Since last Friday, I’ve been following Japan’s events with a morbid, watchful eye. Starting with the 8.9 earthquake that struck the north island, moving to the apocalyptic 10 meter tall tsunami that wiped out entire communities with titanic force, I haven’t been able to turn my head from the devastating images. And as of today, the entire country is still waiting in fear under the threat of a nuclear disaster. I can’t imagine living through that much natural destruction and then holding my breath in the hopes that I’ll be spared from the man-made radioactive poison.
Ironically, as the inhabitants of Japan were fearing a nuclear explosion, I attended a salon (exhibition) on green living. While it mostly consisted of booths selling organic and biodynamic food, wine, clothes and furniture, there was also a somber, eye-opening conference about fracking, a relevant issue here in southern France. Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a highly toxic method for drilling oil and natural gas and is practiced in the United States and Canada. What happens is while drilling, a fraction fluid comprised of thousands of toxic chemicals, is injected in the soil because it quickens the process of recovering natural gas and prevents the hole from closing up. A few months after injection, these chemicals seep into the water systems and pose a large threat to the health of animals and humans. Symptoms include headaches, respiration problems, loss of taste and smell, and hair loss. Long term nerve damage is not yet known, but highly likely. Halliburton has discovered that in Southern France (Ardeche) there are reservoirs of natural gas that can be recovered through fracking. For unexplicable reasons (or greed), this project has not been reported by the mainstream media nor major political figures. However, starting with local protests and now spreading throughout the country, fracking might not pass in France.
As common sense would have it, the more we know about the dangers of and energy-producing technologies such as nuclear power, fracking, and the like, the more we would be protected from their hazardous consequences. Does it take a productive, first world country on the brink of a nuclear meltdown to change the ways of the few in charge? If so, is it worth the loss?
**I started this post with the intention of discussing my “end of the world” or “desert island” wine, but out of respect for the gravity of the issue and out of respect, I decided against it.