The expected growth of the United States fracking industry could put the world above the Paris agreement threshold of 2.0°C average global warming in as little as 10 to 15 years, Cornell University Professor Emeritus of Engineering Anthony Ingraffea warned in a recent lecture.
That’s what will happen if the U.S. Energy Information Administration is right to project that a million natural gas wells will be in production across the country in 2050, compared to roughly 100,000 today, Ingraffea said. The lecture was posted online April 4.
That scale of warning “will bring catastrophic changes—even as compared against a change of 1.5°C,” DeSmog Blog notes, citing a 2016 post by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, U.S. natural gas production was flat or falling,” Ingraffea stated. “If that trend had continued along the same track it was following from 2006 to 2008, then wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources might have had a chance to displace both natural gas and coal as major energy sources in America.”
If the shale gas rush “hadn’t disrupted trends around that time,” he added, “the wind energy sector alone could have produced roughly triple the amount of energy expected by the end of this coming decade, a difference of roughly 400 gigawatts.”
As it stands, any benefits that might accrue from the shale gas industry, like jobs and energy security, are “almost exclusively aimed at just 5% of the world’s population,” Ingraffea noted, while “the harms will affect the remaining 95% of the world, as well.”
DeSmog concludes that “the cumulative impact of American fracking appears to have set the entire world on a collision course with climate change’s most extreme effects.” Which means that, “far from serving as a bridge fuel, fracking huge amounts of natural gas has already played a significant role in pushing the world toward a vastly more difficult future.”