Cynthia St. Charles Store

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Earth Stories - The Evolution of My Subject

I wanted my Earth Stories piece to be about energy sources, including the use of fossil fuels.  Montana is also the scene of extensive fossil fuel mining.  There are many oil wells, and huge coal mining operations scattered across the state.  The vast fracking operation known as the Bakken Oil Field is right along the border between Montana and North Dakota.  I hoped I could portray my mixed feelings about these various ways of obtaining energy. 

My search for a subject/project led me to – a non-profit online pro and con forum that presents intelligent discussions on controversial subjects.  It contains a vast collection of professional writings offering both pro and con arguments for the use of Alternative Energy –vs- Fossil Fuels.  I contacted them and obtained their permission to use text from their website on my piece.  They graciously approved, provided I included the proper citations (which I have done).  Examples:

Jeffrey Sachs, PhD, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General and
Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Klaus Lackner, PhD,
Ewing-Worzel Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth and
Environmental Engineering at Columbia University, in their Feb. 2005 paper,
"A Robust Strategy for Sustainable Energy," a Brookings Papers on Economic
Activity available on the Brookings Institution's website, wrote:
"To provide all of current primary energy consumption in the United States from wind energy would require capturing, every day, all the kinetic energy from wind over an area of about 500 km by 500 km [approximately 97,656 square miles--size of Wyoming]. Meeting world energy consumption would require almost four times that area [approximately 1,562,500 square miles--two and a half times the size of Alaska.]." "Is Wind Power an Economical Alternative to Conventional Energy?" 10 Apr. 2009. Web. 7 Jan. 2014.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) wrote in its May 2009 report "Water Resources and Natural Gas Production from the Marcellus Shale" on the USGS website:

"Natural gas is an abundant, domestic energy resource that burns cleanly, and emits the lowest amount of carbon dioxide per calorie of any fossil fuel... [N]atural gas resources in the United States are important components of a national energy program that seeks both greater energy independence and greener sources of energy...

While the technology of drilling directional boreholes, and the use of sophisticated hydraulic fracturing processes to extract gas resources from tight rock have improved over the past few decades, the knowledge of how this extraction might affect water resources has not kept pace. Agencies that manage and protect water resources could benefit from a better understanding of the impacts that drilling and stimulating... wells might have on water supplies, and a clearer idea of the options for wastewater disposal." "Should the US Use Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) to Extract Natural Gas?" 23 Apr. 2012. Web. 7 Jan. 2014.

 Here is a link to the website with the pro and con discussion of Fossil Fuels and Alternative Energy at

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