Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Frack, if you love babies

 I picked this provoking headline by borrowing a page from the sensationalism of the Bloomberg articleStudy Shows fracking is bad for babies.” What I did was take an actual working paper that was released in January 2013  Air Pollution and Infant Mortality” and oversimplify it to prove a point. The Bloomberg article offers journalism at its best (urgent, gripping and moving) and at the same time at its worst (no actual facts).

And because of the media attention, the study's researchers referenced in Bloombergs article, have come out and said the headline was premature (Revkin’s Tumblr). What most in the science community is seeking is not a dismissal of the research, but merely an attempt to put brakes on an ill-conceived news story hidden behind a sensational headline. If Dr. Currie establishes a verifiable correlation between baby’s birth weight and gas development, the scientific community will do what it does; systematically work towards determining verifiable causes. What we know so far is that the study ruled out drinking water.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Shale Development has Unseen Health Benefits

Researchers far and wide have spent financial resources in developing studies that look for negative health outcomes

What seems like bad news is actually the opposite. Unbiased studies serve to help the Oil and Gas industry overcome challenges.  They inadvertently help move the industry forward towards a more effective, efficient and responsible development.

There isn’t much focus on studies that quantify public health benefits. It is not that there are no benefits but the benefits are there - unseen and subtle. Not newsworthy.

The bottom line, increased utilization of natural gas continues to improve air quality in major cities. According to Mayor Bloomberg, NYC has decreased SO2 emissions by 69 percent and soot is down 23 percent  (Huffington Post, September, 2013). Thanks in part to expanded natural gas usage.

Another study released by Clarkson University in 2011, shows that Rochester is also experiencing cleaner air since its conversation to natural gas – SO2 down by 53 percent and particulate matter down by 43 percent between 2002 and 2009. This is also in part to natural gas conversions (Democrat, February 2011).

For those of without respiratory issues, this is all well and good but to 15 percent of the Rochester population with asthma, this is great news.