There is a perfect statement to describe the current demand of natural resources all around the world. That statement is: when giants collide. We need natural resources in order to preserve and improve our current living conditions. Until the moment when green energy will become more viable in economic terms we must accept the current domination of oil and natural gas. Because natural gas and oil are the cornerstone of our current activities the players which control them can also alter our economic conditions (remember the OPEC decision after the Yom Kippur War), and even structural or behavioural changes which can occur inside the main players can affect the entire world – at a certain point in the past a conflict in Nigeria decreased Shell’s production by 10 percent.
Many books and articles are talking about oil and they use apocalyptic tones, predicting in this way the end of oil. But recently a new kind of player emerged on the natural resources “market”. I am talking about shale gas. There many interesting questions and disputes around this type of resource.Also Read: Protests in UK over shale gas test drilling
What is shale gas?
Shale gas is a type of natural gas. This type of gas can be found in different rocks like: sandstone, limestone and shale rocks. Each type has different characteristics. For example, sandstone rocks usually have high permeability while shale rocks have very low permeability. As a conclusion, exploiting the gas from sandstone rocks is cheaper than from shale rocks. Shale gas can also be labeled as unconventional gas because in order to use it or to get to it you need more elaborate production method. All around the world the current method is the hydraulic fracturing.
What is hydraulic fracturing?
This is a very technical process and in order to fully understand it, you must have a strong background in this kind of activity. In plain English this method can be explained like this. Because every geologic formation is unique also each fracturing operation has unique traits. The basic idea of this method is that in order to extend tiny cracks from a sedimentary/limestone/shale or sandstone formation you are using a combination of water, sand and chemicals like methane at very high pressures. Shale gas is an unconventional source of resources because is “stored” in the rock itself.
There is a huge risk when we are talking about hydraulic fracturing because of the possible pollution of drinking water from methane and all the other chemicals which are used during the process. Another problem is the fact that when fracturing is used in order to exploit shale gas deposits small intensity earthquakes are generated by the huge pressure of the compound which is injected. These micro-earthquakes can combine themselves with the natural occurring movements of Earth crust and they can trigger a large-scale earthquake.
Another phenomenon can occur during this process – it is called the flow-back phase and is the moment when the fracturing fluid is returning to the surface. As mentioned before this fluid contains methane. This substance can act as a greenhouse gas so it can accelerate the global warming process.
Another issue is the amount of water used in this process. Water is a scarce resource and using water in arid regions to exploit shale gas damages the water supply capabilities of that area – local communities are affected.
The United States and shale gas
Natural gas is very important for the US – ¼ of the country’s total energy comes from natural gas so the economic implications of natural gas are very important. At this moment according to the EIA shale gas accounts for 30 percent of total US natural gas production. Shale gas comes with certain economic advantages or economic gains: lower prices, an increase in the number of domestic jobs (for example in the last years 200.000 direct or indirect jobs were created by this industry only in the United States).
Another important advantage is that shale gas usage is increasing, enhancing US national security by reducing dependence on foreign sources: Middle East is a volatile region and a good example here is the moment when Barack Obama decided to move near Syria some battleships – the Brent and Crude oil prices climbed very fast on the international stock markets. Another good example is the moment when Russia stopped gas deliveries to Ukraine a few years ago. If we are looking at the problem of natural resources through the lenses of security, oil and natural gas can be used as leverage or even diplomatic weapons and no rational player will accept to enter in this kind of game.
On March 31, 2011 Barack Obama said that the recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves – perhaps a century’s worth of shale gas! If we are looking at this statement from a temporal perspective he is right: in 2001, the shale gas production represented 2% of the total natural gas production in the United States and now we are talking about 30 percent. The Haynesville shale was negligible in 2008 but now the same shale field offers 8% of the entire shale gas production from US. Now imagine the improvements in technology in 10 – 20 years. The current 30 percent share will definitely increase!
The world needs stability, craves for balance. We, as a society we need more and more in order to evolve, in order to satisfy our increasing demands and our planet is a finite space. This is the root of the problem and there are two possibilities. Either we pollute and develop now in a very rapid pace in order to discover better, safer and cleaner technologies, either we stop from our current expansion. Which side are you on?
How To Save Water At Work
When you’re at home, you know how to save water and do better for your house. Living in a green way is easy at home, but what about at work? When you are not the owner of a business premises, it’s not always easy to be green. However, there are things that you can do as a business that will ensure that you are analyzing your water efficiency and you can then reduce the water use in your workplace.
Below, we’ve put together some of the best ways that you can conserve water in your workplace. You can continue your green efforts in the workplace this way!
Get Your Management Team On Your Side
If you are planning to start water conservation efforts at work, you need the rest of your management team on your side. They need to be happy to work with you and ensure that your water conservation efforts are successful. If you’re working as one team, you’re far more likely to save the planet a little aggravation and you can successfully prevent flooding, too.
You need to know the best ways to conserve water, and we’re willing to bet that you haven’t looked at whether you can get permission from your landlord about installing water tanks from watertankfactory.com.au/water-tanks-dalby/. You need to research what you can and cannot do in terms of saving water in any way possible.
Put Together A List
You need to know why you are saving water and what it will be for. Filtering rainwater for free, drinkable water in the office is a genius way to keep employees cool. You can also use it for the external garden of your business, as a way to flush the toilets and you can also use it to clean the floors.
Know How You Already Use Your Water
How does your business consume water? Where is it mostly used through the working week? If you can ensure that you are using your water properly, you will be able to encourage your staff to do the same thing. Conservation only works when everyone is on board!
Bring In The Experts
Do you have leaky faucets? Are you dealing with pipes that are broken or cracked in any way? Any of these things can cause your water payments to shoot right up. Bringing in the experts to assess your current water systems and evaluate your pipework is the best way to ensure that you are saving water. You can stop the waste when you have someone in to assess what you are dealing with.
By buying rainwater tanks and saving the rainfall, you can use less of the water from the faucets and the pipes in the building. You can add a good filtration system and this will help you to get rid of the nasties in the water and reduce the contaminants that you could be facing.
Water conservation is not just for your house. And now you know how to get it right!
Ten Totally Awesome Ways To Save Water
Living on a planet that’s mostly made up of water means that water is our biggest commodity here on Earth. We use it every single day whether we are showering, washing dishes or clothes, watering the garden or even using the toilet. In our homes, we use a lot of water and we rarely think about what we’re using. Most countries using water are fortunate enough not to have to worry about how much they are using each day, while there are other places in the world that do everything that they canfor the tiniest possible drop of water.
In fact, half of the world’s global population doesn’t have access to clean drinking water, so it’s our responsibility to save as much water as possible and not waste it. Water waste depletes one of our biggest resources, and it makes sense to save water – and money – as much as we can. When you are running a home, the amount of water that you use has to be a concern for you as you are paying for the service of clean water piped into your home. Much in the way you wouldn’t stand there switching the light on and off to waste electricity, you need to learn how you can save as much water as possible. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at ten awesome ways you can do just that.
Switch It Off
Such a simple thing to do, and yet it’s one of the things that people find hardest to do! Leaving faucets running while brushing teeth is not ideal and you can save tanks of water every year by switching the faucet off until you need it again. It’s the same as running the shower for too long when you are waiting for it to warm up and you to get in – give it five seconds and get in! You should also think about limiting the time that you spend in the shower to conserve the water you are running. If you see a water source running, turn it off and you’ll be saving energy, too.
Use Composting For Food
If you have leftover food, don’t throw it down the garbage disposal. The garbage disposal wastes a lot of water and you can save yourself the money and the water waste by throwing the old food scraps on the compost pile and giving the rest to the dog. The garbage disposal relies on water running to break down the food, so you are going to be making a big difference by switching it off.
Wrap Your Pipes
While it’s helpful to purchase slimline water tanks to catch any dripping water, you can save a lot of water by insulating your pipes. In the cooler weather, pipes have a tendency to crack and split, which makes them leak water all over the place. It also takes hot water a lot longer to flow through the pipes because they’re too cold to manage. So, if you insulate your pipes properly, you can prevent these two ways to waste water. By all means, get those water tanks regardless: you could always use new ways to save water!
We just mentioned that colder weather can make the pipes crack, and it’s true that this happens easily. Instead of wasting both water and money on this, why not start looking at getting those leaks repaired? It’s not just pipes, either. Leaky garden hoses, faucets, shower heads and broken toilets can all cause leaks in the system. Bring in an expert if you can’t fix it yourself!
Don’t Do Half Measures
Washing the clothes in the house can be time-consuming, but if you’re constantly putting on half-loads of laundry, you are going to waste an awful lot of water. It’s’ not just clothes: half-loads for dishwashers are just as detrimental to the water supply in your home. Wait until the loads are full before you run them, and you’ll be able to save a ton of water.
Believe it or not, you don’t need to keep the water running when you wash dishes and clothes. You can fill a sink with water and submerge whatever you’re washing in the soapy water. All you need is a plug, and you can make sure that the sink doesn’t drain out while you are washing up. There’s no need to run a whole dishwasher just for one or two items.
Adjust Garden Hoses & Sprinklers
Whether you are working on a commercial garden or on your own, you need to adjust the hoses and sprinklers to ensure that you aren’t wasting any water. Put them all on automatic timers so that you can ensure that they turn off after the right time and not just keep watering! There’s no need to waste more money on watering the garden than necessary
Know Where The Shut-Off Is
Sometimes, you can make all the adjustments in the world and still find a leak in the house. You need to know where the water shut-off switches and valves are so that in the event of a leak that you cannot find or control, you can stop the flow of water. The last thing that you need is a street full of water and a flood threatening your basement. So, work out how to turn off the water and you can save yourself a lot of money and waste at the same time.
Go For Low Maintenance
If your garden is fully lawned and landscaped, you need to look at how you can make it more low maintenance. It’s lovely to have a lot of greenery but if you are going to be risking needing to water the garden almost continuously, then you could swap to artificial grass that doesn’t need your attention as often. There are plenty of plants who don’t use as much water, either. These are the plants you want to have in your garden if you are looking at saving water.
Low-flow toilets and faucets can help you to save water without even trying. You can even change your showerhead to a slow-flow option and ensure that you are saving water without any of the impact on your daily activities.
Nuclear Power and Other Power Sources: How Do They Stack Up?
Most everyone dreads the idea of nuclear war because of the abject devastation it would inflict on planet Earth. Yet few connect the dots between nuclear weapons and nuclear power — the same energy that makes atomic bombs and nuclear missiles so threatening is also harnessed to power electrical grids and other forms of infrastructure. When properly contained, nuclear power is the cleanest and most abundant energy source available. With all the concern over climate change and environmental degradation, it begs a huge question: why is the United States of America not generating more — much more — nuclear energy?
Capital Investment vs. Production Costs
Looking at it from one angle, a larger nuclear energy capacity is a no-brainer. Making electricity from nuclear sources is cheaper than using coal, gas or petroleum, i.e. fossil fuels. On average, using 2011 cash value, electricity cost 21.56, 3.23 and 4.51 cents per kilowatt-hour from petroleum, coal and natural gas, respectively. Nuclear power came in at 2.10 cents per kW according to data received by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Yet these simple ongoing production costs fail to tell the full story.
To up the power generating capacity of nuclear sources, additional plants are necessary. Some argue that the savings in electricity production means the nuclear utilities pay for themselves. What, though, are they paying for…and how long until the payoff? Engineering and constructing a nuclear power plant is very expensive. In fact, 74 percent of the cost of nuclear-sourced electricity is in the capital costs of creating the physical facility and technology for that purpose. Some estimates range drom six-billion to nine-billion dollars. Others estimate over $5,300 per kW before it begins paying for itself…in 20 to 30 years. These figures make the prospect cost-prohibitive to many decision makers in government and business.
Plentiful Energy at Low Costs without Nuclear Power
Were we living back during the oil shocks and embargoes of the 1970s, the urgency factor would be much higher concerning nuclear power in the US. The abundance of discoveries and advancement of technology have made fossil fuels more available at modest prices. Coal and petroleum are each low compared to their peaks. With the advent of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” natural gas is ever more accessible and affordable. Though people may worry about the environmental effects of burning these substances, they are likely to continue usage to maintain a decent househild cash flow.
Lack of Knowledge
The absence of urgency mentioned above relates to a third factor about why Americans are not expanding their nuclear production capacity. Generations have passed that are not well-informed about the potential and reality of nuclear power. A dangerous accident at Pennsylvania’s Three-Mile Island facility in the 1970s scared public officials and policy makers into backing off of a pro-nuclear agenda. The improvements and replication found in today’s safety protocols have been ineffective in re-booting a national conversation. Granted, the United States operates 97 nuclear reactors, more than any other country. Yet only four more are under design and/or construction compared to 20 for China.
Furthermore, France relies on nuclear for three-quarters of its electricity; several eastern European nations, half; South Korea, in excess of 30 percent; while the U.S. can claim around 20 percent. Clearly, the public knowledge regarding how clean and abundant atomic energy is meager; awareness of past accidents — including the Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl meltdowns of recent decades were, by contrast, reported widely by media outlets.
Advocates of nuclear power have work to do to bring Americans on board. Otherwise, dirtier, cheaper sources will continue to reign.
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