Why is atrocity merely a descriptor for reprehensible human interactions?
When civilization blithely wipes out a natural habitat to further develop its economic and imperialistic interests--destroying rain forests, damming rivers, and spilling "necessary" toxic waste into the environment--it's not labelled atrocity. Rather, it's actually believed to be in our best collective interest because it supports production. This human-centric attitude self-relinquishes responsibility for waging natural genocide, unaware that the feverish quest for human Progress is driven by a violent pathology.
Let's look at hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. In order to extract natural gas from wells deep within the earth, a mixture of water, toxic chemicals, and proppants--particles which keep the fractures open to allow natural gas to pass into the wells--are used to fracture the deep, dense shale. Good day for human ingenuity, right? Maybe not. Only a small amount of the toxic chemicals used to fracture the shale are recovered, leaving the rest in the earth. It's estimated between 20%-85% are left inside the earth, either trapped in rock or leeching throughout the earth at depths greater than 7,000 feet. Due to depth and dilution, it's difficult to locate chemicals currently leeching into our water supply, though deductive logic tells us that as long as 100% of them aren't immediately recovered, they'll one day poison the water supply of any creature that drinks water. This argument is still incomplete though, because say one year from now we somehow recover all the toxic chemicals we injected into the earth. Good day for human ingenuity, right? No, because we still had 365 days of poisoning the earth, which is why environmentalists don't care whether we extract all the toxic chemicals now or a year from now; the sheer presence of the toxins destroys the earth. Slow, painful genocide.
Is this process less atrocious because our economic civilization has deemed it an effective tool of industrial production? Mind you, other methods of fracking exist, though are less effective than the use of toxic fracking materials. Reports made by the Clean Water Action campaign show the fluid includes: Formaldehyde, acetic acids, citric acids, boric acids, and hundreds of other chemicals. This is like blowing bubbles into a glass of water through a straw, but starting with a mouthful of battery acid. Clearly depending upon the variable effective leaves the paradigm wanting.
The idea of fracking has existed for over a century, but only within the last few decades has humankind developed effective means. According to the Safe Drinking Water Act, as listed on the United States Environmental Protection Agency website, "Water is an integral component of the hydraulic fracturing process. The EPA Office of Water regulates waste disposal of flowback [return of fracking fluid] and sometimes the injection of fracturing fluids as authorized by the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act." It sometimes recovers the earth-killing poison? Apparently just because a federal Act is named Clean or Safe doesn't ensure the earth's water supply will actually remain clean or safe. How is that effective?
Since fracking has been around awhile and the topic of heated debates, the Underground Injection Control (UIC) was created to supervise the subsurface injection of fluids. However, since Congress oversees the UIC, it appended two exclusions to the UIC statutes:
"The term 'underground injection'--
(A) means the subsurface emplacement of fluids by well injection; and
(i) the underground injection of natural gas for purposes of storage; and
(ii) the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities."
And once again we arrive at production. Fracking is known to be perilous to both the natural environment and humankind, but since we have the technology to extract deep pockets of natural gas, specific legislative measures were written in to exempt legal responsibility of the consequences. Apparently legal responsibility exempts humankind from moral responsibility.
In other words, we don't view genocide of nature as an atrocity, but as a means of propelling us further on the glorious quest of human Progress.
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