June 9th, 2010

goldenwolf

One Mile

One mile = 5,280'

One mile doesn't seem all that great of a distance. On Sunday czar_wolfhound and I walked one mile to our local Mexican restaurant for breakfast. It took about 20 minutes. Every night I walk almost that twice that distance when I take Mesa up on the mesa.

One mile in elevation isn't all that great either. Well, it might be to someone like albear who came from near sea level and wanted to run up the mesa in back of the house. He almost passed out from the lack of oxygen. The elevation somewhere up the path to the top of the mesa is 5,280'. Once you're used to the elevation, you just go about your normal life and don't even think about it.

One mile into the sky is also not that big of a deal. Thousands upon thousands of people board airplanes every day and fly at altitudes of 5-6 miles. You could not survive at that altitude, but traveling to those heights is routine.

What about one mile into the earth? Some of the deepest mines in South Africa are over 3 miles deep. Conditions may be harsh, but going one mile down is, once again, very plausible.

I make this post because it amazes me that to travel 1 mile under the ocean is almost like traveling to the Moon. The BP oil spill illustrates just how helpless we are to function just 1 mile under the sea. It seems like it would be easier for an astronaut on the International Space Station to put on a suit and float around in the vacuum of space than for a diver to put on a suit and close a valve (or put a cap) on the leaking well. So much of the Earth is covered in water, and so much of that area is completely off-limits to us humans.

Oh, and I wanted to make a comment on the BP well itself. Something that hasn't been mentioned because the whole thing has been such a tragedy, is that BP hit one hell of a good oil deposit! As a geologist I am amazed that they're getting 10,000+ bbl/day out of that thing! If BP hadn't fucked up so badly they could have had one awesome oil producer.