Like the plot of a low-budget spy movie, this past July, roughly 100 tons of iron sulphate was dumped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean by a "controversial American businessman." The program was not part of any governmental- or consensus-based program, but is instead a private project to effect large-scale change to the planet.
The rationale for this is a belief that it will promote growth of plankton, which will grow (in a plankton bloom) and absorb carbon dioxide before sinking to the ocean bed. The CO2 will remain sequestered if the plankton do not subsequently break down on the sea floor. However, earlier tests have not proved successful.
Tests caried out a few years ago showed only limited succes with ocean fertilization. Critics point out a number of potential unwanted side effects to this approach:
"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."
The California-based businessman behind this dumping has been involved in previous failed projects do similar things near the Galapagos and the Canary Islands. His earlier efforts are also credited as part of the incentive for the United Nations to pass an international moratorium on ocean fertilization experiments.
image: Public Domain - US EPA
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