China Builds Sub That Can Dive 4.35 Miles Underwater (Video)

To aid in hunt for fossil fuels and minerals to mine
China has evidently entered the arena of deep sea submersible building, which is hardly surprising considering the nation's current thrust towards achieving various feats of technological derring-do. According to the New York Times, Chinese researchers have built a sub intended to descend to 4.35 miles below the surface -- which would edge out "the current global leader" -- and it has already been tested at depths of at least 2 miles (see the video after the jump for proof). But what jumped out at me about the story was the objective of successfully testing such a sub: To explore for hard-to-reach oil and mineral reserves, of course. Yes, just the second paragraph in the NY Times story hits on the practical purpose of having a fleet of such impressive submersibles around:

The men, who descended more than two miles in a craft the size of a small truck, also signaled Beijing's intention to take the lead in exploring remote and inaccessible parts of the ocean floor, which are rich in oil, minerals and other resources that the Chinese would like to mine. And many of those resources happen to lie in areas where China has clashed repeatedly with its neighbors over territorial claims.
So lest you think that the current hoopla over its clean energy exports, and China's dominance in renewables meant that the nation was giving up on the oily stuff, think again.

Obviously, that wasn't going to happen -- but this event did nonetheless raise my eyebrow a bit. Remember, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was one mile underwater and that took the better part of 5 months to plug up after an accident. The exploratory vessel's deepwater feat is yet another sign that we're continuing along the same slippery trajectory: oil (and minerals and other resources) are getting harder to come by, and the operations required to obtain them are becoming more dangerous, more high-stakes.

Worst of all, there appears to be no end in sight -- perhaps a longer post is in order to look at what the future of deepwater oil exploration and extraction entails. But for now, suffice to say that the idea of uber high-tech subs patrolling the mysterious, hitherto uncharted deep sea for reserves of oil to drill into strikes me as rather depressing.

More on Deep Sea Drilling
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