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    ‘Aquaman’ Alerts on Mining in the Oceans

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    The American actor Jason Momoa, famous for his role as “Aquaman”, the superhero who lives in the sea, raised a cry of alarm at the Sundance Film Festival against the dangers of mining in the seabed. The Hawaiian star is the narrator of “Deep Rising”, a new documentary released Friday at the annual independent film event, which denounces the race of large industrial groups to extract valuable metals from the bottom of the Pacific.

    Supporters of deep-sea mining say nickel and cobalt, used in electric car batteries, can be mined from the seabed, which would help reduce reliance on fossil fuels. But conservationists and scientists fear that extractions will devastate little-known marine systems that play a crucial role in regulating the climate. Some nations have called for banning this type of mining. “There were moments when I cried and I was moved” when narrating the film, Momoa told AFP, before its world premiere at the Sundance festival that runs until January 29th in Utah, western United States. “It is very important, to use your power for good. They are all things that I am passionate about”, added the actor, who took marine biology courses as a student and advocates for the oceans at the United Nations Environment Program.

    The documentary follows the main players in this nascent industry, including The Metals Company, a Canadian company that wants to exploit Clarion Clipperton, a vast expanse of seabed near Hawaii. The company’s chief executive, Gerard Barron, promises wealthy investors that little harm will be done to “the driest and most desolate part of the planet”, in contrast to the ongoing devastation of tropical rainforests.

    But the documentary’s director, Matthieu Rytz, told AFP that “we know very little” about the real risk to the deep ocean. “Seafloor mining is just a race, because we still don’t have enough scientific knowledge to really understand what’s going on there”, he said.

    The “new oil”

    The Metals Company said that it expects to extract 10 million tons annually, starting in 2025. This company is just one out of 20 research centers or corporations that have ocean exploration contracts and are waiting for the green light to start mining on a large commercial scale.

    Rytz’s documentary argues that the energy crisis has no “silver bullet” and that the brewing race to collect crucial metals is nothing more than “the new oil” and could spark future resource wars. The film shows meetings of the International Seabed Authority, in a “dark room in Kingston,” Jamaica, where delegates decide “the future of 65% of the planet’s surface”. “This goes beyond national jurisdiction. It is high seas”, Rytz said. “It belongs to all of us or to no one”, he added.

    Rytz speaks in the film with scientists who defend the need to explore alternative, clean and more abundant sources of energy, such as hydrogen, for car engines, or to expand transport options such as high-speed trains. “We don’t need these metals in the first place”, he said. “In the places that we are going to mine, it will be total damage. There is no half harm. It is like cutting down a rainforest”, he warned.

    For Momoa, when watching the film, “you are supposed to question things, discuss them and say, ‘We need to rethink everything'”.

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