James Cameron says deep-sea mining is safer than getting in an elevator

His comments come a month after a submersible imploded killing all five passengers on board.
Sejal Sharma
Director James Cameron
Director James Cameron

Getty Images 

Titanic Director James Cameron, who has completed over 75 deep-sea dives, has strongly supported deep-sea mining. This controversial activity involves extracting valuable materials beyond 200 meters of seawater.

It’s a significant concern among a growing number of nations. Even the global regulatory body on deep-sea extraction, International Seabed Authority (ISA), met in Jamaica to negotiate and formulate rules for the activity. But in what came as a relief to the environmentalists, ISA’s discussions ended with a big no to industrial-scale mining.

Deep-sea mining is safer than getting in an elevator

In an interview with The Guardian, Cameron said deep-sea exploration is “safer than getting an elevator and safer than getting on an airplane.”

His comments come a month after the unfortunate deep sea accident in which a submersible imploded, killing all the five passengers on board on its way to visit the Titanic ruins.

The Avatar director has visited some of the rarely visited areas of our planet, like the voyage to the Challenger Deep, over 10,000 meters below the sea. He added that his numerous deep-sea explorations have helped him decide about deep-sea mining. 

“I’ve seen an awful lot of seafloor. And while there are some amazing creatures, they tend to be clustered in small habitats. What you mostly have is miles and miles and miles of nothing but clay,” said Cameron.

The hot spot for miners

Regarded as a hotbed of polymetallic nodules - which are mineral concretions on the sea bottom formed of concentric layers of iron and manganese hydroxides around a core - the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the Pacific Ocean has around 27 billion metric tons of these nodules, reported the Interesting Engineering.

Over the last many years, CCZ has become a target for deep-sea mining companies. But interestingly enough, scientists discovered 5,000 new species in the CCZ in May, which could be wiped out if the companies are given the go-ahead.

However, the ISA has designated several areas as Areas of Particular Environmental Interest (APEIs) currently protected from mining activities. And these APEIs were placed across the CCZ to protect and represent the region's full range of biodiversity and habitats, including variations in nodule abundances, food availability, and seafloor topography, as per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

However, still batting for deep-sea mining, Cameron said that society has a “weird habit of blowing the wrong thing out of proportion. Mining highly sensitive and highly diverse habitats is a very, very different thing from mining in the abyssal seafloor.”

Cameron has also been credited with discovering a new species of sea cucumber and squid worm, reported The Guardian.

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