In the event of a cataclysm, when a comet or asteroid strike happens on Earth again, society would essentially be reset. Thousands of years of human advancement erased. Gone. This of course depends on how bad the impact is . But when planning for something cosmic it would be best to plan for the worst case scenario. In the worst case scenario we ensure humanity has a population established elsewhere to re-start civilization again should we need to. Second to worst case scenario would be a few hundred thousand (to a few million) people survive such an impact and they would have to survive the worst environmental conditions on Earth in order build society back up again. Geothermal energy can play an important role and might even save us. Lets start at the beginning to understand the context of the situation and then talk about how geothermal can play a key role.
Earth being impacted again is a very real scenario that shouldn’t be dismissed. Earth passes through the Taurid meteor stream twice a year and as of right now we’re basically “cross our fingers” and hope we don’t get hit again. That’s what we’ve always done as far as we know. We’ve been lucky for at least a few thousand years. But we also know that Earth has been impacted by asteroids and comets repeatedly in human history and civilization has been reset multiple times. We’ve also discovered, only recently, that there are numerous asteroids that pass by Earth quite often and some of them are huge.
Many great thinkers of society have said its not a matter of “if” but “when” Earth is impacted again and we have no idea how bad its going to be when it does. Its been rather uneventful (cosmically) here on Earth but something will happen again whether its tomorrow or fifty years from now. Coincidentally, as I write this, a green comet is passing by Earth that hasn’t been around in over 50,000 years. This is just one of millions of objects in space that pass through our solar system. Whether its a comet or asteroid this is the reality we live in and all life on this planet is incredibly lucky.
I know there are engineers and scientists doing everything they can and dedicating their lives to making sure that we can either defend ourselves against coming asteroids and/or giving humanity a chance to reboot by placing some of us on another planet (like Mars) in the near future. These are backup plans to hedge our best bets on ensuring humanity survives in the future. We do need more people dedicating their work to such causes. What is more honorable than ensuring the betterment of humanity and the survival of humanity? What if we could do that and solve the energy issue we’re in?
How Geothermal Energy Can Ensure Human Survival
There is no guarantee that we can survive the way have multiple times before when there’s a cosmic impact again. Having on off-Earth base is a must and is being worked on. Which is quite possibly, one of humanity’s biggest achievements. But what other backups can we do to increase our odds? We can start with using what has already worked in the past and throw in some modern engineering for good measure. We survived underground before and this is where geothermal energy comes in. Here’s why. I’ll use a theoretical situation to explain.
If we have an impact similar to what happened around 11,000 years ago say next week and only a few hundred thousand people around Earth survived, they would have to endure an impact winter. Extremely cold temperatures with no sunlight for years.
But during the impact we have heat, high winds and tsunamis all of which don’t leave much behind. Wind, hydro, nuclear, solar and fossil fuels would all be mostly useless. Nuclear would make the situation way worse for surrounding areas and contaminate anything that would be of use. Wind and hydro? Exposure to the elements would destroy these as they are too fragile to last in those situations. Solar power? There’s no sunlight to harvest when the sky is blanketed with ash for years. But what about fossil fuels? They have to be mined, existing fuels would burn up and burning any fuels that remain would worsen already poor air quality. So all major power sources would be wiped off the surface or too dangerous to keep around in such an event. So what are our options at this point? We’ll if we can figure out nuclear fusion and house that within the Earth, that might give us a shot. But nuclear fusion is still a long way off for now. This is where I think geothermal energy has the potential to do something great.
Geothermal energy doesn’t need the sun like solar does. Geothermal energy doesn’t need wind. It doesn’t require the backup flow of a dam. And geothermal doesn’t require the constant mining/producing/refining of materials like nuclear power and fossil fuels do. Nor does it have radioactive waste to dispose of. So that’s a plus.
Geothermal energy can also be utilitarian in a variety of ways. It provides warmth and can create electricity. From those two things we can grow food and create artificial environments to survive in. Providing ways to create full spectrum light, natural water filtration and seed storage would be the key things to get us off to a really good start and even making a fast comeback.
Geothermal Energy should be as common as finding a gas station… or supercharger.Jacob Haust
If we make geothermal energy more widespread globally, like easier than finding a gas station, it would improve the chances of humanity surviving and even thriving. It was access to geothermal energy that enable the Vikings who made their way to Iceland to survive one of the harshest areas on the planet. This is a place where its gets -40 degrees with 32-112 kph winds (20-70 mph winds). Now imagine surviving your entire life in that climate with furs and skins for clothing living in handmade dwellings made of stone, earth and wood. Most everyone would not survive those conditions. But one of the main things that enabled the Vikings to survive such conditions was natural geothermal heat and energy on the surface. People could have done the same thing in Antarctica… but the problem is there’s no easily accessible geothermal energy there on the surface.
Now imagine the world population reset down to a few hundred thousand (a few million if we’re lucky) from an asteroid impact, the Earth’s poles suddenly shifting or a super volcano eruption. In every single one of those scenarios the Earth goes back into an ice age as the temperature begins to rapidly cool. Super volcanoes throw ash and sulfur into the air blanketing the skies. Asteroid impacts after setting the world on fire begin to rapidly cool the Earth when ash is thrown into the atmosphere. The poles shifting/flipping rapidly would have an affect on the northern and southern hemispheres in ways we don’t fully understand that could create massive blankets of ice. Its believed this is what could have happened during the “Laschamps Excursion” around 42,000 years ago when the poles flipped last.
The way humanity has survived in the past from such events was to hide inside the Earth in caves. We have physical evidence of this all around the planet. We basically went into caves and did the best we could. Tried to stay warm, tried to make and cook food from what we could find. Now when humanity most likely will have to do that again at some point, what if we had the knowledge of harnessing geothermal power on our side? Understandably most geothermal facilities on the surface of the Earth would not survive such events. But if they were housed underground they could survive the same as we have. With vents (of some kind) to the surface this would solve the CO2 venting issue while also creating markers for people traveling on the surface to know where they could find geothermal shelter. Like seeing a gas station sign or charging sign and know that you could find the energy you need there. The Vikings actually did something similar thousands and made stone piles called “cairns” to mark safe passage to guide in a dangerous landscape. Geothermal energy facilities can also be spotted very far away, especially in the cold, where steam rises high into the air. So they kind of perform the same purpose.
Geothermal Giving Us Our Best Chances
Setting some of our species off Earth as a backup plan and for exploration (like Elon is doing with Mars) is going to be one of our best chances when a cosmic event happens. In the same way, we should be looking toward the Earth as we did in the past but with a new perspective and utilizing geothermal power. With geothermal power we have proven we can survive the harshest conditions on the surface of the Earth… I think we could do the same while utilizing the shelter inside the Earth to survive cosmic events.
Some of humanity survives above (off planet), some of humanity survives below (on planet). That’s 2 backup plans for the human species giving us the best chances we can think of.
With geothermal energy (for survivors that have access to it) they might have to re-tap a blocked well or do some kind of repairs if the facility is either damaged or breaks down. If we have many facilities and one is broken, then finding one that can be repaired or is in working condition increases survival chances. So if we keep all equipment at each facility required to do repairs, like making a universal standard geothermal repair kit, it shouldn’t be too difficult for survivors to figure out. All the hard work has already been done. It would be the difference of repairing a motor versus building a car. Lets say the turbines are damaged and there are no working ones. Without any turbines, at the very least they would have warmth. This is unlike all other energy sources that use turbines to make electricity.
Then there’s the best case scenario, we have multiple (hundreds if not thousands) of underground geothermal facilities that remain intact and operating after an impact. Some portions of humanity around the world would have geothermal heat, power, shelter and a way to grow food. Three of which are cornerstones for human survival. No other energy source is capable of this.
If we tap into the power we have beneath our feet not only would this help solve the huge problem we are having right now regarding clean energy it could help solve an even bigger problem when it eventually happens.
At the very least geothermal energy could help ensure humanity survives the cold during a cosmic event and help solve our energy issues currently. We could also push it further and make ways for geothermal energy to solve our energy issues we are currently having and help restart society faster by providing them electricity, shelter and ways to make food. Either way, it seems geothermal energy is something we should research and develop more seriously and at scale.
Geothermal power has the potential to be our best fallback option to ensure survival here on Earth and make the fastest comeback possible. If we start focusing more attention on building geothermal energy facilities now, we can solve our energy problems both today and in the future.
I am open to seeing something, anything, that I may have missed here in regards to geothermal being a backup power source after a cosmic event. It seems that our greatest challenge would be keeping the geothermal bore holes open, assuming we have survivors, since the Earth’s energy core isn’t going anywhere. There are engineers out there that probably understand this way better. If you know any geothermal engineers please share this with them to open a global discussion. If there is any possibility this could work, its worth exploring.