“Gasland Part II” Screening This Weekend in East Hampton Brings Up a Tough Issue

America needs gas in order to function. Every country does. There is no viable way of producing a lot of energy for the world without some sort of environmental impact.

It’s a Catch-22 situation. We need gas in order to live modern and comfortable lives, but how we go about getting it can harm the environment dramatically. There is also, of course, an enormous amount of money at stake. So my eyebrow was raised when I heard that director Josh Fox, environmental reporter Karl Grossman, as well as movie star Alec Baldwin are all going to be hosting an event at Guild Hall for the screening of the documentary film, Gasland Part II, which  examines the method of extracting natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” one of the most controversial environmental issues facing our country today. The screening will take place on Friday at 8 p.m. in East Hampton.

Now besides the fact that a lot of people will probably go to this screening because Alec Baldwin is going to be there and it’s always exciting to be around him, the vibe will be, undoubtedly, that oil and natural gas and big corporate giants that produce them for consumption are in general, bad.

I can’t help but have an opinion on this issue, because I can’t not see the hypocrisy when it comes to energy.

Let me start off with this: I don’t like the fact that in order to create energy, the environment in some way has to be damaged. I think it’s awful. If I was a wizard and could change the laws of chemistry, I would make it so that the world could burn all of the fuel it’s ever wanted and there would be no consequences on the environment. Unfortunately, however, we just don’t live in that world.

Based on what I’ve read (and I’ve also watched the first Gasland) the movie that will be screened demonstrates how the stakes have been raised when it comes to fracking natural gas in the United States and debunks prevailing myths about fracking by arguing how and why fracked wells inevitably leak over time. The iconic image of running water from a faucet catching on fire is reprised, as director Fox shows how methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, contaminates the water and air, hurts families and endangers the Earth’s climate.

I don’t know about you, but I’m just getting kind of tired of pretending that we don’t need oil or gas in order to live. I dare you to live a week without using it. I dare you to try and live comfortably for even one day without using oil or gas or burning some kind of fuel. It’s simply impossible. Even cavemen burned firewood which produces loads of CO2. I dare you to go camping without building a fire or bringing batteries with you.

If the answer was solar or wind, I’d be in favor of it. But in my experience, I can’t even get a simple room light to work reliably using solar power. I once bought a solar powered fan for my sailboat in Sag Harbor and the damn thing was a joke, was made in China and was probably shipped over in a massive container run by a massive ship, then shipped via gasoline-powered truck to the store, which runs on electricity, where I purchased it and then drove to the boat, only for it to work for about five minutes. I recently threw it out where it now sits in a landfill. The fan was marketed as good for the environment. Even the good guys lie.

My point is, that there is no guilt-free answer to our CO2 problem, much like there is no guilt-free answer to anything in life. EVERYTHING produces some kind of waste. Can you imagine how much horse crap would be piled up somewhere if we all still traveled by horse and buggy today? It would be an environmental disaster.

It’s how you manage it that needs to be the focus, not a direct attack on the actual product that is producing the energy. I’m sorry, but in my opinion, discovering the ocean of natural gas in America is one of the best things that has ever happened to us recently. It provides jobs, energy that is domestic, energy that is cleaner than most and can help us get off of our reliance on foreign oil. Do I like the process of fracking? Of course I don’t. I don’t like that it uses so much water, or that chemicals are used in order to extract the gas from the ground, or even the giant companies who aggressively seem to do what they want. But I DO like natural gas, and there is not a single one of you out there reading this that hasn’t benefited from it in some way. So I guess what I’m saying is that yes, I am highly interested in this movie and yes, every effort that can be made should be made in order to make the process of obtaining natural gas from the ground safe and as environmentally friendly as possible, but I’m just not in favor of demonizing natural gas, or any other form of energy for that matter. Energy is freaking important, and in my experience, the guys who tell you that everybody needs to use less of it are the guys who use more energy in their personal lives than most people on the planet.

I’m in favor of using and extracting energy in ways that produce as little waste as possible. And I think that if anybody who is worried about the environment focused more on supporting ways to use machines and methods that are cleaner, versus trying to eradicate the use of the fuel completely, then more would get accomplished with energy issues.

Anyway, I still want to see this movie.

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