Britain recently enacted yet another hydraulic fracking ban, this one aimed at the only remnant of the industry in the UK, the last well clinging to operation, the Preston New Road site near Blackpool north of Liverpool. As British environmental extremism celebrates this latest nail in the UK’s energy coffin, it may be germane to point to the news regarding the “needless deaths" of some 3,000 elderly Britons every year, perishing from the exacerbation of health issues due to their financial inability to properly heat their homes. Studies carried out by the National Energy Action in the UK and E3G in Brussels concluded that Britain has a “cold home public health crisis.”
Such is the desperate straits in which the aged in Britain find themselves, in futile attempts to somehow heat their domiciles while pinching pennies on energy bills.
This outrageous scandal hasn’t pushed protesters into the streets in the UK shouting slogans to save British pensioners by producing more natural gas to lower the price. To the contrary. The demonstrators are carrying anti-fracking placards calling for bans on hydraulic fracking that can only result in less-abundant natural gas and even higher prices.
It should be incumbent upon the citizens of Duluth to sadly note what has happened to a formerly stalwart British culture that now consigns its elderly to freezing, pneumonic deaths by the thousands without the slightest demur, rather than dare to question the anti-hydrocarbon hysteria running rampant in Europe — and on the U.S. West Coast, with the current blacking out of California from one end of the state to the other.
Sober-minded Minnesotans who hear incessant calls to ban fracking should take the time to envision the kind of dystopian nightmare that would ensue with the disappearance of natural gas. The image of the future with fracking prohibited everywhere and with natural gas banned from the planet is a truly horrific vision of unparalleled disaster.
Every living thing requires fixed nitrates, since the double-helices of the DNA in our chromosomes can’t be constructed without nitrogenous bases. For the entire duration of the history of life on Earth, access to fixed nitrogen was an unbreakable ceiling for how much life could thrive on the planet. Whatever was produced by the few genera of microscopic organisms, and through lightning strikes, determined the extent of the world’s larder.
Naturally generated fixed nitrogen, however, last year and every year, only supports a population of approximately 3.8 billion people; yet there are more than 7.5 billion of us, giving rise to one of the most astounding facts: Half of the nitrogen compounds of the DNA of the chromosomes of all 30 trillion cells in our bodies — half — is artificial, cooked up in ammonia factories around the world. The simple fact is that half of us wouldn’t be here without the Haber process: taking natural gas, steam, and the nitrogen in the air and converting it into ammonia, the precursor of fertilizers.
Some half a billion tons of fertilizer are produced via the Haber process every year, requiring almost 2% of the world’s energy and an astonishing 5% of the world’s natural gas production — two-thirds of which in the U.S. is extracted by fracking. That’s how the world is fed.
So those calling for an end to everything — no cars, no meat, no oil, no aviation, no coal, no gasoline, no steel, no plastic, no methane, no fracking — are naively appealing for no people as well, or at least fewer than are currently walking the Earth. Half of us would have to go.
There would be few places harmed more than Minnesota should fertilizers be made less abundant and more expensive. And with one of America's most powerful agricultural pistons in her food-producing dynamo diminished, the world would pay dearly.
Nonetheless, while many around the world are being saddled with “carbon taxes," Minnesotans pay no one for the privilege of exhaling the carbon dioxide that every living creature has breathed out since the dawn of time. Nor would the people of Duluth, facing daunting winter weather every year, sit by idly watching indifferently as their aged grandparents froze to death.
And that sort of basic common sense, self-respect, and dignity, now unfortunately in shorter supply across the Atlantic, can’t be banned in the North Star State.
David Nabhan of Pittsburgh is a science columnist for Newsmax and the Times of Israel. He wrote this for the News Tribune. He can be contacted at email@example.com.