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American businessman dumps 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into ocean off coast of Haida Gwaii.
October 16, 2012 12:51 AM   Subscribe

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.

200 nautical miles west of Haida Gwaii. No way that can screw up.

The dump took place from a fishing boat in an eddy 200 nautical miles west of the islands of Haida Gwaii, one of the world's most celebrated, diverse ecosystems, where George convinced the local council of an indigenous village to establish the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation to channel more than $1m of its own funds into the project.

The president of the Haida nation, Guujaaw, said the village was told the dump would environmentally benefit the ocean, which is crucial to their livelihood and culture.

"The village people voted to support what they were told was a 'salmon enhancement project' and would not have agreed if they had been told of any potential negative effects or that it was in breach of an international convention," Guujaaw said.
posted by moneyjane (82 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Stuff like this is why I don't think we should take capital punishment off the books for all crimes (but we should still forbid it for the vast majority of crimes. E.g., any committed by someone with less than a million bucks).
posted by barnacles at 1:06 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


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.

So here is someone trying to do something about global warming, using the carbon-credit model of the Kyoto protocol, and the second comment suggests capital punishment.

This Metafilter is a predictable and sad place sometimes.
posted by three blind mice at 1:10 AM on October 16, 2012 [18 favorites]


well ... as far as screwing up ... it doesn't look like it did ... And the Guardian would be the first to shout outrage-filter if there was the slightest inkling of a scientific problem.

Seems like it all went to plan.
posted by jannw at 1:11 AM on October 16, 2012


I could have suggested it in the first comment if I'd typed faster!

You see carbon-credit global warming abatement, I see a neoliberal idiot ("George told the Guardian that the two [UN environmental] moratoria are a "mythology" and do not apply to his project.") violating environmental conventions and fucking with delicate ecosystems in an effort to make a quick buck through ocean dumping.

Mind you, it's possible that a businessman whose ships have been barred from two countries on environmental grounds knows more about deep water carbon offset iron sulfate dumping than those egghead nerds at the UN, but ... aww, fuck it. I can't even complete that sentence with a straight face.
posted by barnacles at 1:15 AM on October 16, 2012 [28 favorites]


So here is someone trying to do something about global warming, using the carbon-credit model of the Kyoto protocol, and the second comment suggests capital punishment.

This Metafilter is a predictable and sad place sometimes.


I think it's sad that there are some people (like you) who don't believe in evidence-based science (this looks like a Rube Goldberg project), or informed consent - the villagers were never told they were breaking international regulations, and the idea of flowing money through what was essentially a front seems dodgy in the extreme.

It's surprising that Guujaw of all people would have fallen for this sort of snake oil salesmanship.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:15 AM on October 16, 2012 [25 favorites]


We're talking about trying to adjust a system that is geologic in scope and scale, and that took billions of humans and hundreds of millions of machines to affect in the first place. The law of unforeseen consequences would seem to come into play here. The only solution is to cut down on producing atmospheric carbon.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:20 AM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


KokuRyu: "I think it's sad that there are some people (like you) who don't believe in evidence-based science (this looks like a Rube Goldberg project), or informed consent - the villagers were never told they were breaking international regulations,"

KokuRyu, that's another great point that completely angered up my blood.

three blind mice, should you ever have to decide who is doing something wrong in a given situation: if on the one hand you have a US business person and on the other hand you have the indigenous inhabitants of an area, you can bet pretty safe money that the person acting with subterfuge or ill-intent towards short-sighted gain is the US business person. They've got a looooooooooooooooooooooong track record of it.
posted by barnacles at 1:20 AM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


"It is difficult if not impossible to detect and describe important effects that we know might occur months or years later," said John Cullen , an oceanographer at Dalhousie University. "Some possible effects, such as deep-water oxygen depletion and alteration of distant food webs, should rule out ocean manipulation. History is full of examples of ecological manipulations that backfired."

Sudden blooms of micro-organisms suck up a lot of oxygen. The dead patches in the Gulf of Mexico spring to mind, and are caused almost entirely by fertilizer run-off, and it's not hard to see why more study is suggested before we start dumping more nutrients in the water. We just don't know enough about ocean ecologies, especially deepwater and open ocean ecology, to go tinkering with them on that scale.
posted by Jilder at 1:28 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


can they sue this guy?
posted by twist my arm at 1:36 AM on October 16, 2012


Best comment from that Guardian article
"rogue geoengineer Russ George"


Rather a limited subset of the alphabet in that.

Regarding the actual story - I don't really know enough about the subject to know how much I should care about it...
posted by curtj at 1:40 AM on October 16, 2012


Interestingly, the vessel they used for this, the Weatherbird II, is owned by the University of South Florida. Excuse the pun, but this strongly implies that the university was "on board' with the program.
posted by digitalprimate at 1:43 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh man, wait 'til the chemtrail people get wind of this.
posted by telstar at 1:51 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interested in knowing more about geoengineering? This reportPDF format —from the Royal Society gives a dispassionate review of ideas for Carbon Dioxide Removal through schemes like ocean fertilization.
posted by Glomar response at 1:53 AM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's sad that there are some people (like you) who don't believe in evidence-based science (this looks like a Rube Goldberg project)

If we're on the side of evidence-based science, how about we find out what the evidence is for the project first? Let's get our data from places other than a newspaper article.

Iron fertilisation isn't new, but we don't know enough about it yet to see whether it works or is a disaster. The few experiments that have happened haven't conclusively proven either way.

Perhaps Russ George is a real-life Montgomery Burns and enjoys polluting oceans, or perhaps he and his team of scientists are doing the science properly.

I am skeptical, but let's find out more about it before calling for someone's head on a plate.
posted by milkb0at at 2:03 AM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation? I think I have one of their albums.
posted by lucidium at 2:20 AM on October 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


I am skeptical, but let's find out more about it before calling for someone's head on a plate.I

I'm skeptical about all this too, but it's still throwing off alarms in my head. The man who did this is not a scientist. If a rogue environmental scientist did this, I'd be a little bit more lenient and understanding. But this guy? His first motive is profit, not the environment.

Though honestly, I don't understand why NASA and the NOAA would loan him the equipment. You'd think they'd do some sort of background check on the guy and that the fact that his ships are banned in 2 countries is something that would throw up a red flag.

Hah, though I'm surprised no chemical or oil drilling company has made this excuse yet! "Oh hey guys, we "accidentally" dumped a bunch of crap in the ocean, but it's fine because it's a geoengineering project!"
posted by astapasta24 at 2:34 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Yeah, what do those people eat there? Salmon? Tell 'em it'll help the salmon. Where are we going next? Milwaukee? Tell 'em it'll help make better brats."
posted by 1adam12 at 2:40 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know about this guy, but geoengineering seems inevitable since engineering is how we usually deal with these kinds of problems. Recycling and eating organic food isn't going to save the world.
posted by bhnyc at 2:47 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


... geoengineering seems inevitable since engineering is how we usually deal with these kinds of problems.

"But I don't know why she swallowed the fly / I guess she'll die."
posted by lodurr at 2:56 AM on October 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


The Galapagos, the Haida Gwaii...is he deliberately targeting environmentally sensitive areas? What's his next destination, the Great Barrier Reef?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:04 AM on October 16, 2012


Iron fertilisation isn't new, but we don't know enough about it yet to see whether it works or is a disaster.

The fact that a site off the Galapagos Islands was one of his first choices as a location is enough to damn him in my eyes. The experiment could turn out a disaster, so put it beside one of the world's most important centres of biodiversity?
posted by Azara at 3:05 AM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


What if somehow his plan works out, and they allow companies to make lots of money just by dumping tons of iron in the sea? I don't see how that could go wrong...
posted by radiobishop at 3:06 AM on October 16, 2012


So just to close the loop: Is it fair to say that creating dead zones is one of the risks of iron seeding?

Which dead zones would be counter-productive for any number of reasons, but which counter-productiveness would be magnified substantially by the fact that you'd need to seed a metric shitload of ocean to make a tiny difference w.r.t. carbon capture?
posted by lodurr at 3:09 AM on October 16, 2012


Though honestly, I don't understand why NASA and the NOAA would loan him the equipment. You'd think they'd do some sort of background check on the guy and that the fact that his ships are banned in 2 countries is something that would throw up a red flag.

The reason is that secretly, there are a lot of people (including some oceanographers) who really do want to know what happens when you do something like this but know they'd never be allowed to do it.

The only solution is to cut down on producing atmospheric carbon.

That will never happen. Short of a miracle discovery made in the next few years. Human beings are not equipped to sacrifice short term economic convenience for long term climate stability. Even if we cut our fossil fuel burn rate by 20% - impossible given what's happening in China - all that would happen is that it would take longer to put a given amount of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
posted by atrazine at 3:21 AM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's really surprising to me that any thinking person with common sense could not be more than a little skeptical of an obvious shyster like Russ George. Where did the $2.5 million flow-through funding come from? Guujaw is quoted as saying he thinks it will never be repaid.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:55 AM on October 16, 2012



The only solution is to cut down on producing atmospheric carbon.

That will never happen.


It's easy to say that - particularly in light of climate action so far - but I think it's important to remember how fast things can pick up when historical tipping points arrive (I'm talking socially, not scientifically).

You could have said that about CFCs. You could have said it about asbestos. You could have said it about a lot of things. But when the costs of doing something become very small, and not doing something become apparent, action can happen very fast.

We are already seeing this with climate action. The proliferation of LED lights, solar panels, energy standards etc is demonstrating to people that action doesn't have to cost a lot, and can in fact be better than the old way. I'm quite confident that in my lifetime, and likely before I'm 60 (I'm 31), the majority of cars on the road will not be running on petrol.

Action is not only possible, but inevitable. We simply need to advocate for the speed of it, and ensuring that the method - unlike this douchebag - is the right one.
posted by smoke at 4:02 AM on October 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Given the amount of crap that gets dumped into the oceans on the rest of our behalfs, that people are going all Emmanuel Goldstein on this guy would be funny if it weren't so fucking tragic.

He's not the one screwing up the environment. We are.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:19 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's not the one screwing up the environment. We are.

Every journey begins with a single step.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:27 AM on October 16, 2012


The Galapagos, the Haida Gwaii...is he deliberately targeting environmentally sensitive areas?

Probably. If you destroy ecological landmarks accidentally-on-purpose, there's one less reason to care if the seas die... damage is already, done, see? Now enjoy your cheap imports we shipped in through the Northwest Passage.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:46 AM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


The only solution is to cut down on producing atmospheric carbon.

That will never happen.


No, it definitely will happen. The only question is whether it'll happen at a time and rate of our choosing.
posted by DU at 4:46 AM on October 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


I think it's sad that there are some people (like you) who don't believe in evidence-based science (this looks like a Rube Goldberg project), or informed consent

Well the evidence-based science suggests that increased atmospheric concentrations of C02 will change the Earth's climate, and local weather patterns, in dramatic ways. I am fully swayed by this "science-based" evidence.

It seems clear that conservation and turning down the thermostat will not suffice and any serious effort to combat rising atmospheric temperatures will involve capture and sequester of carbon at the source and in the atmosphere. Both are going to involve massive industrial efforts - such as this - which will incur the wrath of some people.

The question is simply whether one is serious about the science-based evidence of "global warming" and willing to take the necessary steps to combat it even if this means running a bit roughshod over the NIMBY concerns of local populations.

This isn't Exxon drilling in the fishing grounds; this is a project to save everyone's fishing grounds and deserves to be seen in that light.
posted by three blind mice at 4:47 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a potentially horribly misguided project to attempt to save everyone's fishing grounds and deserves to be seen as such. This isn't 'hey, we know this works, let's do it!' it's 'hrm, could this work? Let's try it somewhere else!'...
posted by Dysk at 4:59 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Given the amount of crap that gets dumped into the oceans on the rest of our behalfs, that people are going all Emmanuel Goldstein on this guy would be funny if it weren't so fucking tragic.

"The state of things" does not give everyone carte-blanche to try out whatever home-based remedies they want to "save the planet."
posted by KokuRyu at 5:04 AM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Every fall begins with a single stumble...
posted by blue_beetle at 5:07 AM on October 16, 2012


Oh come on. It's just a little vaccination - never hurt anyone!
posted by sneebler at 5:22 AM on October 16, 2012


Next up: Let's dump a ship-load of tires off the coast and start a reef!
posted by No Robots at 5:25 AM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The question is simply whether one is serious about the science-based evidence of "global warming" and willing to take the necessary steps to combat it even if this means running a bit roughshod over the NIMBY concerns of local populations.

NPR had a piece on an experiment carried out in South Atlantic waters, by research scientists that included oceanographers and biologists, to see if seeding plankton with iron sulfate was a viable sequestering method. It was carried out in a carefully chosen area, away from ecologically sensitive areas, that could be monitored. It was a scientific experiment, with oversight and careful planning.

Indeed, the Wikipedia page shows a number of well run experiments involving "iron fertilization." These were run by top-tier scientists, experts in their field, not fly-by night hucksters looking for a quick buck.

Results were mixed. Also from the wiki page on the topic:
A statement published in Science in 2008 maintained that it would be:

premature to sell carbon offsets from the first generation of commercial-scale OIF experiments unless there is better demonstration that OIF effectively removes CO2, retains that carbon in the ocean for a quantifiable amount of time, and has acceptable and predictable environmental impacts.
So, the game Russ George is playing isn't science... it's psuedo-science run by a big-money fraud, a breathtakingly enormous act of quakery with a real potential for massive ecological disaster. A snake-oil salesman operating on a cataclysmic scale.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:29 AM on October 16, 2012 [14 favorites]


This turned out a lot longer than I had intended and now I am late for school, but goddamn if it didn't turn out that I had something I wanted to say here. Here goes:

I wish I had more time to write a detailed response to this act and to the comments in this thread, but suffice to say: this is not how you do good science. This is how you fuck up ecosystems and destroy indigenous communities on your quest to try whatever (often crackpot) scheme you have it in your head is going to save the world/make you a billionaire/revolutionize warfare/whatever. There is a history of this kind of crap (often perpetrated by governments, but frequently as in this case by businessmen as well) and it has more in common with unauthorized medical experimentation than some people here seem to realize.

As for the specific problems with this project, I am neither a marine scientist nor an oceanographer, but I would imagine that as many here have suggested one of the primary risks of this so-called "ocean fertilization" is eutrophication, i.e. the creation of dead zones through the generation of massive algal blooms which use up all the oxygen in the water. I would also suggest that large falls of iron-rich algae (certainly on the scale that would have significant climate effects) might risk directly poisoning sea-bottom communities, which make up perhaps the largest and certainly the most poorly-understood ecosystems in the world.

Also, if you think we're going to carbon-sequester our way out of our problems, you are dead wrong. Look at how much effort and expense we go to in order to pull carbon out of the ground, where it's nice and concentrated and you can just suck it up with a straw. Now think about how much much effort it would be to take all that carbon that we've pulled out of the ground and burned and dispersed all throughout the atmosphere, and pull it back out of the air and stick it underground again or at the bottom of the ocean (because who gives a fuck about benthic communities) or something. It took the entire biosphere hundreds of millions of years to sequester all that carbon in ferns, do you really think we can repeat the process in a decade or two?

Carbon sequestration at large industrial carbon-dioxide sources may have a place in the overall picture, but there is no fucking way that it is going to be a panacea for the side effects of our civilizational free-for-all on fossil fuels. Not to mention that fossil fuels are a non-renewable, non-recyclable, and therefore fundamentally unsustainable resource as it is, so we'd better damn well be able to transition away from using them as the foundational resource of our civilization or else sooner than we think there won't be a civilization.

It is not a question of whether or not we will be able to curb our carbon outputs. Similar to DU's statement, it is a question of whether we will be able to reduce them at a rate and time of our choosing, and also of how much of the rest of the biosphere we are going to drag down with us in the process. We cannot engineer our way out of this massive problem we have created because we do not understand what the side effects are likely to be other than knowing that they are likely to be severe due to the necessarily massive scale of any intervention which might have a significant effect. We have only two major tools, as I see it, for combating climate change: per capita reduction of resource consumption, and reduction of the human population. We may or may not be able to control the grace and speed of those reductions, but we are going to see them happen one way or another.

The current model of continual growth is fundamentally unsustainable, based as it is on a never-ending increase in the rate at which we exploit our planet's resources. We are already exploiting virtually all of them, renewable or not, at alarming, terrifying, totally unsustainable rates. People seem to miss the fact that "unsustainable" means that we can't keep doing it because we will run out, and as we grow faster and faster that time to running out gets closer and closer. We need to reduce our consumption to a level that the Earth is capable of supporting, or else the Earth will shortly cease to be able to support us. That's not doom and gloom, it's the fucking inevitable consequence of continuing our current course of action. The solution is not to become more clever about how we pursue our current course -- the solution is to change course, and quickly.

You can be pessimistic about our ability to do that if you like, and I won't blame you. However I choose to be hopeful that we will be able to find away, because defeatism sure as hell doesn't get us anywhere and in my view it makes us miserable while our self-fulfilling prophecy comes to fruition. Better to be part of the fight, even if we lose, because if we don't fight for change then it will never happen, certainly not soon enough or dramatically enough to matter.

Someone above said that we aren't equipped to deal with these issues, that our fundamental nature, our evolutionary heritage doesn't lend us to this kind of foresight and long-term planning. To that I say that the one fucking thing that makes humans special is that we are capable of changing and subverting and overcoming our nature, of building mental and psychological and cultural and technological methods of transcending the limitations of our evolutionary heritage, and that we have a history of doing things that evolution never equipped us to do. We can do this, if we can find a way to make it a priority, to build it into The Way We Do Things, because we as a species have this amazing ability to change The Way We Do Things and then just proceed as if the new way is totally natural and of course it makes sense, even if we don't all totally understand why we are doing it.

Will we make the necessary changes in this instance? I don't know, we'll have to see. But we sure as hell won't make them if nobody pushes for them. If we want to be on the right side of history, and if we want there to be be a history to be on the right side of, then we all need to start pushing as hard as we can.
posted by Scientist at 6:03 AM on October 16, 2012 [28 favorites]


I know this is serious and all but immediately seeing comments by barnacles had me chuckling.
posted by hypersloth at 6:06 AM on October 16, 2012


Also, this Russ George asshole and all the "unidentified" scientists who worked with him on this project need to be barred from receiving federal funding forevermore, along with whatever organizations or institutions these people work for for as long as they work for them. This shit is reprehensible unconscionable research misconduct. It's malfeasance on a massive scale. It's the kind of shit that makes my SO say that scientists are just a bunch of arrogant tinkerers who want to break the world open to see how it works. In cases like this I find myself forced to concede that she is sometimes right. The people who did this need to be ejected from the scientific community with extreme prejudice, and need to be made never to do research again as an example to those among us who might think that the answers to their questions are more important than the communities (natural and human) which might suffer as a result of their careless probings and proddings.
posted by Scientist at 6:27 AM on October 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


With geoengineering projects, there's a very real danger of becoming an actual mad scientist. Like, James Bond might show up and try to kill you. Looks like this experiment was done in one of the more important salmon fisheries in North America, and will certainly have an impact in the coming years. Unfortunately, any geoengineering project will have massive, ecosystem-wide impacts, pretty much by definition. Given that scale of impact, nobody can possibly attempt them responsibly without oversight and veto power from the people that the project will impact, and that kind of means that we can only let governments (or the U.N.) take charge of them. (Cue strum-und-drang from the libertarians.)

Geoengineering by other names could be ecological war -- if we can change climate systems unilaterally, it means we can (intentionally or not) cause floods, famines, droughts, malaria outbreaks, in our neighboring countries.

I'm not saying that geoengineering will always cause tragedies, just that these projects should be controlled by their stakeholders, there should be long-term ecological impact assessments, and anybody who's out for personal gain probably isn't interested in those.
posted by wormwood23 at 7:14 AM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is a case of possibly legitimate science ruined by crackpot scientist. Whether or not the science is valid is irrelevant, since he did not follow either the scientific method or the law when applying said science.

I don't know that I'd go full scale head-on-a-plate rampage, but I'd at least force him to eat the salmon fished from that area every day for the rest of his life.
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:49 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no conceivable justification for this project. None. This is not an experiment. It's not even science. It is nothing-less than a for-profit venture which just happens to target the public's general cultural concern for the environment and the various economic infrastructure springing from that as a means to that profit. It takes one of the most environmentally unique and sensitive areas in the world, which also happens to belong to an indigenous nation with few resources for research, oversight or recovery.

It's a fucking catastrophe, and this guy should be locked up.
posted by Catchfire at 8:38 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it's definitely a terrible idea to allow people to put chemicals into the environment which will mess with the Earth's climate!
posted by edheil at 8:47 AM on October 16, 2012


"The results were just spectacular, like we created life where there wasn't life"

McCoy: Dear Lord. You think we're intelligent enough to... suppose... what if this thing were used where life already exists?
Spock: It would destroy such life in favor of its new matrix.
McCoy: Its "new matrix"? Do you have any idea what you're saying?
Spock: I was not attempting to evaluate its moral implications, Doctor. As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.

posted by Esteemed Offendi at 9:30 AM on October 16, 2012


I could probably fit 100 tons of iron in my 1-car garage. Probably a shipping container worth. I agree it was wrong to do, but having a hard time seeing the catastrophe angle from this one incident.
posted by stbalbach at 9:36 AM on October 16, 2012


On the other hand stbalbach, 100 tonnes (which is 110 tons... metric/imperial conversion thing) of iron is a shitload of tiny iron filings. That map in the first link is tiny and crappy, but if I am reading it right it covers an area of over ten degrees both North-South and East-West, so the effect is potentially quite large.
posted by Scientist at 9:54 AM on October 16, 2012


Bah, you folks probably thought the Reardon Metal bridge would fall down, too.
posted by JackFlash at 10:30 AM on October 16, 2012


OK, for all the vitriol being spewed here, does anyone here honestly believe that corrective geoengineering will EVER be legally approved? i.e. where an active effort is made to adjust the earth's environment (for the better)
Meanwhile, we continue to burn fossil fuels at an alarming rate that is altering the environment for the worse, increased efficiency only leads to more use, and known reserves are more than 5 times as much as is necessary to render the earth uninhabitable by man if burned...and we're handing out subsidies for doing exactly this.
I totally agree that talking indigenous peoples into footing the bill for it under false pretenses is a total shitbag maneuver, but I'm willing to wait until the salmon fishermen weigh in with their results before calling this a bad idea...the satellite images don't lie: this has already removed MILLIONS of tons of CO2 from the air, and until any negative side effects appear, I can't call that a bad thing.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:45 AM on October 16, 2012


So, sexyrobot, what have you done for solar power today?
posted by No Robots at 11:08 AM on October 16, 2012


So while this implementation is totally horrible, the concept doesn't seem totally useless, but why the heck would you try this in the ocean rather than just growing gigantic vats of the diatoms in question on land??
posted by Matt Oneiros at 11:16 AM on October 16, 2012


So here is someone trying to do something about global warming, using the carbon-credit model of the Kyoto protocol, and the second comment suggests capital punishment.

those algae blooms lead to anoxic 'dead zones' in the ocean hth
posted by p3on at 11:17 AM on October 16, 2012


So while this implementation is totally horrible, the concept doesn't seem totally useless, but why the heck would you try this in the ocean rather than just growing gigantic vats of the diatoms in question on land??

When the diatoms die in the ocean, they sink to the ocean floor along with the carbonate shells they've made from carbon in the seawater while they were alive. It traps carbon on the seafloor for a very long time.

I actually think this is one of the better geoengineering plans out there. It just needs to be done by responsible people -- that is people / organizations that can be held to account for their actions. Not just some jerk with a boat and lot of iron sulfate to dump.

sexyrobot: I hate to plug this book, because I think it's truly horrid and unreadable, but 40 Signs of Rain asks that question, with a pretty predictable answer: corrective geoengineering will be approved as soon as rich white people are affected.
posted by wormwood23 at 11:49 AM on October 16, 2012


what have you done for solar power today?
I built a 75MW solar plant, by myself, before breakfast. your point? ~^

matt o---it's a 'mineral deficiency' thing...everything is there for plankton to form (and by 'there' i mean specific parts of the ocean, particularly in the antarctic ocean and the north pacific, where this was done)...light, water, minerals...everything EXCEPT iron...and it only needs the tiniest trace amount...that's why the results are so dramatic. doing it on land would be wildly impractical.

and anoxic blooms usually happen in coastal waters (and way too often...thanks inefficient and wasteful farming methods!) because blue-green as opposed to green algae and etc...10 goto wikipedia 20 read
200 miles offshore...not so much

Look, I totally agree that this was done WRONG, but there have been over a dozen large experiments with this, without harmful effects (in most cases, obvious benefits). We've taken so much from the oceans and it's time to start giving something back. Not only does this clean the air, but it also makes food for fish. Done correctly this should be an obvious win-win...continuing to not act will just lead to us gassing ourselves to death with car exhaust.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:54 AM on October 16, 2012


and whitey is already being affected by global warming...didn't anyone notice the superstorm that swept the U.S. this summer, doing three times the destruction of Katrina? Oh, that's right, we were all distracted by COLORADO CATCHING FIRE D:
posted by sexyrobot at 11:58 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like I read a different article than some of the people commenting in this thread. I mean for heaven's sake, how can someone read this--
Scientists are debating whether iron fertilisation can lock carbon into the deep ocean over the long term, and have raised concerns that it can irreparably harm ocean ecosystems, produce toxic tides and lifeless waters, and worsen ocean acidification and global warming.

"It is difficult if not impossible to detect and describe important effects that we know might occur months or years later," said John Cullen, an oceanographer at Dalhousie University. "Some possible effects, such as deep-water oxygen depletion and alteration of distant food webs, should rule out ocean manipulation. History is full of examples of ecological manipulations that backfired."

--yet dismiss concerns about this project as NIMBYism and an unwillingness to embrace potential solutions to climate change?? FFS, here is a scientist, an expert who has studied this stuff extensively, describing a lack of clear evidence that what Russ George has done will work, but explaining that it has enormous potential for extensive damage of a delicate, irreplaceable ecosystem. Isn't that enough to raise red flags and urge us toward caution?

Hell yes, I am all in favour of finding ways to address environmental problems. But there is a reason why we should be cautious about schemes like this. You can't just willy-nilly decide to contravene international moratoriums that were put in place after extensive consultation with scientific experts. You don't just get to assemble your team of "unidentified scientists," carry out your project without fully informing local residents about what you're doing, and claim that your actions will solve environmental problems when there is incomplete evidence to back you up and there is in fact some evidence that it may cause future environmental problems.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:08 PM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


this is a project to save everyone's fishing grounds and deserves to be seen in that light.

I really don't know how to take it when someone who is usually so skeptical unquestioningly asserts such a dubious claim.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:09 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I built a 75MW solar plant, by myself, before breakfast. your point? ~^
The point is that building solar infrastructure will do more for the carbon problem (and ultimately salmon stocks) than dumping ship-loads of iron filings into the ocean.
posted by No Robots at 12:24 PM on October 16, 2012


"When the diatoms die in the ocean, they sink to the ocean floor along with the carbonate shells they've made from carbon in the seawater while they were alive. It traps carbon on the seafloor for a very long time."

Well sure, but carbon dioxide will dissolve in any water, a diatom farm could have some sort of bubbler system to ensure the water had plenty of CO2, etc.

Farmers could then cool the water (or do something else) at the end of a diatom growth cycle to kill off most of the diatoms, causing them to fall to the bottom of the tank and then their corpses could be retrieved and used in industry or otherwise stashed somewhere.

It just seems to my mind like most of the theoretical benefit of this procedure could be had with practically none of the risks.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 12:36 PM on October 16, 2012


I know this is a serious thread and all, but can I just say how awesome it is to see an argument between sexyrobot and No Robots?
posted by mannequito at 12:43 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Matt Oneiros: It just seems to my mind like most of the theoretical benefit of this procedure could be had with practically none of the risks.

The scale is lacking. You really need those hundreds or thousands of square km of ocean for this technique to work.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:01 PM on October 16, 2012


matt o, they actually do something similar with current water/sewage processing on land, but with duckweed in (dirty) fresh (not salt) water...it's a lot more efficient. also, what's powering your bubblers? and etc. There's a million reasons farming diatoms on land doesn't work...for one, they are reeeally sensitive to their conditions, temperature in particular...the sheer mass of the ocean acts as a heat sink to keep the temp stable...doing that in a tank requires either a tank as big as a Great Lake or ridiculously expensive heating and cooling. Also, they don't pack as close as duckweed and are much smaller...it's a very diffuse process...

which leads to another point: concentrated vs diffuse energy. The thing that makes oil so 'great' :/ is that it is extremely concentrated, with many calories concentrated in a tiny volume (nuclear power falls under this category as well...hopefully we can come up with the political will to invest in (much needed and MUCH safer) thorium plants). Solar power is WONDERFUL! So is wind power, and YES, ABSOLUTELY we need more solar and wind farms (been waiting for Obama's 'secret weapon' in the debates? Don't worry, it's coming...the recent increase in both of these infrastructures is nothing short of stunning...I just took a cross-country flight and it was clearly visible from the air...these farms are springing up everywhere! YAY!)...but they are both 'diffuse'...the calories are spread over a much larger area. It's great for most things (electricity for homes and businesses), not so great for others (transportation) and there's no way we're EVER going to stop using fossil fuels...total stoppage of oil use has never been the goal of enviromental policy...MINIMIZING it to a sustainable level IS. (supposedly this is possible...CO2 only sticks around in the atmosphere for 30 years (until broken down by sunlight)...as long as we're not pumping more in than is leaving the sytem, we should be fine...should be.) Right NOW, though, we NEED oil...if for nothing else than to run the factories that make the solar panels and deliver them to where they're installed. And it's going to take some time to install that infrastructure...time where we are burning just LEWD amounts of oil...we ABSOLUTELY NEED a fast, cheap and efficient way to move that CO2 OUT of the air. NOW. Otherwise, the methane clathrates are going to continue boiling out of the north atlantic...and that? That equals death. Like, big time. Methane is a muuuuch more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, and it hangs around a LOT longer before breaking down. The time to mitigate global CO2 is now, and conservation efforts just aren't cutting it.
OIF isn't going to solve all of this (best estimates are, at most, 1/6th of current CO2 emissions being removed if ALL of the ocean areas this will work in are utillized...more areas can be used if silicate acids are added (to help form shells)), but it's a start.
[also...don't google image search OIF with 'safe search' off...for some reason (thanks, internet!) Chris Crocker's (of 'leave Britney alone' fame) penis is the first result. go figure. (actually, it's not that bad if you're into that kind of thing)]
posted by sexyrobot at 1:34 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'know what? I'm glad Russ George (and the German researchers from the third link) did it. Maybe iron fertilization won't turn out to be an effective means of remediating climate change, or maybe it will be revealed as only a partial solution at best. And no doubt there will be unpredictable, possibly negative side effects. But at least they're doing something. Global warming is coming at us like a speeding semi, and at least people like them are trying to discover how we can get out of the way. People like Silvia Ribeiro (from the first link) who says:
"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."
Are just going to get us killed. Because quasi-religious quests to change the nature of our civilization in a few decades are going to fail, like they've always failed in the past. Ultimately we have to cut carbon emissions, of course. That's the only long term solution that stops the warming. But people aren't going to throw themselves into poverty because Silvia Ribeiro thinks they should. They're not going to drop the global economy into a deep recession. So they're going to pump every last accessible drop of oil out of the ground and then burn the coal while the Ribeiros tut tut and wag their fingers, and we all die.

I really hope there's more tests like this (and tests of other geoengineering ideas), not less. Because one of those ideas, or maybe a bunch of them together, will get us out of the way of that semi and give us the time to make necessary, painful adjustments to a post carbon economy.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:17 PM on October 16, 2012


Methane is a muuuuch more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, and it hangs around a LOT longer before breaking down.

That is incorrect.
posted by smoke at 2:21 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kevin, we have a pretty good idea of what iron sulfate will do to any environment and it's not good. Ever been fishing in Lake Pontchartrain? What we don't know are the specifics at this scale and in this environment. I am being charitable when I put it that way. To call Russ George reckless is about the kindest way I could characterize it. There is little obvious science being done here, and it appears to me to be little more than a snake oil scam.

As far as more tests, sure. More tests like this? Don't be silly.
posted by Xoebe at 2:26 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I honestly don't know, Xoebe. Has iron sulphate caused acidification in Lake Pontchartrain? Even if so, a relatively closed, shallow system like a lake is different from the ocean.

Maybe Russ George is a hustler. It sounds like he neglected to tell the Haida that his project would violate an international convention. But the data collected will be very useful. I hope whatever scientists are working with him do a proper study and release their data, like the German scientists did. But banning these kind of tests like they're talking about will ensure that only shady individuals will attempt them for profit, and any data gained will be held secret for fear of prosecution.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:53 PM on October 16, 2012


sorry, got my times reversed...but JESUS GOD:

"Methane in the Earth's atmosphere is an important greenhouse gas with a global warming potential of 25 over a 100-year period. This means that a methane emission will have 25 times the impact on temperature of a carbon dioxide emission of the same mass over the following 100 years. Methane has a large effect for a brief period (a net lifetime of 8.4 years in the atmosphere), whereas carbon dioxide has a small effect for a long period (over 100 years). Because of this difference in effect and time period, the global warming potential of methane over a 20 year time period is 72..."

so...considering this is half-life -like...what? 100? 150 times more potent than CO2 over the next decade? This shit is BOILING out of the north sea...google 'methane clathrates'...remember the last time this happened? the permian extinction? (aka the Great Dying) ...sorry, ya'll, but the Mayans mighta been right. :( Time to act. Remember: "scientists are concerned that..." D.N.E. "scientists have proven that..." OR even "scientists have shown any evidence that..." Seems to me this is really no different than any previous test, just bigger, and that, as long as it's not done in costal waters seems to be both effective and beneficial to the environment. So yeah, boo to the methods (though it seems he had little choice of legal routes), but kudos for acting.

and yeah, everything K street just said...I've been reading a lot about OIF this year...considered doing exactly this this summer...waters near here don't have the right conditions, and I'm not loaded. Consider this: How on earth did Russ George expect to collect Kyoto Credits on a mission that 1)was not legal 2)was fraudulently funded 3)was pretty unmeasurable w/r/t results (ie...how MANY credits did he just earn?) My guess is that he's smart enough to not be expecting a financial pay-off here, unless he's playing a long game "look. this works. i'll clean the earth for X dollars"...and when have you EVER heard of anyone dumping a bunch of IRON waste? I haven't. It's valuable enough and pretty easy to extract chemically, physically, even magnetically...is he REALLY just trying to dump some iron sulfate somewhere? Hell...I just looked it up...it's the same 'iron' in cereal! It's a vitamin. for crying out loud, he's not Mr. Burns. I know, metafilter, Business is Evil, but maybe, just maybe there's a rich dude, like Bill Gates or Elon Musk, just trying to make the world a better, more survivable place?
posted by sexyrobot at 3:40 PM on October 16, 2012


Seems like it all went to plan.

It would be nice for all of us to see the data. If any.
posted by dmayhood at 6:37 PM on October 16, 2012


sexyrobot writes "My guess is that he's smart enough to not be expecting a financial pay-off here, unless he's playing a long game "look. this works. i'll clean the earth for X dollars"...and when have you EVER heard of anyone dumping a bunch of IRON waste?"

Didn't he already collect a million off the Haida?
posted by Mitheral at 7:17 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kevin Street: But the data collected will be very useful. I hope whatever scientists are working with him do a proper study and release their data, like the German scientists did. But banning these kind of tests like they're talking about will ensure that only shady individuals will attempt them for profit, and any data gained will be held secret for fear of prosecution.

Kevin, you can rest assured that more studies on this approach will be done. (Some decent ones have been done already.) But let us hope that they are real scientific studies: well-designed, well-controlled, well-monitored, well-vetted by other experts in relevant fields as well as by the public at large -- all before they are allowed to go ahead. The last thing we need is more reckless yahoos polluting the oceans with industrial waste just to see what happens, like these jerks just did.

I don't know what it is going to take, but some day I hope humans will realize that we can't just go riding wildly off in all directions doing ecosystem manipulation when we are dealing with the only planet within light-years that is even remotely capable of supporting us.

I am an atheist, yet I know for a fact that there is a Heaven. But only one. We are living on it. We need to act accordingly for once.
posted by dmayhood at 7:21 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Didn't he already collect a million off the Haida?
oh yeah, forgot about that...how much does 100 tons of iron sulfate and a boat cost?...what I meant was how could he expect a pay-off from the carbon credits if he knew what he was doing wasn't legal? --also, I'm not entirely certain that the Kyoto Protocol even applies to the ocean...

I don't know what it is going to take, but some day I hope humans will realize that we can't just go riding wildly off in all directions doing ecosystem manipulation when we are dealing with the only planet within light-years that is even remotely capable of supporting us.
EX-ACT-LY! How much longer can we continue to denude the ocean of fish while treating it as little more than the world's toilet and garbage dump without putting ANYTHING back? If we treated the land the same way, our topsoil would have blown away centuries ago and starved us all to death.

here: check this out...it's Russ George's report to the House Committee on energy independence and global warming...his response to criticism in section 2 is pretty good and highlights just how slanted the articles in this post are...and yikes! are we really destroying as much ocean plant life as the rainforests every 3-4 years...yeesh. ...and his work on reforesting eastern europe looks pretty interesting as well...a quick glance at the Kyoto Protocol wiki page seems to show that eastern europe is far surpassing its carbon reduction goals, too...though these countries appear to be using earlier 'baseline' years than 1990, so it's hard to say what that implies exactly...
posted by sexyrobot at 8:57 PM on October 16, 2012


The $2.3 million apparently came from a "reserve fund" administered by the village of Old Massett, presumably through their Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation.

Here is their rationale for funneling money into this scheme:

What we know now the reason for the historic 2010 sockeye run is that during the summer of 2008 as the young salmon swam to their ocean pastures a volcano erupted in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. For a few days the volcano erupted throwing a vast cloud of volcanic dust into the air. Airline flights were re-routed and cancelled due to this thick cloud of mineral dust. As the dust drifted in the wind and settled onto the Northeast Pacific the life giving mineral micro-nutrients it carried was seen with the help of those satellites in orbit to be nourishing and restoring the ocean pasture as vast blooms of plankton turned the ocean from blue to green. The young salmon of 2008 arriving on these rich pastures were nourished, survived in great numbers, and gained strength and endurance to continue the all-important ocean cycle of their life. If there were question that the fortuitous volcanic dust was responsible for the apparent cause and effect benefit to the sockeye salmon one only needs to look to the second largest sockeye salmon return in history. That second largest run of sockeye was the 1958 return which followed two years on the heel of another rare Aleutian volcanic eruption. We know now that for the Sockeye salmon who graze our ocean pastures the proverb “all we are is dust in the wind” could not be more true.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:42 PM on October 16, 2012


One nice thing about geoengineering is that it might really help environmentalists engage the public and change policy if we had some other choice to present besides 'doom' and 'slightly slower doom'.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:33 PM on October 16, 2012


a quick glance at the Kyoto Protocol wiki page seems to show that eastern europe is far surpassing its carbon reduction goals, too...though these countries appear to be using earlier 'baseline' years than 1990, so it's hard to say what that implies exactly...

It became easier when the breakup of the USSR took a good 50% chunk out of their economies; pretty much all the imports and exports were intra-Soviet, and the Warsaw Pact and SSRs themselves had been encouraged to specialize in order to leave the whole area interdependent.

It broke impressively in 1991.
posted by jaduncan at 4:31 AM on October 17, 2012


As the "idea" behind this "plan" is to extract cash I'll point out that in the only study of the moneyflows of "Carbon Credits" I've seen 70% if the spending doesn't go to actual Carbon reduction.

Overhead and profit-taking in the carbon offsets system eats up about 70 percent of what is spent on carbon offsets, according to a report from UK-based Carbon Retirement report."

Here on Land the ag concern is Phosphorous so I'll stake out a position that anything that takes Phosporous and locks it up out of reach is a bad thing.

The team found that after they added the iron, the levels of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and silicic acid

If your big concern in life is locking up Carbon might I suggest you start making your own Charcoal from plant material and burying it? It might make your garden tomatoes taste and grow better. I've made a 1/16th of a ton this year - how about you?
posted by rough ashlar at 5:25 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've made a 1/16th of a ton this year - how about you?
That's awesome, actually, please keep it up...but keep in mind that folks in developed countries consume about 6 to 23 tons of carbon a year, per capita...you got a ways to go...do some for me, while yr at it (i live in an apartment bldg)...and the 300 million other folks in this country (usa) who dont intend to become charcoal farmers anytime soon. (Does it help that i work from home, rarely drive, and haven't owned or used an a.c. or heater in over 20 years?)
OIF has been shown to have an efficiency of (approx, cite) 10,000x, or about a million tons for this recent stunt...around the annual output of a small city.
Yes! Carbon sequestering is probably mankinds MOST important problem right now...think about how decimated our reefs and fishing stocks are right now...how many Billions of tons of fish have we sucked out of the ocean in the last several decades? Every fish is like a little block of carbon, and right now they're all swimming around in the AIR. Isn't it time to put them back? As for possible effects on the benthic depths, I can only assume it will be just as benefecial as these regions are almost certainly as depleted as surface waters, seeing as they are almost completely dependent on surface populations for nutrients.
(And please dont think i support geoengineering projects that advocate 'hazing' the atmosphere...we need to let the heat OUT, not stop sunlight coming IN)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:01 PM on October 17, 2012


sexyrobot: I can only assume ...

You got that part right. Which is the reason for real scientific studies.
posted by JackFlash at 12:39 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thank you, oh thank you, jackflash. Again: we need ignorant arseholes to STOP f'ing around with something they don't understand. These guys are trying to customize some of the least understood and most intricate parts of our life support system by wielding a backhoe while blindfolded.

For this "project", I want them to publish their research plan, their detailed justification for that plan, the peer review of that plan, all of their approvals, and the specific monitoring procedures that they are using, as well as their "results." There has been nothing offered so far. I doubt very much that any of it even exists.
posted by dmayhood at 7:16 PM on October 17, 2012


“This is hype masquerading as science.”
posted by KokuRyu at 6:42 PM on October 21, 2012


The iron dumped off the coast of Haida Gwaii was primarily a bid to sell carbon credits — not a scientific experiment , according to a marine conservation society working on B.C.’s Pacific coast.

The Living Oceans Society obtained correspondence between the Old Massett village council, which is running the project, and the Northern Savings Credit Union, which lent the council $2.5 million to finance it. The documents were made available on the society’s website and show the lender was aware the ocean restoration project involved selling carbon credits.

posted by KokuRyu at 8:11 PM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


“If you were going to plan to do an experiment to demonstrate the impact of iron fertilization, you wouldn’t dump it into a Haida eddy, I don’t think,” said Jay Cullen, an ocean scientist who runs a lab at the University of Victoria that studies chemicals and trace metals in marine environments.

“If a group were to fertilize such a feature with iron, it would be next to impossible to determine how productivity and phytoplankton biomass was influenced by the treatment,” he said, calling it “bad scientific design.”

posted by KokuRyu at 9:45 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


An iron fertilization thread! It's a topic I love reading the history of and telling people about, and I have a background in the marine sciences. So here's a quick iron fertilization rundown (knowledgable people, let me know if I get anything wrong):

About 25 years ago an oceanographer named John Martin was trying to figure out what was causing high nutrient, low chlorophyll areas in the ocean. He had done work on oceanic trace metals, and there were some old hypotheses that iron was the limiting nutrient in these HNLC zones. He performed some simple experiments on samples taken from these areas and indeed, iron was the limiting nutrient. Armed with this data he went about convincing the rest of the scientific community not only that iron was limiting, but that iron affected climate enough that high iron levels could cause ice ages. There's data from the Vostok ice cores that at least back to 160,000 years ago iron and CO2 were inversely correlated, including very high iron levels during the last ice age. This data and his preliminary research led to his infamous statement (and subject of an editorial cartoon that's well-known in the oceanographic community but I couldn't find online): "Give me half a tanker of iron, and I will give you an ice age."

This led to a lot of debate, with some scientists supportive and some rightly pointing out that he had basically no data that supported the magnitude of the claims he was making. But the idea was interesting, and with climate change looming a series of large experiments were carried out (Martin didn't live to see any of the results). Every experiment resulted in significant plankton blooms. At first glance this seems like exactly the results one would want but as others in the thread and various articles have noted, in a geoengineering context the problem isn't growing plankton, it's getting carbon used to fuel plankton growth into the deep oceans (i.e., how to fertilize the oceans to take advantage of the biological pump). In a review of the major studies little of the significant plankton growth caused by fertilization resulted in net carbon export out of the surface ocean, with most of the carbon either being respired by the plankton or consumed by predators that stick the upper water.

This is why a lot of the focus on iron fertilization recently has focused on the Southern Ocean. The ocean around Antarctica is where Antarctic Bottom Water is formed. The thought is that performing iron fertilization experiments where the bottom water is formed will take advantage of the natural downwelling there, and that the carbon used during short-term blooms can be sequestered in the deep ocean.

This highlights the temporary nature of this solution. In some cases falling particulate matter from dead plankton can permanently fall to the ocean floor in the form of calcareous sediments. But the carbon, mostly in the form of calcium carbonate, sequestered by AABW formation will end up in the deepest ocean basins, many below the calcium compensation depth, meaning that the calcium carbonate will dissolve into ionic calcium and CO2. That CO2 will stay in the deep ocean water because of how stratified the water masses in the ocean are, but thanks to the global conveyor belt the best case scenario gives us a couple of centuries before that water upwells. If we managed to sequester significant amounts of carbon through fertilization that CO2-rich water would eventually come back, inhibiting further CO2 absorbtion from the atmosphere. So even if we could maximize the efficiency of iron fertilization (which we have no idea how to do, and the absolute best-case scenario I've heard would mean absorbing 10% of current atmospheric CO2) it would at most buy us a couple centuries to solve the problem.

Iron fertilizaton is still being examined, but governmental and scientific organizations have largely conlcuded that it's impossible to know if the benefit outweighs the environmental risks, and that those research dollars could be better spent on other solutions to the climate change problem. There was a big corporate push 10-15 years ago to monetize this, but except for some crazies like Russ George it's been largely abandoned. As for his experiment, the scientists interviewed note that there's no way to tell if the bloom off Canada was caused by his experiment or natural processes. They're being responsible, and probably discouraging further people from attempting stupid stuff like this, but I'd wager that the bloom was caused by the iron dumping. It just didn't sequester any significant amount of carbon.

The Galapagos, the Haida Gwaii...is he deliberately targeting environmentally sensitive areas? What's his next destination, the Great Barrier Reef?

The first major iron fertilization experiment, IRONEX, was actually carried out near the Galapagos Islands because of how perfect the conditions were there. That wouldn't fly with what we know about fertilization's efficacy today.
posted by edeezy at 10:51 PM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


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