Natural Gas Watch has published a fascinating interview with Josh Fox, the creator of the often mentioned documentary about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) titled Gasland. Fox is well into the production cycle for a sequel titled Gasland II; he described the difference between filming the first movie as an unknown documentarian and making the second movie as a well-known, controversial figure.
Both Fox and Natural Gas Watch share my apprehension about our increasing dependence on natural gas and other fossil fuels. They both recognize that “clean natural gas” is more of a marketing phrase than a description of reality. Natural Gas Watch runs a regular column on natural gas leaks and explosions that is worth following – if you have a strong stomach.
However, Fox shares a blind spot with many artistic types who get interested in energy production and energy choices. He is a huge advocate for renewable energy systems, but he does not have the technical background to recognize their inherent limitations. He went so far during the interview to claim that solar energy is compatible with agriculture in the state of New York. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Here is a comment that I have added to the interview, though it has not yet made it through moderation.
Rod Adams says:
December 9, 2011 at 9:43 am
Thank you for an inspiring interview. I have been sold – even though Gasland II will not be out until the summer, I think I will sign up for HBO now. One of the frustrations that I have with the advertiser supported media model is that the outlets from the major papers to the major networks are far too dependent on the revenues they receive from airing commercials from Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillps, and BP.
I have a challenge for Josh, however. I have intensely studied energy production throughout my 30 year professional career. I cannot understand why he is so enthusiastic about the politically acceptable “renewable” energy sources like solar and wind that require massively intrusive collection systems that are often idle for 70-80% of the time. Solar energy collectors are NOT compatible with agriculture – they compete for the same input resources of land and sun.
Reliable power is no longer a luxury in our developed world; it is the only thing that enables the survival of humans in densely populated cities. As Stewart Brand pointed out in his most recent book, “Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto”, packing people into cities is one of the best ways to maintain the beauties of the unpopulated parts of our earthly environment.
Stewart, George Monbiot, and James Hansen are just a few of the thinkers who have recognized that if you really want to tackle the fossil fuel industry and all of its externalities, you need to use the most powerful tool in the tool box – nuclear fission. It is only by using a power source that is clean enough and reliable enough to run inside a submarine operating deep under the ocean can we hope to push fossil fuel to the margins of our industrial society.
Publisher, Atomic Insights