100 Tonnes of Iron Sulphate Dumped in ‘Rogue’ Geoengineering Project

algae bloom

In July roughly 100 tonnes of iron sulphate were dumped into the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of Canada as part of a geoengineering project which has been labelled a “blatant violation” of multiple international agreements.

The operation was undertaken by American businessman Russ George in an attempt to spark ‘ocean fertilisation’, whereby plankton levels are boosted in order to first absorb carbon and then sequester it on the sea bed when it dies and sinks.

George has a track record of attempting similar unsanctioned geo-engineering experiments off the Galapagos and Canary Islands, ventures which have seen him barred from all ports under Spanish and Ecuadorian control. His experiments are widely credited with prompting the UN moratoria on all such projects until further research can validate their effectiveness.

Many scientists fear that ocean fertilisation may not work as a long term carbon store and could in fact permanently damage aquatic eco-systems, creating inhabitable ‘dead zones‘ and toxic tides.

Further controversy has arisen from the fact that the dump was partly funded by indigenous residents of the Haida Gwaii island, where the dump took place, who were told by George that the money would be put towards a ‘salmon restoration project’, which in turn would help boost the local economy.

Guujaw, the president of the Haida nation, said:

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.

Kristina M Gjerde of the International Union for Conservation of Nature stated that:

Even the placement of iron particles into the ocean, whether for carbon sequestration or fish replenishment, should not take place, unless it is assessed and found to be legitimate scientific research without commercial motivation. This does not appear to even have had the guise of legitimate scientific research.

Silvia Ribeiro from the international technology watchdog ETC, the organisation that discovered the dump, said:

If rogue geoengineer Russ George really has misled this indigenous community, and dumped iron into their waters, we hope to see swift legal response to his behaviour and strong action taken to the heights of the Canadian and US governments.

Green Steve’s Reaction:

This eccentric businessman obviously has a bit of screw loose if you ask me. I don’t see why he has done this; there is no real scientific value and no monetary gain as far as I can see.

Ocean fertilisation has been studied for some time but its effects are still unclear. A proper scientific study in 2004 found some evidence to support the cause but other studies have concluded the process is not always effective.

I personally believe that until a solid understanding of the effects that fertilisation has on marine ecosystems can be established, this quick fix for atmospheric CO2 levels has to be shelved.

Steve (156 Posts)

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