Saturday, January 10, 2009

Iron-Dumping Ship Leaves Harbor for Ocean Geoengineering Experiment

Carrying 20 tons of ferrous sulfate, a ship has left South Africa to dump the iron into the Southern Ocean with the hope it will spur a plankton bloom in order to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. According to a New Scientist article, this is not a commercial venture but a scientific expedition and it has the scientific backing of the German, Indian, and UK governments. With regard to concerns that this experiment could have undesirable consequences, Ken Caldeira from Stanford University says in the article that such a small amount of iron “is unlikely to have a lasting effect” but “The rational concern is that experiments will lead down some slippery slope - that small experiments could be scaled up without any regulation.” It may be prudent not to begin such experiments but it seems they are going ahead. We could screw up the ocean more than we already have. Perhaps we should heed the words of Dr. Glen Barry who writes in his Climate Change Blog that “Geoengineering is indicative of both humanity's ignorance and laziness when confronted with tremendous challenges of their own making such as climate change.” It appears unlikely that such sentiments will prevail.

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