What Earth looks like with oceans dried up + Regulating deep ocean mining destruction

NASA reveals what Earth would look like if the oceans dried up

INTRO: Imagine a world where the oceans all dried up, leaving only dry land behind. NASA reveals a remarkable video showing what Earth would look like if the oceans drained. The video below is a remake of the 2008 animation by Horace Mitchell from NASA. In 2008, Dr. Mitchell developed an animated video showing a scenario where three-fifths of Earth’s surface, which is currently under the ocean, was revealed.

The video was recently remade by Dr. James O'Donoghue, a planetary scientist with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and formerly with NASA. Dr. O’Donoghue recreated the video at a much higher resolution, slowed down the animation to better see what the Earth looks like during the first 10’s of meters of draining and added a tracker to show how much water had been drained.

The video reveals important information about the vast unknown of the ocean seafloor but also about human evolution. During the last glacial maximum (LGM), about 26,000 to 19,000 years ago, sea level was about 410 feet below its current level. The sea level was so much lower than it is today because a tremendous amount of the ocean’s water was locked away on top of continents and countries across the globe, from Antarctica to Greenland as well as northern North America and Europe.

This resulted in shallow land bridges appearing between continents and islands. In the early history of humans, these land bridges were used to migrate around the world... (MORE)


How Your Smartphone May Be Destroying The Deep Ocean

EXCERPT: Parts of your cell phone, tablet, or electric vehicle may have originated from deep on the ocean floor. Despite a lack of light and temperatures that hover around freezing (32°F/ 0°C), deep hydrothermal vents stimulate a vibrant array of marine life. These unusual places are teeming with critters like crabs, seastars, octopuses, sponges, and even deep-sea fish.

Underwater seamounts formed by hydrothermal vents are rich in valuable metals, including cobalt (used in batteries, including Tesla’s Model S car battery), platinum (used in jewelry and catalytic converters), and molybdenum (used in refining petroleum, and for strengthening steel). However, there is a lot of evidence that deep-sea mining is extremely destructive.

[...] “The push for deep-sea mining has really accelerated in the last few years, and it is crucial that policymakers and the industry understand these microbes and the services they provide,” says Beth Orcutt, a senior research scientist ... and the lead author of the study. “This paper establishes what we know and suggests next steps for using the best science to evaluate the impacts of this new human activity in the deep sea.”

A number of regulations have been passed by the International Seabed Authority [...] The Authority’s scheduled to finalize the ‘Mining Code’ in 2020, which is intended to provide a more complete regulation of global mining activity. Until then, deep-sea mining and exploration may continue in a frenzy akin to the California Gold Rush.

The regulation of mining will not single-handedly protect deep-sea marine life. In fact, there are mounting concerns that regulations will encourage more mining activities before environmental effects are adequately evaluated. [...] Others disagree, arguing that the proper steps have been taken to minimize the adverse effect of deep-sea mining activity.

“This is the most preparation that we’ve ever done for any industrial activity,” says Michael Lodge, the Authority’s secretary-general [...] Matthias Haeckel, a biogeochemist at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, agrees: “This is much better than we have acted in the past on oil and gas production, deforestation or disposal of nuclear waste.”

Regardless of what the Authority decides, the stakes are high... (MORE - details)

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