Jamaican speaks at the launch of a Youth Alliance for a Deep Sea Mining Moratorium

It’s a given, surely, that the voice of youth must be heard, loud and clear, on all matters related to the environment and climate change. After all, they are inheriting the Planet that the older generations have made quite a mess of.

I was especially pleased and proud to hear the voice of Jamaican youth speaking up so eloquently at today’s launch of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance‘s Youth Alliance for a Deep Sea Mining Moratorium, attended by an audience from sixteen countries. Dahvia Hylton, of the Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council, made some important points. After the introductions, the three-way conversation between her, Jeremy McKane of the Ocean Currency Network, and SOA’s Hispanoamerica Regional Representative, Daniel Caceres Bartra, covered a lot of ground in a short space of time. And the background design was brilliant, by the way!

The SOA conducted a survey, to which over 1,000 respondents from sixty countries responded, on their view regarding deep sea mining. The overwhelming response to a series of questions was that: Youth are opposed to deep sea mining.

“The deep sea is the least likely ecosystem to be able to adapt to change,” noted Jeremy McKane. Both he and Dahvia stressed that we have absolutely no idea of what impact the pillaging of our oceans will have on us humans.

The unintended consequences of deep sea mining are unfathomable. Pardon the pun; a fathom is a measurement of length, or rather depth of water – that is around six feet, or 1.8 metres. “Full fathom five Thy father lies,” to quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest... I think it’s my Word of the Week.

As Jeremy also noted, at the end of the day it just doesn’t make good business sense. The Metals Company’s stock price has fallen in 2022, he observed.

“…is doing enough to tackle deep sea mining”

Mark Haver, the Representative for the SOA’s North America region, observed that deep sea mining is not a “fringe issue,” as some would assert; it is at the forefront of climate change concerns. Our seas are a massive carbon sink. More than half of the oxygen we breathe comes from the ocean (yes, the word “oxygen” came up a few times in the conversation; we cannot live without it!) Mark Haver pointed to the “Defend the Deep” campaign, targeting companies and supported by veteran activist Jane Fonda (whom I love so much). Names like Volkswagen, BMW, Philips, Scania, Samsung, and of course Patagonia supported the campaign. Also, in a short space of time, close to 84,000 signatures have been collected on the SOA’s “Only One” petition site, which I shared the link to in my previous post. Please sign and share!

Both Dahvia and Daniel made important points about activism and the need for what Daniel called a “civil movement.” In other words, collaboration with the wider public is really needed at this point – rather than talking among ourselves, or “preaching to the choir.” It’s an essential next step.

They concurred on this point: If you just claim to care about the environment and the climate crisis, but “for the rest of your life you don’t live it” – what is the point? You need to live it every day.

Jeremy McKane, in a rather vivid metaphor, asked how you take the chainsaw away from a man chopping down trees. If you stand and shout at him to stop it will be ineffective, and he won’t hear you anyway. He raised the spectre of other countries that might be planning to mine in their own economic exclusion zones – that is, in their very own waters. Now, that’s a scary thought.

Jeremy suggested declaring the coveted manganese nodules on the sea floor as “conflict minerals” – because “mark my words, they will be fighting over them.” They would therefore be illegal. That’s something to think about. Taking away the chainsaw.

So, what next?

“We have nine more months to try and make the moratorium happen at the International Seabed Authority; it seems like both a long time and a short time…” said Elle Wibisono, the volunteer Chair of the SOA’s Youth Policy Advisory Council (YPAC) for this year, who moderated the talk.

“We’re fighting the good fight here.”

Some participants in today’s discussion.


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