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Nasa’s ambitious plan to save Earth from a supervolcano (bbc.com)
182 points by jostmey on Oct 31, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments

I like the idea but a $0.10/kWh marginal cost is not the same as $0.10/kWh electricity.

If they plan on extracting 6GW they'll need to put it somewhere, what's a people hub near Yellowstone? ...

So they'll have to build out high capacity transmission lines which have associated costs for leases, construction, and maintenance.

Then finally you get into the real kicker: cost of transmission. If only 5% of your transmitted energy actually makes it to your buyer, without congestion, you're spending $0.10 / kWh but your buyer is paying $2.00 / kWh where the difference all goes to line losses.

Maybe building data centers nearby is a good way to mitigate the infrastructure problem.

Edit: I also forgot to mention the time value of energy infrastructure. What is the expected time horizon to break even at target rates of return? How do those returns compare to other forms of capital investment? What's the risk profile look like for power producers that require heavy upfront investment? (hint: not good)

Edit: Okay, the 5% figure was out of bounds, more realistic is 97% with proper build-out.

> If they plan on extracting 6GW they'll need to put it somewhere, what's a people hub near Yellowstone? ...

You can put it into aluminum production, for example, though at $0.10/kWh it's going to be an unprofitable business.

> If only 5% of your transmitted energy actually makes it to your buyer, without congestion, you're spending $0.10 / kWh but your buyer is paying $2.00 / kWh where the difference all goes to line losses.

You might get 95% loss if you wrapped your line around the globe, but for practical length of 1000 km, you can get as little as 3% with high voltage DC. Check out the Pacific DC Intertie, which is 50 years old instalation with over 800 miles of conductor spanning from Columbia River to Los Angeles.

Presumably any process that can use the heat directly rather than converting to electricity would be more cost-effective, as you lose most of the energy in that conversion.

I assume 350C isn't hot enough for aluminum which melts around 660C, but maybe there are other industrial processes that could take advantage of the heat. Maybe using the heat to kiln-dry wood or cure autoclaved aerated concrete blocks or something like that.

In aluminum production, the electricity is used for electrolytic reduction, not melting. It's the waste heat from that which keeps the cell hot enough.

> Presumably any process that can use the heat directly rather than converting to electricity would be more cost-effective, as you lose most of the energy in that conversion.

All practical electricity generation technologies do it through heating water just the same, and they produce hot water as a waste product too. So, if your industrial process can use heat directly, it might as well use waste heat from existing power plants.

And some places this is how entire cities are heated...

Well, usually they run out of excess heating in the winter.

Perhaps, Yellowstone and Iceland ought to have some heavy industry.

Iceland has some large aluminum smelters and aluminum is 40% of their export income[1]. They do heat their homes with geothermal. It's basically free and when I was there the lowest setting for the heat in my apartment was 22.4C (72F).


Interesting link. 800,000 mtpy is a lot of aluminium. While the ‘zero environmental imapct’ claim is controversial, the environment impact is definitely lower than many other producers.

> Presumably any process that can use the heat directly

Maybe build a massive seawater pipeline and create desalination plants that can then be redirected to California/Nevada

Bitcoin mining needs 2-4 cents, 10 cents remote seems tough, what value do we assign to saving all humanity?

If only 5% of your transmitted energy actually makes it to your buyer..

Isn't the typical transmission and distribution loss around 8% in the US? Why would it be 95%?

> Maybe building data centers nearby is a good way to mitigate the infrastructure problem.

Haha, I'm picturing the pitch on their risk profile. "Yes, it's built on top of an active volcano. But hey, if it goes off, the entire american economy and a large part of the internet will be gutted. So it's unlikely to be your highest concern."

That's actually a pretty nifty risk assessment. Your datacenter is toast if the supervolcano erupts. But if the supervolcano erupts, the bulk of the human race will starve to death in 74 days. So there's very little actual risk to your company from building nearby. You're dead, literally, regardless.

Assessing such a project would probably drive an actuary insane.

what are the chances of smaller, non death of all mankind leaks that would damage the data center? likely higher than elsewhere, no? so that wouldn't an be amazing risk profile

You wouldn't build a datacenter directly on top of the supervolcano. It's in a national park, after all. Any sort of relatively minor incidents from the geothermal plant wouldn't affect datacenters located outside the park (and they could be a few hundred miles away, if need be). The degree of devastation from an eruption would be so great that the normal risks associated with "hey, build sort of near a volcano" don't really apply in the traditional sense.

> what are the chances of smaller, non death of all mankind leaks that would damage the data center?

I think it depends on the type of volcano. There's some volcanoes that only go boom, and some that only go ooze, and some that are in the middle. And, IIRC, yellowstone is one that's big-boom or nuthin'. But it's been a while since sophomore geology class.

My understanding is that getting a minor eruption from Yellowstone is kind of like trying to poke just a small hole in an inflated balloon. With the pressure down there, a leak of any size is going to expand catastrophically.

If you poke the hole in the correct place, the balloon does not pop. To be specific, that place is in the neck of the balloon, where the skin is thickest after being inflated. Alternately, stick a piece of tape over the balloon, and poke a hole through that. Or pinch the balloon at the antipode from the neck, poke a hollow needle through the fold, and leave the needle in place.

There is always a way to bleed off pressure relatively safely. There is not always a way to do it without bankrupting your entire economy. I don't even know how those balloon solutions translate to geology, but they feel like they could be expensive--from tens of billions to trillions of dollars.

One way or another, Warren Buffett will figure out a way to sell insurance that covers the actual data center. You'd definitely want to be setup with multi-availability zones just in case it does go.

One on each side of the volcano why not :)

I'm under the impression that a yellowstone eruption would devestate the whole world's economy due to the release of particulates into the atmosphere & associated global cooling

Yes, devastate the economy. As in, no crops could be grown for multiple years.

Where did you get the idea that there would be a 95% energy loss rate? In general it never goes above 8-9%.

High voltage + low amperage = high energy transfer efficiency.

Maybe Yellowstone could become a large crypto miner :)

I like this idea a lot

It is worth noting that the market price of fossil-fuel energy is a bad comparison because it does not include all costs associated with it, such as pollution, workplace deaths and war.

According to Wikipedia, PV cells are 0.23/kWh.(1)


Good spot for the new Amazon HQ.

> Maybe building data centers nearby

Now THAT is interesting! Google is tying up hydroelectric dams with their centers currently, it seems quite feasible that massive geothermal energy could be put to work the same way. Deep-learning applications are seriously energy-hungry and they're going to need exponentially more in the future.

> Deep-learning applications are seriously energy-hungry and they're going to need exponentially more in the future.

So instead of eradicating humanity by erupting, Yellowstone will eradicate humanity by powering Skynet.

And I look in vain through the article, trying to find any quotes from someone identified as a geologist. (Brian Wilcox, of course, is an electrical engineer and roboticist.). This article may be better than the original link, but it's still fear-mongering with breathless appeals to the geological and ecological expertise of a guy who designs robots.


Erik Klemetti, an assistant professor of Geosciences at Denison University, wrote a response in Discover Magazine after news outlets reported about the NASA project in August. His article discusses the notion of an overdue Yellowstone eruption, the context for the NASA exercise, and the state of existing technology. Klemetti concludes, "It is a fun science fiction short story...but it isn’t any sort of real plan to save the planet from Yellowstone." http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/rockyplanet/2017/08/31/225...

As an aside, I hold a Master's in Geoscience with an emphasis in hydrogeology, and have studied the Yellowstone geothermal system since about 2000. The NASA thought exercise is certainly worth considering in the very long term, and we should aspire to advance technology and our understanding of the associated environmental systems to afford it.

However, more immediately, there has been immense political pressure to allow geothermal energy exploitation outside the national park -- with unknown and poorly understood consequences for the geysers and thermal system inside the park. In 1994, a law that would cease any nearby geothermal drilling if Old Faithful Geyser was disrupted failed to pass in Congress. I worry that this type of article, the original post, is being floated to promote that drilling agenda: a near-term excuse for private industry gains under the guise of saving humanity and at the expense of one of the world's most fantastic landscapes.

Erik's argument seems to be:

- It's not erupting within our lifetimes

- If it were showing signs of actively erupting soon, it would take infeasible amounts of drilling and cooling to prevent

- Therefore, we should make contingency plans for an eruption but no plans to prevent.

This sounds like sheer madness to me. The problem of cooling down Yellowstone is much easier if you spread the task over a few thousand years rather than postpone it until an eruption is imminent. Yet he doesn't even consider such an option, despite the clear upside of thousands of years of extracted geothermal energy.

I found the argument reasonable. My summary of this article would more read: it would be hugely super expensive to explore this plan, there are many unknown assumptions, at this point the technology is not sufficient due to the depth of the magma and quantity of water required, and VEI8 explosions actually don't typically lead to mass extinction anyways. I personally give more weight to opinions from those with stronger backgrounds in geology.

Things I would add: Yellowstone is in an extremely rural area, so transmission costs and infrastructure would have to be considered in any geothermal project.

Yellowstone the park attracts four million people a year now, making up a significant portion of Wyoming's GDP, and geysers are a big reason for this; mucking with this ecosystem should be done cautiously.

Aside from aesthetics, there are some potentially very valuable insights on life and science that are perhaps possible within a protected geyser ecosystem. To give an example, this thermophilic bacteria's enzyme plays a very important role in PCR DNA amplification, and it was discovered in Yellowstone's Lower Geyser Basin -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermus_aquaticus

The other thing I see is that there are many other volcanic systems out there. So as far as the risk of a supervolcano explosion is concerned, I'm not sure how much reducing one potential VEI8 explosive zone matters from a humanity risk perspective. Taupo actually has had 3 VEI8s in 1 million years compared to just 1 in Yellowstone. The worst VEI8 explosion in the last million years (as far as ejecta) was not Yellowstone, but Lake Toba. Other than Taupo and Yellowstone, most of the other VEI8 explosions seem to be at pretty random locations, so it seems like mitigating all supervolcano risk from drilling projects would be difficult.

One can argue that doing something is better than nothing, but the cost / benefit ratio might be quite a lot better with things explained in the article like seed banks (which would protect from multiple disaster types occurring in any location, not just one volcanic one).

The geologists are aware of the potential risks and the magnitude of the damage potentially induced.

The madness is making unnecesessary world-affecting damage.

Yea, this seems like poor planning. If you want to be able to survive a super volcano then leave the area hand have ~10 years food supply for humanity would be plenty. Remember, in the past they don't cause mass extinctions. So, both plant and animal species tend to survive it.

> have ~10 years food supply for humanity would be plenty

I think we (humanity) are sitting at a couple months now, on average. So... room for improvement!

Fear has already been extensively mongered if one looks at the literature. Justifably, it appears. For instance, Biogeosciences, 10, 669–687, 2013 "Impact of an extremely large magnitude volcanic eruption on the global climate and carbon cycle estimated from ensemble Earth System Model simulations" J. Segschneider et al.

I recently visited Iceland. We toured the Krafala area: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krafla

There were numerous signs about the "Krafla fires" in the late 70's & early 80's. http://earthice.hi.is/krafla_fires

The signs in the region very clearly express a possible linkage with early geothermal energy drilling. I want to be gentle with my wording- because I don't recall it exactly, but the writers had little doubt that there was a link between some of boring that was happening the week the eruptions started.

It's been interesting to return home & do google searching on the topic. I can't seem to find any references that authoritatively link the eruptions with the geothermal activity- but it seems like an anecdote worth looking into.

The BBC article linked in an earlier comment has this:

“The most important thing with this is to do no harm,” Wilcox says. “If you drill into the top of the magma chamber and try and cool it from there, this would be very risky. This could make the cap over the magma chamber more brittle and prone to fracture. And you might trigger the release of harmful volatile gases in the magma at the top of the chamber which would otherwise not be released.”

Instead, the idea is to drill in from the supervolcano from the lower sides, starting outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park, and extracting the heat from the underside of the magma chamber. “This way you’re preventing the heat coming up from below from ever reaching the top of the chamber which is where the real threat arises,” Wilcox says.

When you inject cold water into hot brittle rock, fracturing can occur.

You'll notice western Oklahoma is now replete with earthquakes, when they were never there before. From fracturing.

I liken this idea to defusing a bomb with a circular saw- sure, you might chip away at the explosives, reducing the yield when it goes off, but you also might short the detonator out and trigger an eruption.

Luckily, looks like the economics of this are prohibitive and likely to stay that way.

The earthquakes in OK aren’t a direct result of fracing. With a few rare exceptions, oil & gas fracs are accomplished through hydraulic force rather than thermal effects. The induced seismicity in OK is a product of water disposal wells which can raise pore pressure causing faults to slip. The microseismic events that occur during the actual fracing process can only be measured with highly sensitive geophones.

In the BBC article, they talk about tunneling under the magma pocket and cooling it from the underside, which is supposedly a lot less risky.

You're two analogies are fracking and a circular saw to a bomb. Is there really any justification for the comparison?

I highly recommend you read the book Super Freakonomics.

The section of the book about an incubator (the name escapes me) in the US that's coming up with a suite of brilliant, non-intuitive ways to tackle greenhouse gasses and produce green energy (such as the one shown here) are fascinating.

Wouldn't it be better to dig it out? Yes, digging out a volcano from a mountain! A mammoth task and a boring one at that. But considering the destructiveness, heat would be released more quickly through less compressed rocks. It doesn't have to be all the way down to magma.

Drilling down and injecting water may cause quake issues and make it more likely to erupt as I'm not sure if they can see if superheated water will seep to the side of the drilled hole(s)?

I like the idea of tapping into potential disaster for energy. Next topics:

- lightning

- quakes

- tsunamis / tide

- avalanches

- American presidency

- Putin

- North Korea

Potentially endless sources of disaster energy

That's emotional energy, hard to store safely at room temperaturz

Sounds a lot like destroy the ecosystem for short-term gains to me. The geothermal features were exploited early on in the history of Yellowstone and that exploitation resulted in impacts to the geyser basins that can still be seen today. Why we as humans seem to think that life can't possibly continue without us has always boggled my mind.

Edit: Here is some backup to my claim about messing with the geysers: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/yellowstone-geysers-tr...

2nd Edit: Here is an article about tapping into the geothermal waters around Yellowstone. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/17/us/feud-over-geothermal-wa...

Terrestrial life can't possibly continue without us is the only logical conclusion I can come to, knowing what we know.

A super-volcano won't end life on Earth, but unless some other life-form evolves which can carry life to another planet, we are the only guarantee that life can continue beyond whatever timeline the solar/galactic system has in store for us... which we know definitely means our star exterminates all life on this planet at some point in the future.

Honestly, I don't see we can see ourselves as anything but Life's only hope of continuing.

Sure, we're doing a shitty job right now, we should do better, but honestly, if we fuck up, life will find a way too... that super-volcano is going to erupt and destroy way more species and ecosystem than a couple holes and geothermal plants will. If we can help delay/prevent that, I think it'll be a step toward making up for at least some of the damage we've done.

I have to agree with you on the point that life will find a way regardless of our meddling or not. However, I feel like the Yellowstone super volcano bogeyman is not worth the effort. It is like worrying about an asteroid hitting the planet, there is nothing we can do about it so why worry?

> It is like worrying about an asteroid hitting the planet, there is nothing we can do about it so why worry?

It is very much like an asteroid in that there are lots of things we can do.

Excerpt from the article:

“When people first considered the idea of defending the Earth from an asteroid impact, they reacted in a similar way to the supervolcano threat,” Wilcox says. “People thought, ‘As puny as we are, how can humans possibly prevent an asteroid from hitting the Earth.’ Well, it turns out if you engineer something which pushes very slightly for a very long time, you can make the asteroid miss the Earth. So the problem turns out to be easier than people think. In both cases it requires the scientific community to invest brain power and you have to start early. But Yellowstone explodes roughly every 600,000 years, and it is about 600,000 years since it last exploded, which should cause us to sit up and take notice.”

I would say that we can do something about it... we can hedge our bets and we can be smarter about how we direct our efforts in the time we have.

I have recently started to evangelize panbioticism and project which seek to seed the solar system/galaxy with terrestrial life.

Even if humans can't become self-sustaining outside of Earth before we get wiped out by something, I believe that we can give our genetic family a chance by sending out clusters of small probes of primitive AI and primitive organisms which can maybe evolve elsewhere. Also by storing a vault of our knowledge and storage for embryos for ourselves and as many diverse species as possible. We could build that and land it on a moon outside of the radius of an expanded sun with a beacon to help it be found.

Any of these things is absolutely feasible and would give life a better shot in the future. Here is Dr. Michael Mautners website for the Society for Life in Space (SOLIS)


I'm already with you. I think the initial effort lies with exploiting extremophile bacteria and encysting or spore-forming organisms, though. Not to say that a K-strategy solution won't work eventually, but right now, r-strategy seems best. Get as many Earth-origin organisms to as many different celestial bodies as possible, and hope that 0.0001% of them land in a good spot.

I like that idea, seed the universe.

We may not be able to save humanity, but we will give life a fighting chance.

The volcano erupts every 600,000 years or so. It has been 600,000 years or so since the last eruption. I don't think there's any evidence that it will happen in our lifetime, but it is due to happen soon on the geological timescale

I live near a few volcanoes on the Pacific rim and I have visited a few more. I’m yet to visit any that aren’t classed as overdue for an eruption. The continual stating of ‘disaster is around the corner’ immunises rather than galvanises most people.

Every 600,000 years on average. Might be 300,000 years and then 900,000 years. We are talking about big and unpredictable timescales, after all.

Good point, it's potentially extremely overdue, making it a greater cause for worry.

there is nothing we can do about it so why worry?

Well, we could run a geothermal plant to cool it down and prevent eruption...

I don't think that it would. How much energy would we have to extract to make sure it is not a threat? The article states that 6GW of heat is already leaking from Yellowstone. How much impact can we really have pulling another 6GW? The article may be to brief and I need to do more research into the topic but is there some amount of energy that must be extracted to put the chance of an explosion into an acceptable range?

From the original BBC article:

> Yellowstone currently leaks about 60-70% of the heat coming up from below into the atmosphere, via water which seeps into the magma chamber through cracks. The remainder builds up inside the magma, enabling it to dissolve more and more volatile gases and surrounding rocks. Once this heat reaches a certain threshold, then an explosive eruption is inevitable.

> But if more of the heat could be extracted, then the supervolcano would never erupt. Nasa estimates that if a 35% increase in heat transfer could be achieved from its magma chamber, Yellowstone would no longer pose a threat. The only question is how?

So, two or three GW of heat loss should be sufficient to keep the magma chamber from heating any further if NASA's estimates are accurate.

Nasa estimates that if a 35% increase in heat transfer could be achieved from its magma chamber, Yellowstone would no longer pose a threat. The only question is how?

As the other replies to this comment state, these things were very clearly stated in the article itself. On what basis do you disagree with the assessments there? What value is there in stating your disagreement without addressing the contradiction with the article, or presenting any evidence?

The linked article doesn't say anything about messing with the geysers. As far as I can see, it's talking about drilling separate shafts down into the Earth and harvesting heat energy via pumped water.

> Why we as humans seem to think that life can't possibly continue without us has always boggled my mind.

I'm not sure what you're getting at with this comment. Care to clarify? If you're suggesting that any attempts to prevent an eruption would be too disruptive to the ecosystem, imagine how disruptive 8 ft. of volcanic ash would be if it were to blanket most of the western United States. That's not even mentioning the millions of tons that would end up in the atmosphere for years, blocking out the sun, and killing off a substantial amount of plant and animal life world wide.

Life will go on if the volcano erupts. It may not be human life, but it will still be life. The Yellowstone volcano is just another bogeyman that is not worth stressing over. It will happen or it won't and realistically there is nothing we can do about it.

I happen to prefer that our species not go extinct. We spend a lot of effort on much less important things, we can afford to spend some here.

We spend a lot of effort on much less important things <-- someone (not me, but someone) might argue that's exactly why our species should go extinct ;-)

Following that logic, every single species on Earth should go extinct. As bad as we are, we are still the best. Simply because we have the most advanced brain.

What I don't understand.. the continuation of non-human life is an asterisk that is of no importance to us, right?

So it turns out there is something we can do about it, and someone wrote an article about that. It's pretty cool, you should read it.

There is a lot less ecosystem destruction than not doing it.

First, you need to consider that, in the long run, that thing is going to explode and will certainly destroy a lot of ecosystems around the world.

Second, the only ecosystem that depends on the heat are the archea on the geysers and hot vents. But the heat loss along years would be so small that their ecosystem can endure for a lot more centuries.

Third, it is very hard to find a way to generate so much energy without increasing carbon footprint and generating even more ecosystems destruction.

On what terms? Sure many trees, plants, animals, and humans will die in a super volcano eruption. But the resulting ash will help enrich the soil for a decent fraction of the entire country. There will be a huge carbon sink as entire forests are buried in ash, soil will receive additional minerals, and a light loamy soil will result. California for instance has excellent soil (class A good enough for even more challenging crops like strawberries) because of a large previous eruption.

So sure in the short term (years) no eruption is good. But in the long term there will be poorer soil, or a huge amount of energy/chemicals consumed to keep the soil usable.

It's far from clear that it's better for the ecosystem to stop a volcano (or supervolcano). What's next stopping earthquakes? Keep plates from moving? Stopping erosion? Preventing rivers from migrating?

Mucking with nature to prevent the natural cycle of life has gone pretty poorly so far. Floods are getting worse, rivers are moving faster, coastal cities are losing their marshes, cities on rivers are at a higher risk than ever of flooding.

Check out the updates on Mt Saint Helens area in the post eruption documentary. It's quite vibrant and recovered much faster than scientist expected.

There are 2 big flaws in your argumentation:

1) Tell humans their suffering doesn't matter.

2) A super-volcano eruption is several orders of magnitude worse than St. Helens, a scale that human history has not seen yet. It would affect the whole planet and wreck ecosystems in the whole planet, far beyond North America. We're talking about likely end of civilization. You don't have logic against that.

The ejecta volume from Yellowstone supervolcano erupting would be three orders of magnitude greater than Mount St. Helens (~1,000km^3 compared to ~1k^3). The force of its first and largest eruption was about ~2,000 times greater as well. They're not comparable in any sense of the word. Recovery for much of the US's ecosystem would be measured in centuries, or more likely, millennia.

As for the comparison to climate change, it's flawed on its face. Climate change wasn't exactly planned. There's a difference between that sort of change and a focused, targeted effort to change a particular element of nature (in this case, cooling a supervolcano) and an unintentional consequence of industrialization.

In any case, any effort to roll back the effects of climate change is going to involve some form of climate engineering. That could include anything from artificial carbon sequestration to a massive solar dust shade at L1 blocking a small fraction of solar radiation to give us the time needed to implement those sequestration systems. Or any number of other proposals. Should we just accept higher temperatures instead, even if we manage to slow or even halt the progression? We muck with nature all the time, and we're going to have to continue to do so in order to protect it.

Do you understand that tens of millions of people will probably starve to death in the volcanic winter following a Yellowstone eruption?

The answer to starvation is is to store food now. Seems kinda silly to have huge strategic oil reserves, and not food reserves.

After all there are many potential causes of food shortages and the risks are getting worse with each year because of additional pollution, global warming, and increased population.

I don't want anyone to die, but does seem short sighted to depend on soil enriched by previous eruptions, then to prevent future ones.

> The answer to starvation is is to store food now.

Or, maybe, we could prevent it all from happening in the first place.

I don't understand why you're so stuck on not preventing mass death. Did you not think this through before commenting and now your ego won't let you back down? Or are you just trolling?

That is possibly even a rather low estimate. The sheer amount of ejecta and ash will quite literally blanket the Earth.

It would make for a good story premise for a movie/TV show/video game, but not so much fun to actually live through.

Soil world wide is decreasing in quality. Wasteful farming practices, slash and burn farming, erosion, monoculture farming, heavy pesticide use, making pesticide resistant crops so you can use more pesticide, etc.

Seems far from sure that a world wide cloud of ash might well do more benefit (better soil, cooler temperatures, helping dead zones in the ocean) than harm.... assuming we plan for it.

Why we as humans seem to think that life can't possibly continue without us

It's obviously not about protecting nature from herself, it would be about protecting us from nature.

Why? We are only a little blip on the time scales that nature works in. Why are we so arrogant as to think that we are the only life in the universe? It is very likely that we are not and even if we are, there is always a chance that life will arise again.

Because like all life, we have a survival instinct?

I am a nihilist and don't really think that this will affect my life. I suppose that is most of my reasoning in not worrying about things like this. Edit: Messing with it now will affect my life due to the proximity in which I live to Yellowstone. If the park gets messed up and tourism declines, my local economy will take a huge hit. That is something that can happen in my lifetime.

If you're a nihilist, then why do you care enough to even comment here on this matter?

You live near the park, then? If you don't think getting buried under 10 feet of molten ash will affect your life, I really don't know what else to say to you.


Never thought of it that way.

Shedding all survival instinct nao /s

This is basically a genocidal comment and totally shocking to me. As far as I’m concerned speech like this is advocating for the destruction of humanity and is evil. It boggles my mind someone would hate humanity so much they wouldn’t want to do everything in our power to preserve it.

> It boggles my mind someone would hate humanity so much they wouldn’t want to do everything in our power to preserve it.

Not arguing in favor of OC; but it's not that they hate humanity so much they wouldn’t want to do everything in our power to preserve it; but instead, they don't love humanity enough to do everything in our power to preserve it. There is a difference.

We might not be able to have it both ways. The geysers and other unique features of Yellowstone are epiphenomena of the supervolcano they overlie. It may be that a method exists by which we can both preserve those epiphenomena, and prevent catastrophic damage to ecologies across the continent or even the world. But if we can only do one of those, then I know which one I'd choose.

Think they should probably drill into dozens of small volcanoes first to prove that doing so can't set them off?

Saving earth != saving the human race.

nasa's ambitious plan to slurp up tax dollars

Can the link be updated to point to the original BBC article that has the same information and is better written?


Yes, thank you! We've updated the link from http://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/cooling-down-a-supervolcano-an....


The bbc article has been posted on here before I’m pretty sure as it’s from August.

What if someone drop a bomb into it ?

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