Gratuitous Post: My Water's On Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song)

By The Intersection | May 13, 2011 12:01 pm

This is a guest post by Jamie L. Vernon, Ph.D., an HIV research scientist and aspiring policy wonk, who recently moved to D.C. to get a taste of the action

Not much to say except this is a hilarious production designed to draw attention to the fracking debate.  To be clear, my biggest concerns are not centered on the hydraulic fracturing fluid per se.  I feel the recent PNAS paper highlighted the much more worrisome problem of methane gas leakage.  In fact, the PNAS paper stated that there was no evidence of contamination of drinking water with deep saline brine or fracking fluids.

The anti-fracking video compared to the pro-fracking video (below) represents an interesting dichotomy in communication tactics.

Which do you feel is more effective?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized

Comments (15)

  1. Mike H

    Interesting. The first video repeats several times that “we need facts” and yet it relies entirely on emotional appeals and anecdote to make its point.

    While the second video appeals to emotion with clips of kids and trees, it actually addresses several of the specific allegations in the film with facts.

    I suppose if one is predisposed to appeals based on emotion the first video would be more effective and if one is predisposed to appeals based on fact then the second video would be more effective.

    • The Intersection

      I wouldn’t assume that the second video presents actual facts. In actuality, it presents statements that it argues are facts but in some cases are actually either untrue or misleading.
      Both videos push the limits of emotional versus factual. It’s an interesting study in communication.
      Could the pro-fracking lobby produce an effective video similar to the first?

  2. Mike H

    I wouldn’t assume that the second video presents actual facts. In actuality, it presents statements that it argues are facts but in some cases are actually either untrue or misleading

    So none of the statements made in the second video are factual in nature? I would assume you have something to back that up?

    Both videos push the limits of emotional versus factual.

    The first video has no facts whatsoever in them. Its entirely an appeal to emotion.

    Could the pro-fracking lobby produce an effective video similar to the first?

    Appeals to emotion are always more effective then fact based arguments.

  3. Chesan Milaros

    Methane leakage… GREENHOUSE EFFECT! “Molecule-for-molecule, methane is an 80X stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.”

    http://iopscience.iop.org/0034-4885/68/6/R02/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPCC_list_of_greenhouse_gases

    Weight-for-weight, methane is a 220X stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. No carbon credits for youuuuu! A social advocate makes virtue of failure. The worse the cure the better the treatment – and the more that is required. Social advocacy maintains the crap level as its bottom is dredged ever deeper.

  4. jemand

    @Mike H, you mean when the first video states that Bush back in 2005 exempted fracking from being subject to EPA clean water standards that’s not a fact? Not relevant? Not true? (quick checking shows it IS true).

    When they underscore methane as a far more potent greenhouse molecule than CO2, is that not a fact? Of course it is. That greenhouse gasses released make the planet hotter? Another obvious fact.

    That’s just a couple facts, but it proves that your statement they appeal entirely to emotion is incorrect. You probably just can’t follow the rap fast enough to catch all their statements.

    Edit to add, more searching does INDEED indicate that Sublette WY DOES have benzene in it’s water supply due to fracking. Also, the quick description of fracking liquids pumped 7000 feet down can be correct (depth varies considerably, with both deeper and shallower wells depending on where in the country it’s done) and the water IS fortified with other chemicals to help the oil run.

    Honestly, how the hell CAN you justify the statement there are zero facts in the first video? Like, did you listen to it at all?

  5. A lot of people would dismiss the second video just because it’s made by a gas industry group, not even bothering to check their factual claims. For some reason what “regular people” think has more influence with them. I wish there were more publicity for the good reasons to be in favor of fracking, aside from the money – national security, less global warming and less toxic than coal. Those reasons could have been put in dramatic terms in the pro-fracking video, for example a nuclear explosion in a future war over oil. Instead there was a lot of mushy stuff with children bouncing around, which gives the impression of cynical manipulation.
    Both of the videos seem like propaganda.

  6. Some important information to add to this post:

    The lyrics to this song were fact checked by ProPublica.org before we were allowed to go public with them.

    Go to this post, the original site of publication for the video….

    http://explainer.net/thefrackingsong/

    …and scroll down for the lyrics with links to the ProPublica articles that back up the words used in the song. For example, where the song says “I think my water’s on fire tonight,” the link goes to:

    http://www.propublica.org/article/scientific-study-links-flammable-drinking-water-to-fracking

    “Scientific Study Links Flammable Drinking Water to Fracking.”

    Thanks.

  7. Mike H

    Mike H, you mean when the first video states that Bush back in 2005 exempted fracking from being subject to EPA clean water standards that’s not a fact? Not relevant? Not true? (quick checking shows it IS true).

    A note so quick checking (you know, actually reading the law and not some outside interest groups summary of it) shows you should check again! Hydraulic fracturing is covered by the Clean Water Act and was given an exemption for the erosion and sediment control provisions. So no, its not a fact.

    Edit to add, more searching does INDEED indicate that Sublette WY DOES have benzene in it’s water supply due to fracking. Also, the quick description of fracking liquids pumped 7000 feet down can be correct (depth varies considerably, with both deeper and shallower wells depending on where in the country it’s done) and the water IS fortified with other chemicals to help the oil run.

    Sublette Wyoming’s benzene contamination is due to fracking … well then you should have no problem pointing to either an EPA or academic study stating as much. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath waiting for that though.

    Is this what passes for the reality based community these days?

    @ Jay Rosen

    Fact checked …. by ProPublica? Is that supposed to be a joke? Consider what one of Abrahm Lustgarten’s sources, Mark Thiesse, said about how his interview was represented in one of PP’s articles:

    I’d like to thank you for your recent editorial on the ProPublica article. I was one of the folks (I’m with the WY Dept of Env Quality) interviewed for this article by Mr. Lustgarten. I spent several hours on the phone and around a dozen follow up emails to try and help him write a factual article. Unfortunately he seemed to have his own agenda. The one error that was most blatant from my perspective was the “20 mile long plume” that he mentions. I must have told him 5 times that it was individual impacts to separate water wells due to water well drilling practices – not related to oil and gas drilling at all – but that did not make it into his article that way.

  8. jemand

    yeah, Mike H, if the text of the law found here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-109publ58/content-detail.html

    were actually amenable to your argument, you would have provided a link for it. Instead, it is quite clear that in section 322, the term “underground injection” in the Safe Drinking Water act is redefined to exclude activities related to hydraulic fracturing.

    In fact, the ONLY instances of the word “hydraulic” appears in that section and in the index.

    No bullshit about it just being “erosion” or “sediment control.”

    And I see that you couldn’t find fault with their statement that methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Which is because the comment is truly unassailable. And honestly, that’s ALL that would be needed to prove your statement that there were literally NO facts, not ONE was quite the exaggeration.

  9. Mike H

    Instead, it is quite clear that in section 322, the term “underground injection” in the Safe Drinking Water act is redefined to exclude activities related to hydraulic fracturing.

    You realize that the “Clean Water Act” (which I was referring to above) and the “Safe Drinking Water act” are not the same things right? Darn these facts! Always getting in the way of a good green rant!

    As for the Safe Drinking Water act, was hydraulic fractuirng ever regulated at any time in its 60 years history under any portion of the Safe Drinking Water act? Think fast!

    No bullshit about it just being “erosion” or “sediment control.”

    Yes, that applies to the “Clean Water Act” not the “Safe Drinking Water act”.

    And I see that you couldn’t find fault with their statement that methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

    And this relates to uniquely to hydraulic fracturing in what way?

    I love to watch technical ignoramuses like you flail … its so much fun!

  10. @jemand
    The methane in the natural gas only functions as a greenhouse gas if it isn’t burned – if it leaks somehow.
    Natural gas when it’s burned to make electricity, releases about only 58% of the CO2 as does burning coal.
    Since some natural gas does leak during fracking, this worsens the global warming impact of natural gas somewhat. How much? It’s tricky to estimate the leakage, but people have tried.
    There have been some attempts to estimate the global warming impact of methane leakage from fracking. Earlier estimates were that the total global warming impact of making electricity from natural gas obtained by fracking is less than from coal, even including leakage.
    Recently Howarth published a paper in Climatic Change Letters – available online – claiming that the total GHG impact from fracking is worse than from coal (for making electricity).
    But: As Howarth points out in his paper, there’s a lot the gas drillers can (and should) do to reduce gas leaks;
    Also, Howarth is an anti-fracker, and he skewed his analysis in many ways to make natural gas look bad. For example he used leakage info for very long pipelines, longer than are being used in the states where fracking is done. I read that Energy in Depth published a detailed rebuttal of his article – perhaps available online.
    Anyways, global warming from natural gas leakage IS a possible problem from fracking, but it’s not clear how bad it is.
    In other ways, natural gas is much cleaner than coal (as the second video pointed out :) Coal ash is actually radioactive because the heavy radioactive elements in the coal remain in the ash after it’s burned.
    The comparison between coal and gas needs to be made in terms of producing electricity, because that’s where coal and gas compete. Hardly anyone uses coal to heat their houses anymore, so coal and gas aren’t competing in that way.
    I expected the comments on this blog to very quickly become a discussion on fracking, not a discussion about how good the videos are. And it has.

  11. 1985

    Which do you feel is more effective?

    A totally irrelevant question

    And it’s irrelevant because both the pro-fracking and anti-fracking sides completely miss the important issues involved in the debate. And the important issues are things like:

    1. How accurate are the abundance estimates for shale gas? (Hint: it’s nowhere near the numbers you usually see). On top of that, shale gas wells have the steepest decline curves the energy industry has ever seen.

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7075

    2. What the EROEI is for the whole process? We know it must be much lower than conventional gas but to my knowledge there has been no study of the issue at all, which is absolutely criminal when you think about it.

    3. The associated methane emissions and their effect on climate.

    The last one is kind of touched upon from time to time, but in general it makes very little sense to go on a war against shale gas on the basis of its effects on the environment where by “environment” we mean things like the water supply, because those are a very easy target for anti-environmentalists and shale gas already makes little sense for a number of other much more fundamental reasons.

    I guess it is just another case of the environmentalists being only slightly less clueless about the situation than the anti-environmentalists…

  12. At Music Vid Kid, we’re pitting the enlightening Fracking song against Beyonce’s educational clip to Move Your Body – which gets its message across better?
    http://www.musicvidkid.com/?p=2086

  13. Matt B.

    The second video has a narrator with a smarmy voice (who mispronounces “algal”), and obvious attempts to create nice feelings (“harmony”, “freedom”, down-home music). It also uses easy misdirecton, e.g. saying that Gasland claims that fracking isn’t subject to [any] regulation. The “any” is implied, because the actual claim is that it’s not subject to some regulation. It makes irrelevant points, like, “Our industry has jobs in it.”

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