The unforeseen health risks of fracking could be similar to the impacts of thalidomide, asbestos, and tobacco, UK Chief Scientist Mark Walport warned in his annual report last month.
“History presents plenty of examples of innovation trajectories that later proved to be problematic—for instance involving asbestos, benzene, thalidomide, dioxins, lead in petrol, tobacco, many pesticides, mercury, chlorine, and endocrine-disrupting compounds,” states a chapter in the report written by Prof. Andrew Stirling of the University of Sussex.
“In all these and many other cases, delayed recognition of adverse effects incurred not only serious environmental or health impacts, but massive expense and reductions in competitiveness for firms and economies persisting in the wrong path.”
“Environmentalists fear that fracking could contaminate water supplies, bring heavy lorry traffic to rural areas, displace investment in renewable energy, and accelerate global warming,” Vaughan writes. But the technique “has been strongly backed by the government, with [Prime Minister] David Cameron saying the UK is ‘going all out for shale.’” (h/t to InsideClimate News)