Green activists have found a new way to villainize hydraulic fracturing in Britain: claiming that sand, one essential component of the sluice pumped at high pressure into horizontal wells to “frack” shale, will give people cancer. The Times (of London) reports:
[Activist group Friends of the Earth] distributed thousands of leaflets asking for donations to help stop fracking. The leaflets said fracking would expose communities to chemicals that could cause cancer because it involved “pumping millions of litres of water containing a toxic cocktail of chemicals deep underground . . . [which] could end up in your drinking water”.
The leaflet said that the group had already helped people in Lancashire prevent fracking by Cuadrilla, the company which had two applications rejected by the county council this summer. When Cuadrilla complained to Friends of the Earth that it did not use toxic chemicals, the group replied listing the evidence on which it based its claims. It wrote: “We understand that Cuadrilla used a significant amount of sand to frack the well at Preese Hall [in Lancashire in 2011]. Frack sand tends to contain significant amounts of silica which is a known carcinogen.”
By this logic, greens ought to be calling for the quarantining of beaches—to hear these activists tell it, the sand you’d be tanning on there would be as big a cancer risk as the UV rays you might be soaking up.
This kind of campaigning isn’t unique to this specific green group, either. It’s part of a pattern of behavior employed by the modern environmental movement, in which sober analysis of important policy decisions is overrun by overwrought and often emotional rhetoric—baseless fear-mongering. For a group that prides itself on being joined at the hip to science, greens show a remarkable tendency to ditch the facts when it’s convenient to serve their point, and this latest sand-causes-cancer campaign is a great example of that.
The world needs a better, smarter green movement. Environmental concerns pervade a wide host of issues, and our planet deserves a better class of champion.