No, it’s impossible to get energy directly out of the ground without using energy from other sources. The same thing applies to free space. The energy used to get here can be converted back to ground energy, but this also causes energy consumption, increasing all the time, until we are just consuming energy.
In that case the power from the Earth is too small to generate anything useful, so we would not be able to survive on the entire surface at once.
That’s because there isn’t enough energy from the Earth on Earth to power us, even if we were to take 100% of all the energy produced on Earth and put it underground. But there are other sources of energy, such as sun, wind, ocean waves, and even the planet’s own gravity.
“The energy from these sources is insufficient to drive life on Earth,” says S. Robert Laughlin, Professor of Physics at Princeton Physics who studies space energy.
Image credit: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)
In fact, the solar system can get all the energy it needs for life from its own resources, such as the hydrogen, helium, and carbon it produces by burning its vast stores of natural gas and the carbon dioxide it seeps in from the surface of the Sun.
If the Earth’s atmosphere were to stop working, it would be the equivalent of taking it completely over. It has enough capacity to keep us alive for more than four decades at least.
“The Earth is one of the few places in the Universe that can support life,” says S. Robert Laughlin. “If our current rate of consumption continued, we’d have to go back to being like Mars. One of Mars’ many qualities — it’s extremely hot — is how little energy it needs to support life. Our Earth requires less energy to give life what it needs than Mars or any other planet,” he continues.
Laughlin has been researching space energy for 35 years. He is a pioneer in his field and is currently the director of the Princeton Energy Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting space exploration.
Image credit: NASA
In addition, Laughlin is director of a NASA/JPL (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) center focused on developing a high-tech space manufacturing industry. The Center for 3D Printing has developed 3D printing technology used to create spacecraft like the one that SpaceX plans to launch and build next year to carry astronauts to the International Space Station
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