See if you can guess what ingredient this is: It is essential to every meal we eat as well as every step in creating a meal: farming, food prep, cooking, and clean up.
Have you guessed water? Water also has a magical power expressed in an analogy illustrating how a single person can affect the world: That person is likened to a drop of lemon extract in a glass of water. Just a tiny amount of lemon extract flavors an entire glass of water. When you think about it, that is quite impressive. What is the ratio of a single drop to 12 ounces? One to a billion? And the answer (sort of) is: One drop in 500 barrels of water is one part per billion. So maybe one drop in a glass of water is only one part per hundred. Still an impressive feat.
That ratio says as much about water as it does about lemon extract and about our actions: Water is like an amplifier to the tune of a billion or even a trillion to one – that’s the range of measurements used to determine how much of a chemical exists in water and what level is safe – or not.
Now, have you guessed what I am leading up to? Very soon oil and/or gas could be “flavoring” the Florida aquifer and our crystal springs in some part per hundred or million.
Controversies that have seemed to be in a galaxy far far away, like Alaska, Canada, and Texas, are now in our backyards. And I mean that literally because the aquifer travels everywhere under Florida.
Chris Mericle (of WWALS) is a Paul Revere of the Florida aquifer – working to be that single person whose one act will rapidly diffuse through our community and beyond. He drove more than an hour from his home in Hamilton County north of here to be in Gainesville this past week to sound the alarm about a proposed pipeline to carry fracked liquid natural gas from south Alabama. The pipeline will go underground under the Suwannee River, under Alachua County, and down to central Florida. BTW, that gas will not be used or stored for future use in the United States, but sold to other countries.
As if to amplify Chris’s call to action, also last week in sychronicity, a bill was passed by the Florida House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee that would significantly limit local government’s ability to control oil and natural gas exploration on a local level. While not a law yet, it represents the pressure on Florida to get on board the fracking boom wagon.
I wouldn’t be worried if this were a perfect world where everything happens exactly the way it is planned and accidents never happen, especially accidents that ruin ecosystems for generations. But this is not that world. In addition to the accidents are the unintended consequences – like levels of radon, a cancer-causing, radioactive gas, increasing measurably in Pennsylvania since fracking started there (NBC News Report 2015.04.09).
Sadly, due to that magic amplification property of water, by the time you can SEE a problem, it is SO much harder to fix, if it can be fixed at all within one lifetime.
The personal stories of people affected by fracking (drilling as opposed to pipelines) was movingly portrayed in the movie, Backyard, screened by Cinema Verde just before Chris Mericle’s talk. While here in Gainesville we don’t have wells in our backyards (I mean oil wells, but those with water wells might be especially concerned right about now) and we don’t have pipelines under our feet … yet, it will happen without a Mericle or two. Ha ha. I mean miracle — the miracle of a single message becoming amplified and creating a mass consensus that our water is essential to us and must be our first priority.
It occurred to me as Chris was explaining the risks of the pipeline going under the Suwanee River that maybe it would be OK if the pipeline was overground instead of under because then it would be easier to fix and prevent problems. He said that was not done because of the risk of terrorism. Personally, what terrifies me is the idea of the aquifer containing some parts per hundred or million of gas.
Also, it just occurs to me that the Alaska pipeline, which is above ground, had at least one bad accident, so that’s not a solution. Oh gosh, I just looked it up and guess what!? That was a BP pipeline. BPXA pled guilty to negligent discharge of oil, which prosecutors said was the result of BP’s “knowing neglect” of corroding pipelines. Just like the Gulf Oil spill. Instead of prevention, money gets spent on clean up that really never makes things right. Only time MIGHT do that … usually a LOT of time.
If you aren’t sure this is a cause worthy of your support, at least read up on it so you know what it’s about. I am pretty sure the info from the organizations listed below with links will convince you that this might be worth your signing an online petition or two. Many thanks to Trish Riley of Cinema Verde for bringing Chris Mericle and the film Backyard to Gainesville. Check out the following – and become one of those parts per hundreds or thousands that can lead to a “see change”: