Friday, January 16, 2009

Iron-Dumping Ocean Fertilization Experiment Placed on Hold

Although the German ice breaker Polarstern continues to steam toward the Southern Ocean to carry out an ocean fertilization experiment by dumping 20 tons of ferrous sulfate into the waters of the Scotia Sea near the Antarctic Penninsula, whether the experiment is actually performed is now in doubt. According to a report in the Mercury, the pleas of several international environmental NGOs to stop the experiment has resulted in the German government organizing an independent review of the experiment by international scientists. The results of this review will determine whether or not the iron gets dumped. The purpose of dumping the iron is to produce plankton blooms which will pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to combat the carbon dioxide emissions problem which is a main driver of global warming. One of the NGOs which is opposed to the experiment is the ETC Group. Jim Thomas of this organization says that carrying out this experiment “will be a clear defiance of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.” This agreement, which placed a global moratorium on ocean fertilization activities because of ecological risks, was signed in May 2008 by 191 countries. Whether this experiment is actually stopped should be known soon. The head of public relations for the German research institute that owns the Polarstern told the Mercury that they hoped that an answer would come from the scientific review within one week.

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