“It appears to be a blatant violation of two international resolutions,” said Kristina M Gjerde, a senior high seas adviser for the International Union for Conservation of Nature. “Even the placement of iron particles into the ocean, whether for carbon sequestration or fish replenishment, should not take place, unless it is assessed and found to be legitimate scientific research without commercial motivation. This does not appear to even have had the guise of legitimate scientific research.”
Cuntti di Tutti Cuntti, eh?
A controversial American businessman dumped around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean as part of a geoengineering scheme off the west coast of Canada in July, a Guardian investigation can reveal.
Lawyers, environmentalists and civil society groups are calling it a “blatant violation” of two international moratoria and the news is likely to spark outrage at a United Nations environmental summit taking place in India this week.
Satellite images appear to confirm the claim by Californian Russ George that the iron has spawned an artificial plankton bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometres. The intention is for the plankton to absorb carbon dioxide and then sink to the ocean bed – a geoengineering technique known as ocean fertilisation that he hopes will net lucrative carbon credits.
The thing is, we really would like to know whether iron fertilisation “works”. There have been very limited indeed studies of it. Those studies showing that it’s not quite the magic bullet that some (including myself) had thought it to be. Those studies showing that it’s more expensive than some (including myself) had thought.
But do note what is actually going on here. Only those “approved” are allowed to do the experiments. Which really isn’t the way to gain unbiased results now, is it? Nor is it really all that scientific. Reproducibility being at the heart of the discipline and that does rather require multiple experiments.
“If rogue geoengineer Russ George really has misled this indigenous community, and dumped iron into their waters, we hope to see swift legal response to his behavior and strong action taken to the heights of the Canadian and US governments,” said Silvia Ribeiro of the international technology watchdog ETC Group, which first discovered the existence of the scheme. “It is now more urgent than ever that governments unequivocally ban such open-air geoengineering experiments. They are a dangerous distraction providing governments and industry with an excuse to avoid reducing fossil fuel emissions.”
Well yes. But what if iron fertilisation actually works? In theory the cost of sucking a tonne of CO2 out of the atmosphere could cost from $.10 to $200. We’d really rather find out where in that range the cost is don’t you think?
What will be really amusing about how this plays out is that the more they talk up the damage the experiment has done then the more they’re talking up the effectiveness of the technique. A larger bloom means more CO2 sequestration after all…..