The mission was delicate and controversial — with broad implications for the planet.
Investors are betting tens of millions of dollars that these black nodules packed with metals used in electric car batteries are the ticket for the United States to recapture supremacy over the green economy — and to keep up with a global transportation revolution started by California.
Alongside his docked ship, Gerard Barron, CEO of the Metals Company, held in his hand one of the nodules he argues can help save the planet. "We have to be bold and we have to be prepared to look at new frontiers," he said. "Climate change isn't something that's waiting around for us to figure it out."
The urgency with which his company and a handful of others are moving to start scraping the seabed for these materials alarms oceanographers and advocates, who warn they are literally in uncharted waters. Much is unknown about life on the deep sea floor, and vacuuming swaths of it clean threatens to have unintended and far-reaching consequences.