Advocates of hydraulic fracturing list the many benefits of the practice. The infographic above shows the four reasons cited most often. To think critically and scientifically, it is good practice to balance benefits against challenges, and people’s wants or needs against economic or environmental costs. In the science of sustainability we must always look at how today’s practices might impact people and Earth’s systems in the future.
This infographic is part of a five-part educational series called Challenges of Non-Renewable Energy.
- How can people be persuaded to change their views or beliefs?
- How would you define a person who is an “advocate”? What do advocates do?
- What is a debate? Why might people debate the impacts of hydraulic fracturing?
Focus Questions for Viewing and Reading the Infographic
What claims do fracking advocates make with regard to the following?
- Environmental impact
- Economic impact
- Sustainability of energy
- Which of the four points made in the infographic do you believe is most defensible? Why?
- Are there any points that you find hard to defend? What are they? Why is defending them difficult?
- Do you see any places in the graphic where some additional information may have been intentionally omitted to sway you toward favoring the idea of fracking for energy?
- Write an argument supporting the creation of an infrastructure that increases the use and distribution of natural gas within the United States. What do you think critics would point to as drawbacks to your plan? Where would you expect to find tension or competing priorities among people’s needs, economic factors, and environmental factors?
Links to Learn More
- Advocating for Domestic Supplies of Natural Shale Gas, EnergyFromShale.org: See what domestic energy advocates have to say about well construction and the use of natural resources.
- Are The Jobs Real? , EnergyFromShale.org: Read an advocate’s story about how fracking has provided new jobs in Lorain, Ohio, and other places where unemployment is high due to changing economies.
- Earth’s Natural Thermostat, PBS LearningMedia/WGBH Educational Foundation: View this NOVA segment to see how carbon dioxide emissions, created by the combustion of carbon-based fuels, can upset the balance between the sun’s radiant heat entering our atmosphere and that which is emitted back into space.
Performance Expectation: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment. MS-ESS3-3
Disciplinary Core Idea: Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. But changes to Earth’s environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things. ESS3.C Human Impacts on Earth Systems
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and effect; stability and change
Science and Engineering Practices: Asking questions and defining problems