! That's exactly what I did! I wrote up detailed, lengthy critiques of the science behind the more extreme claims, full of citations of all the inconsilient branches of science, and they were universally rejected!

I think that they basically reject anything that doesn't tow/toe the party line -- and that even if I do get it into a journal, they'll find a way to "define it irrelevant" for purposes of IPCC.

What would really be awesome is if someone could intercept all the communications between major AGW scientists, which I think would vindicate my claim that they deliberately block contrary evidence from journals while simultaneously using the lack of published opposition as further evidence for their claims.

But unless someone goes in and snoops on their email, all my suspicions are just that...

Re:One Sided science (5, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732903)

Well, I guess you just stumbled into the Great Liberal Conspiracy that all scientists are required to join before they are granted their PhDs. Why anybody puts any credence in them when ExxonMobil's PR firms are saying something completely different is beyond me.

Seriously, though... Taking a potshot at this data point or that, or citing professional rivalries between climatologists (re: "climategate") isn't going to be enough. It's like pointing to a "gap" in the fossil record and calling it a flaw in the theory of evolution. If you have the requisite training and can produce a bona fide model that takes the body of existing data and produces a different result, then maybe you have something. A Nobel prize even, if one was awarded in climatology. If you've done this, then I'd like to see the citation. Surely there is at least one reputable peer-reviewed journal that isn't part of the great conspiracy and would publish a solid paper that makes a convincing argument.

Re:One Sided science (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732735)

Its not possible, there is NO peer revied science for AGW. Phil Jones, at the CRU, deleted the orginial data before he risked others viewing his data and methods. He ignored FOI requests for years for the data to peer review. He also admitted to not being able to prove global warming was happeing despite, as he said, manipulating that data to prove such and keeping his data and methods secret. All the IPCC reports, and everything else in the AGW science relm is based on the manipulted data from Phil Jones.

There is no possibility of disputing it on facts because he deleted the data because he considered peer review a threat to his work.

How about you tell me where I'm wrong above or stop calling people who actually know more than you names. If the, as you say, "data is on your side" then we whould have seen it instead of watch it be deleted by the truckload.

Re:One Sided science (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732833)

Sigh...this has been completely debunked. Go put on your tinfoil hat and sit in the corner and whine about how the jews did wtc if you don't care to educate yourself about the world around you. The data was not manipulated and was cleared of all wrongdoing.

Re:One Sided science (3, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | about a year and a half ago | (#40733003)

So one guy controls all of the climate data ever collected, and the state of the entire field of climatology depends on his analysis? That's unadulterated horse shit and possibly the most idiotic thing I've heard this week. I don't care if you can find a climatologist that eats puppies raw for breakfast: It's nothing but character assassination, and whether it's warranted or not it's not a scientific argument. There's plenty of data out there. If you can build a convincing model with it, then just goddamn do it. The whole field will thank you for it.

AGW scientists have PR firms too (1)

Quila (201335) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732793)

They're called the politicians who are supporting and funding AGW for a variety of reasons: honest belief, a bogey man to point to in order to gain power (Christians and gays, Hitler and Jews, a bogey man helps rally the masses to your cause), or just plain greed with all the money-funneling schemes made up so far.

Re:One Sided science (0, Flamebait)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732827)

>>>Then perhaps you'd be well advised to start making formal scientific arguments in the peer-reviewed literature

(1) The editors of the literature are just as politicized and refuse to publish studies that say the earth is not warming, or that the earth is warming, but still a lot cooler than 2000 years ago. (2) You kinda missed the man's point. This article shows that the liberals/left leaning persons can be JUST as anti-science as the right leaning persons. The studies show fracking is not bad, and yet I bet I can go to facebook right now and find dozens of posts from my environmentalists or leftist friends posting the falsehoods anyway.

Basically deluded leftists acting like deluded rightists.

Re:One Sided science (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732887)

If the data is on your side, then work it up to the same standards as everyone else and present it.

It has been, several times. You do realize that several prominent universities in China and Japan have been unable to reproduce several of the most damning claims of AGW research to date including Mann and Briffa's work. It's received no attention inside American or European scientific circles.

That cold silence should tell you quite a bit about the state of AGW research. And the culture of collusion that's going on.

Re:One Sided science (3, Insightful)

williamhb (758070) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732913)

Then perhaps you'd be well advised to start making formal scientific arguments in the peer-reviewed literature, rather than going through public relations firms hired to appeal directly to the public. If the data is on your side, then work it up to the same standards as everyone else and present it. Unless you do that, it's not science.

Sorry to use you as a data point, but half the issue is in public policy debates (which are the very definition of politics), "science" becomes a very slippery term. When someone wants to argue for something, the goalposts widen and almost anything is science (usually together with rallying cries of how great science is -- "science gave us the toaster, television, put a man on the moon. ..." -- quietly drafting the engineers, product designers, anything vaguely technical as being "science"). But when someone wants to argue against something, the goalposts narrow and we insist on journal publications, and which journal ("of course not the Journal of Field I Think is Flawed").

Fundamentally, these debates put the cart before the horse. Slashdotters and others like to insist that "if it's science, policy should follow it" -- ie that science has a right to have more impact. In academia (currently the home of science) however, impact is a metric not a right. Whether your science has impact is a measure of its value and you have no automatic right to people listening to you whatsoever, regardless of where you are published.

Re:One Sided science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732693)

Why not lets meet in the middle and admit what my team has been saying for a long time, that science, being a human endeavor, has been politicized.

Because there is no middle ground when it comes to facts. Just because you dislike the conclusions of the science doesn't make them wrong.

Re:One Sided science (2, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732703)

The problem here is that reality doesn't give a fuck about middle ground or accommodation. If AGW is happening, and the vast majority of experts say it is, then you're rather disingenuous attempt at being "reasonable" is utterly worthless in the long run.

Re:One Sided science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732863)

GP is saying the reality is that science has been politicized. The "middle ground" he's discussing is a compromise in which we admit that reality. That reality doesn't give a fuck if you recognize the reality or not, but it does matter to us in how we deal with that reality. (He's not saying, as you seem to imply, that we should meet a middle ground on whether or not AGW is happening.)

I don't think you thinking in the long run. In the short run, if AGW is happening we need to accept that reality. In the long run, we will be better off if we accept that reality because we know it to be reality. First, that brings more people on board, which makes it much more likely that we will accomplish any goals we set for dealing with the reality. Second, what happens next time when we accept a "reality" that isn't actually real? We need to accept the reality, yes, but for the right reasons. ...the vast majority of experts say it is [happening]...

This is an appeal to authority. It's neither logical nor scientific. Reaching a scientific consensus is important, but we can't do that without data and logical arguments. Further, you need to define expert, explain why they agree it is happening, and rule out confirmation bias.

The "problem here" is that the AGW crowd has been politicizing this thing since before many of us were even born and now they're shocked, dismayed, and angered that people ask for the data.

Re:One Sided science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732763)

ugh. i hate this. stop framing it as AGW vs anti-AGW. It always ignores that most scientists that don't believe in AGW still believe in just good ol' natural GW. The problem is still there. I don't care if we caused it or not. We have to find a way to fix it or at least not do things that at best do nothing and at worst just nudge it in the wrong direction.

Re:One Sided science (5, Informative)

docmordin (2654319) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732933)

And I await, with breathless anticipation, the day that many of the AGW deniers can actually form a cogent argument and start to refute the underlying mathematical models, e.g.,

J. M. Murphy, et al., "Quantification of modelling uncertainties in a large ensemble of climate change simulations", Nature 430: 768-772, 2004
J. M. Murphy, et al., "A methodology for probabilistic predictions of regional climate change from perturbed physics ensembles", Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 365: 1993-2028, 2007
D. A. Stainforth, et al., "Confidence, uncertainty and decision-support relevance in climate predictions", Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 365: 2145-2161, 2007
P. A. Stott and C. E. Forest, "Ensemble climate predictions using climate models and observational constraints", Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 365: 2029-2052, 2007
C. Tebaldi and R. Knutti, "The use of the multi-model ensemble in probabilistic climate projections", Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 365: 2053-2075, 2007
J. D. Annan and J. C. Hargreaves, "Efficient estimation and ensemble generation in climate modelling", Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 365: 2077-2088, 2007
M. New, et al., "Challenges in using probabilistic climate change information for impact assessments: An example from the water sector", Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 365: 2117-2131, 2007
H. Huebener, et al. "Ensemble climate simulations using a fully coupled ocean–troposphere–stratosphere general circulation model", Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 365: 2089-2101, 2007
S. H. Schneider and M. D. Mastrandrea, "Probabilistic assessment of 'dangerous' climate change and emissions pathways", Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 102: 15728-15735, 2005
F. Giorgi and R. Francisco, "Evaluating uncertainties in the prediction of regional climate change", Geophys. Res. Lett 27: 1295-1298, 2000
M. R. Allen and W. J. Ingram, "Constraints on future changes in climate and the hydrological cycle", Nature 419, 224-232, 2002
M. R. Allen, et al., Quantifying the uncertainty in forecasts of anthropogenic climate change", Nature 417: 617-620, 2000
F. Giorgi and L. O. Mearns, "Probability of regional climate change based on the Reliability Ensemble Averaging (REA) method", Geophys. Res. Lett. 30: 1629, 2003
N. G. Andronova and M. E. Schlesinger, "Objective estimation of the probability density function for climate sensitivity", J. Geophys. Res. 106: 22605-22612, 2001
C. E. Forest, et al., "Quantifying uncertainties in climate system properties with the use of recent climate observations", Science 295: 113-117, 2002
R. Knutti, et al., "Constraints on radiative forcing and future climate change from observations and climate model ensembles", Nature 416: 719-723, 2002
J. Gregory, et al., "An observationally based estimate of the climate sensitivity", J. Clim. 15: 3117-3121, 2002
R. J. Stouffer and S. Manabe, "Response of a coupled ocean-atmosphere model to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide: sensitivity to the rate of increase", J. Clim. 12: 2224-2237, 1999
D. A. Stainforth, et al., "Uncertainty in predictions of the climate response to rising levels of greenhouse gases", Nature 433: 403-406, 2005
J. Reilly, et al., "Uncertainty in climate change assessments", Science 293: 430-433, 2001
V. D. Pope, et al., "The impact of new physical parameterisations in the Hadley Centre climate model - HadAM3", Clim. Dyn. 16: 123–146, 2000
K. D. Williams, et al., "Transient climate change in the Hadley centre models: The role of physical processes" J. Clim. 14: 2659–2674 2001
G. C. Hegerl, et al., "Climate sensitivity constrained by temperature reconstructions over the past seven centuries", Nature 440: 1029-1032, 2006
C. Piani, et al., "Constraints on climate change from a multi-thousand member ensemble of simulations", Geophys. Res. Lett. 32: L32825, 2005
D. N. Barnett, et al., "Quantifying uncertainty in changes in extreme event frequency in response to doubled CO2 using a large ensemble of GCM simulations", Clim. Dyn. 26: 489-511, 2006
C. Tebaldi and B. Sanso, "Joint projections of temperature and precipitation change from multiple climate models: A hierarchical Bayesian approach", J. R. Stat. Soc. A 172: 83-106, 2009
T. L. Anderson, et al., "Climate forcing by aerosols - A hazy picture", Science 300: 110-111, 2003
S. Solomon, et al., "Contributions of stratospheric water vapor to decadal changes in the rate of global warming", Science 327: 1219-1223, 2010

let alone some of the things that they predict, e.g.,

M. O. Andreae, et al., "Strong present-day aerosol cooling implies a hot future", Nature 435: 1187-1190, 2005
P. M. Cox, et al., "Increasing risk of Amazonian drought due to decreasing aerosol pollution", Nature 435: 212-215, 2008
M. de Wit and J. Stankiewicz, "Changes in surface water supply across Africa with predicted climate change", science 311: 1917-1921, 2006
T. N. Palmer and J. Raisanen, "Quantifying the risk of extreme seasonal precipitation events in a changing climate", Nature 415: 514-517, 2002
G. A. Meehl, et al., "Relative outcomes of climate change mitigation related to global temperature versus sea-level rise", Nature Clim. Change, 2012 (accepted, in press)
G. A. Meehl, et al., "Model-based evidence of deep-ocean heat uptake during surface-temperature hiatus periods, Nature Clim. Change 1: 360–364, 2011
P. N. Gillet, et al., "Ongoing climate change following a complete cessation of carbon dioxide emissions", Nature Geosci. 4: 83-87, 2001
W. T. Pfeffer, et al., "Kinematic constraints on glacier contributions to 21st-century sea-level rise", Science 321: 1340-1343, 2008
M. Vermeer and S. Rahmstorf, "Global sea level linked to global temperature", Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 106: 21527-21532, 2009
M. Oppenheimer, "Global warming and the stability of the West Antarctic ice sheet", Nature 393: 325-332, 1998
G. A. Meehl, et al., "How much more global warming and sea level rise?", Science 307: 1769-1772, 2005
D. J. Rowlands, et al., "Broad range of 2050 warming from an observationally constrained large climate model ensemble", Nature Geosci. 5: 256-260, 2012 P. C. Milly, et al., "Global pattern of trends in stream flow and water availability in a changing climate", Nature 428: 347-350, 2005

Why peer review is increasingly broken (4, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732937)

From the mid 1990s by the Vice-provost of Caltech: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~dg/crunch_art.html [caltech.edu]
"Peer review is usually quite a good way to identify valid science. Of course, a referee will occasionally fail to appreciate a truly visionary or revolutionary idea, but by and large, peer review works pretty well so long as scientific validity is the only issue at stake. However, it is not at all suited to arbitrate an intense competition for research funds or for editorial space in prestigious journals. There are many reasons for this, not the least being the fact that the referees have an obvious conflict of interest, since they are themselves competitors for the same resources. This point seems to be another one of those relativistic anomalies, obvious to any outside observer, but invisible to those of us who are falling into the black hole. It would take impossibly high ethical standards for referees to avoid taking advantage of their privileged anonymity to advance their own interests, but as time goes on, more and more referees have their ethical standards eroded as a consequence of having themselves been victimized by unfair reviews when they were authors. Peer review is thus one among many examples of practices that were well suited to the time of exponential expansion, but will become increasingly dysfunctional in the difficult future we face."

More like that:
http://www.pdfernhout.net/to-james-randi-on-skepticism-about-mainstream-science.html#Some_quotes_on_social_problems_in_science [pdfernhout.net]

Also:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/02/26/peer-review-as-censorship/ [counterpunch.org]

All reasoning is also based on emotion, which relate to perceptions, assumptions, priorities and preferences which are, to some extent, outside of pure rationality (which why "technocracy" has many issues).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descartes'_Error [wikipedia.org]

But the biggest issue is that our socio-economic-political system is not well-adapted to handle "externalities" including systemic risks.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality [wikipedia.org]

Any reasonable projection over the next twenty years shows we will almost certainly have dirt-cheap PV given exponential growth of that industry and rapidly dropping costs. We may even have hot or cold fusion in that time (and other things). With alternatives on the way, there is not a very good case to be made for risking destroy our groundwater for just a bit more fossil fuels:
http://cleantechnica.com/2011/05/29/ge-solar-power-cheaper-than-fossil-fuels-in-5-years/ [cleantechnica.com]
http://www.solarbuzz.com/facts-and-figures/retail-price-environment/module-prices [solarbuzz.com]
http://bigthink.com/think-tank/ray-kurzweil-solar-will-power-the-world-in-16-years [bigthink.com]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_parity#Solar_power [wikipedia.org]
http://pesn.com/2012/07/19/9602138_LENR-to-Market_Weekly_July19/ [pesn.com]
http://www.technologyreview.com/news/414559/a-new-approach-to-fusion/ [technologyreview.com]
And so on...

Accounting for externalities (including US defense spending for long oil supply lines), renewables (and energy efficiency) have been *cheaper* than fossil fuels since the 1970s... Two resources on that from around 1980:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brittle_Power [wikipedia.org]
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/carter-crisis/ [pbs.org]
"We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure. All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem."

Sadly, the USA took the wrong path... Fracking-as-we-currently-know-it sounds like just more of the same old same old of socializing costs and privatizing gains.

Re:One Sided science (1)

MrHanky (141717) | about a year and a half ago | (#40733029)

Which semi-reputable idiots on the AGW team are you talking about? Citation needed, etc.

The President to speak soon (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732463)

President speaks in Colorado
What a fucking tragic event. As geeks, taking over the world and providing the backdrop for this, I am apalled. This person should be literally drawn and quartered. An example for the rest of the world to see. And a lesson for all the wannabe frucks in the US.

Rational people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732469)

would it be more fair to say that rational people insist on more rigorous tests or larger data sets before walking away? when third-party evidence is counter-intuitive, we have a right to be cautious or suspicious.

if there are many scientists - or even if there are only a few good scientists - who have doubts, then why shouldn't a non-expert?

Re:Rational people? (1)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732563)

Because of the Pizza Rule. Any more than three people can't even agree on pizza toppings. There are a lot more than three scientists.

Grant Money (0, Flamebait)

codepunk (167897) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732497)

When grant money is on the line science will reflect whatever is required to ensure continued financial support.

Re:Grant Money (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#40733037)

When grant money is on the line science will reflect whatever is required to ensure continued financial support.

Right. Scientists are just trying to protect their paychecks, but the energy companies and their political shills are in it for the good of mankind.

It's like a drug to 'em (us) (4, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732499)

Whether fracking is scientifically sound or not, we have just got to stop this desperate scrabbling to dig up any scrap of fossil fuel we can find.

The world is acting like an addict that will do anything to get their next fix, no matter how damaging it could be, or what the consequences could be that we just don't care to think about. I'm no treehugger but even I think this is like raiding grandma's handbag to give to "my man" and it's embarrassing, undignified and immoral.

The first step to recovery is to admit the problem. We're still in denial.

Re:It's like a drug to 'em (us) (5, Insightful)

Sarius64 (880298) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732577)

No rational person is in denial. In general, they marvel at the fact that our energy policy is still controlled by actors' feelings.

Thorium: It is about three times more abundant than uranium and about as common as lead.

http://www.hobart.k12.in.us/ksms/PeriodicTable/thorium.htm

http://thoriumforum.com/explanation-lftr-liquid-fluoride-thorium-reactor

The number one complaint I see about thorium is that we'll have to teach engineers new techniques and safety systems. Really?

Re:It's like a drug to 'em (us) (5, Insightful)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732587)

Whether fracking is scientifically sound or not, we have just got to stop this desperate scrabbling to dig up any scrap of fossil fuel we can find..

Why, exactly? You have a specific reason in mind as to why we should avoid continued gathering of an existing resource when we've got no currently viable alternative?

Viable alternatives (5, Interesting)

Gavrielkay (1819320) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732623)

I wonder how much more viable clean and renewable alternatives would be if the fossil fuel industry was not subsidized and was responsible for the clean up of its mess. I've seen smog and soot and smelled what thousands of gas burning cars do to the air. That has a cost that is hard to measure.

Alternatives would become more financially competitive if more work were put into them. I'd love to see the money oil companies spent on defending their dirty businesses go to research and development of cleaner technologies.

Re:It's like a drug to 'em (us) (4, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732655)

Because on a geological timescale, what we're doing is releasing all the CO2 that has ever been sequestered on earth ALL AT ONCE. If you can't see there could be a problem with that you are in denial.

There are plenty of viable alternatives, they just need to be funded to the same extent as the fossil fuel industries.

Re:It's like a drug to 'em (us) (2)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732661)

The "fix" in this case produces an industrial civilization rather than a temporary high. That makes comparisons to addiction rather iffy.

Re:It's like a drug to 'em (us) (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732803)

You're assuming that "industrial civilisation" is all good, with no downsides. Human beings didn't evolve to live this way, and as a result many, many people are unable to cope, and are dysfunctional in all sorts of ways. Look at last week's events in Denver - would that have happened in a tribal colony? Doubtful. In many ways the world we have built on the fossil fuel glut proves my thesis.

Re:It's like a drug to 'em (us) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40733009)

Would sex with cousins happen in a tribal colony? Would wife beating happen in a tribal colony? Would superstition happen in a tribal colony? Would cannibalism happen in a tribal colony? Would century long feuds happen between tribal colonies?

Re:It's like a drug to 'em (us) (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732857)

Just think of oil and coal as solar power...... after all that's where all the stored energy originated.

BTW what are YOU doing to reduce oil usage?
- got a 70mpg car like I've got? (granted the 3-cylinder insight was discontinued but you could have bought one while it was on sale)
- got a PassivHaus that requires no heating, thus saving thousands of kilowatt-hours each year?

 

Re:It's like a drug to 'em (us) (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732927)

Just think of oil and coal as solar power...... after all that's where all the stored energy originated.

For sure, except that the problem is the timescales over which the energy byproducts (the CO2) is released. Millions of years of solar energy sequestered as CO2, released in ~100 years. See the problem?

BTW what are YOU doing to reduce oil usage?

What I can. I have direct solar hot water heating, a wind turbine to offset my grid load and I'm working on a home-build EV, though admittedly the latter is a recreational vehicle rather than something to commute in. But I work from home anyway, so my IC car use is much lower than most people's. My house could be better insulated (trying to improve that whenever any reno work causes the gap between the walls to be exposed) but our main source of heating is a wood-fired stove which is totally sustainable.

Re:It's like a drug to 'em (us) (3, Insightful)

williamhb (758070) | about a year and a half ago | (#40733021)

Whether fracking is scientifically sound or not, ...

There is a mistake going on in the debate -- when someone tries to turn it into a scientific argument, which sounds very noble, what they are also doing is suggesting that the scientific conclusion should be the policy conclusion as a matter of course. If it's the best theory at the time, that's what we should go with. Unfortunately that is often a seriously bad idea as science and policy have very different risk profiles. If you try your scientific theory out and it is wrong, you revise the theory and move on. If you try your scientific theory out in a safety-critical environment, it is wrong, and everyone dies, you don't. This is why, for instance, pharmaceuticals have to jump through many hoops to prove their safety long after they have proved their efficacy (ie, long after they have become the best available scientific theory of their effect) and long after they have been shown to be theoretically safe. What we certainly do not want is policy being coerced by arguments that "there is no empirical evidence that it would cause (plausible catastrophic problem X)" which sounds rhetorically like it means "we've experimentally determined it wouldn't" but actually just means "nobody ran a decent enough experiment to find out it would".

Coincidentally.... (3, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732503)

Some "Scientists" insist on presenting as "facts" things which are not necessarily true. As long as scientific studies are being produced with a pronounced bias towards a particular viewpoint, I think people will tend to disbelieve scientific studies that disagree with the view that they hold. When Corporations can pay for studies that "prove" their viewpoint but appear to be unbiased why should we believe everything we are told just because a scientist says its so. If they remain neutral then they gain credibility but the more biased opinions that get passed off as "scientific fact" the weaker their credibility. I am thinking here of some of the studies done with the financing of Big Pharma that just happen to support a product they are selling/developing, and then later we discover it was all a sham.

Re:Coincidentally.... (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732891)

why should we believe everything we are told just because a scientist says its so

We shouldn't. That's the argument from authority fallacy. Valid science does get produced. Look at the evidence not the figure heads.

i see (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732519)

hmm, yes. it's clear that tap water catching on fire is psychological.

I'll never understand slashdot's psychotic devotion to being anti-earth. Is it just a logical extension of technological fetishism? Like, poisoning the environment is okay because your discarded hardware poisons the environment?

fuck you, got mine?

LOL, yeah (2, Informative)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732597)

Its easy to pass off all the examples of polluted water and air is all. "Oh, well, you Mr Treehugger guy, your well was skanky all along, you're just blaming us for it, PROVE that you actually had drinkable water last year."

I mean, yes, there's annecdote, but there's also a lot of plain old evidence that fraking in contaminating acquifers. Just because some geologists say "gosh that's unlikely" means jack. They can't prove much about what the actual state of these different strata buried 1000's of feet deep actually is either. It is all guesswork and counter-claims on all sides at very best.

Still, when my family gets sick and my water burns and it starts right after you frak your gas wells, ummmmmmm, gosh, yeah, I'm just biased if I blame it on the fraking! ROFLMAO!

Re:LOL, yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40733043)

Do you have any cases where it started right after fracking a well?

Sad saga. (3, Informative)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732527)

The sad thing in this whole saga is that we can actually source a large amount of our demand for natural gas from our own waste using technology which has been known for centuries. Instead, we simply choose to landfill our waste. What a waste.

We actually have the technology today to source almost all our needs for natural gas in environmentally sound ways. That there are crazy subsidies on continuing the status quo means that the environment loses.

The best thing that any government can do for the environment is to eliminate all subsidies.

Its called brainwashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732539)

geesss you really need scientists to tell us this

Both Sides (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732561)

Of course the same psychological process may be at work in those who deny the dangers of fracking. Of course, everyone has always known that bias effects how we process facts and arrive at conclusions.

Re:Both Sides (1, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732609)

Quite. They call it "water" but what it really is is a chemical cocktail. It's an aqueous solution of some really nasty shit. Because there's also some water in there, they call it water. That's the first obvious nonsense that's going to get people suspicious.

Now contemplate that being injected into the Earth at high pressure.

Not likely to end well. Might be safe under certain conditions. Those conditions will likely not be tolerated by corporations. This is why oil platforms end up exploding. The Ayn Rand cult will push for every corner being cut until you are left with a circle.

Plus, it's hard to take these companies seriously when we're still recovering from their last disaster. Do they think everyone to has collective amnesia.

Re:Both Sides (1)

garaged (579941) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732717)

I dont know much about the current actual mix used for fracking, but they used to use some very harmless polysacharides that couldnt hurt much our healt besides being very good food for bacteria and fungus. I can see the common sense of oil companies migrating from that to anything toxic in a heartbeat just to squeeze one or two more percent points on "productivity" though...

If it is as safe as you claim... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732589)

force the executives to live on that land, breathe that air, and drink that water for the entire time they are fracking it. No bottled water, or filters either. If there are no dangers, then they should do it willingly. My bet is they won't.

cue the zealots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732595)

Cue the zealots claiming that this is why people disagree with them because this is an easy way to categorize people as "different" and "blind" so that they can be considered "other" than the group and therefore minimized, ignored and mistreated. Instead of recognizing that all people have views for reasons

Bad English (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732599)

"the article notes, for instance, that much of the naturally radioactive deep water called flowback forced up along with fracking-extracted gas "was once being discharged into municipal sewage treatment plants and then rivers in Pennsylvania," leading to concern about pollution of public water supplies."

Bad sentence, timothy. Learn to chop it up a bit. It's like Perl: just because you could, doesn't mean you should.

i'm conflicted on this (5, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732629)

the marcellus shale has so much natural gas, we could all start driving cars powered by natural gas and all of the geopolitical headaches of oil would just go away. plus, with no incentive to safeguard foreign petroleum, we could just not care about security in the middle east

however, that's all fine and dandy until you consider the possibility that you are trading energy security for poisoned underground aquifers. i like my water supply clean, thanks

but the fracking goes on on a level far below the water table

still, it's like puncture holes that can induce mixing between layers. the poisons are not necessarily just from the fracking chemicals, there are all sorts of completely natural nasty minerals you don't want mixed up and introduced into your water supply with some artificial mayhem underground

the need then becomes that states and local governments REQUIRE drilling companies to go through a process whereby

1. they absolutely guarantee they follow procedures to carefully puncture the water table,
2. then seal their operations off from the water table, during operations,
3. and finally, when operations cease, to make sure they have a seal that is inspected and certified as the best we can technologically do

the problem is people acting too quickly and shoddy efforts and abandoned responsibilities, the usual lax standards when there is no fierce regulatory body around: you get the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

this is a case where strict government regulation is an absolute must. government regulation something that is apparently evil according republicans. i guess republicans don't have to turn the faucet on in their home!

finally, there is the issue of the chemicals they are using your fracking. a lot of these mictures are trade secrets. well, that trade secret veil needs to be pierced: if it goes into the ground near my water table, i don't give a flying f*ck about your trade secrets, i want to know what you are pumping down there, and my right to know that my water is safe supersedes your capitalist imperative

however, i was recently amused to find out one major componet of the fracking brew:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/17/world/asia/fracking-in-us-lifts-guar-farmers-in-india.html [nytimes.com]

Guar gum!

Yes, the same thing you see listed as a thickener on your ice cream!

Which makes sense, you want to shove something down there thick and rigid and with a high viscosity to shove the natural gas back up: water laced with sand and thickeners. Makes sense.

So this relieves my worry somewhat. But I still want to know every chemical going into the ground. I don't care about your trade secrets, it's my water!

Re:i'm conflicted on this (4, Insightful)

Teun (17872) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732979)

Well written.
I work in the business and all this fracking panic in the US is justified for one simple reason, the US oil companies are not regulated.

So at the same time I say fracking can technically be done in a controlled and responsible way but not with the present US legislation that has grown companies devoid of any moral.

Reasoning, motivated or not (4, Interesting)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732671)

There's no such thing as "motivated reasoning", there's only "reasoning", and it's not a good way to make policy.

Science is based on observation, and as a result we get "evidence-based" decisions. Knowing the likely result because you've done it before makes for good decisions.

When you have a lot of observations, you can sometimes discover underlying laws, rules, and insight into the mechanisms of outcome. This results in "analysis-based" decisions.

"Analysis-based" decisions are only valid when the rules and insight are properly applied. In any situation, you have to correctly identify that the rules you use is valid, and you *also* have to know that no other rules apply. No one does this perfectly and at all times, and so "analysis-based" decisions are less likely to be correct.

For an example, consider predicting the behaviour of an electrical circuit. The rules and insight for electronics are straightforward, but consider how often a real-life circuit fails to work as predicted. The same is true for software: setting aside bugs and misunderstanding of requirements, how often does a piece of software exhibit unpredicted behaviour?

And finally, there's "story-based" reasoning. That's where you make predictions based on gut feel and experience using insights from other disciplines, and then make decisions based on that. Economics is reasoning based on stories, as is Intelligent design.

For this example, in economics it's well known that a little inflation is good, a lot of inflation is bad, and negative inflation is very bad. What is the optimal value? Is the value exact, or can it be a little off (ie - is the plot of good/bad sharply peaked, or relatively flat)? How does one even *calculate* inflation?

Economics is all opinions and "schools of thought" with no predictive power. It explains why something happened, but it never seems to tell us what will happen next.

We need to get away from "story-based" decisions and rely more on evidence. Civilization is at a point where we now have unprecedented levels of information and data which could be mined for evidence and used to make decisions, so long as we ask the right questions.

For questions for which we have no readily available evidence, we should be gathering it. In cases where the risk/reward equation yields a high risk, such as permanently damaging the water supply over a wide swath of the country, it might be prudent to hold off until proper evidence has been gathered.

Re:Reasoning, motivated or not (3, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732893)

>>>Economics is all opinions and "schools of thought" with no predictive power.

The Austrian school predicted the dot-com bubble would crash, which is did during Clinton's final year. Then they predicted another bubble based on housing before it happened, and while it was going-on they predicted it would burst and crash the economy. They got all three things right.

They also predicted the TARP bailouts and stimulus and QE1 would create another bubble, which did indeed happen (the derivatives are leveraged at a higher rate in 2012 than they were in 2007), and now they are saying that bubble will burst too.

Only one true God (2)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732959)

The Austrian school predicted the dot-com bubble would crash, which is did during Clinton's final year. Then they predicted another bubble based on housing before it happened, and while it was going-on they predicted it would burst and crash the economy. They got all three things right.

They also predicted the TARP bailouts and stimulus and QE1 would create another bubble, which did indeed happen (the derivatives are leveraged at a higher rate in 2012 than they were in 2007), and now they are saying that bubble will burst too.

Great! Glad to hear it.

Just a couple of questions:

1) When will the next bubble burst?

2) Why don't all economists subscribe to the Austrian school of thought?

Anxiously awaiting your reply. I enjoy gaining new insights into complex subjects.

Re:Reasoning, motivated or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40733017)

Generally for these sorts of decisions, the data is noisy enough that depending on your methodology to decide what is and isn't relevant, you can come up with analysis supporting just about any decision. Even if you do a study to try to determine what's the best way to decide what's relevant to your issue, you run into the same problem again. Essentially there is no bedrock to base any analysis on. The best you can do is say, this study is valid because it uses methods proved valid in study A which was in turn backed by study B which was in turn backed by study C which was based on an arbitrary methodology. Meanwhile, another camp will have their own chain of studies originally based on a different arbitrary methodology that contradicts your interpretation of the data.

This is ignoring the issue that we can't agree on what variables to optimize, which is for the most part an inherently subjective issue that being more objective won't help with.

Flaming tap water (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732695)

Course, I'm waiting for the frakking community to tell us that the flammable tap water is normal:
"What you mean your tap water isn't flammable? You got yourself some defective water. After all, it's made of hydrogen and oxygen: one was responsible for the Hindenberg, and the other is used as rocket fuel."

Re:Flaming tap water (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732931)

I'm not sure what your point is here.
I remember hearing on tv / radio (NPR) reports of flammable tap water 30 years ago.
Normal? No, I don't think anybody is making this claim.
Naturally-occuring in some places? Yes.

Answering your own question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40732865)

"That's not to say that all is peaches: the article notes, for instance, that much of the naturally radioactive deep water called flowback forced up along with fracking-extracted gas "was once being discharged into municipal sewage treatment plants and then rivers in Pennsylvania," leading to concern about pollution of public water supplies. Public scrutiny and regulation mean that's no longer true."

So, anti-fracking science changed this practice. Where was the fault with the anti-fracking science that led to these regulations? Are these regulations state or national?

This is a pure blowjob for the fracking crew. Congrats Slashdot, I hope you got paid well. PR is WAY easier than news.

Fracking (1)

no-body (127863) | about a year and a half ago | (#40732901)

only 1/2 the story, or even less. In the process of drilling down under, as a side effect, countless gallons/cubicyards/tons of polluted water are sunk into some deep drill hole since it's '"not worth/very polluted" to do otherwise.

Is it ever coming up? Just a question of time, I guess. Congratulations to the receivers!

What was the other one? Ah - pollution on the "side" - leaking methane and other potential endocrine disruptors accompanying the process and "escaping".

http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/chemicals.introduction.php/ [endocrinedisruption.com]

Nice pic:
http://www.greencape.org/endocrine.html [greencape.org]
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