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「開採頁岩油背後的危機」- Fracking explained: opportunity or danger


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What is hydraulic fracturing, or fracking? Since the industrial revolution, our energy consumption has risen unceasingly. The majority of this energy consumption is supplied by fossil fuels like coal or natural gas.
什麼是水力壓裂法,或是壓裂法?自工業革命以來,我們的能源消耗已不斷增加。這能源消耗量大部分是由像是煤或天然氣的化石燃料所供給。

Recently there has been a lot of talk about a controversial method of extracting natural gas: hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Put simply, fracking describes the recovery of natural gas from deep layers inside the earth. In this method, porous rock is fractured by the use of water, sand and chemicals in order to release the enclosed natural gas.
最近有諸多討論關於抽取天然氣的爭議手法:水力壓裂法或是壓裂法。簡單來說,壓裂法描述了從地底深層天然氣的抽取。在此方法中,多孔岩透過水、砂和化學藥劑的使用而破裂,以能釋放密封其中的天然氣。

The technique of fracking has been known since the 1940s. Nonetheless, only in the last 10 years has there been quite a "fracking boom," especially in the USA.
壓裂法的技術自1940年代起便為人所知。儘管如此,只有在過去十年才有真正的「壓裂法風潮」,特別是在美國。

This is because most conventional natural gas sources in America and on the European continent have been exhausted. Thus prices for natural gas and other fuels are rising steadily. Significantly more complicated and expensive methods, like fracking, have now become attractive and profitable.
這是因為在美國以及歐洲大陸大部分傳統的天然氣來源已經被消耗殆盡。因此天然氣和其他燃料的價格在穩定上漲。更加複雜及昂貴的方法,像是壓裂法,現在已變得吸引人且有賺頭。

In the meantime, fracking has already been used more than a million times in the USA alone. Over 60 percent of all new oil and gas wells are drilled by using fracking.
同時,壓裂法單單在美國就已被使用超過一百萬次。超過百分之六十的所有新油井和天然氣井都是利用壓裂法鑽鑿。

Now, let's take a look at how fracking actually works. First, a shaft is drilled several hundred meters into the earth. From there, a horizontal hole is drilled into the gas-bearing layer of rock. Next, the fracking fluid is pumped into the ground using high-performance pumps.
現在,來看看壓裂法實際是怎麼運作。首先,一座豎井鑽入地下數百公尺。從那裡,一條水平的洞鑽進含有天然氣的岩層。接下來,壓裂液用高效能幫浦灌入地下。

On average, the fluid consists of eight million liters of water, which amounts to about the daily consumption of 65,000 people, plus several thousand tons of sand and about 200,000 liters of chemicals.
通常,壓裂液含有八百萬公升的水,相當於大約六萬五千人一天的消耗量,加上數千噸的沙礫和大約二十萬公升的化學藥劑。

The mixture penetrates into the rock layer and produces innumerable tiny cracks. The sand prevents the cracks from closing again. The chemicals perform various tasks. Among other things, they compress the water, kill off bacteria or dissolve minerals.
混和物滲穿透進入岩層並產出數不清的小裂痕。沙礫避免裂痕再次閉合。化學藥劑進行不同的工作。除了那些以外,它們壓縮水、大量消滅細菌或是分解礦物。

Next, the majority of the fracking fluid is pumped out again. And now the natural gas can be recovered. As soon as the gas source is exhausted, the drill hole is sealed. As a rule, the fracking fluid is pumped back into deep underground layers and sealed in there.
接下來,大部分的壓裂液被再次抽取出來。現在天然氣可以重新填滿。一旦天然氣來源消耗殆盡,鑽孔就會被封起來。一般來說,壓裂液會被灌回地底深層,並被密封在那。

However, fracking is also associated with several considerable risks. The primary risk consists in the contamination of drinking water sources. Fracking not only consumes large quantities of fresh water, but in addition the water is subsequently contaminated and is highly toxic. The contamination is so severe that the water cannot even be cleaned in the treatment plant.
然而,壓裂法同樣也與數個可觀的風險相關。主要的風險在於飲用水源的汙染。壓裂法不只耗費大量的淡水,而且這水隨後還受到污染且具高度毒性。污染如此嚴重以至於那水甚至無法在污水處理廠被淨化。

Even though the danger is known and theoretically could be managed, in the USA already, sources have been contaminated due to negligence. No one yet knows how the enclosed water will behave in the future, since there have not yet been any long-term studies on the subject.
雖然那危險已為人所知,且理論上可以被管控,但在美國,水源已經因為疏忽而被污染了。還沒有人知道被密封起來的水在未來會怎麼起作用,因為在這議題上還沒有任何長期的研究。

The chemicals used in fracking vary from the hazardous to the extremely toxic and carcinogenic, such as benzol or formic acid. The companies using fracking say nothing about the precise composition of the chemical mixture, but it is known that there are about seven hundred different chemical agents which can be used in the process.
在壓裂法中使用的化學成分有所不同,從具危險性到具有極度毒性及可能致癌的,像是不純苯或是甲酸。使用壓裂法的公司對於這化學混和物的確切組成隻字不提,但已知有大約七百種可以被用在處理過程中的不同化學劑。

Another risk is the release of greenhouse gases. The natural gas recovered by fracking consists largely of methane, a greenhouse gas which is twenty-five times more potent than carbon dioxide. Natural gas is less harmful than coal when burned.
另一個風險是溫室氣體的釋放。透過壓裂法抽取得的天然氣大部分由甲烷組成,甲烷是一種比二氧化碳強上二十五倍的溫室氣體。天然氣在燃燒時比煤較不具傷害。

But nonetheless, the negative effects of fracking on the climate balance are overall greater. Firstly, the fracking process requires a very large consumption of energy. Secondly, the drill holes are quickly exhausted, and it's necessary to drill fracking holes much more frequently than for classical natural gas wells.
但仍然,壓裂法對氣候平衡的負面效應是全面加劇的。首先,壓裂的過程需要非常大量的能源消耗。第二,鑽孔很快地消耗殆盡,且比起傳統的天然氣井還需要更頻繁地鑽鑿壓裂孔洞。

In addition, about three percent of the recovered gas is lost in the extraction and escapes into the atmosphere. So how is fracking and its expected benefits to be assessed when the advantages are balanced against the disadvantages?
此外,大約百分之三抽取的天然氣在抽取中流失,並散漏到大氣中。所以當益處和壞處取得平衡時,要怎麼評估壓裂法及其預期利益呢?

When properly employed, this technique offers one way in the short to medium term to meet our demand for lower-cost energy, but the long-term consequences of fracking are unforeseeable, and the risk to our drinking water thus should not be underestimated.
當適當地運用時,這個技術在短期到中期之間提供一種方式來滿足我們對低成本能源的需求,但壓裂法的長期後果是無法預見的,且對我們飲用水的風險因此應該不能被低估。

  • 「真正的、了不起的」- Quite A Something

    Nonetheless, only in the last 10 years has there been quite a "fracking boom," especially in the USA.
    儘管如此,只有在過去十年才有真正的「壓裂法風潮」,特別是在美國。

  • 「相當於、總計為」- Amount To

    On average, the fluid consists of eight million liters of water, which amounts to about the daily consumption of 65,000 people...
    通常,壓裂液含有八百萬公升的水,相當於大約六萬五千人一天的消耗量...

  • 「大量消滅、滅絕」- Kill Off

    The chemicals perform various tasks. Among other things, they compress the water, kill off bacteria or dissolve minerals.
    化學藥劑進行不同的工作。除了那些以外,它們壓縮水、大量消滅細菌或是分解礦物。

  • 「一般來說、通常」- As A Rule

    As a rule, the fracking fluid is pumped back into deep underground layers and sealed in there.
    一般來說,壓裂液會被灌回地底深層,並被密封在那。

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