In 1960, Jacques Piccard and USN Lieutenant Don Walsh made the voyage to the deepest part of the ocean floor, known today as "Challenger Deep". No one has been back since.
(Play the video below as an optional background track while reading.)
The world was at a breaking point in virtually every possible way, and the funny thing was, we brought it all on ourselves. We damn near sent a gold trimmed invitation to Armageddon, no RSVP required. Everyone was invited.
Our primary natural resources for power, oil and coal, were running thin. They were difficult to find and growing harder and harder to reach. While the resources were shrinking, the population was exploding. City infrastructures, including the power grids were failing on nearly a daily basis around the world. In the United States cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Dallas were forced to implement the "6/7" plan wherein a schedule of rolling brownouts meant that "non-essential" businesses and facilities were granted power six of seven days a week. Those were the "planned" outages, but that still didn't stop the occasional surprise blackout from a blown transformer, usually caused by some genius trying to illegally tap into the grid.
Other countries, such as Iran, China and Russia selected entire cities as "non-essential" and stopped providing power to them all together.
Power had become the most valuable currency on the planet. Any resource that provided it was worth more than gold.
Of course, things didn't go to Hell overnight. No, it took a little time. Let's have a bit of a history lesson, shall we?
It began innocently enough with the U.S. breaking it's "dependence on foreign oil". In a stirring speech given by the President on July 4, 2019, he set the wheels in motion for how we got to the mess we're in today. The speech was historic, inspirational, damn patriotic. Shoot, I think everyone in the U.S. stood up and cheered with his closing remarks.
"No longer will we be bound to powers overseas for our peace and prosperity.", he said standing in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia on that clear summer day. "No longer will our economy be reliant upon those that would seek to harm us. Today we take the reigns of our future out of their hands and place them firmly in our own. Today we break free from a centuries old habit. Today is July 4, 2019, and just as it was 241 years ago on this very spot, today is our Independence Day." Cue the formation of fighters flying overhead and the thousands of waving American flags in the crowd. Add in some apple pie and you've got yourself a straight up Norman Rockwell painting.
The speech did its job alright, it garnered national support, got the president re-elected and cleared the way for numerous bills to be signed that increased funding to damn near any company or organization that had to do with finding or creating power.
In the years that followed, billions upon billions of dollars were thrown at finding alternative fuels such as natural gas, wind and solar power, while the restrictions on where and how existing companies could dig and drill for traditional resources slowly fell to the wayside. Thanks to America's great "Power Independence" movement, we were finally pulling out of a nearly decade old recession. The cheers of those that were once again "living comfortably" drowned out the handful of whispers that were measuring, analyzing, and warning us of where we were headed.
Some of the technologies showed promise. The super wind farm and thermal power stations in Nevada guaranteed the Vegas strip stayed lit 24/7, while "fracking" for natural gas at various locations around the country promised a virtually limitless supply of "clean" energy.
Then there were other things that frankly we should have seen coming, like expanding deep water offshore drilling, especially on protected nature reserves. We knew the possibilities and the dangers, we were just too damn proud of ourselves and our newly created independence and prosperity to care.
The first wake up call hit in 2021 with a 7.2 quake just south of Los Angeles. That little shake up caused the meltdown of two of the reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Plant and rendered southern LA and Palm Springs a ghost town for the next century. Fools should have known better than to build a nuclear power plant on an active fault line.
After that, they rushed inspectors to every nuclear plant in the nation, and shut down at least half of them after they were deemed "unsafe for operation" or "too high a threat risk".
As you can imagine, that put even more stress on the energy demands and made a bad situation worse.
Ten years later, there was the deep water Alaskan spill during construction of one of the plethora of newly approved drilling sites through the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. 8.5 million barrels of oil surged into the arctic water, nearly twice the amount of the Deep Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of species of animals were eliminated or brought to the edge of extinction due to humanity's rush for more oil and money.
Believe it or not, as horrible as the both of those tragedies were, they pale in comparison to the most recent event nine years ago.
Natural gas. It was our safest, cleanest, highest producing resource, and with the latest techniques for collecting it by fracturing the Earth's crust we were told all our energy problems were solved. But see, the problem with fracking, is that once you crack the crust and extract the gas you need to put something back to replace what you took out. Otherwise, you're simply digging tiny holes underneath the crust. Dig enough tiny holes in the same place and you've got yourself one big hole. And in 2054 one of those holes showed up in Texas. Geologists still argue whether it was triggered by an earthquake, or whether it was the cause of the earthquake. Either way, it really didn't matter, the result was the same. That single earthquake created a sinkhole that swallowed not one, but two entire cities; more if you count all the little ones around them. In less than 10 minutes, Dallas, Fort Worth and everything in-between was gone. The entire metroplex was erased. All of it was swallowed by a hole nearly 60 miles in diameter and a quarter mile deep. The damn thing is so big it's actually visible from orbit. Over 6 million people, gone on one scorching summer day.
That's all it took for the President to put an immediate, nationwide moratorium on all fracking operations. But after the San Onofre meltdown and the Alaskan spill, fracking had become our main technology for producing power. It was responsible for 75% of the power in the nation. Wind, solar and thermal power were all declared too localized a resource to be used nationwide.
The good news, and God knows we needed some, is that with all the over-population and global warming problems many scientists had already begun to look to the oceans for solutions. With the surface of the Earth being 80% water, it just didn't make much sense to focus on 20% of it.
One group of geologists and chemists were already doing some preliminary tests by collecting hydrogen from hydrothermal vents in the ocean. Initial findings were that this method provided a constant supply of energy, with no drilling or digging. The only down side, was that these hydrothermal vents were typically found at deep sea levels of 3,000ft or deeper. The pressure at that depth is over 4,300 pounds per square inch. Heck, subs can't even make it down that deep. As a result, all construction and operations would be handled by remote controlled vehicles and drones. They were expensive and slow.
But we weren't just looking to the oceans for energy. Many other experiments and projects involved growing food, undiscovered natural medicines and of course living habitats. We were attempting to answer the question, "Could we ever live at the bottom of the ocean?". It's a funny thing -- the big question no one thought to ask was, "Was someone already there?"
This sets the stage for the world surrounding Deep Blue. It's not the prettiest of pictures, but like the man said, we pretty much brought it all on ourselves. This is my first novel on Wattpad and I'd love to hear any comments and feedback you'd like to give.
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Deep Blue - The DescentScience Fiction
More people have visited the moon, than have found their way to the bottom of the ocean. Test piloting the military's latest top secret assault submarine, in the most inhospitable environment on the planet, a reckless test pilot teams up with a recl...