The term ‘fracking’ is a contraction of ‘hydraulic fracturing’ – injecting fluid containing sand and chemicals at high pressure to fracture rock. Injecting chemicals into the ground to crack the earth far below our feet seems to be a case of human hubris – that ancient Greek word denoting extreme arrogance and lack of humility – and for many, it just feels wrong. New Zealand is just one country where the concern about the technology has grown very rapidly.
The purpose of fracking is to extract previously inaccessible oil and gas from the earth’s crust. The reality is that the world is not ‘running out’ of oil and gas. Rather a number of new technologies are being used, or considered for use, around the world to supplement conventional drilling. In New Zealand fracking is one of these new technologies, deep sea oil drilling is another, and the conversion of coal into liquid fuels another.