Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
According to BBC News, scientists aboard the German research ship the Polarstern have begun dumping iron particles into an area of the Scotia Sea east of Argentina in an ocean fertilization experiment. The expedition had been suspended by the German government because of concerns that it violated the UN’s Convention On Biological Diversity. But with the expedition reauthorized by the German government the experiment is being carried out. The BBC article says that 6 tons of iron sulfate are being dumped into the ocean, although it has been reported that the ship set out with 20 tons.
This ocean fertilization experiment is taking place at a time when a new published research report described in an article posted at Yahoo News provides both good and bad news for the idea of dumping iron into the ocean to stimulate phytoplankton blooms as a way of countering global warming. The good news is that the research team, which was led by Raymond Pollard of the National Oceanography Centre of Southhampton in England, found that plankton were much more abundant in ocean water high in iron content than in ocean water that was iron-poor, suggesting that adding iron will produce plankton blooms. The bad news was that the research team found that only about 10% of the phytoplankton actually wind up on the bottom of the ocean. The remaining 90% don’t sink all way down and eventually, perhaps after decades or even longer, the carbon dioxide that the plankton had taken up from the atmosphere through photosynthesis gets back up to the surface. The smaller the percentage of carbon dioxide that gets permanently stored at the ocean bottom using this scheme the larger area of ocean that would be needed to have a significant affect on global warming, thereby maximizing costs and perhaps most importantly, risks.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
There are moments in a nation's--and a planet's--history when it may be necessary for some to break the law in order to bear witness to an evil, bring it to wider attention, and push for its correction. We think such a time has arrived, and we are writing to say that we hope some of you will join us in Washington D.C. on Monday March 2 in order to take part in a civil act of civil disobedience outside a coal-fired power plant near Capitol Hill.
Coal-fired power is driving climate change. Our foremost climatologist, NASA's James Hansen, has demonstrated that our only hope of getting our atmosphere back to a safe level--below 350 parts per million CO2--lies in stopping the use of coal to generate electricity.
The industry claim that there is something called "clean coal" is, put simply, a lie. But it's a lie told with tens of millions of dollars, which we do not have. We have our bodies, and we are willing to use them to make our point. We don't come to such a step lightly. We have written and testified and organized politically to make this point for many years, and while in recent months there has been real progress against new coal-fired power plants, the daily business of providing half our electricity from coal continues unabated. It's time to make clear that we can't safely run this planet on coal at all. So we feel the time has come to do more--we hear President Barack Obama's call for a movement for change that continues past election day, and we hear Nobel Laureate Al Gore's call for creative non-violence outside coal plants.
Our goal is not to shut the plant down for the day--it is but one of many, and anyway its operation for a day is not the point. The worldwide daily reliance on coal is the danger; this is one small step to raise awareness of that ruinous habit and hence help to break it.With about half of the electricity in the US coming from burning coal and projections that electricity demand will be soaring breaking the coal habit is going to be difficult.