A couple of years ago I was writing about earthquakes occurring in Lancashire as a consequence of fracking. The earthquakes, I wrote, were to happen in Autumn 2018.
Two years on, in Autumn 2018, a series of earthquakes hit Lancashire. Fracking is the cause.
Fracking, a process of obtaining natural gas, has devastating environmental impact. To quote Professor Simmons in my first Global Warning novel, ‘Breaking Point’, fracking “involves blasting dense shale rock at very high pressures with a mix of sand, water and chemicals, to open up fissures. The rock then releases bubbles of methane gas, which are gathered at the surface. Thousands of gallons of water are used. The water is contaminated with chemicals used in the process. Fracking companies truck this contaminated water to storage wells drilled a couple of thousand metres into the earth, and inject it into those. It’s the storage wells, rather than the actual process of fracking, that most likely cause tremors. Increased fluid pressure from so much contaminated water in wells can prime cracks in surrounding rock, and weaken underground faults. So any earthquakes within a few hundred miles – and there are plenty going on under the North Sea – can trigger tremors.
“The consequences of these operations are becoming more widely felt. Even small seismic waves from earthquakes can shake faults, often triggering further seismicity in active areas such as volcanoes, where there is high fluid pressure. For the first time in history, seismicity is happening in areas with anthropogenically-induced fluid pressure. Massive wells pumped full of contaminated water are causing quakes in the US registering up to magnitude five on the Richter Scale. Here in the UK, we are in danger of worse, more frequent tremors as fracking increases.”
I started writing Global Warning Breaking Point back in 2016. It was published August 2017. Little did I know then that the events unfolding in this imaginary world, set one-to-five years into the future, would start to come true.
After fracking protests in London in 2017, events heat up in the novel when, the following year, Autumn 2018, a series of earthquakes rock Lancashire after fracking has resumed.
The earthquakes that actually occurred in Lancashire last month were not nearly as severe as the one that hits Blackburn in my novel, but regardless, some might view it as a stark warning.
Coincidence? Or a terrifying prediction?
The research I conducted for Breaking Point was pretty thorough. I knew fracking had caused earthquakes to hit Blackpool in 2011, and that the practice was subsequently halted for years. I knew from fracking protest websites that new permissions were being sought for fracking in the North. I was also aware, as many people are, of our government’s reckless disregard for the environment. They pay lip-service to upholding the COP21 goals to reduce harmful emissions, yet just months after the Paris agreement was signed, Teresa May, newly in power, abolished the Department of Energy and Climate Change, removing an inconvenient control of corporate operations.
Much of the Global Warning series is based on facts, and my research has heavily shaped the events that play out throughout the first novel. The Lancashire earthquakes happening in Autumn 2018 both in my novel and in real life is a scary coincidence. But that they happened again, is no surprise.
Fracking will have consequences reaching far beyond seismic activity. Extreme weather disasters are growing more frequent as a consequence of climate change brought about by human activity. Time is running out for us. To save our future, we must act.