Simply put: Because we can be so amazingly good at it! Everybody knows the Pyramids in Egypt, or the Hoover Dam, or the Apollo project. Good examples of megaprojects with (positive) mega-results.
The twin-bore Gotthard base tunnel
We can add another amazing achievement to that list now. Recently the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel has officially opened in Switzerland, after almost two decades of construction work. The 57km (35-mile) twin-bore Gotthard base tunnel will provide a high-speed rail link under the Swiss Alps between northern and southern Europe. There is little doubt it will revolutionize European freight transport – goods currently carried on the route by a million lorries a year will go by train instead.
The project, which cost more than $12bn (£8.3bn) to build, was endorsed by Swiss voters in a referendum in 1992. Voters then backed a proposal from environmental groups to move all freight travelling through Switzerland from road to rail two years later. The completed tunnel travels up to 2.3 km below the surface of the mountains above and through rock that reaches temperatures of 46 degrees Celcius. Engineers had to dig and blast through 73 different kinds of rock, some as hard as granite and others as soft as sugar. More than 28m tons of rock was excavated, which was then broken down to help make the concrete used to build the tunnel.
The world still needs breakthroughs and innovation
Now we need a breakthrough energy project – and I don’t mean using rusty bathtubs, leaky columns of water or other outright frauds and deceptions. I for one had enough of those lies, propaganda and misinformation, despite the fact that some are currently working feverishly to resurrect the Theater of the Absurd. Let’s hope it will be better and more truthful than the previous incarnation.
We already have excellent and working (mind you, not free, but relatively cheap) energy generation solutions, of course, but I doubt anybody would mind having some real LENR breakthrough successes, for example. Plentiful cheap energy is what might very well save this world, and, not surprisingly, civilization with it.
Plentiful: not because it is easy, but because it is hard
Who doesn’t recall these famous lines from President John F. Kennedy’s “Go to the Moon” speech? Those were the days when the President of the USA had at least some vision, and the political will and courage to achieve something spectacular. To rally the nation and make a positive difference. What a colossal difference between the bumbling, arrogant, incompetent and utterly unreliable career politicians we have today. And, indeed, what colossal damage they have done, in every possible area.
Some numbers here may suffice to illustrate how hard it can be to realize Mega projects. But the numbers also show the many benefits. Here we go:
- Construction time: 17 years
- Length: 57.1 kilometers
- Cost: 12,500 million (equivalent to the GDP of quite a few countries)
- People employed: 2,600
- Length of drilling machine: 410 meters (!)
- Concrete made at the spot: 4,000,000 cubic meters
- Freight passing through per day: 377,000 tons, well over 15,000 shipping containers
- Copper cable: 3,200 kilometers
It’s easy to see benefits here: all heavy transport through Switzerland now goes by rail, or at least that’s the plan. Which dramatically reduces, for example, pollution by long lines of trucks driving the long way round, reduces traffic and noise pollution, road wear, and transportation costs. Switzerland is one of the most democratic countries in the world and all of this, as is custom, has been decided upon by public referendum – in Switzerland, politicians have to fear the citizens, and not the other way around. That’s also one of the reasons why Switzerland is one the most prosperous nations in the world economically, and has been for hundreds of years.
With cheap, plentiful energy, we all – every country in the world – can benefit from the same freedom, and prosperity. We’re going to need those breakthroughs for that, and many other reasons. One of them is the demographic implosion that’s awaiting the civilized world within 30 to 50 years – a interesting topic in itself. We shall need energy for machines that will do things for us – when there’s not enough of us.