It seems that every day in the news someone famous is diving into the depths of the oceans with new and innovative technology in order to explore that which human eyes have never seen firsthand. From new submersibles and new techniques, these advancements are helping to create a new era for exploration and perhaps an entirely new segment for the economy. So this begs the question:
“Should government funding that has traditionally been slated for space exploration, be redirected for ocean exploration with the intent of creating groundbreaking technology and a new economy that would benefit far more people than that of NASA?”
A very famous scientist once said that in order for the human race to survive, we must go into space. This stream of thought does in fact coincide with the current problems associated with our planet such as pollution, food shortages, disease and overpopulation all of which do in fact support a ‘get off the planet and into space or else’ mentality. However, the costs associated with space travel and the colonization of the moon or Mars is not a financial viable one, with tax money, considering the current state of our national economy. What is within our grasp through private funds and much lower government involvement is moving massive amounts of research and developments towards the ocean environment which would result in as much ,if not more, technological advancements in a plethora of fields. This in fact has already been proven.
Although there still are underwater labs being used and there were many labs used in the past to gain a working knowledge of the underwater world, SEALAB is perhaps the most famous where many experiments were performed and a large amount of information was gleaned from these studies. Examples of such ranged from:
Manufacture of new types of tools
New types of dry suits
Other advancements that would undoubtedly arise from investments in any type of underwater facility would involve such things as, reusable energy, location of more natural resources, more efficient recycling methods, knowledge about the climate and safety practices relating towards a self-contained and self -sufficient habitat for people.
Space vs. Oceans
The costs associated with the colonization of space are massive and its return on investment for the tax payer is negligible. The obvious choice is to first inhabit the underwater realm as we have the technology to do so and the workforce, in the form of commercial divers, to do so. This would provide a shot in the arm for the diving industry and the divers associated. There are far more divers and dive companies than astronauts and space agencies and the money generated would soon dwarf that of anything NASA could ever produce for the national economy. The benefits from a renewed interest in any type underwater expansion would be direct and quickly realized as opposed to some moon outpost that would cost over 100 billion dollars and take years (decades) to generate any real value for the American economy.
This is not to say that space exploration should be scrapped in favor of underwater labs or jobs for commercial divers. What is being suggested is that tax money cease to be used for a hand full of people to orbit the planet and instead be invested toward employing thousands of people that would ultimately lead to an economic windfall for the dive industry.
In order to fix the planet (that is 75% water) it seems obvious that investment from the government and private firms alike should shift their funds from a mediocre government agency to startups and small businesses that would create jobs and lead to new innovations that would out pace those created by NASA.
Scott Kilgore is a graduate of The University Of Alabama and the Divers Academy for commercial diving. He is also the owner of www.industrialdiver.com.