The Hidden Dangers of Fracking; Behind the Scenes with Ken Burns

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Mother Jones on oil and gas workers' injuries in North Dakota Tim McDonnell and James West explain how workers in the fracking industry in North Dakota are at risk. With a growing number of rigs, there is a growing number of deaths and there's a "lethal combination of factors: thousands of young, inexperienced workers; a glut of new, often mom-and-pop contractors; and out-of-date oil rigs being brought back online." Not to mention the fact that workers are dissuaded from filing worker's-comp claims, or the fact that fracking sand contains fine silica which could get into lungs and eventually lead to cancer. Though there has been much attention paid to the environmental hazards of fracking, the safety chief for the AFL-CIO says "there hasn't been sufficient attention paid to workers' safety."

The New York Times on SUNY Buffalo's fracking institute Speaking of fracking, the State University of New York is closing its Shale Resources and Society Institute. This move comes after professors, students, and SUNY trustees had petitioned the school to shut the institute down among "concerns in academia about the growing influence of corporate money in research especially at a time when government grants are declining." Mireya Navarro writes that the school's president wrote in a letter that the reason for the shut down was an "assessment that determined that it lacked 'sufficient' faculty presence, that it was not consistent enough in disclosing its financial interests and that the credibility of its research was compromised because of questions over its financing." 

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Co.Exist on business and climate change Co.Exist explains that the business world, unlike the policy world, has actually been considering the effects of climate change, and that "forward-looking executives recognize that the longer we wait to start taking it seriously, the harder and more expensive it will be for their companies to prosper in a changing world." There are things business are going to have to prepare for the "new normal" including "move server rooms, reinforce supply chains, and reposition those backup generators." That said, some companies have already started making steps to not just protecting themselves but making their enterprises more sustainable. For instance Unilever and Walmart have pledged to cut greenhouse emissions and Microsoft "decided to make each of its business units financially accountable for their own greenhouse emissions, and created an internal accounting price for carbon-based on market rates for renewable energy and carbon offsets--that will serve as the incentive to drive energy savings in data centers, labs and offices in more than 100 countries." 

Grist on farmers' fair share Farmers are not getting what they deserve when they take their product to market. This has to do with the consolidation of the food system, and therefore: "food producers, who often can’t reach consumers directly and have a desperately hard time getting a fair price for their products when there are only one or two buyers." Americans are getting their cheap food, it seems, but at the price of the livelihood of farmers. That said, "it’s also a triumph of the conservative vision of a 'better them than us' economy as opposed to the progressive vision that we’re all in this together." 

The Los Angeles Times on Ken Burns' Dust Bowl  Dan Turner writes about what he learned about climate change from Ken Burns' documentary The Dust Bowl. He zeroes in on what he really learned: the Dust Bowl was caused by human action. That fact is "cause for reflection" as what we're heading toward could be worse. "Today, with global temperatures rising, record-setting heatwaves, droughts and wildfires sweeping the West and powerful storms afflicting the East, it's apparent that we're doing it again," he writes.  

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.