Headline, April 27 2022/ ENVIRONMENT : ''' '' THE DEEP DEAR TAP '' '''


''' '' THE DEEP 

DEAR TAP '' '''

SCATTERED THREE MILES DEEP ALONG the floor of the central Pacific are trillions of black, misshapen nuggets that may just be the solution to an impending energy crisis.

Similar in size and appearance to partially burned charcoal briquettes, the nuggets are called polymetallic nodules, and are an amalgamation of nickel, cobalt, manganese and other rare earth metals, formed through a complex biochemical process in which shark teeth and fishbones are encased by minerals accreted out of ocean waters over millions of years.

Marine biologists say they are part of one of the least-understood environments on earth, holding if not the secret to life on this planet, at least something equally fundamental to the health of its oceans.

Garard Barron, the Australian CEO of seabed mining company the Metals Company, calls them  something else : ''a battery in a rock,'' and ''the easiest way to solve climate change.''

The modules, which are strewn across the 4.5 million-sq-km [ 1.7 million-sq-mi,] swath of international ocean between Hawaii and Mexico known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone [CCZ], contain significant amounts of the metals needed to make the batteries that power our laptops, phones and electric cars.

Barron estimates that there is enough cobalt and nickel in those nuggets to power 4.8 billion electric vehicles - more than twice the number of vehicles on the road today, worldwide. Mining them, he says, would be as simple as vacuuming golf balls off a putting green.

But conservationists say doing so could unleash a cascade effect worse than the current trajectory of climate change. Oceans are a vital carbon sink, absorbing up to a quarter carbon emissions a year. The process of extracting the nodules is unlikely to disrupt that ability on its own, but the very nature of the world's oceans - largely contiguous, with a system of currents that circumnavigate the globe - means that what happens in one area could have unforeseen impacts on the other side of the planet.

''If this goes wrong, it could trigger a series of unintended consequences that messes with ocean stability, ultimately affecting life everywhere on Earth,'' says Pippa Howard, director of the biodiversity-conservation organization Fauna and Flora International.

The modules are a core part of the biome roughly the size of the Amazon rainforest, she notes. ''They've got living ecosystems on them. Taking those modules and then using them to make batteries is like making cement out of coral reefs.''

The debate over the ethics of mining the earth's last untouched frontier is growing in both intensity and consequences. It pits biologists against geologist, conservationist against environmentalist, and manufacturers against supplier in a world grappling with a paradox - one that will define our path to a future free of fossil fuels :

Sustainable energy that will run cleaner but also require metals and resources whose extraction will both contribute to global warming and impact biodiversity.

So as nations commit to lower greenhouse-gas emissions, the conflict is no longer between fossil fuel firms and clean-energy proponents, but rather over what ecosystems are willing to sacrifice in the process. 

HISTORY IS LITTERED with stories of well-intended environmental interventions that have gone catastrophically wrong, for example, South American cane toads introduced into Australia in the 1930s first sailed to control beetles attacking sugarcane, then spread unchecked across the continent, poisoning wildlife and pets.

Nevertheless, a radical embrace of electric vehicles will be necessary to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees C above preindustrial levels, the goal of the Paris Agreement. But according to a May 2021 report by the International Energy Agency [IEA] - the Paris based intergovernmental organisation helps shape global economy policies.

The world isn't mining enough of the minerals needed to make the batteries that will power that clean-energy future. Demand for the metals in electric vehicles alone could grow by more than 30 times from 2020 to 2040, say the report's authors.

''If supply chains can't meet skyrocketing demand. mineral shortages could mean clean-energy shortages,'' the report argues. Fears of such shortages have countries and companies racing to secure the supplies needed for coming energy transition.

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational on Nature's Blessings and Solutions and Minerals, continues. The World Students Society thanks authors : Time Magazine, Aryn Baker, with reporting by Charlie Campbell/ Beijing and Corinne Furtill / San Diego.

With respectful dedication to the Scientists, Researchers, Leaders, and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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