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burke1_Alexis RosenfeldGetty Images_dead coral Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images

管好下一场淘金热

华盛顿—国际海床管理局(ISA)坐落在牙买加金斯敦港的混凝土栈桥上,海湾对岸就是“白布杰克”拉卡曼(“Calico Jack” Rackham)被绞首示众,以效十八世纪其他海盗之尤的地方。如今,这个联合国小机构管理着公海——或者更准确地说,管理着水面以下三英里的海床——而普罗大众基本对它一无所知。但如果中国准备报复美国进口关税,限制其稀土元素出口的话,这一状况将很快发生改变。

事实上,地球表面有71%位于水面以下,海底(或海床)富含稀土元素和其他人类所渴望的物质——特别是在国际海域的深海。ISA管理着一大半国际深洋底的物产权,其168个成员国有权争夺哪里的资源。但是,这可能带来灾难性的环境后果,因此如果不精打细算的话,所有国家都会因为这场竞争而损失惨重。

海底矿物一般集中在位于深海平原上的马铃薯状的岩层中,它们通过海底裂缝释放出沸水,然后沉淀在称为海底山的水下死火山侧翼。一般而言,这种形式的矿物集中度要比旱地上的矿石高得多。

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