Hi, my name is Mark.
I’m and engineer, scientist, writer, musician, outdoorsman, environmentalist, energy enthusiast, snowboarder, backpacker, lover, partier, son, brother, and friend. I devote my time to a lot of hobbies, work, and fun, but my focus for a career has been unique and concentrated for nearly my entire life. Since I was nine years old, I’ve had one overarching goal:
Produce energy for America and the world.
This goal started with an assumption that society wouldn’t highly value managing CO2 emissions, and I leveraged that neglected assumption to dive into a career in oil and gas. I figured if we’re going to pollute the atmosphere, then we may as well do it with the most energy dense material we can find with the cleanest burning fuels. Oil and gas filled these requirements, and because I generally bias towards a Utilitarian mode of ethics, I figured the pros of helping millions of people by producing energy for them outweighed the cons facing us with Climate Change. I still hold that mindset relatively firmly, and I’m still actively working in oil gas. I currently work for a small producer with assets in southeast New Mexico. We’ve built a small (less than 20 people) organization that stands a chance to produce nearly 50 million barrels of oil over the next 50 years (75% of that will be in just the next 10 years).
On a kWh-produced-per-human-work-hour, I’d say that’s pretty good.
Now fast forward to where we’ll be in five years, ten years, and twenty years. The wells we drilled will have declined and will be producing five percent or less of the oil they produced on day one. Forget climate – is that a sustainable energy plan? Where are we going to source oil from then? Are we still going to be poking holes in the ground 100, 500, or 1,000 years from now? And even if we are, is it exciting, riveting work that humans enjoy and actually want to do?
Don’t misunderstand me. I love the oil and gas industry. I love the people it attracts, I love the problem solving attributes of it, I love the technical challenges it presents, and I love the underlying altruistic problem it solves. The fuels produced literally lift people out of poverty and provide them resources to make their lives and the lives of their families better.
But they’re not going to be around forever. The least expensive sources will run out, and we’ll have to find new and different ways to mine the planet. We should leverage the gift of millions of years of kerogen cooking as a stepping stone to research and develop the next energy generation source. We should leverage it to learn how to more effectively exploit an even more energy dense fuel.
We should leverage it to explore and better harness nuclear fission.
We already know how to harness certain nuclear fuels, but we’ve literally only scratched the surface. We’re playing with technology that’s 50 years old, and we’ve invested very, very little in it. It would be like utilizing a Kelly drilling rig instead of one with a Top Drive; utilizing solar panels with a 2% efficiency instead of the 20% to 50% of those today; or working on an original Macintosh instead of typing on my Mac Book Pro.
Why haven’t we invested more? Specifically, why hasn’t America invested more? We’re currently falling behind the rest of the world. China has nearly 400 nuclear power plants planned. India has a blossoming program. And the US stands a chance to lose it’s foothold as a leader in one of the most influential and important technologies history has ever invented.
I can’t standby and let that happen.
Fire2Fission is an attempt at helping to solve the problems facing the American nuclear industry by:
- Educating myself about the problems facing the nuclear industry. Nearly every dollar I’ve ever earned has been sourced from a fossil fuel. I grew up in a family owned natural gas company. I spent summers during college working underground in a coal mine. And I embarked on a career in oil straight out of college because I thought it would have the biggest impact. I became educated so I could produce energy for America and the world, and that education never stops. In the modern era, we’re required to be cross disciplinary, understand a myriad of subjects, and be able to work on large, integrated teams. I can’t contribute to the teams trying to solve these problems until I first become educated about the problems, too.
- Documenting that education – and making it public. I intend to build a body of work by simply answering questions that I and many of my peers, family, and friends have. We all have knowledge gaps, and it’s never too late to fill them. I’ll be documenting most/all of them on Fire2Fission.
- As I become educated, look for opportunities where individuals, companies, and governments can help to solve problems. With every answer often comes at least two more questions, and with more questions comes opportunity to help even more people.
- Connect with the people actively solving these problems, and help them to connect to the people and resources they need to make a difference for their company, campaign, or cause.
- Discover the fastest and most impactful route I can take to help humanity solve this problem. We need a clean energy source that will last 1,000 years. Why wait until we run out of cheap natural gas to start building it when we could start today?
My best friend challenged me to start this journey. I gave him a rebuttal originally and said, “But Brandon, it’ll take at least 10 years to get a new nuclear power plant permitted let alone built.” He immediately said, “Then you’d better get started now, Mark, because in 10 years, you’ll be 41, and you’ll only have about 20 to 30 years of usable horsepower and influence left to transform the world.”
As such – I choose to start today, and I welcome your help.