Faith, ecology and Shell

News Commentary, By Danie Mouton

Karoo landscape
The Karoo: facing a potential major environmental threat

In recent weeks energy giant Shell has announced that it has plans to search for shale gas reserves in a vast area of the Karoo. A sizeable part of the Eastern Cape is included in the target area. The exploration clearly poses a potential serious threat to the environment, especially to limited water resources. Shell is downplaying the risks with assurances about its exploration process which is widely questioned by scientists.

Christians are becoming increasingly sensitive to environmental issues in the light of Biblical teaching. Since God is the Creator, and since we have been appointed to steward and care for the creation, and since we are taught to be concerned about the minutest details of creation, and since the whole of creation is waiting to be renewed by God (Romans 8), we as Christians, congregations and the church, cannot ignore the environment, which includes the arid Karoo.

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In preaching, and in fact in all aspects of church ministry, there is a need for eco-sensitive theological teaching to empower Christians to take a stand on environmental questions.

What is “fracking”?

The fracking process (short for hydraulic fracturing ) has already been in use in the United States for a number of years.

Take a look at this gripping video that highlights pollution and social consequences of fracking. It frequently leads to the pollution of drinking water because of the fact that underground water reserves are linked to each other. It has a destructive impact on the lives of people and animals and has poisoned agricultural products.

This article focuses on what is referred to as the Ground Zero of the fracking industry.

While the Karoo is under threat as a result of Shell’s exploration plans, Sasol is making plans to implement fracking in the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. This SA Petroleum Agency map shows the volume of applications for mining rights.

A new organisation, Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG), plans to oppose fracking. Visit their highly informative website at

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