Where are we now?

It started in the year 2016 within small fishermen towns, and worked its way through the food chain to our big cities. Now, nearly 200 years later the hospitals are over populated because every week about 100 people go in trying to find help for cataracts, cancer, asthma, heart disease, and even anemia due to radioactive water. Our streams, rivers, and oceans are painted with images of dead fish and other organisms. The pollution was minimal in the beginning, until people started taking advantage of the different bodies of water on our planet. The effects are irreversible and our world is going extinct one ecosystem at a time. No one paid notice to what was going on with our planet until the problem had arrived.

As our water supply worsened, humans finally started paying attention and did everything they could to fix the issue. Companies brought in big machines to clean the water, but that couldn’t help the already contaminated fish. In the midst of fixing one issue, humanity created a new problem. These big machines introduced a silent killer into our air supply. Babies and small children grew up with hazardous greenhouse gasses wheezing through their lungs.

How did we get here?

In an effort to find the cheapest and most effective energy source, we compromised our clean Earth. The process of drilling into the ground and flushing the shale rock with high pressurized chemical fluids in order to release natural gas is called hydraulic fracturing. This led to disposing harmful carcinogens like benzene and ethylene glycol in our water supply, but that was okay in this time period because we didn’t suffer immediate repercussions. It wasn’t until a few years later we began seeing the negative effects of hydraulic fracturing. There was speculation that people in nearby towns reportedly could light their water on fire due to the amount of methane and other combustible chemicals in the drinking water.

Drinking water wasn’t the only way people were infected with deadly chemicals. Fisherman towns were some of the first to flourish and first to perish. The fish and other organisms were infested with chemicals found in the different bodies of water, almost like parasites in need of a host to survive and thrive off. The smaller contaminated fish were eaten by larger fish, which caused a higher amount of chemical contamination in the larger fish. This process is called bioaccumulation, and the harmful substances travel up the food chain infecting everything. This isn’t to say that someone would have to eat something directly contaminated by the chemicals in order to get infected. If a bear ate several contaminated fish, that bear now has fracturing chemicals running through its veins. Let’s say a hunter shot the bear for meat, cooked it up, and ate the food; now this person is infected. Humans ignored the warnings for so long until they got sick from eating fish and other animals contaminated by these chemicals and started dying off.

It didn’t end there. After people realized what was happening, it was too late for the oceans, rivers, streams, and animals that had been exposed. Fracturing companies tried putting the contaminated water in steel evaporators in an effort to boil the water away. After this, other companies brought in desalination machines to clean the contaminated water through the processes of distillation and membrane separation. Traditionally, desalination machines were known to take the salt out of water so people could drink it, but that’s not the case here. These machines have adapted to separate the clean water from harsh chemicals. The liquid is heated to a point where the clean water evaporates and then condenses before being collected. The leftover chemicals pass through a hydrophobic membrane separating it from the clean water. This process continues until all the water is cleaned and tested.

Although this seemed like a great solution, the machines used to clean the contaminated water were giving off dangerous emissions, like greenhouse gasses. People breathed in these odorless gasses unknowing of the damage their bodies would face later in life. If this is hard to digest, picture air pollution as a stalker; they are always with you, following you, suffocating you. Stalkers take a mental toll on individuals, like air pollution harms the body. Now you can try and get rid of this stalker, but it won’t be easy. Restraining orders keep stalkers away, just as bills are passed to keep companies from polluting the air. Just like stalkers defy the restraining order, companies defy the air pollution bills and regulations, and with that comes consequences.

As each day passed, a new dark cloud would surface and loom over the heads of humanity, reminding us of where we went wrong. These clouds called smog were filled with the hazardous gasses from air pollution and blocked most of the sunlight. Plants began to die, and humans were suffering if not already dead from breathing conditions.

This was avoidable?

Had people known of the serious effects hydraulic fracturing caused, we may have escaped this dreaded fate. We became a society that underestimated the power pollution had over humanity and disregarded all the warning signs until it was too late. We could have avoided all the turmoil and heartache pollution put us through, but instead we wanted cheaper fuel and suffered the consequences. If given the opportunity, could you make a change? Would you take a stance? Knowing what the future holds can be scary, but it can open up peoples’ eyes to a world not yet seen.



For more information…

Key Issues in Seawater Desalination in California: Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions/

What Is Smog?

Bioaccumulation

Hydraulic Fracturing 101