Fracking explained: opportunity or danger

Fracking explained: opportunity or danger

What is hydraulic fracturing – or fracking ? Since the industrial revolution our energy consumption has risen unceasingly. The majority of this energy consumption is supplied by fossil fuels like coal or natural gas. Recently there has been a lot of talk about a controversial method of extracting natural gas: Hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Put simply, fracking describes the recovery of natural gas from deep layers inside the earth. In this method, porous rock is fractured by the use of water, sand and chemicals in order to release the enclosed natural gas. The technique of fracking has been known since the 1940s. Nonetheless, only in the last ten years has there been quite a “fracking boom”, especially in the USA. This is because most conventional natural gas sources in America and on the European continent have been exhausted. Thus prices for natural gas and other fuels are rising steadily. Significantly more complicated and expensive methods, like fracking, have now become attractive and profitable. In the meantime, fracking has already been used more than a million times in the USA alone. Over 60% of all new oil and gas wells are drilled by using fracking. Now let’s take a look at how fracking actually works: First, a shaft is drilled several hundred meters into the earth. From there, a horizontal hole is drilled into the gas-bearing layer of rock. Next, the fracking fluid is pumped into the ground using high-performance pumps. On average, the fluid consists of 8 million liters of water which amounts to about the daily consumption of 65,000 people. plus several thousand tons of sand and about 200,000 liters of chemicals. The mixture penetrates into the rock layer and produces innumerable tiny cracks. The sand prevents the cracks from closing again. The chemicals perform various tasks among other things, they condense the water, kill off bacteria or dissolve minerals. Next, the majority of the fracking fluid is pumped out again. And now the natural gas can be recovered. As soon as the gas source is exhausted, the drill hole is sealed. As a rule, the fracking fluid is pumped back into deep underground layers and sealed in there. However, fracking is also associated with several considerable risks. The primary risk consists in the contamination of drinking water sources. Fracking not only consumes large quantities of fresh water, but in addition the water is subsequently contaminated and is highly toxic. The contamination is so severe that the water cannot even be cleaned in a treatment plant. Even though the danger is known and theoretically could be managed, in the USA already sources have been contaminated due to negligence. No one yet knows how the enclosed water will behave in the future, since there have not yet been any long-term studies on the subject. The chemicals used in fracking vary from the hazardous to the extremely toxic and carcinogenic, such as benzol or formic acid. The companies using fracking say nothing about the precise composition of the chemical mixture. But it is known that there are about 700 different chemical agents which can be used in the process. Another risk is the release of greenhouse gases. The natural gas recovered by fracking consists largely of methane, a greenhouse gas which is 25 times
more potent than carbon dioxide. Natural gas is less harmful than coal when burned. But nonetheless, the negative effects of fracking on the climate balance are overall greater. Firstly, the fracking process requires
a very large consumption of energy. Secondly, the drill holes are quickly exhausted and it is necessary to drill fracking holes much more frequently than for classical natural gas wells. In addition, about 3% of the recovered gas is lost in the extraction and escapes into the atmosphere. So how is fracking and its expected benefits to be assessed when the advantages are balanced against the disadvantages? When properly employed, this technique offers one way in the short to medium term for meeting our demand for lower-cost energy. But the long-term consequences of fracking are unforeseeable and the risk to our drinking water thus should not be underestimated. Subtitles by the community

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Benzol and formic acid in underground water, just f*cking splendid…was waiting for such stuff whole my life

  2. Well, instead of shaming Kurzgesagt for making a misinformed video, maybe we can see this as proof of Kurz's improvement in video quality over the years.

  3. The deepest aquifer is 1,200 ft deep. The majority of gas and oil wells are 4,000 – 8,000 ft deep. You can’t get frac fluid into the aquifer from the oil/gas well. The aquifer is protected from the well by a 12” thick piece of cement and a 1” thick steel pipe inside of the cement known as casing. When a well is done producing it is plugged with cement. The only risk that exists to drinking water is surface pollution or spills. There is no risk from fracking itself. If anything fracking is better for the environment as it requires less land than conventional drilling, as you get more wells from one pad.

  4. Fracking needs to stop. Fossil fuels should be phasing out, and fracking slows this phasing process dramatically. Fracking is NOT worth it. We can find (and have found) other sources of energy. We have limited and already depleted supplies of ground water. Companies will cut corners, this will lead to permanent contamination of an irreplaceable resource. All for short term cheap fuel and fat profits for tycoons… NOT WORTH IT.

  5. The more i watch these videos, the less i think we can still save the earth from global warming and other things humankind has destroyed…

  6. Why am I watching this shit, been watching your channel for hours, scared of black holes, plastic, a great filter, and now fracking. Thanks a lot.

  7. so how long have they been fracking? So now we are saying some how the fractures creep into the drinking water table. How is that possible? Your average oil and gas well is 6000 feet and your average water well is 100 to 500 feet, so where is the proof that some how these fractures made its way 5500 feet into the drinking water table. That is 18 football fields apart. I'm call BS on that one.

  8. I think we should have a legal limit for the amount of fracking going on and how much you can take out of the ground so that it’ll make the energy companies go into a state of panic and start spending more money on other forms of energy that they can use more of while being more safe for the environment.

  9. I thought that the title meant that they were explaining opportunity or danger and they just used the made up word fracking as a joke

  10. How might we fight this?
    I have a few trepidations about it, especially sense many companies are hesitant to give out the what is in their mixture

  11. Our environment will keep getting polluted and the reckless use of Fossil fuels will continue till we run out of these fuels. People are just too ignorant. They see that it's a huge problem and it will result badly but noo. We get these things for free, we make a great profit by selling this, let's just continue till we run out of this stuff. And that's one of the reasons I want these fossil fuel sources to run out. IDC if I die or others die. At least some bastards will learn something.

  12. After watching this video I realized that this extremely pleasant voice belongs to Mr. Steve Tyler 🗣

  13. Pro : Oil-independence, so the US doesn't need to station troops in the Middle East anymore. Life of US troops and Arab civilians saved. Defense cost reduced.

    Con : Long term pollution, with potential threats to water sources…

  14. So, it's so dangerous for health that only Europe has enough safety level to use it. But it's so polluting that only the US can use it. Obviously, I'm not taking China and India into account.

  15. I really hate robot voices. Especially when something this seriously bad is being relayed. The lack of a human voice diminishes this topic and its dangers and severity. I mean, try and imagine a robot saying something genuine, like," have a nice day," or "i love you." with an absense of spirit, its meaning is diminished. Just saying.

  16. To end this whole debate:
    Renewable energy will not work

    -thorium reactors seems cleaner and more effective but one, you need to kick start the reaction unlike you do with uranium, and thorium reactors also have nuclear by products such as iodine-129 which has a half life of 15.7 million years. So where are we going to put all that nuclear waste?

    -wind energy relies on well wind. It relies on how hard the wind will blow and when the wind isn’t blowing then you basically have a big metal fan that is responsible for killing birds, hundreds of thousands so far.

    -solar energy, seems alright right? Well here’s the problem, besides being very expensive and materials lacking, they have issues on locations. If you live somewhere where it’s sunny all the time and have the money and space then you’re golden, but solar panels aren’t 100% especially when it’s cloudy. Again you’re depending on weather for your energy. Not to mention there will be surpluses of energy and droughts, example, the winter solstice has the longest night out of the year, during that time you won’t have as much energy, during the summer you’ll have to much. Now you can rely on batteries and capacitors but then you’re producing more problems since the manufacturing of batteries is more harmful for the environment.

    -hydroelectric dams, now what could be wrong with water? Well again, relying on weather, the dams rely on how much it rains and that isn’t very predictable. Sure the weatherman can say you’ll get this many inches but how often will that be constant and how many times a year is it going to rain in certain locations? Not to mention building damns will destroy the ecosystem, you’ll change fish migrations and destroy habitats for other animals and even people.

    -geothermal, now this is interesting but its biggest draw back is location location location, it relies on hotspots to produce electricity so unless you’re sitting on a mini volcano I doubt this will work for you.

    -biomass, this is possibly the worst out of all. Relying on burning of bio products doesn’t seem bad because hey we burn wood to make fires for warmth and to cook. Well you’re also relying on burning plants, trees, crops, and yes, poopy. While burning things on its own is bad enough releasing toxins into the environment especially methane from the poo poo, it requires sole dedication to just that. More space will be needed to keep up with the increase in demand for trees and crops which would lead to deforestation and again destroying ecosystems not to mention how large the biomass plants will need to be.

    Now the biggest 2 issues besides not being as constant and predictable as fossil fuels is THEY ARE FAR LESS ENERGY EFFICIENCT and REQUIRE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES TO OPERATE. Why should we increase taxes for energy that isn’t reliable and can cause more harm then good? I’m all for renewable energy that works but none of these will work. If you have a good renewable energy with little to no problems that doesn’t rely on the weather and can be used anywhere in the world then please tell us because so far there is nothing that’s as efficient or controllable as oil and gas. Does it have problems yes most definitely but it’s cheap, can be used anywhere in the world, doesn’t rely on the weather, doesn’t need to destroy ecosystems, and it just works for more then just energy. All your plastics, are oil, your gas and diesel, oil, lubricants, oil, chemicals may they be household or industrial, oil, Hell even the roads we drive on are made using oil.
    If you can come up with a better energy source please, let the world know and collect your Nobel prize.

  17. Las proporciones con las que se usa en relación al agua no generar ningún inconveniente a la salud a demás una se usa para desparacitar (benzol) y el otro para limpiar es un acido organico (ácido fórmico).

  18. "When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots,
    we make little holes. When we build houses, we make little holes.
    When we burn grass for grasshoppers, we don't ruin things.
    We shake down acorns and pine nuts. We don't chop down the trees.
    We only use dead wood. But the white people plow up the
    ground, pull down the trees, kill everything. …
    the White people pay no attention. …
    How can the spirit of the earth like the White man? …
    everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore."
    Wintu Woman, 19th Century

  19. Fracking….where they're exempt from the fresh water act, 200,000 lbs of mineral desolving chemical mixture. Worse than hydrocloric acid.

  20. Medicare for all explained:
    Da po pepos flood in from overpopulated failed countries. Then you pay fo deys health care. K?

  21. Po0ping on the sidewalk explained: opportunity or danger
    Opportunity!. No one stopping it. Must be ok. If it presented a danger then the liberals would be marching roun screamin an stuff.

  22. It's not from drilling and filling Wells, it's because social media wants you to make a fool of you. If that was the case . . .

  23. Tycoons; fracking is profitable, lets do it!

    The public; is fracking dangerous?

    Tycoons; fracking is profitable, lets do it!

  24. F R A C K I N G

  25. I've noticed that I have a slightly stronger feeling of hope and optimism when I watch the videos you make on how Humanity, could somehow be annihilated.

  26. You know that mining using water as a digging/washing tool was banned a long time ago in America. . . What's changed. . . Ooooh yes. MONEY! 🙁


  27. If Leo DiCaprio and Barack Obama would stop flying all over the place for parties, events and award shows, we could save the planet.

  28. It's insane to even risk your own fresh water supply for this temporary profit. Nevermind all the other issues. There are safer reactors and other energy sources to explore.

  29. Fracking!we are want fracking! Fracking is good for humans and bad for nature!⛽⛽⛽⛽⛽🛢️🛢️🛢️🛢️🛢️⛽⛽⛽🛢️🛢️🛢️🛢️

  30. No mention of seismic danger? I heard news of earthquakes shortly after fracking operations were performed.

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