“Dont FRACK with my Karoo”

The Karoo is the major ecosystem in South Africa. It is home to a captivating diversity of life, all having had to adapt to survive a challenging landscape with many ecological challenges. The Karoo is a semi-desert region of South Africa which is made up of two closely related eco regions – the Nama Karoo, which has mostly winter rainfall, and the Succulent Karoo which has predominantly summer rain.
The Nama Karoo is the third largest biome in South Africa, covering about 20.5% of the country. The Nama Karoo never had the diversity of flora and fauna but is prominent for sheep and goat farming. On the other hand, Succulent Karoo is outstanding for being the world’s richest flora of succulent plants. It harbours about one-third of the world’s approximately 10,000 succulent species. The eco region is the heart of diversity and endemism for reptiles and many invertebrates. Of the eco region’s 50 scorpion species, 22 are endemic. Monkey beetles, are largely endemic to southern Africa and are important pollinators for the Karoo flora. The Karoo is known as “the land of great thirst” and covers round about 800 miles between Johannesburg and Cape Town. The semi-desert area is known for its arid beauty and aching poverty.
However beneath this land expanse could lie untold wealth. Wealth in the form of natural gas is now the biggest threat the Karoo is facing. Natural gas exploration has now come to invade this wonderful land in order to exploit its natural resources and monetary gains.
Until recently, a moratorium has been placed on granting exploration licenses to major fuel companies like Shell. The licence to explore entails the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking involves a drilling technique which used to extract shale gas from deep underground. It comprises pumping huge volumes of water, sand and chemicals into horizontally drilled wells under great pressure to break the rock layer and release trapped gas.
Royal Dutch Shell is one of the companies that have applied for shale gas exploration rights in the Karoo aiming to explore gas reserves. It is alleged that South Africa might boast shale-gas reserve. Also its approximated that the shale gas fields in the Karoo would be the fifth largest in the world. A report published earlier this year by Econometrix, a South African think tank, argued that fracking would bring what the area so urgently needs: jobs and development. For a country that frequently experiences power cuts, this would imply a brighter future, literally and figuratively.
After reading up on fracking and its impacts, I strongly disagree that fracking should take place in the Karoo. This is because no one honestly knows how much gas is extractable from the ground of the Karoo and if there really is any natural gas. Then, the figures of potential jobs which could be created is rather sceptical as the inhabitants of the area are mostly unskilled. This entire gas exploration process requires relative skilled workers as accidents may occur really quickly. Even a small accident such as a small leak could kill the livelihood of the poverty stricken Karoo inhabitants.
From an environmental perspective, fracking will destroy the area. Fracking on its own is a real risk-prone business as accidents are unpredictable and often not immediately detectable. Fracking is feared to damage aquifers in the Karoo, destroying its ecosystems and ecosystem services and threatening agriculture in the area. The government insists that if it becomes apparent that exploration is harming the Karoo, they will shut it down. But this is not totally trust worthy as damage is often not traced immediately. According to “Mr Jonathan from theDeal of the Action group, he cautioned that Shell cannot be trusted in the Karoo if one considers their ‘precarious history’ on environmental violations that is evident globally.” Deal has specified that the Action Group completed research on Shell and have derived incidents where the company had to pay fines after they have been found guilty of environmental contamination in America and Brazil. Even in Nigeria they do not want to be held responsible for damages they had caused recking the land.
Fracking Contamination of water Sources

Shells mess in Nigeria

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