Of course, humankind’s pursuit of fire is inextricable from its pursuit of immortality and power. And many would conjecture this pursuit creates a certain kind of hell on earth, be it illustrated by industrial air pollution or climate change. Pictured here, the “Gates of Hell,” a 100-foot pit found in Turkmenistan, first ignited by geologists in 1971 following a cavern’s folding beneath a drilling rig. At the time, scientists figured they’d burn off the gases rising into the atmosphere, assuming the fire would extinguish in a matter of days.
It’s still burning. The US is reportedly in talks with the country to curb its methane emissions, inclusive of closing the “Gates of Hell.” The image does beg the question: What came first? The fire or its pursuit?