Here’s a heretical thought in the wake of the (ongoing?) BP Deepwater Horizon mega-spill in the Gulf of Mexico:
Maybe the takeaway lesson isn’t that new drilling be limited to shallower, closer-to-land oil wells.
Rather, maybe the lesson is that society should be more ambitious, and instead aspire (if that’s the right word) to drill down all the way to the earth’s mantle, anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 feet below the earth’s surface (by comparison, the Deepwater Horizon well was about 6,000 feet deep).
Energy Policy Heresy
What’s down there?
Theoretically, enough energy to supply the world’s current energy needs for 211 million (!) years.
That’s what you get when you divide scientists’ estimate of the earth’s internal heat — 10-to-the-31st power joules — by total, worldwide energy consumption annually (474 exajoules).
“Well to hell,” indeed (the name given to the now-abandoned Kola superdeep borehole in Siberia, which reached a depth of more than 40,000 feet).
P.S.: I remember a college friend from Reno, Nevada, who cited the locals’ line, once upon a time, about living there: ‘Reno may not be hell, but it’s close enough you can see Sparks’ (Sparks was the neighboring town just to the East).
That thought inevitably occurred to anyone riding the NY City subways — as I did — earlier this Summer, when the temperature on the platforms (vs. the air-conditioned cars) approached something like 110 degrees.