As "fracking," which is the term for drilling for natural gas from the ground, becomes more popular (as oil prices rise), we may see bare landscapes in this country. This process uses LOTS of water, which is becomes contaminated before it is disposed of. The vegetation in part of a national forest in Virginia quickly died after being sprayed with chemical-laced wastewater recovered from fracking. Two years after the water was sprayed on them, over half of the trees were dead.
In the July 12th edition of the New York Times, Mireya Navarro writes that "nearly all ground plants died. After a few days, tree leaves turned brown, wilted and dropped. 56% of about 150 trees eventually died." Disposing of this water is a major problem--if it's dangerous to vegetation, it's likely to be poured into lakes and rivers instead. Whether or not this will kill marine life the same way it kills trees is so far unknown.
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