Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Short Term Thinking
The USGS just released an earthquake hazard map. For the first time it includes earthquake dangers caused by fracking.
Here's what drives me nuts. The quake danger will be with us for a long long long time. That's a huge cost. The benefit was a short term boost in hydrocarbon production. The oil and gas companies got the profit and the people who live on the land will have to pay for it forever.
The nuclear power industry is another case of long term hazard for short term benefits. A nuclear power plant's life is measured in decades while nuclear waste is dangerous for thousands of years.
Those are two big examples, but there are superfund sites all around the country where toxic materials linger in the ground and water long after the industries are gone. Few think about such things -until your grandkids test for high levels of lead in their blood.
There are hazardous sites that will probably outlive our civilization.
Of course, we all live in the short term. If we don't survive today it doesn't matter what dangers the future will bring. That's why people in third world countries cut down every tree within walking distance. Sure, a forest in the future would be of huge benefit to the environment, but dinner needs to be cooked today.
Unlike other creatures on this earth, we can extrapolate into the future the costs of todays actions. We don't have to have the same fate of mindless creatures exceeding the carrying capacity of their surroundings. Now all we have to do is live like the big brained critters we are. Let's use those brains for good instead of short term profits.