With controlled release of energy you can send people into space. Stand back and watch the uncontrolled release of energy and you appreciate your insignificance. Hurricane Harvey showed us both sides of this story.

Hurricane Harvey recently swept into Texas. It was huge. Assume it covered the state of Texas. That’s almost 700,000km2. The hurricane dropped about 40 inches of water across its area. This amounts to about 7e11 m3 of water. All this water came from the evaporation of surface water. The energy to evaporate all this is around 1.6e21 Joules. That’s more energy than people utilize each year.

As part of controlled release the people in Texas withdraw oil from under the ground, distill it then distribute it to market. Hurricane Harvey has interrupted this flow. While Texas isn’t the only source of oil some places on the same continent as Texas have experienced a 30% increase in the cost of fuel because of Hurricane Harvey. This demonstrates the expense of acquiring and distributing energy in a controlled form. And the fragility of people’s control of energy.