The issues around hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo may be local, but, in environmental terms, the entire Earth is our locale. The voices of reason want to confine the debate to the car you and I drive (reliant on oil), the implied need for SA to be "energy independent" (vis-a-vis that natural gas is our saviour) and that shale gas will warm the homes of the poor. Good points. The real issues, which if dealt with appropriately, will resolve the concerns of the voices of reason are clear.
First is water. To quote Pugh: "We can survive without gas; we cannot live without water." The death of Andries Tatane is not an isolated incident of police violence?it is a glaring example of the inevitable conflict that results from the environmental degradation of a person's environment.
Second is the matter of human rights. As the environmentalist and writer Wendell Berry said: "The movement to preserve the environment will be seen to be, as I think it has to be, not a digression from the civil rights and peace movements, but the logical culmination of those movements..."
And finally, it is about developing our renewable energy resources. There is no reason to prospect for shale gas in the Karoo. It will not provide us with cheaper energy?energy prices are set by the energy companies, not by the people who use it. Look at Australia.