"On its final dive in the GSR area, a lifting point separated and Patania II now stands on the seafloor,"
"An operation to reconnect the lifting point begins this evening and we will provide an update in due course."
Also, a picture of it with people, so the scale is more clear: https://www.deme-gsr.com/wp-content/uploads/coverfoto-gsr_pa...
Meanwhile, dissolved CO₂ is killing coral on a global scale. That seems like a very misplaced concern.
A forest can regrow and thrive after a few decades. The same is _not_ true for the deep sea.
'Life on the ocean floor moves at a glacial pace. Sediment accumulates at a rate of 1 millimeter every millennium. With such a slow rate of growth, areas disturbed by deep-sea mining would be unlikely to recover on a reasonable timescale.'
Edit: Linked to official channel. Thank you for the correction.
At least from the photo it doesn't look like they are dredging fish reefs.
Though I don't trust the behavior of these corporations & developing nations use loose or non-existent maritime regulations to scoop up, net, and kill more fish than we can sustain and just completely wreck the last untouched environments we have.
> "On its final dive in the GSR area, a lifting point separated and Patania II now stands on the seafloor," a GSR spokesman said in an emailed statement.
> A spokesman for GSR said the company has not lost control of Patania II, and that projects like this always have challenges to contend with.
Submitters: please don't do that. We eventually take submission privileges away from accounts that do.
It appears that the tether became disconnected, and they're working to reconnect it.
"Polymetallic nodules are lumps of minerals that range in size from just a few millimeters to tens of centimeters and are found in the abyssal areas of the oceans basins of the world. Known deposits are found in various quantities around a water depth of 3500 to 6000 meters. They lie on a relatively flat seafloor of soft sediment in a large surface area. It is estimated that the nodules present in the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ) contain more nickel (Ni), manganese (Mn) and cobalt (Co) than all land-based reserves combined. Furthermore, they contain significant amounts of copper (Cu) and molybdenum (Mo) (1)."
* There's thought to be several regions of the seabed where the mining operation can basically just scoop up the top layer and get economically extractable ore out of it.
* The seabed is international waters, not under the jurisdiction of any country. I know UNCLOS does prescribe some rules for deep-sea mining, but it wouldn't surprise me if some of the ambitions for mining here were based off of being able to dodge undesired (from the mining companies' perspective) national rules around mining, such as taxes or environmental regulations.
* The ocean floor is a lot more of a dead zone than anything terrestrial. (That doesn't mean it's entirely dead). Again, I suspect many are hoping that environmental destructiveness in the seafloor goes much more unnoticed, because there's much less love for preserving microscopic Archaea species than fluffy birds or the like.
Is this a case where most people would expect nasty nothingness, and therefore the discovery of "creatures greater than 2cm" megafauna is "surprisingly diverse" ?
> For the second year in a row, his team have found crater-like pockmarks in the shallower parts of the Laptev Sea and East Siberian Sea that are discharging bubble jets of methane, which is reaching the sea surface at levels tens to hundreds of times higher than normal.
If there's any danger, its from the billions of cubic meters under the ocean floor (the source of the nodules, seeping from underneath). More carbon than all the oil we ever burned in our civilization so far.
Is that in any danger of accelerated release? I've not heard of that.
In the long-term, yes, it will eventually reach a steady state. In the long term, though, we'll all be dead.
In the short-term, on timescales that human beings care about, no, we can release too much of it too quickly, before the system reaches a steady equilibrium. Methane has an atmospheric half-life measured in decades, so getting too much of it, too fast, can significantly spike temperatures.
But no, probably just a mechanical failure. Soon they'll be back to sterilizing the ocean bottom. Sigh.
> Thirty years on, the test that Thiel and a colleague devised is still the largest experiment ever on the potential impacts of commercial deep-sea mining. Called DISCOL, the simple trial involved raking the centre of a roughly 11-square-kilometre plot in the Pacific Ocean with an 8-metre-wide implement called a plough harrow. The simulated mining created a plume of disturbed sediment that rained down and buried most of the study area, smothering creatures on the sea floor. The test revealed that the impacts of sea-bed mining reached further than anyone had imagined, but it did not actually extract any rocks from the sea bed, which itself would have destroyed even more marine life.
Low-impact? We have very different definitions for that phrase.
That might be the claustrophobic plot of Underwater (2020). Deep-sea mining operations in the Mariana Trench.
The article itself used the word 'tonne' as it was written by / for people that use metric.
'Ton' is a word with myriad meanings, none sensible.
Most of the world is not speaking English (but it is using the metric system).
> clearly and immediately
Is it because they so obviously stole the word from the French?
In most of the English-speaking world, and all of the English-speaking metric world, we use the word tonne.
> Is it because they so obviously stole the word from the French?
Perhaps the North Americans could start calling them Freedom Tonnes?
Sheesh, I guess these particular environment activists can never allow anything new, since we don't know what impact it will have and any failure of any part of a system, no matter how repairable or minor, is ipso facto proof that the project is a disaster. This would be like completely writing off SpaceX after a Starship tank rupture in a launchpad test.
The article seems to indicate that this project is being done responsibly, with oversight and caution. Things will go wrong (as they have), but this wasn't some sort of catastrophic failure like Deepwater Horizon or something. I'm curious to see if they can extract these minerals without doing widespread environmental damage, and I think they should at least be given a chance to prove it or not.
At a minimum, you broke these:
"Don't be snarky."
"Avoid generic tangents."
"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."
Generic ideological tangents are particularly destructive here.
While I can understand how my comment could be interpreted as snark or possibly flamebait (despite neither being my intention), I'm not sure I understand the "generic tangents" or straw-manning claims. Can you help me understand which parts of my post cross these boundaries so I can avoid them in the future?
The 'generic tangent' point doesn't exactly explain itself, but it's so important. This recent comment explains it more, with links to lots of previous explanation, if anyone is interested: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26894739
I understand that they have this little catch-all:
> GSR has said it will only apply for a mining contract if the science shows deep seabed minerals have advantages, from an environmental and social perspective, over relying solely on land mining.
But I'm not going to hold my breath thinking that if they find a rich-enough deposit of minerals - that they wont suddenly discover enough "advantages" for the ocean to now be open to the same decimation as land mining has seen for many years.
Also, David Attenborough saying seabed mining is untested and has a largely unknown environmental impact is not a great argument either as it stands in the article. It would be helpful if Reuters provided more context or a direct quote.
Planets that are capable of sustaining human life are scarce. Putting aside the divisions on our maps, we have a total of one ocean. Since we have exactly one planet to live on and one ocean to sustain life, I'm gonna go ahead and call that pretty scarce. There's a massive amount of water but if we ruin that one ocean, I believe we all die.
So now it's time for a judgement call: what is so valuable at that depth that you're comfortable having people poke holes in it hoping to determine the science is good and worth the risk?
How would undersea mining put any of this at risk?
It would be catastrophic if we released something that could displace phytoplankton in the food chain, but didn't absorb CO2.
It's also possible that those minerals are important to some kind of natural process. I'm not a scientist, so I don't know what that might be, but it's not unfathomable that it's part of some bacterial lifecycle, and that disrupting that bacterial lifecycle could have implications for the rest of ocean life.
It should be valid to question what harm there could be. Nature is quite fragile, and we should know that, especially seeing what harm industrial processes have had on the atmosphere.
On the other hand, it's quite possible that undersea mining may produce less harm than surface mining, where waste gets dliuted far enough to have less impact. Maybe similar to how salmon farming has to be done where there's a strong enough current to dilute the waste.
Why? What happens if they are not given that chance?
I don't think there is any responsible way to mine the ocean. Not when Musk's rockets are about to open the "Final Frontier" for us. There is one (1) living planet in the entire known universe. But there are plenty of rocks and minerals and metal just floating around out there for the taking. No environment to damage, eh? (Well, I mean, the rockets pollute a bit. But overall they don't kill the oceans. That's the important bit.)
You have to realize that it's not "environmentalists vs FOO", it's all of us vs. our own greed and stupidity.
"The Earth!? That's where I keep all my stuff!"
~ the Tick
So we're the latest catastrophic event, big deal. The earth will adapt as it always has and at least we can try to discuss our impact, unlike an asteroid or a syberian forest fire.
Like it or not, if we do not successfully become a space-faring species, all life known in the universe will be wiped out.
Is that a problem for you?
And why would it not come to existence again somewhere eventually?
Its interesting to think about such stuff but it really should not have an impact on decisions we make today because it just not possible to affect a so distant future (thousands of years) in a meaning full way.
Just imagine humans 2000 years ago what could they have possibly done that would have had a positive environmental effect today. And that's just 2000 years ago.
If you apply this to mining the see floor. Do you seriously think that if we today decide that human should not do this that it wont be done in 2000 years?
I think is far more likely it just pushed a little back in time an insignificant little, maybe one human life maybe even two who knows but in 4021 no one cares if it started in the year 2021 or 2121 that's for sure.
Also if you want our species to become multi planetary then the only logical thing to do is to use all resources available achieve this as soon as possible. If we used up the resources or have way more humans and no spear resources no one is going to achieve it anymore.
That's as far as I can wrap my head around it. Maybe there are people here with some expertise who can elaborate.
When they say "we don't know the impact" it's on a range from "pretty bad" to "disastrous". Mining never had any kind of net positive impact on the environment so it's not a matter of "hey, maybe we actually help the fish and wildlife by mining here".
The environment would be in much worse shape if industrialization had been fueled with wood rather than coal.
Poisoning a few watersheds in Asia for lithium and cobalt is far preferable to continued oil and coal extraction which would poison orders of magnitude more
There's no good, just less bad and we don't know if undefined impact sea mining is less bad or more bad than the status quo.
I'm inclined to think it's probably worse per amount of material moved than conventional mining but I suspect there may be a few niches where productivity per amount of material moved is sufficiently greater to have a lesser overall impact.
No, there would have been no industrialization without fossil fuels. The carbon density of wood is insufficient.
There are plenty of ways to rationalize anything into making it seem fine or even great, at least by comparison. Just because it's framed in a binary manner where one option is clearly the worst doesn't make the other option good. It's still a fallacy. Your cynicism might block you from realizing that mining for coal instead of cutting down trees doesn't make it "a net positive" for the environment, just a lower net negative.
So I'm glad that we can agree on one thing though. Mining never had any kind of net positive impact on the environment.
Wouldn't a wood-powered industrialization period have incentivized the growing of trees?
A wood-powered industrialization would have led to mass deforestation and then fallen over hard. (Or, more likely, switched fuels.)
That, in fact, occurred. Steel was produced using wood charcoal for millennia, denuding huge swaths of forest, which often became desert rather than growing back. Such deserts can sometimes be reclaimed by careful stewardship.
Seems very cynical and reductive..."a few watersheds"...
if one was to replace the ravenous need of workers for privacy in new electric cars...seems like a lot of lithium...
here's hoping for fast development of solid state batteries...
but also, isn't it often a case of cost as in how cheap corporations can bilk poorer countries and their political class of important resources...?
higher prices/legislation could be a way to force innovation to develop alternative extraction methods...geothermal extraction https://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/geothermal-lithium-its-extrac...
It's not written in stone. Check out the story of the Loess plateu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loess_Plateau#Agriculture_and_...
We destroyed it (it looked like a Lunar landscape) and then we regenerated it.
> Until we can determine the impact, I don't see why it should be banned outright.
You're inverting the logic: you don't set fire to the house and then "determine the impact" afterward.
Keep in mind that the cure for cancer isn't down there, cheap fusion isn't down there, the fountain of youth isn't down there. We don't really need those minerals, we just want to make money. But the time when profit was more important than living healthy oceans has passed, surely?
They're battery materials. Batteries are important to ensuring the success of intermittent renewable energy sources.
E.g. an electric car should use alcohol fuel and a small generator rather than fancy batteries.
You can grow sugar crops, convert them to fuel (reclaiming the non-fuel parts), and then use that to power your infrastructure. It's carbon-neutral, environmentally sound (waaaaaaay more than batteries), and you can do it today. No sea mines required.
The only downside is that you have to live within your solar power budget, but we have to do that anyway to counter global warming (until cheap fusion becomes a thing.)
Here's a video of Václav Smil at Driva Climate Investment Meeting 2019 giving a talk called "Investing in a changing climate – what we can learn from historic energy transitions". https://youtu.be/gkj_91IJVBk The presentation is IMO very interesting, and the conclusion is sobering: "Only absolute cuts in energy use would work." ( https://youtu.be/gkj_91IJVBk?t=2283 )
We are going to have to use less energy. We don't have to endure lower QoL but we do have to achieve our Quality of Life more efficiently.
Global catastrophe blocks out the sun? Fine, charge off nuclear. Nuclear generators destroyed by war or terrorism? Just use wind. The flexibility is what makes electric cars superior, and being able to store energy is what makes intermittent renewables like solar and wind viable when it's not sunny or windy outside.
Most importantly, in a perfect world you'd only have to make the battery once. Some means of recycling dendrite-ridden lithium back into usable material would go an exceptionally long way as well.
We gotta store excess power somewhere, though.
Which is why I said "as a whole". You pointed out a single example of when humans did a good thing for the environment, but as a whole (meaning all humans for all of history) we have had a net negative impact on the planet.
Regarding determining the impact, you can't just outright ban something without knowing the impact. Which is why they're doing these trials. It's not wholesale strip-mining the sea floor, it's a test of technology to see if it can be done sustainably and with minimal negative impact to the environment.
Fair enough. (I'm usually the one pointing that out in these sorts of discussions. I just want to be clear that we can go the other way and foster life instead of just destroying it.)
> you can't just outright ban something without knowing the impact.
I mean, setting aside the argument that we already know that the impact will be bad, let's pretend that the last few centuries of examples haven't given us enough information to make informed predictions about how bad the "impact" will be.
What are the consequences if we just banned marine mining?
- - - -
From my POV, you have to make the case that any mining on Earth at all makes economic sense, given that there is only one living planet in the solar system, and there are lots of things to mine in space (where there are no living things, yet), and we have already heavily "impacted" the existing global ecosystem with our mining and agriculture.
Look, if we're going to get through all this and become a successful space-faring species we have got to start taking the long view, and value things properly.
So if the company behind the deep-sea mining robot didn't think it was economically feasible, they wouldn't have built it. Obviously it does make economic sense and the best way to determine the ecologic impact is to do trials. And I did mention earlier that government regulation should also be in place. I don't see why this is such a hard thing for people to grasp.
Absolutely. I'm a long-term thinker.
From the long-term perspective the living Earth is incredibly valuable:
the only source of biomass in the known Universe. In contrast,
whatever minerals are down there on the sea floor are as common as dirt
in our local neighborhood (Sol and its planets and asteroids, etc.)
It just doesn't make any sense to burn up our planet for short-term
What's the rush?
> I do want to get there, but even with all the Elon fanboi-ing in the
world, we're not gonna get there in our lifetimes. At least 75-100 years
out before it starts to make economic sense given current technology and
Okay, but doesn't that make it even more imperative that we take good care
of the Earth, since we can't yet leave?
> Obviously it does make economic sense...
Only in the short-term, and only if the consequences can be ignored by
the folks making money from it.
> the best way to determine the ecologic impact is to do trials.
Strong disagree. Both on principle, and on practical grounds.
IANAOceanologist, but it seems to me that we know there will be impacts.
This is not a scientific expedition, it's a prelude to destruction.
Oklahoma has earthquakes now. Is it due to fracking? We don't actually
know in any official or scientific sense. How could we
determine that they are a result of fracking or not? The folks doing the
fracking insist that it's not them.
We know there are going to be impacts that affect the entire planet.
The question is "How bad would the destruction be?" And the answer is
"Don't destroy life for money."
We don't allow random chemicals as food additives and drugs and recall them if they turn out to not be safe. We show that they're save before we allow them on the market.
Much like the question: "is eating half a kilo of table salt a viable cancer treatment?"
Do you apply this philosophy in your life? If the risk was for you to take on yourself would you think the same way? Or only when the risk is to some far off people, in a far off land, or some future generation?
The thought is to stop this kind of thing before we get another Deepwater Horizon (or Montara or Ixtoc or Bohai Bay or Barataria Bay or so on), not after.
It's not like there is not enough matter in the solar system to create our own lush ecosystems...
I'm hardly an environmentalist, but for a personal example, my home happens to have a well for drinking water, a perturbation of the environment that's perfectly sustainable, we use less water from this well than the watershed on my property restores to the aquifer. This is an acceptable perturbation IMO. That well is contaminated with polyfluoroalkyl substances from Scotchgard-treated leather scraps. It was too expensive to dispose of them safely, so Wolverine leather buried truckloads of the toxins in a local swamp. This 'perturbed' the environment, turning the place into a Superfund site, making the entire aquifer toxic for decades to come, and should not have been done.
If underwater mining just makes a depression in the seafloor with little other effects, that's probably an OK perturbation. If it releases heavy metals into the water that travel with the currents for miles and miles, killing much of the wildlife, that's an unacceptable perturbation.
Deep sea mining doesn't really do much for either.
Nodules are never going to provide enough to meet demand, so mining nodules doesn't get rid of open cast mining. We don't know what the impact is of mining deep sea nodules, but it's likely to be pretty bad.
If open cast mining had a history of attempting to fix the mines (eg re-wilding) when they'd finished we could trust them a bit more when they want to mine new untouched wilderness. But they mostly don't have that history.
EDIT: for an example of the harm already caused: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02242-y
My understanding was that this one area is estimated to have more rare metals in these nodules than all land based deposits combined.
I think the reason you can't wrap your head around them is because, with possibly a few individual exceptions, 'any human effect on the environment at all' isn't actually what they're opposed to.