Quakes in Oklahoma?

Quakes in Oklahoma?

Damage to home in Pawnee Oklahoma, 9/2016

California is the land of quakes in North America. San Francisco gets an extra shout out for being at one end of a fault line known as San Andreas which runs vaguely northwest to southeast to Los Angeles, at the other end. When you grow up there, you know what to do when the ground begins to shake and the rumble of sound waves try to warn you out of bed or away from a window. You sleep with hard soled slippers next to your bed and keep trash cans full of survival supplies in your garage near the door, so if the building begins to crunch you can walk without stepping on glass and get to your container.

Don’t forget water. You need to keep a lot of water on hand because the old pipes will break and you will be SOL if that happens. Besides thinking about water, I’d get one of those portable device chargers and keep it in the emergency can as well, so you can text to your friends if you’re safe or not.  When the thing hits, if you’re a native Californian, you wait before you act. It might just be a 4 or 5, and the epicenter might be anywhere. But sometimes it keeps going, and you realize it’s either closer or more powerful than you first hoped. It could be a 6, and that means you need to get up and stand in the doorway away from windows. Stuff will fall off shelves, roads will crack, a few landslides and lots of broken windows. But still not time to panic.

Then it could become a 7. Now it’s time for those slippers and to head outside if the walls might come down. Don’t forget, it’s time to curse the fact that you didn’t stock up on batteries or take my advice to keep a portable charger in your emergency can. A 7 can be  downright exciting as long as you’re not on top of it. Lots of shaking, a few random broken water lines, the gas lines not so exciting, and when roads buckle, not so exciting either.

Yeah, I’m an old hat at riding out quakes. If I was transplanted to Oklahoma, I’d be significantly more terrified of tornadoes. Now those people have to worry about both quakes and tornadoes. Why?

There’s no tectonic plate under Oklahoma like the North American and Pacific plates that bump up against each other underneath California. It’s our need for those portable rechargers. It’s our addiction to electricity. America has worked hard to become energy independent, and hydraulic fracturing is a technology that supports the generation of electricity. It releases natural gas which is used to run turbines that create electricity for the grid. Also called fracking, for short, since 2008 when fracking began to seriously ramp up in Oklahoma, the number of earthquakes over a magnitude 3.0 has risen from 2 to almost 900. Half of all earthquakes over 5.0 have occurred in 2016, which isn’t over yet, in the last 135 years! Think that’s suspicious? The total number of earthquakes over 5.0 in Oklahoma in those 135 years has been 6. So, 3 happened in 134 years, and 3 happened in the last 10 months.

Fracking involves drilling into rock and injecting the hole with water and sand, the sand holding open tiny fissures to let the natural gas escape. That waste water allows the fractures to slip, causing the quakes. So far in 2016, Oklahoma has had 572 – about 2 per day. Coincidence? From 2 in 2008 to 889 in 2015. In fact the largest quake ever recorded in Oklahoma was a 5.8, which occurred just last September.

Las Vegas

Humans are changing the face of the planet, even the dermis of the planet, for the sake of electricity. I don’t suggest it’s possible for Americans to make a significant lifestyle change in a short enough period of time to make a difference, but we can certainly see where this voracious appetite for energy is taking us. If we don’t abandon our need for non-renewable sources, (coal and natural gas), and exchange them for clean renewable sources (solar and wind, geothermal and hydro electric), we will find ourselves in dire straights when the planet is severely damaged and the black gold is gone.

Our planet will survive. It’s downright ridiculous for humans to think we can destroy the planet. We can destroy the climate that we love, we can destroy our ecosystem, force thousands of species into extinction, and find ourselves warring over resources, but Earth doesn’t care if we’re here or not. When the dinosaurs ended their 200 million year reign, the Earth didn’t care, and here we are. If they could have made changes to save themselves, would they have let their thirst for power and control shadow the possibilities of extinction? Can we evaluate ourselves and conclude that we have more intelligence than the dinosaurs, and make those changes before it’s too late?



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