A Field Philosopher's Guide to Fracking: How One Texas Town Stood Up to Big Oil and Gas 1st Edition
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- James Osborne, Dallas Morning News
“Out of the university and into the streets, Briggle brings the practice of 'field philosophy' to the question of whether fracking is feckless or feasible…It is a fraught story, but Briggle tells it warmly and cogently, exploring both the interpersonal relationships involved and some of the geological science behind fracking.”
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“In this blunt yet hopeful chronology, Briggle confers with scientists, engineers, policy makers, and fellow citizens to gain a broad overview of fracking…. Briggle’s philosophical framing of the conversation sets his work apart and helps provide further insight on this divisive topic.”
- Publishers Weekly
“This rousing account of a great people's victory is also the occasion for some real reflection about the mad push forward now degrading the planet in deep and desperate ways.”
- Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy
“As extreme energy extraction moves next to backyards and playgrounds, where do we draw the line between reasonable risk and recklessness? You owe it to your children and your grandchildren to read this book.”
- Helen Slottje, architect of the New York state fracking ban and winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize
“Briggle offers a compelling look at the environmental issues and a broader look at citizen engagement in ethics and social policy.”
- Vanessa Bush, Booklist
“Through the story of Denton and his theory of innovation, Briggle shows us how the Texas government is a subsidiary of oil and gas corporate interests, not a government 'of, by, or for the people.'”
- Lon Burnham, former representative for Texas House District 90
“Briggle beautifully captures how the mad rush to drill and frack this country has led to one of the fastest-growing grassroots movements in American history. When we finally ban fracking across the world, it will be because strong communities like Denton, Texas, showed us the way.”
- Josh Fox, director of Gasland and Gasland 2
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Hardcover : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1631490079
- ISBN-13 : 978-1631490071
- Product Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Publisher : Liveright; 1st Edition (October 19, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,518,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Philosopher Briggle opens with an epigraph from Goethe’s Faust, which I cannot possibly translate, so I offer up what two different auto-translate sources seem to do with it.
Daß ich erkenne was die Welt
Im Innersten zusammenhält
That I know what the world (Google Translator)
At the core holds together
The fact that I recognize what the world
In the most inner holds together (Reverso)
From the start Briggle, a philosophy professor at the University of North Texas in Denton, is trying to convey what his book will be about: an ancient struggle, which continues today, between those who have little power (David) to stand up against those who seem to possess it all (Godzilla).
His narrative is part memoir, part science, part philosophy, and part sociopolitical. He sets it motion by relating how he first comes to know what fracking is. Pushing his son’s swing at Denton’s McKenna Park in 2009, he chats with a young mother, who matter-of-factly informs him that the area next to the park, open ranch land, is soon to have three new gas wells.
In some ways how else can a philosopher examine this situation except through the lens of his specialty? Such a lens offers a logical and sensible view, not often held by proponents of fracking.
“Fracking exemplifies the technological wager, by which I mean a gamble or even a faith that we can transform the world in the pursuit of narrowly defined goals and successfully manage the broader unintended consequences that result. In many ways, we are gambling on present innovations. I think that if we are to live with high technology we cannot avoid this wager. The question is whether we can establish conditions to make it a fair and reasonable bet. In the case of fracking, I will argue, these conditions are largely not in place” (3).
In other words, hydraulic fracturing of regions deep within the earth for the purpose of sucking out energy in the form of gas is perfectly acceptable to oil and gas companies, no matter what the cost. Our children and their children, state the corporations, will have to figure out how to correct any mistakes we make, if any.
But Briggle’s book is also, as I said, part science. He walks us through the ugly steps of the fracking process. First, pieces of heavy equipment deface the land. Then millions of gallons of fresh water are mixed with toxic chemicals, forced back into the earth to shake loose the shale, and then disposed of once again by pumping it deeper into the earth once the process is complete—for now the water cannot be filtered and purified for reuse, because it has been so utterly polluted. Next, at certain times these toxic chemicals leak into the air, and if you live downwind, they can complicate, in the least, chronic breathing problems such as asthma, and at worst, after multiple exposures, cause more dire conditions. He provides proof of how the groundwater in Denton and the surrounding counties is being depleted, often with little or no remuneration to ANYONE. To the big companies the water is “free,” part of their ownership of the mineral rights to what lies below the soil which a family may have owned for generations. And I have mentioned neither the number of “earthquakes” that plague Oklahoma and North Texas nor the noise that pollutes 24/7, once the well is being constructed. Neither one of which is a minor consideration for urban life.
The sociopolitical aspect of this book may provide its most prominent strand, as Adam Briggle relates the struggle of Denton’s Drilling Awareness Group (DAG)—an amalgam of Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians—who battle Godzilla to keep their city fracking free. The years-long crusade results in a referendum which appears on the ballot in November 2014. Briggle and his associates debate the issues with the Big Boys in every possible venue. Thugs make threatening phone calls. They are sneered at or spat upon by local gentry, who believe a ban on fracking, among other things, will cause Denton’s merchants to lose millions of dollars in revenue.
Close to the end of the ballot count, the numbers are 9,000 in favor of the ban on fracking and 6,000 against. When pro-bans are sure they’ve won the victory, there is much rejoicing on the part of those who have for many years sacrificed time, energy, and sleep. Briggle and his wife even spend the night in a hotel room, having been informed that their house might not be safe if the ban goes into effect.
In the acknowledgements, Briggle writes that immediately following the election, several oil and gas companies file lawsuits against the city of Denton. And Governor-elect Greg Abbott and his cronies have vile words for them, as well.
“I don’t know how things will turn out, but I do know that I have been educated and inspired by my journey as a field philosopher in Denton” (284), Briggle concludes, er, uh, philosophically.
On election day, Briggle monitors one of the polling stations for twelve hours to make sure there are no shenanigans by the opposition, and he speaks with a young man who fracks wells in West Texas. He wants to know why DAG wants a ban in the first place. When Briggle explains that the companies plan to frack within the city limits, the young man says, “‘They’re fracking in the city? That’s crazy’” (277).
From his mouth to . . . Godzilla’s ears. Adam Briggle’s book is a candid yet uplifting read! Get it. Read it. Give it to your friends. Seriously.
Shows the truth about "Big OIL's" lies about safety - very similar to the cigarette industry - and shows the unfortunate truth that the EPA really
does not seem to care about our water and air. Everyone who is about to go to war with local, state and federal governments to stop current fracking and BAN the practice before permanent danger to the nation's water supplies for a small fast return for a few people at the risk of us all.
stories about his and his family's journey through several years of trying to make his city a safe and healthy place to live.
A very readable book.