I somehow got on the Council of Canadians direct mail distribution list. While I like most of their work, I had to respond to their latest mail out and had to ask to be removed.
The envelope featured the iconic flaming tap image as part of their petition to end hydraulic fracking as a method of natural gas extraction. While the science is complicated on the question, I do sympathize with the need to abandon fossil fuels for renewable energy. Nevertheless, resorting to pseudoscientific fear mongering is one of my pet peeves about the environmental movement.
Here’s the letter I just sent them.
Dear Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians:
I want to respond to your recent fundraising request about fracking. I believe your use of the flaming tap image is misleading and likely to further anti-science attitudes. Please remove me from your distribution list.
I consider myself a progressive Canadian and appreciate much of the work you do. The lawsuit to hold the Harper Conservatives to account for their attempted electoral fraud was laudable and I’m sorry to hear you weren’t able to completely win the case. I am also very worried about our country’s increasing reliance on fossil fuels despite the overwhelming evidence of the dangers of anthropogenic climate change. Fracking is definitely controversial and merits far greater public scrutiny.
Nevertheless, the claim that fracking will cause tap water to become flammable is a gross exaggeration and fear mongering of the sort I would expect from the Conservatives or a right-wing think tank. In response to the fire coming from a tap shown in the film Gasland, scientists at the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission concluded that “there are no indications of any oil- and gas-related impacts to your water well … Methane gas is common in water wells in Colorado. It occurs naturally … as a gas in coal or black shale seams [and] as a by-product of the decay of organic matter.” Natural methane pockets exist in many areas, including Alberta where I grew up on well water. Having a safe and regulated approach toward fracking is important but your blatant scare tactics discredit your organization and put you in league with pseudoscientific cranks.
Focus on the facts and leave the sensationalism out of your materials.