Oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea threatens to turn up the heat

south china sea

Creative Commons: Justin Gaurav Murgai, 2008

An international group of geologists embarked Sunday on a research voyage seeking new undersea oil and gas deposits in the South China Sea. The voyage—underwritten mostly by the Chinese government, but based on an American vessel—aims to explore a region that some believe might contain 18.7 billion tons of oil and 498 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

While the voyage threatens to resurrect simmering tensions between China and its neighbors, it bears mentioning that this voyage could heat up this region in a far more literal way.

Extracting fossil fuels underlying the South China Sea would only increase the rate of global warming, raise sea surface temperatures, and contribute to ocean acidification.

If the group finds oil deposits, as a previous research expedition did in the late 1990s, it will raise the diplomatic stakes for the countries vying for control of the South China Sea waterways and islands, such as the Spratleys and Paracels.

Read more: Quartz>>

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