Trillions of metallic nodules on the sea floor could help stop global heating, but mining them may damage ocean ecology In a display cabinet in the recently opened Our Broken Planet exhibition in London’s Natural History Museum, curators have placed a small nugget of dark material covered with faint indentations. The blackened lump could easily be mistaken for coal. Its true nature is much more intriguing, however.
The nugget is a polymetallic nodule and oceanographers have discovered trillions of them litter Earth’s ocean floors. Each is rich in manganese, nickel, cobalt and copper, some of the most important ingredients for making the electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels that we need to replace the carbon-emitting lorries, power plants and factories now wrecking our climate. These metallic morsels could therefore help humanity save itself from the ravages of global warming, argue mining companies who say their extraction should be rated an international priority. By dredging up nodules from the deep we can slow the scorching of our planet’s ravaged surface.
“We desperately need substantial amounts of manganese, nickel, cobalt and copper to build electric cars and power plants,” says Hans Smit, chief executive of Florida’s Oceans Minerals, which has announced plans to mine for nodules. “We cannot increase land supplies of these metals without having a significant environmental impact. The only alternative lies in the ocean.” Other researchers disagree – vehemently. They say mining deep-sea nodules would be catastrophic for our already stressed, plastic-ridden, overheated oceans. Delicate, long-living denizens of the deep – polychaete worms, sea cucumbers, corals and squid – would be obliterated by dredging. At the same time, plumes of sediments, laced with toxic metals, would be sent spiraling upwards to poison marine food-chains….
More posts on mining
More posts on the oceans
George Monbiot: Dead Line – Future corporate profits are officially more important than life on Earth
CODE RED for Humanity – The IPCC report is clear: nothing short of transforming society will avert catastrophe
JOHN BUELL: Living on a Newly Unrecognizable Planet
Chomsky: Internationalism or Extinction
Our leaders look climate change in the eyes, and shrug / Siberian heatwave led to new methane emissions / Terrifying documentary on US wildfires
Earthly Anecdotes: an alternative to the doom-saying of our times
Reynard Loki – Here’s a major lesson from the pandemic: We can save the planet from climate change
Aseem Shrivastava: An Age gone blind // Mallika Bhanot – Char Dham Pariyojana: A High Risk Engineering Exercise
This obscure energy treaty is the greatest threat to the planet you’ve never heard of
Erin Brockovich – Plummeting sperm counts, shrinking penises: toxic chemicals threaten humanity
REBECCA SMITHERS – We Are Flushing Away Our Forests: Researchers warn that toilet paper is becoming unsustainable
David Cox – The planet’s prodigious poo problem
Owen Jones: Why don’t we treat the climate crisis with the same urgency as coronavirus?
“DoD: At Least 126 Bases Report Water Contaminants Linked to Cancer, Birth Defects”
John Sentamu – It’s time to act against the oil companies causing death and destruction
Restoring forests could capture two-thirds of the carbon humans have added to the atmosphere
Book review: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History // Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change
From Siberia to Australia: the age of fire is the bleakest warning yet
The Amazon is burning. The climate is changing. And we’re doing nothing to stop it
MONEY TO BURN: Over 300 banks and investors back 6 of the world’s most harmful agribusinesses to the tune of $44bn
Matt Sheehan – Silent documentary on China’s unspooling environmental disasters