3 Ways Fracking is like Abortion

Fracking1. Fracking and Abortion are both religious issues.  The abortion debate flows from our lack of cultural consensus about what a person is — an inescapably theological question.  Fracking (breaking up porous subsurface rock in order to extract the bubbles of petrochemicals within) is driven by our culture’s religious belief in Progress — the belief that history is an inexorable march in the direction of ever-greater complexity and ever-increasing energy throughput. This peculiar belief system says that because the universe has not yet fulfilled its obligation to provide us with a fuel that’s better than petroleum, we have the cosmic right (and religious duty) to do anything necessary to continue increasing our energy consumption. Our devotion and sense of entitlement to free energy has much in common with a heroin addict’s devotion to heroin. Our way of life is, after all, non-negotiable. Right?

2. Fracking and Abortion are both driven by the fear of poverty.  Fear of impoverishment is a major reason why women seek abortions.  Likewise, the fear of declining prosperity (which, in terms of physics, is just a measure of energy throughput) drives our civilization to do crazier and crazier things to increase oil “production.”  When the party’s over and the kegs are almost empty, it’s only the saddest of alcoholics who start sucking spilled beer out of the shag.  Oil & gas companies are not evil; they are just our sick civilization’s tools for procuring the thing we are addicted to.  The problem is not evil corporations; the problem is all of us and our unexamined notions of what it means to live a good life.

3. Fracking and Abortion are both problems that cannot be fixed by just passing new laws.  If you see a pot of water boiling over, is it a good solution to slam a lid on the pot and hold it down as hard as you can?  Boiling water expands. Women who can’t afford pregnancy will always find a way to end their pregnancies. Civilizations addicted to insanely high energy throughputs will find a way to maintain their energy extraction rates (or die trying). Protesting your drug dealer while still buying drugs from him — well, that’s just sad.

Our problems run deeper than we might be willing to admit.  The solution lies not political entrenchment but in asking questions we have not yet been willing to ask.

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