History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin It’s underwater—and the consequences are unimaginable.

Deep-Sea Mining and the Race to the Bottom of the Ocean
– The Atlantic

Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean. Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes.

These peaks and valleys are laced with most of the same minerals found on land. Scientists have documented their deposits since at least 1868, when a dredging ship pulled a chunk of iron ore from the seabed north of Russia. Five years later, another ship found similar nuggets at the bottom of the Atlantic, and two years after that, it discovered a field of the same objects in the Pacific. For more than a century, oceanographers continued to identify new minerals on the seafloor—copper, nickel, silver, platinum, gold, and even gemstones—while mining companies searched for a practical way to dig them up.

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/01/20000-feet-under-the-sea/603040/?utm_source=pocket-newtab&fbclid=IwAR0Jeswmmg14nOY7RD_bCVaGflN-jJK30220Jeikl1iYaLeynQMWQlL3ND4

Today, many of the largest mineral corporations in the world have launched underwater mining programs. On the west coast of Africa, the De Beers Group is using a fleet of specialized ships to drag machinery across the seabed in search of diamonds. In 2018, those ships extracted 1.4 million carats from the coastal waters of Namibia; in 2019, De Beers commissioned a new ship that will scrape the bottom twice as quickly as any other vessel. Another company, Nautilus Minerals, is working in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea to shatter a field of underwater hot springs lined with precious metals, while Japan and South Korea have embarked on national projects to exploit their own offshore deposits. But the biggest prize for mining companies will be access to international waters, which cover more than half of the global seafloor and contain more valuable minerals than all the continents combined…

Deep Sea Mining: An Invisible Land Grab – Mission Blue

DEEP SEA MINING: AN INVISIBLE LAND GRAB
July 20, 2016  
By Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue
Thousands of meters beneath the azure ocean waters in places like the South Pacific, down through a water column saturated with life and to the ocean floor carpeted in undiscovered ecosystems, machines the size of small buildings are poised to begin a campaign of wholesale destruction. I wish this assessment was hyperbole, but it is the reality we find ourselves in today.

A deep sea mining machine.

After decades of being on the back burner owing to costs far outweighing benefits, deep sea mining is now emerging as a serious threat to the stability of ocean systems and processes that have yet to be understood well enough to sanction in good conscience their large-scale destruction. Machines tear up the seabed producing minerals sent up to a capture boat.

Critical to evaluating what is at stake are technologies needed to access the deep sea. The mining company, Nautilus Minerals, has invested heavily in mining machinery. However, resources needed for independent scientific assessment at those depths are essentially non-existent.

The layout of a mining operation.

China is investing heavily in submersibles, manned and robotic, that are able to at least provide superficial documentation of what is in the deep ocean. Imagine aliens with an appetite for minerals flying low over New York City taking photographs and occasional samples and using them to evaluate the relative importance of the streets and buildings with no capacity to understand (or interest) in the importance of Wall Street, the New York Times, Lincoln Center, Columbia University or even the role of taxi cabs and traffic signals. They might even wonder whether or not those little two-legged things running around would be useful for something.

The International Seabed Authority, located in Jamaica and created under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is currently issuing permits for mining exploration. At the very least, might there be ways to issue something like “restraining orders” owing to the lack of proof that no harm will be done to systems critical to human needs? Or also at the very least protecting very (very, very) large areas where no mining will be allowed?

Do you see life in this picture? I do.

The role of life in the deep sea relating to the carbon cycle is vaguely understood, and the influence of the microbial systems (only recently discovered) and the diverse ecosystems in the water column and sea bed have yet to be thoughtfully analyzed. If a doctor could only see the skin of a patient, or sample what is underneath with tiny probes, how could internal functions be understood?

The rationale for exploiting minerals in the deep sea is based on their perceived current monetary value. The living systems that will be destroyed are perceived to have no monetary value. Will decisions about use of the natural world continue to be based on the financial advantage for a small number of people despite risks to systems that underpin planetary stability – systems that support human survival?

Please read more at the link below.

Source: Deep Sea Mining: An Invisible Land Grab – Mission Blue

Climate guru James Hansen warns of much worse than expected sea level rise | Environment | The Guardian

The current rate of global warming could raise sea levels by “several meters” over the coming century, rendering most of the world’s coastal cities uninhabitable and helping unleash devastating storms, according to a paper published by James Hansen, the former Nasa scientist who is considered the father of modern climate change awareness. The research, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, references past climatic conditions, recent observations and future models to warn the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets will contribute to a far worse sea level increase than previously thought. Sea level rise is accelerating; how much it costs is up to us.

Without a sharp reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the global sea level is likely to increase “several meters over a timescale of 50 to 150 years”, the paper states, warning that the Earth’s oceans were six to nine meters higher during the Eemian period – an interglacial phase about 120,000 years ago that was less than 1C warmer than it is today. Global warming of 2C above pre-industrial times – the world is already halfway to this mark – would be “dangerous” and risk submerging cities, the paper said. A separate study, released in February, warned that New York, London, Rio de Janeiro and Shanghai will be among the cities at risk from flooding by 2100. Hansen’s research, written with 18 international colleagues, warns that humanity would not be able to properly adapt to such changes, although the paper concedes its conclusions “differ fundamentally from existing climate change assessments”. The IPCC has predicted a sea level rise of up to one meter by 2100, if emissions are not constrained. Hansen, and other scientists, have argued the UN body’s assessment is too conservative as it doesn’t factor in the potential disintegration of the polar ice sheets. Hansen’s latest work has proved controversial because it was initially published in draft form last July without undergoing a peer review process. Some scientists have questioned the assumptions made by Hansen and the soaring rate of sea level rise envisioned by his research, which has now been peer-reviewed and published.

read more Source: Climate guru James Hansen warns of much worse than expected sea level rise | Environment | The Guardian

Sea-level rise ‘could last twice as long as human history’ | Environment | Damian Carrington, The Guardian

Research warns of the long timescale of climate change impacts unless urgent action is taken to cut emissions drastically Plastic waste near Dakar, Senegal. Around two-thirds of the national population lives in the Dakar coastal area, which is threatened by sea-level rise.

Huge sea-level rises caused by climate change will last far longer than the entire history of human civilisation to date, according to new research, unless the brief window of opportunity of the next few decades is used to cut carbon emissions drastically. Even if global warming is capped at governments’ target of 2C – which is already seen as difficult – 20% of the world’s population will eventually have to migrate away from coasts swamped by rising oceans. Cities including New York, London, Rio de Janeiro, Cairo, Calcutta, Jakarta and Shanghai would all be submerged. “Much of the carbon we are putting in the air from burning fossil fuels will stay there for thousands of years,” said Prof Peter Clark, at Oregon State University in the US and who led the new work. “People need to understand that the effects of climate change won’t go away, at least not for thousands of generations.” “The long-term view sends the chilling message of what the real risks and consequences are of the fossil fuel era,” said Prof Thomas Stocker, at the University of Bern, Switzerland and also part of the research team. “It will commit us to massive adaptation efforts so that for many, dislocation and migration becomes the only option.” The report, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, notes most research looks at the impacts of global warming by 2100 and so misses one of the biggest consequences for civilisation – the long-term melting of polar ice caps and sea-level rise. This is because the great ice sheets take thousand of years to react fully to higher temperatures. The researchers say this long-term view raises moral questions about the kind of environment being passed down to future generations. The research shows that even with climate change limited to 2C by tough emissions cuts, sea level would rise by 25 metres over the next 2,000 years or so and remain there for at least 10,000 years – twice as long as human history. If today’s burning of coal, oil and gas is not curbed, the sea would rise by 50m, completely changing the map of the world. “We can’t keep building seawalls that are 25m high,” said Clark. “Entire populations of cities will eventually have to move.” Advertisement By far the greatest contributor to the sea level rise – about 80% – would be the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet. Another new study in Nature Climate Change published on Monday reveals that some large Antarctic ice sheets are dangerously close to losing the sea ice shelves that hold back their flow into the ocean.

Read more: Sea-level rise ‘could last twice as long as human history’ | Environment | The Guardian

World Ocean Day, June 8, 2015, UNESCO, Paris – Toward a Strategy on Oceans and Climate at the UNFCCC COP 21 Paris | Global Ocean Forum

The global oceans community supports and urges States Parties and Observers in the UNFCCC climate negotiations to reach an ambitious legally binding agreement at the COP 21 in Paris in December 2015 adopting stringent and immediate reductions in CO2 emissions. This is essential to ensure the continuing functioning of the oceans in sustaining life on Earth, and to avoid disastrous consequences on ocean and coastal communities around the world. For the full statement given by Dr. Biliana Cicin-Sain, GOF President, at the World Oceans Day, 8 June 2015, UNESCO, Paris, please see here: GOF Statement on Oceans and Climate June 8 2015 Posted in News | Tags: COP21, UNFCCC, World Oceans Day « NEW: Update on ABNJ Workshop – Presentations Now AvailableThe Oceans Day at the UNFCCC COP 21 – December 4, 2015, Rio Conventions Pavilion, Le Bourget, Paris, France »

Source: World Ocean Day, June 8, 2015, UNESCO, Paris – Toward a Strategy on Oceans and Climate at the UNFCCC COP 21 Paris | Global Ocean Forum

Salt-Water Fish Extinction Seen By 2048 – Boris Warm, Dalhousie University. CBS News

 

The apocalypse has a new date: 2048.That’s when the world’s oceans will be empty of fish, predicts an international team of ecologists and economists. The cause: the disappearance of species due to overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and climate change.The study by Boris Worm, PhD, of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, — with colleagues in the U.K., U.S., Sweden, and Panama — was an effort to understand what this loss of ocean species might mean to the world.The researchers analyzed several different kinds of data. Even to these ecology-minded scientists, the results were an unpleasant surprise.”I was shocked and disturbed by how consistent these trends are — beyond anything we suspected,” Worm says in a news release.”This isn’t predicted to happen. This is happening now,” study researcher Nicola Beaumont, PhD, of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, U.K., says in a news release.”If biodiversity continues to decline, the marine environment will not be able to sustain our way of life. Indeed, it may not be able to sustain our lives at all,” Beaumont adds.Already, 29% of edible fish and seafood species have declined by 90% — a drop that means the collapse of these fisheries.But the issue isn’t just having seafood on our plates. Ocean species filter toxins from the water. They protect shorelines. And they reduce the risks of algae blooms such as the red tide.”A large and increasing proportion of our population lives close to the coast; thus the loss of services such as flood control and waste detoxification can have disastrous consequences,” Worm and colleagues say.The researchers analyzed data from 32 experiments on different marine environments.They then analyzed the 1,000-year history of 12 coastal regions around the world, including San Francisco and Chesapeake bays in the U.S., and the Adriatic, Baltic, and North seas in Europe.Next, they analyzed fishery data from 64 large marine ecosystems.And finally, they looked at the recovery of 48 protected ocean areas.Their bottom line: Everything that lives in the ocean is important. The diversity of ocean life is the key to its survival. The areas of the ocean with the most different kinds of life are the healthiest.But the loss of species isn’t gradual. It’s happening fast — and getting faster, the researchers say.Worm and colleagues call for sustainable fisheries management, pollution control, habitat maintenance, and the creation of more ocean reserves.This, they say, isn’t a cost; it’s an investment that will pay off in lower insurance costs, a sustainable fish industry, fewer natural disasters, human health, and more.”It’s not too late. We can turn this around,” Worm says. “But less than 1% of the global ocean is effectively protected right now.”Worm and colleagues report their findings in the Nov. 3 issue of Science.

Source: Salt-Water Fish Extinction Seen By 2048 – CBS News

Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet | Winkelmann, R. Levermann, A. Ridgwell, A. Caldeira, K. Science Advances

The Antarctic Ice Sheet stores water equivalent to 58 m in global sea-level rise. We show in simulations using the Parallel Ice Sheet Model that burning the currently attainable fossil fuel resources is sufficient to eliminate the ice sheet. With cumulative fossil fuel emissions of 10,000 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC), Antarctica is projected to become almost ice-free with an average contribution to sea-level rise exceeding 3 m per century during the first millennium. Consistent with recent observations and simulations, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet becomes unstable with 600 to 800 GtC of additional carbon emissions. Beyond this additional carbon release, the destabilization of ice basins in both West and East Antarctica results in a threshold increase in global sea level. Unabated carbon emissions thus threaten the Antarctic Ice Sheet in its entirety with associated sea-level rise that far exceeds that of all other possible sources.

Source: Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet | Science Advances

Long-term response of oceans to CO2 removal from the atmosphere : Potsdam Institute, Nature Climate Change : Nature Publishing Group

Long-term response of oceans to CO2 removal from the atmosphere : Nature Climate Change : Nature Publishing Group.

Greenhouse-gas emissions from human activities do not only cause rapid warming of the seas, but also ocean acidification at an unprecedented rate. Artificial carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere has been proposed to reduce both risks to marine life. A new study based on computer calculations now shows that this strategy would not work if applied too late. CDR cannot compensate for soaring business-as-usual emissions throughout the century and beyond, even if the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration would be restored to pre-industrial levels at some point in the future. This is due to the tremendous inertia of the ocean system. Thus, CDR cannot substitute timely emissions reductions, yet may play a role as a supporting actor in the climate drama.

“Geoengineering measures are currently being debated as a kind of last resort to avoid dangerous climate change – either in the case that policymakers find no agreement to cut CO2 emissions, or to delay the transformation of our energy systems,” says lead-author Sabine Mathesius from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “However, looking at the oceans we see that this approach carries great risks.” In scenarios of timely emissions reductions, artificially removing CO2 can complement efforts. “Yet in a business-as-usual scenario of unabated emissions, even if the CO2 in the atmosphere would later on be reduced to the preindustrial concentration, the acidity in the oceans could still be more than four times higher than the preindustrial level,” says Mathesius. “It would take many centuries to get back into balance with the atmosphere.”