Fear is a dynamic and powerful tool, but left unchecked with false facts, it drives public opinion and results in dangerous consequences.
Fear seems to drive people for many reasons. We have a natural inclination to fear as a species. Some fear can be a good thing. It helps us mitigate risks when making decisions, to know when to jump into action and serves as the basis of fight or flight. Unchecked, though, fear is quite the opposite. Fear based on limited knowledge or incorrect facts can be dangerous and leave someone wearing tinfoil hats, scared of everything discussed on the X-Files.
Fear is very powerful and it can be exploited. History has taught us how a few have exploited fear to cause some of the world’s most egregious acts. It comes to no surprise fractivists use fear in every single one of their calls to oppose fracking and natural gas. Fear is the basis of everything they do and communicate. It is exercised in pure exploitation of the public to pass along an ideology.
We have seen this come in many waves over the past few years. Like dropping a pebble in a small pond, these ripples of miscommunication tends to come in waves, but just like that, they are gone; leaving the instigators to cast a new stone from the same pile.
Water contamination is and will likely always be the first stone they cast. It is an easy narrative for them: if you support fracking, then you are ok poisoning your children’s water. Despite numerous studies and the EPA’s own study, in line with reports by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Groundwater Protection Council; this bugaboo is still used as reason to ban hydraulic fracturing – with Dimock as the favorite whipping boy. It looks like the folks on Carter Road have much bigger problems than water, though, given the meth lab found there.
We see this fear mongering going from one extreme to the other. Now that water contamination fears don’t get the mileage they once did, activists use other techniques to strike fear; fracking will destroy your health, for example. I have discussed how anti-fracking Brian Schwartz, Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, used junk science and data to try to link asthma and fracking. This was despite his own admission – ignored by most – that there were no real links to prove the case. Seth Whitehead, over at Energy In Depth, also reminded us asthma attacks are on a downward trend as:
“…heavily-drilled counties within the study area have far lower age-adjusted rates of asthma hospitalizations than nine counties in the study area that have no shale gas production at all.”
Brian Schwartz, too, called fracking a virus and led another debunked study claiming fracking causes premature births. At this point, he’s slinging rocks by the handful to create so many ripples, you cannot follow them.
This hysteria-inducing public health claims are again being regurgitated by anti-fracking groups. Cancer is one of the latest; it comes up over and over again. Fractivists seem to have their mind’s eye focused on a hope for a cancer cluster in some drilling area big enough to call in Erin Brockovich for another cinematic fairytale. But, just like the 2017 Oscars, they’ve been handed the wrong envelope. Seth, once again compares the facts to the claims, which we can see couldn’t be further from the truth.
Looking at the data from the American Cancer Society, we can see that the top-four oil and gas producing states — Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming are below the national average. When you compare these states to those with fracking bans you get the above results. For the record, fracking and drilling aren’t keeping people from getting cancer, but the facts are the exact opposite of what the fear mongering from Josh Fox and gang would have you believe.
Fear is derived from the unknown and when that unknown is filled with scary stories of hearsay and, well, let’s face it, lies; then you have a cause desperately needing some tinfoil hat therapy. Over time, with patience, the truth comes out, but what roller-coaster ride it is until the fractivists are off the ride.