Russell Brand: Comedian. Media critic. Climate change crusader. Tea drinker.
Let’s start off with a spoiler: The jerk in the sunglasses is the SAME GUY who’s explaining all the science-y stuff. (Whoa! Inception!) Because sometimes the only person you really need to convince is yourself. And all the doubters. Never forget the doubters.
A lot of misconceptions (13, to be exact) were confronted here with some solid facts. How solid? Here’s what our fact-checkers found:
- CLAIM: Global warming wasn’t happening so they changed the name to “climate change.” FACT: “Global warming” is technically correct; however, “climate change” indicates the wide range of problems (stronger storms, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, etc.) our planet is facing.
- CLAIM: The globe isn’t warming. FACT: 13 of the 14 hottest years occurred this century. And the trend is even more clear when satellite data is included.
- CLAIM: In the past, scientists said the earth was cooling. FACT: Some scientists in the 1970s predicted cooling, but six times as many papers during the same period said it was warming.
- CLAIM: The earth is cooling. FACT: It’s not just temperature that shows the warming. Sea levels are rising 3 mm a year, which indicates oceans are warming and, therefore, expanding. Also, Arctic sea ice is melting at unprecedented rates.
- CLAIM: Arctic sea ice is increasing. FACT: Look at the bigger data set, not just the latest little uptick, and you’ll see the overall trend is downward.
- CLAIM: The sun is responsible for warming. FACT: The sun was getting brighter in the 1930s, but since the 1950s, the sun has been getting dimmer — and yet, temperatures continue to rise.
- CLAIM: Humans emit only a tiny fraction of CO2. FACT: That’s true — 30 gigatons from human activity vs. 780 gigatons from natural processes. But the earth isn’t in balance like it used to be, and current CO2 emissions are outpacing the balance. We know the increase is man-made because the isotope carbon 13, which is less common in fossil fuels, is dissipating in the atmosphere. In other words, we’re seeing more CO2 in the atmosphere, and it’s got the molecular signature of fossil fuels.
- CLAIM: Volcanoes emit way more CO2 than humans. FACT: Volcanoes emit about 0.25 gigaton, less than 1% of what humans emit.
- CLAIM: Water is by far the most potent greenhouse gas. FACT: Yes! But water in the atmosphere is increasing because the air is warmer. It’s still a CO2 problem that creates a positive feedback loop. More CO2, more warming, more water, still more warming, and on and on…
- CLAIM: Predictions have failed. FACT: Most predictions actually agree with observations. A model from 1988 did disagree, but that’s when we thought climate sensitivity was higher. If you rerun the model with 3 degrees of warming for every doubling of CO2, the predictions are right on.
- CLAIM: The earth has warmed and cooled in the past. FACT: Past changes were due to tilt, precession of tilt, and orbit of the earth — the Milankovitch cycles.
- CLAIM: CO2 lags behind the temp rise. FACT: 90% of temperature increases start after CO2 rises.
- CLAIM: Global warming isn’t that bad. FACT: It means more intense weather, acidic oceans, and rising sea levels, along with a bunch of other terrible stuff. We’d be much better off just reducing carbon now, rather than paying the price later.
OK, y’alls. I read some stuff about this thing called hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) that you’ll be glad to know. Because it f*cking hates you. And everyone else.
Fracking is a drilling technique used by oil and gas companies to destroy rock layers thousands of feet underground in order to release the natural gas inside. For a clearer picture of how it works, here’s an animation of the fracking process. But take its assurances of fracking’s safety with a grain of salt.
According to Ian Crane, an oil-executive-turned-anti-fracking-advocate in the U.K., “We are dealing with a ‘cowboy industry’ that is driven by greed and little else.” Energy companies are interested only in the money, not the truth, and certainly not you.
Here are 13 ways fracking hates … well … everything.
1. Fracking hates water.
It takes an average of 4.4 million gallons of water to drill and fracture a single natural gas well. That’s enough water to fill six Olympic-sized swimming pools — or as much as 11,000 U.S. families use in one day. Read these water facts to see why that’s a problem.
2. Fracking really hates water.
Fracking creates the risk of toxic and flammable gases like methane seeping into water supplies that sometimes flow into household taps. That’s not to mention the billions of gallons of wastewater buried or illegally dumped into water sources.
3. Fracking hates air.
Researchers are finding spikes in air pollution near fracking sites and high levels of particulate inside people’s homes. Fracking is so bad it has made the smog in rural Wyoming worse than Los Angeles.
4. Fracking hates your health.
According to a 2014 report, people who live really close to natural gas wells are significantly more likely to develop respiratory problems and skin irritations than their neighbors farther away. Other health problems linked to fracking pollution include nausea and headaches.
5. Fracking hates babies.
A Colorado study showed that congenital heart defects were more prevalent among babies of pregnant women who live close to fracking sites. A few other studies showed links between proximity to fracking sites and babies being born way too small. Investigators in Utah are also looking into possible links between fracking-induced air pollution and a number of stillbirths.
6. Fracking hates your house.
In some areas, fracking has been linked to declining home values. This is largely a problem in areas where fracking operations are siphoning water from the same sources that communities depend on for daily living.
7. Fracking hates border safety.
Heavy truck traffic on work roads built by oil and gas companies have the unintended consequence of providing cover for the transport of drugs from Mexico to the U.S., which just feeds into the violence on the border. By extension, fracking contributes to a situation that distracts officials from the serious need to end the War on Drugs.
8. Fracking hates farmers.
Leaks in natural gas wells send toxic chemicals into the soil and water that farms (and our food system) rely on. Fracking also creates a deadly environment for animals, including livestock that are attracted to the salty wastewater and the fish and other aquatic life that live in polluted waters.
9. Fracking hates your vacation.
Long-term oil and gas drilling can dull the luster of a region, hurting its tourism. The industrial aesthetic (heavy trucks, machinery, and compressor stations) and the surrounding pollution don’t make for a refreshing getaway.
10. Fracking hates your money.
Energy consultant Arthur Berman says that because major natural gas companies are over-leveraging (assuming massive levels of debt) on land leases and drilling operations, they often over-promise the returns. And when the returns aren’t there, they’re using accounting trickery to skirt accountability. He likens it to what went down in the subprime mortgage market. And we all know how that went.
11. Fracking hates women.
Oil and gas booms attract stampedes of men to towns like Williston, North Dakota. As the gender ratio skews heavily toward dudes, sexism goes into hyperdrive and women are treated more like commodities. Law enforcement have also noted increases in domestic violence and sexual assault in these male-dominated boomtowns.
12. Fracking wants you to hate other people.
The debate over fracking is dividing communities, with fracking supporters arguing for jobs and money and opponents fighting to protect public health and the environment. But in the words of Count Rugen, “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” And if we haven’t got a livable planet, then, seriously, what good is money?
13. Fracking hates the entire f*cking planet.
Natural gas was once touted as a “bridge fuel” to help us reduce carbon emissions because it produces half the carbon dioxide of coal when burned. But as it turns out, the methane released into the atmosphere through leaks in fracking wells is a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Fracking is contributing to melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and scary weather all over the world. It’s even causing earthquakes in areas where seismic activity is uncommon.
If you haven’t already gathered, fracking sucks. For everybody. Pass this on if you agree.
Hopefully gas won’t have to hit $8 a gallon before Americans start to come around.
The idea alone is incredible. The fact that he’s innovative at such a young age is inspiring. I learned the shortcomings of the current ways of removing garbage and the way this idea improves upon it. Pretty neat stuff.