I can't get enough information about the mine rescue in Chile. The headline, the good news, is simple enough: 33 men found alive after 17 days, more than 2,000 feet down. There is a pipe the width of the average grapefruit down to the escape room where they remain. The problem is, the effort to get them out must now proceed gingerly. It may take until Christmas. Obviously, the physical and mental health of the miners now takes precedence.
For example—I was theorizing in our news meeting this morning: Will they set up a Telco line for them to Skype with family? Will they be sent iPods with broadcasts or movies or music they like? Will lighting be sent down to mimic day and night above ground to give them a living schedule, as is required during all shifts aboard a submarine at sea? How will waste be disposed of (think about that for a moment)? How does the group dynamic hold up under a sensory deprivation, how can tempers be held in check and "unit cohesion" be achieved and sustained?
It’s a dynamic not unlike that experienced by some POW's—for whom it gets tougher when things are taken away...or when other factors are added. I heard today they've approached NASA—the experts in sustaining life in a hostile, closed environment...and that's a good thing.
We will someday read the definitive book or see the definitive documentary about these brave men and their brave rescuers. Until then, I'll say what I said after the last domestic mining disaster: Our hunger for energy requires some among us to pursue a noble occupation: going deep underground for the raw materials we need. It requires so much of the miners and their families—as we're seeing play out in Chile right now.
I want to thank all of you who watched my Dateline hour—and all of you who have written about it. It was powerful to work on, and it is hard to watch at times—but I think the anger and sadness is important. We can't forget how it made us feel five years ago. It is re-airing this Friday night on MSNBC.
We hope you can join us tonight.