Magazine article E Magazine

Ocean Scheming

Magazine article E Magazine

Ocean Scheming

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Climos, a company that has staked its fortunes on removing carbon from the atmosphere, is seeking another $10 million to test ocean iron fertilization in the Southern Ocean, despite a United Nations ban on the practice. Faced with negative science and mounting international opposition, 191 countries at a May 30 U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) temporarily banned further ocean fertilization except small, non-commercial projects in coastal waters.

The process involves dumping dissolved iron into nutrient-deficient waters so that phytoplankton will bloom and, during photosynthesis, sequester millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Blowing iron dust from continents feeds the single-celled plants in the north, resulting in lower phytoplankton numbers in the Southern Ocean. But findings published in the Journal off Geophysical Research last year showed that by bypassing natural processes, significantly less carbon sinks to the ocean depths than commercial interests have claimed.

Climos raised $3.5 million earlier this year to sell carbon credits to companies that pay for iron fertilization. Founder and CEO Dan Whaley says that a 100 km test iron dump in the Southern Ocean is still planned for late 2009. Whaley points to a June 12 report signed by the scientific academies of 13 nations that says global climate change demands suspension of the usual scientific caution.

"Having the 13 major national academies openly support research into geoengineering--and then clarifying that they meant CO2 mitigation, like ocean iron fertilization--is a significant counterpoint to the CBD statement," Whaley says. …

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