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.
Lawyers, environmentalists and civil society groups are calling it a "blatant violation" of two international moratoria and the news is likely to spark outrage at a United Nations environmental summit taking place in India this week.
Satellite images appear to confirm the claim by Californian Russ George that the iron has spawned an artificial plankton bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometres. 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.
George is the former chief executive of Planktos Inc, whose previous failed efforts to conduct large-scale commercial dumps near the Galapagos and Canary Islands led to his vessels being barred from ports by the Spanish and Ecuadorean governments. The US Environmental Protection Agency warned him that flying a US flag for his Galapagos project would violate US laws, and his activities are credited in part to the passing of international moratoria at the United Nations limiting ocean fertilisation experiments
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."
Like... for example... the oil industry? Or the Industrial Revolution? Or the invention of agriculture? Our entire civilization is an "ecological manipulation". That's what "civilization" means. It's not just going to sort itself out on its own, you incomprehensible pinheads. Doing nothing is no longer an option.
George says his team of unidentified scientists has been monitoring the results of the biggest ever geoengineering experiment with equipment loaned from US agencies like Nasa and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. He told the Guardian that it is the "most substantial ocean restoration project in history," and has collected a "greater density and depth of scientific data than ever before".
"We've gathered data targeting all the possible fears that have been raised [about ocean fertilisation]," George said. "And the news is good news, all around, for the planet." [...]
"If rogue geoengineer Russ George really has misled this indigenous community, [blah blah blah]
Whatever, if Russ George does not have "Rogue Geoengineer" on his business cards, what the hell is wrong with him?