Fidel Castro says world marching into abyss with shale gas

HAVANA Fri Jan 6, 2012 9:14am EST

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro speaks in Havana, September 28, 2010.  REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro speaks in Havana, September 28, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Desmond Boylan

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HAVANA (Reuters) - Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Thursday the world was on an "inexorable march toward the abyss," which he blamed in part on the discovery and exploitation of vast reserves of so-called "shale gas" around the world.

Shale gas is natural gas locked in rock formations that in the past decade has been found in great abundance around the world and is now considered a top source of future energy.

Castro, 85, wrote in one of his occasional columns published in Cuban state media that "numerous dangers threaten us, but two of them - nuclear war and climate change - are decisive and both are ever further from approaching a solution."

He said he had only recently heard about the shale gas phenomenon, which has created a drilling boom in some parts of the United States, and when he asked several acquaintances both inside and outside of Cuba about the topic, "none of them had heard a word about it."

Shale gas production is criticized in some quarters because it requires extensive "fracking," which uses water, sand and chemicals to fracture the rock where the gas is trapped to allow it to flow out of the well. Fracking, opponents say, contaminates groundwater sources and can cause other problems.

Castro sided with the critics, quoting reports on the negative effects of fracking and research that said shale gas emits more greenhouse gases than gas produced from conventional wells.

"It is sufficient to point out that among the numerous chemical substances injected with the water to extract this gas is found benzene and toluene, which are substances terribly carcinogenic," he wrote.

The information on shale gas was something "no political cadre or sensible person could ignore," he said.

Castro said he was so intent on getting the word out, he had "let the festive days of the old and new year pass by" working on his column.

The column was the first he had written since November 13 and followed an outburst of rumors on Twitter on Monday that Castro had died.

Castro death rumors break out occasionally and this time prompted a rebuke in a Cuban government website, which blamed the rumors on "necrophilia counter-revolutionaries."

After taking power in Cuba's 1959 revolution and transforming the country into a communist state, Castro ruled the island for 49 years before ill health and old age forced him to step aside four years ago.

He was succeeded as president by younger brother Raul Castro, 80.

(Reporting by Jeff Franks; Editing by Eric Beech)

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Comments (21)
MacCall wrote:
1 Castro is a miserable failure in his own country.
2 Castro had until recently never heard of shale gas.
3 None of Castro’s acquaintances in or outside Cuba had ever heard of it either.
4 Castro has thrown his country into the abyss.
5 Castro is now warning another country that ‘the world is marching into an abyss with shale gas.’

Take your time.

Jan 06, 2012 12:49am EST  --  Report as abuse
SvenBolin wrote:
I dont get it! Did you miss a no 6 or what?

Jan 06, 2012 7:27am EST  --  Report as abuse
gschroder wrote:
As a former Louisiana hazardous waste contractor, I must agree with Mr Castro that high volume hydrofracking (HVHF)in pursuit of natural gas or oil is the most dangerous industrial practice I know of. For example, in Pennsylvania alone between 2008 and 2010, HVHF contractors were served with over 1400 citations, stop work orders etc for water well, groundwater and stream contaminations, well explosions, well casing failures, highway spills, unauthorized releases of toxic and radioactive materials etc. This is public record. See the academy Award nominated film “Gasland” for a different perspective.

Jan 06, 2012 7:42am EST  --  Report as abuse
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