It is true that hydraulic fracturing causes irreversible environmental damage. But also true that the damage is thousands of feet down, well below the water table. Gravel pits cause irreversible environmental damage blasting, digging, and moving rock, as do all open pit and underground mines. Beavers cause hard-to-reverse environmental damage when they fell trees and build small dams. Butterflies callously push air around, disrupting their local air ecosystems. And environmentalists cause environmental damage when they fly to conferences around the world, or just drive to downtown meetings or protests. Every act of creation causes “damage” in shifting around resources.
All such damage is irreversible in the sense that you can’t step into a stream in the same water twice. The world flows forward and though environmental changes can usually be restored they can’t be reversed. Each restoration project consumes additional resources. Ecosystems left alone after an intervention develop along a new path that is better or worse only in the eyes of outside observers.
The question to all these concerns should be: “how much damage, and to whom?” Damage to one ecosystem creates openings and opportunities for new adjusted ecosystems. Pinprick blasts deep underground move rock around, allowing oil and natural gas to flow. What’s left after is new and different, but not better or worse. Maybe tiny microbes are blasted, or maybe they move in and multiply after the blasts.
Maybe Mole Men will be awakened by the million hydraulic blasts…
Every fire since the dawn of time has caused irreversible environmental damage. Blame Prometheus.