If Robert Ballard’s enthusiastic presentation Exploring the Ocean’s Hidden Worlds featured on TED doesn’t rev you up about the possibilities that lie beneath the surface of the world’s oceans, well, you may not have a pulse. Or maybe you just never had an aquarium as a kid or marveled as Jacques Cousteau plumbed the depths of the amazing underwater world on TV.
Anyway, Ballard is an oceanographer, marine geologist, & shipwreck explorer (he led the teams that discovered the wrecks of the RMS Titanic in 1985, the battleship Bismarck in 1989, & the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in 1998). In this talk, he passionately discusses oceanic exploration as a better, more sensible (and probably far more profitable) alternative to space exploration and brings up a lot of interesting questions about why we aren’t devoting more resources & energy to exploring some of the largest (and largely uncharted) features on our own planet.
Particularly interesting is the contrast between the budgets of the 2 U.S. exploration programs — NASA, tasked with exploring space, and NOAA, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration — and the striking remark that the funds from just one year of NASA’s annual budget would fund NOAA’s budget to explore the oceans for 1,600 years. But the even more surprising comment made during this presentation is:
50% of America lies beneath the sea and we have better maps of Mars than that 50%.
At a time when the U.S. is up against greater international competition than ever, I think Ballard makes an especially compelling case for radically-increased exploration, mapping, & mining of our oceans. Watch the video and please post a comment with your thoughts on this: