FROM DEEP SPACE TO DEEP SEA: THE NEXT MINING FRONTIER
Yesterday, you might recall, I blogged again about the financial pressures inducing the current space race, the race to "go out there" and "get stuff", or at least, mine it. In previous blogs and discussions about this phenomenon, I've raised a caution, a caution of a definite high octane speculation character: what if that "stuff" is someone else's property? What if we're inadvertently crossing some "border" in space that we don't know about, or alternatively, have only some vague clues about in old and forgotten texts? In the course of these speculations I've also advanced the speculation that there are incredible financial pressures to go out there and "get stuff."
But there's another developing pressure, and it's developing for precisely the same reasons, according to this article shared by S.D.:
Note that China has made deep sea surface exploration and mining a deliberate policy objective:
In late 2020, a Chinese submersible, the Fendouzhe, descended over 30,000 feet to the bottom of the Marianas Trench, home to the deepest point in the earth’s oceans, known as Challenger Deep. Loaded with so much surveying equipment that the crew added additional buoyancy materials to keep it balanced, the Fendouzhe set a national record for the depth of its dive and broadcast a live feed of its exploits back to China. While the expedition was billed as focusing on the animal life of the Trench, state media noted that the surveying experience would be useful for China’s growing interest in deep-sea mining.
The deep seabed, essentially the very bottom of the ocean’s floor, is a potentially rich source of oil and gas; elements like cobalt, copper, and nickel, as well as of the rare earth elements (REEs) required for many new technologies. Chinese President Xi Jinping has spoken repeatedly of the connection between “utilization of the ocean” and China’s quest for both maritime and overall national power. In 2016, he spoke specifically of the deep sea, saying: “the deep sea contains treasures that remain undiscovered and undeveloped, and in order to obtain these treasures we have to control key technologies in getting into the deep sea, discovering the deep sea, and developing the deep sea.”
Policy has followed rhetoric. In February 2016, China began laying the predicate for exploitation of deep seabed resources with the passage of the PRC Law on Exploration and Development of Resources in Deep Sea Seabed Areas. In the 12th (2011-2015) and 13th (2016-2020) Five Year Plans, China prioritized “promoting commercialization of deep-sea mining, manufacturing of deep-sea equipment and utilization of deep-sea bioresources.” Beijing already leads the world in the number of deep-sea mining contracts undertaken, with more likely to follow given the breadth of its surveying efforts and the level of interest shown by senior Chinese Communist Party officials.
The trouble here is that most people continue to think of those kinds of depths as being prohibitive to human exploration, much less presence. Popular imagination continues to think of a human presence on the deep ocean floors in terms of 1970s technology, in other words, it's impossible. At those depths, typical submarines are simply crushed.
But with developing technology, including those advocating a fundamental re-engineering of humanity itself in order to maintain a permanent presence in deep space, similar things could be argued for deep sea presence, including genetic chimeras of humans and those species of aquatic life that live at those crushing depths. New materials science could open up those crushing depths to a human presence even without the benefit of genetic modifications.
And while we're at it, it needs to be remembered that roughly two thirds of the planet's surface is under water, and that we still know little about those depths, and what's down there. So the financial incentives that I argued are propelling deep space mining, are also propelling the turn to the oceans, not just for mining, but potentially for agriculture are well.
There are, however, "rubs". The first is military: installations on the deep sea floor would the oceanic equivalent of permanent human colonies in satellites and on other planets, particularly the Moon. It's the equivalent of the "high ground of space", only in this instance, it's the high ground of the surface beneath the oceans, with any surface or submarine fleets being easy prey. Emerging deep sea technologies - and the nations which possess them - will completely redefine the notion of territoriality on sovereignty, extending these ideas to regions of the ocean as well.
The second "rub" is related to the first, but even more spectacular and "high octane": what if there already is a "someone" (or their robots) down there in the depths and what if that "someone" already has a claim on those assets? The issue, believe it or not, is a very real one, for anyone familiar with the details of UFO sightings and reports can attest that there are a number of solid reports of USOs, Unidentified Submerged Objects, zipping along underwater at truly remarkable speeds, and in some cases, emerging from the depths into the air and becoming UFOs. In some cases, these reports also clearly indicate some kind of technology is in play.
That possibility in its turn raises one last high octane speculation implication, namely, that the push into deep space is intimately related to the push into the deep sea, as two prongs of one coordinated policy and effort.
See you on the flip side...
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