Written by Michelle Bamberger, Robert Oswald, Sandra Steingraber
A pharmacologist and a veterinarian pull back the curtain on the human and animal health effects of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”
Across the country, fracking—the extraction of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing—is being touted as the nation’s answer to energy independence and a fix for a flagging economy. Drilling companies assure us that the process is safe, politicians push through drilling legislation without a serious public-health debate, and those who speak out are marginalized, their silence purchased by gas companies and their warnings about the dangers of fracking stifled.
The Real Cost of Fracking pulls back the curtain on how this toxic process endangers the environment and harms people, pets, and livestock. Michelle Bamberger, a veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a pharmacologist, combine their expertise to show how contamination at drilling sites translates into ill health and heartbreak for families and their animals. By giving voice to the people at ground zero of the fracking debate, the authors vividly illustrate the consequences of fracking and issue an urgent warning to all of us: fracking poses a dire threat to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and even our food supply.
Bamberger and Oswald reveal the harrowing experiences of small farmers who have lost their animals, their livelihoods, and their peace of mind, and of rural families whose property values have plummeted as their towns have been invaded by drillers. At the same time, these stories give us hope, as people band together to help one another and courageously fight to reclaim their communities.
The debate over fracking speaks to a core dilemma of contemporary life: we require energy to live with modern conveniences, but what degree of environmental degradation, health risks, and threats to our food supply are we willing to accept to obtain that energy? As these stories demonstrate, the stakes couldn’t be higher, and this is an issue that none of us can afford to ignore.
“In this cool, disarming and persuasive indictment of fracking’s widespread negative consequences, the authors provide an important addition to an ongoing debate.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“This pragmatic, cautionary analysis is recommended for general readers.”
“Here, woven among the courageous words of human witnesses, is the unimpeachable story of science carried out in extreme and intimidating circumstances. It is the sound of silence breaking.”
—Sandra Steingraber, from the Foreword
“A must-read primer on fracking—the compelling interviews and informative narrative tell the heartbreaking story of how people’s lives are destroyed by fracking. If you care about the food you eat or animal welfare issues—read this book!”
—Wenonah Hauter, Director of Food & Water Watch, author of Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America
“Sometimes, just when we think we know enough about a very important subject, a book comes along that shows us—in urgent, even chilling, terms—how much more we need to understand. The Real Cost of Fracking is such a book. It cracks open the reality of fracking and seats us across the kitchen table from real people who have been poisoned—and who, despite being American citizens and taxpayers, can’t do a thing about it. The farmers, retirees and children we meet in these pages are canaries in the fracking mine—and they are in serious danger.”
—Barbara Gottlieb, Director for Environment & Health, Physicians for Social Responsibility
“The Real Cost of Fracking adroitly documents the maladies that fracking inflicts on its neighbors and their animals, and Bamberger and Oswald convincingly connect these illnesses with current science and statistical studies. The authors provide a reasoned and impassioned call for government to stop toxic trespass by the fracking industry. The people will demand it after reading Real Cost.”
—Weston Wilson, environmental engineer and EPA whistle-blower
“Finally, here is the narrative that relays the tragic toll of the shale-gas boom in America; how ordinary people, who lovingly care for children and animals, gardens and farms, find themselves imprisoned by the toxicity of the fracked landscapes they once called home. Our hearts break for the ruin they shoulder while we applaud Bamberger and Oswald for drawing back the veil on the injustice being wrought.”
—Amy Seidl, author of Finding Higher Ground: Adaptation in the Age of Warming
About the Author
Michelle Bamberger is a veterinarian and the author of two books on first aid for cats and dogs.
Robert Oswald is a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell University and the recipient of Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships. They serve on the advisory board of Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy. Bamberger and Oswald live in Ithaca, New York.
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