Those familiar with the abattoir and its practices will know just how hard it is to get an animal to the slaughter. Even if they don’t know what is happening, animals know enough to be uncomfortable and put-up stiff resistance. To get around this issue, the concept of the Judas goat was put into action. The goat (which gets its name from the Judas of biblical infamy) calms the animal down, provides it with reassurance and leads it to the house of death where only one will come out alive.
This practice was, as far as I can tell, first recorded in the US in the 1800s though it is hard to fathom that humans have not used this method in one form or another over the thousands of years we have domesticated and slaughtered animals.
This practice however is not only relegated to the slaughter of animals, it is also used in the slaughtering of smaller nations by bigger ones, who too embarrassed to call it that refer to it as diplomacy.
There is a plethora of incidents where large countries use smaller ones as a proxy to push forward their destructive ideas. Puerto Rico and operation bootstrap comes to mind, and the use of Brazilian security forces in the occupation of Haiti during Lula’s first stint in office also comes to mind.
We are witnessing this play again where a friendly face is being used to lead us to the slaughter this time in the shape of the deep-sea mining, and Jamaica the country which spearheaded the formation of the International Seabed Authority, is sadly playing along with this deadly game.
Deep sea mining, according to both the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the World Resource Institute, means retrieving mineral deposits from the deep seabed, below 200M. There has been an increase in the push to begin deep sea mining as the mineral deposits on the dry land continue to deplete as we see an increase in their demand.
According to researchers, the deposits in the deep sea include copper, cobalt, nickel, zinc, silver, gold, and rare earth elements which should be contained in underwater mountains, and hydrothermal vents.
The Judas goat in this instance is the country of Nauru. According to Reuters, Nauru, in 2021, expressed its intention to use a loophole in existing regulations to gain permission to start exploration activities.
The Pacific Island nation is facing hard times financially and faces the prospect of losing more of the island to rising sea levels. As a result, the island, which was once home to a booming phosphate industry, has been facing intense lobbying by the hands of mining companies and is expected to apply to the ISA to begin mining and activities could begin later this year even without a regulation.
Jamaica’s position on the matter seems to be that of a secondary Judas goat, there to provide gravitas and surety for the other goats who may well be sceptical of the initial Judas goat. The position of the nation’s leaders is to give tacit agreement to the move while stating the support is contingent upon the implementation of regulations for the sector.
With this statement and position, it is expected that Jamaica will use its diplomatic clout – something which we still retain – to lobby enough nations to sit down and hammer out regulations for the sector before the 2-year deadline is reached which would allow Nauru to proceed with deep-sea mining.
The fact is the deadline is looming, and nations are rushing around trying to get something in place so the inevitable actions are not taking place in the proverbial wild west, many remain sceptical of the practice but with Jamaica acting as the calm head and home of the ISA, the thought is regulations will be enacted. If they are favourable to the mining companies that is merely a happenstance.
The push to have these regulations enacted while good simply because they provide structure to the madness, should worry us all, especially as humanity continues to reel from the effects of climate change. The mining corporations who are using Nauru as a mask and have found a friend in Jamaica has a proven track record of environmental destruction and have shown no interest in changing their methods anytime soon.
The open pits, the poison which runs through the air and water, the destruction of human lives, all of this is the method of the companies who are pushing this agenda and to think they would operate in another fashion because it is the ocean is the height of naivety.
The facts are that we know more about space, something we have explored in person for less than 100 years, than we do about the seas which we have lived with since the dawn of man. The things we don’t know, in terms of ocean ecology, habitat, ecosystem, how they are, or are not interconnected, not to mention plant and animal life could and with all likelihood will be severely, if not critically impacted by any form of deep-sea mining.
The fact is the oceans are littered with mineral deposits, that is true, but after the easy picking is done, we will be faced with the same choice we faced on the dry land, stop, or dig deeper and cause more destruction.
The regulations will be enacted, countries will begin to allow companies to prospect off their shores, these are the unfortunate realities, however, it does not have to end there.
We have the power to ensure that our government does not engage in this practice through organising and mobilising. This is an issue which is environmental, and social its nature, it will affect the quality of the sea at a time when we the masses are pushing to gain the right to access all beaches throughout the island. The task is ours, as the world burns and reels from the actions taken by a small portion of humanity over the past 2 centuries, we can and must stand for this area which is one of the few left which have not been impacted by our rapacious desire to consume everything.