Letters to the Editor

Environment: Let's harness geothermal energy

The other day I was talking to “old” (sorry about that Dee) Dee Hancock. He’s lived on this island so long that Father Time thinks he’s just part of the rock. Dee tells me that when he first came here, he and other jubilant souls used to ice skate on Dugualla Bay in the winter. Wow, ice skate Dugualla Bay in the winter? How long has it been since the ocean around here froze like that? Dee says it was 30 years ago. That’s only a speck on a geological calendar (OK, Dee, now you are young again). Could it be that we owe the fumbling Al Gore a second look from a larger perspective and different point of view?

If global warming is really a fact, then I guess we better decide if it really is serious? If so, how serious? What is its cause? What, if anything, can we do about it?

A couple of weeks ago the American Astronomical Society had a convention in Seattle. Barb and I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon and evening with the society’s vice president and his wife Elaine. Besides being my brother, Bob is a scientist for NASA and former director of the Space Telescope Institute (Hubble) during whose watch the crooked lens was fitted with new glass and produced fantastic information about the universe around us. (Wouldn’t it be nice if we could fix our crooked national ethics so easily?) Bob is reputed to have taken the world’s most expensive photograph, the Deep Space project, which was his own venture. Hopefully he knows what he is talking about.

Being a trucker and hardly endowed with scientific know how, it was important to ask some questions that puzzled me to which I got some surprising answers. I asked how, if the earth began as a cloud of dust that by its own gravitational forces caused it to congeal into a big glob spinning around in space that is so cold that scientists consider the temperature to be near absolute or “Kelvin” zero, that it hasn’t cooled down and become a chunk of frozen crud? Instead it has a hot molten core that periodically oozes or blasts to the surface with merely a thin, crinkled, and sometimes unstable crust we call Terra Firma. Bob says it is because the tremendous gravitational pressure under our feet is continually fuelling geothermal nuclear reactions that could go on indefinitely in terms of human time.

That’s interesting, especially since for the last 20 years or more, enormous amounts of geothermal heat energy out in Hawaii as well as at other locations on our planet has been thumping its way into and polluting our environment. I’ve never heard of that being mentioned as a cause factor for air pollution or global warming. Have you? Could it be?

Could this be an opportunity? What if we could harness that energy, reduce air pollution and global warming, and free ourselves from the oil cartel grip all at the same time. Got any thoughts?

Al and Barb Williams

Oak Harbor

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