Fracking Our Food Supply—New Reports of Livestock Illnesses
By Amy Mall
I've blogged before about farmers and ranchers reporting serious illnesses in their livestock that they believe were caused by nearby oil and gas operations. They report that their veterinarians have ruled out all other potential causes. These reports have come from Colorado, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and North Dakota.
There's a recent article in The Nation about this topic, and it was disturbing enough to warrant another blog post on this topic. The article tells the story of Jacki Schilke, a cattle rancher in the Bakken shale area of North Dakota. There are 32 oil wells within three miles of her ranch.
In the summer of 2010, there was a problem at a nearby oil well. Soon, Schilke observed cattle limping with swollen legs and infections, cows stopped producing milk, animals lost from sixty to eighty pounds in a week and their tails fell off. The Nation website has a photo of one of the cows, which looks very sickly and has lost most of its tail.
By the end of the year, five cows, several cats and two dogs had died. The reporter who wrote the article observed a dozen cats sneezing and coughing, and said she saw "some with their heads tilted at a creepy angle."
At least some animals died of “dust pneumonia” (if you haven't heard of this before, I highly recommend The Dust Bowl on PBS). Air testing on the Schilke ranch found benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene and xylene—toxic substances that can cause serious illnesses, including cancer. Water testing found sulfates, chromium, chloride strontium and selenium. There are an estimated 300 trucks a day on their dirt road, hauling frac-sand, water, potentially toxic waste, fracking chemicals and equipment, and creating enormous amounts of dust.
Jacki and her husband report they are also ill. Jacki tells of the back pain linked to her kidneys, the mornings when she urinates blood, and the lung pain she suffers. Her blood tested positive for acetone and arsenic. She has stopped selling her remaining cattle to her neighbors because, she says, "I won’t sell them because I don’t know if they’re OK."
In addition to the risks to animals that end up in the food chain of many Americans, The Nation article goes on to report about the risks to produce and beverages. Our food and agriculture regulators should be taking these reports very seriously and conducting scientific investigation and taking regulatory action to protect our food chain. And of course victims like the Schilkes should have their health and safety protected. More science is needed, but we have enough information now to know we should be taking precautions and instituting much stronger regulations at the state and federal level to protect clean air, clean water, health and communities from the risks of oil and gas production.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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