A day doesn't go by without the controversial natural gas extraction technology hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' showing up in the news. But it seems that plenty of people are eager for basic information about what fracking actually is, as evidenced by the popularity of a five-minute animated fracking explainer video, made by the crew of Munich-designers called Kurzgesagt. After being posted to YouTube on September 3, it got more than 1 million views within three days.
What might compel people to click share on the video?
• An easy-to-comprehend visual treatment of what fracking looks like. The video shows how a well gets dug and how water mixed with sand and chemicals are pumped into deep layers of rock to force cracks in the rock and squeeze out natural gas.
• A bit of historical context about fracking, which has been around since the 1940s but was traditionally thought of as too expensive to make sense in the context of cheap natural gas. Now, with older wells exhausted and natural gas prices soaring, fracking is suddenly economically feasible.
• Some stunning stats. For example, a fracking well can use 8 million liters of water to squeeze out natural gas. That's the amount that a town of 65,000 consume in one day.
• No nonsense talk about the risks associated with fracking—most notably about the potential consequences for drinking water supplies. Fracking wastes that contain up to 700 chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens, are pumped back into wells and capped. Sometimes, it's unclear what will eventually become of that water. "The long-term consequences of fracking are unforeseeable, and the risk to our drink water thus should not be underestimated," the video's narrator says.
Whether you work in the energy sector or have never heard the term "fracking" before, the video is a great way to clarify the issues surrounding the technology.