Planetary Engineering

I strongly favor this kind of mad science.

U.N. Says 'No,' Climate Hackers Say, 'Yes We Can'

A major Indian-German geoengineering expedition set sail this week for the Scotia Sea, flouting a U.N. ban on ocean iron fertilization experiments in hopes of garnering data about whether the process actually does take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and sequester it in the deep ocean, a technique that may help reverse global warming.

The LOHAFEX experiment will spread 20-tons of iron sulphate particles over a 115-square-mile section of open ocean north of Antarctica -- that's about 1.7 times the size of Washington, D.C. The initiative has drawn fire from environmental groups who point out that 200 countries agreed to the moratorium until more evidence was available about its efficacy.

"If the LOHAFEX iron dump goes ahead, it will be a clear defiance of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity," Jim Thomas of ETC Group, said in a press release.

Cascio said that it's likely that further geoengineering experiments or actual efforts will be made. "This comes as absolutely no surprise to me," he said. "The confluence of desperation as we see climate disruption hit faster than anticipated, inaction on the carbon emission front, and the ease with which geoengineering can be undertaken means that this won't be the last time that a sub-national group tries something like this."

Previously, previously.

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27 Responses:

  1. srcosmo says:

    about 1.7 times the size of Washington, D.C.

    I'm not getting this. Can someone give it to me in football fields?

  2. azul_ros says:

    I hope they can get some definitive answers in a relatively short time frame. I saw an upsetting program on LINK TV this week about one of the Inuit cultures in the Arctic. They are seeing rapid climate change that no one there was prepared for, in a very short time period. It was difficult to watch. The city ponied up the funds to get the program on tv, along with the Annenberg fund.

    http://www.linktv.org/explore/arctic

  3. palmir says:

    What?! But Global Warming isn't real! What are they getting all antsy about?

    • lafinjack says:

      I mean, it snowed yesterday! How could we be having global warming?

      • line_noise says:

        That's why it's called "Climate Change" instead of "Global Warming" these days. That way the scientists can claim they're right no matter which way the climate goes.

        • 7leaguebootdisk says:

          Catastrophic Climate Change is the term I prefer, I'm not sure it is man driven, but it is clear the last 300 years (and especially the 50 year post WWII period of really nice weather) of good weather is ending.

          There is some reason to think this is how you slide into an ice age, temps spike, boosting evaporation, moving snow to the poles, and zap, iceball.

  4. wisedonkey says:

    This is either going to cause a mass fish die off, or a massive algal bloom, maybe both.

    • rapier1 says:

      Depends on where they do this. Over the continental shelf would be a bad idea. Somewhere in the middle of the ocean - especially over deep trenches probably wouldn't have much of an effect on larger invertebrates.

      • happyinmotion says:

        This is in the Southern Ocean, where there's some hope that the extra biomass produced will get taken down to bottom sediments. It's pretty far out of the way.

    • hattifattener says:

      Massive algal bloom is the goal, isnt it? Algae bloom, fix a bunch of atmospheric CO2 into their little algal bodies, sink to the bottom of the ocean and don't decay.

    • whohou says:

      Makes you wonder if all that iron ended up getting manipulated by the magnetic forces that be, but it's just too much of a 'drop in the ocean,' isn't it, or "too far from the core," for anything to happen that way. - It would be the ocean streams and waves that rocked it around, most probably, if anything. :)

  5. imperator_mei says:

    Maybe they should just sequester carbon in the poor.

  6. rakafkaven says:

    I know what they mean, but nonetheless "north of Antarctica" is a minimally specific terrestrial descriptor.

  7. fgmr says:

    The UN has banned ocean iron fertilization experiments? Geez.. I suppose I can't be too surprised, it sounds like a typical "we want to milk this crisis, therefore we have to block any actual solutions" situation.

    Such fertilization is a really promising approach to reduce atmospheric carbon.. but we can't tell without larger-scale experiments. I could see arguing against large-scale production operations until experimental data were in, but banning experiments? FTS.

    • happyinmotion says:

      "The UN has banned ocean iron fertilization experiments" - no, they haven't. They've banned countries using iron fertilisation to claim against their emissions under Kyoto, for the simple reason that we don't know how well iron sucks up carbon in the long term, nor the effects upon the life in the oceans when you chuck more iron in. No-one's banned the experiments.

      Ah hell, read the source code.

    • mrdeconstructor says:

      It may be a neat way of reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, but what effects will it have on the ocean?

  8. gible says:

    No invite to the 2008 Mad Scientist Future Technology Seminar for them tho.

  9. mrdeconstructor says:

    So, where did I put those torpedos....

  10. strspn says:

    Please ask the lazynet what they think about burying charcoal

  11. Dennis says:

    On the way to the eventual epic fail at geoengineering, we'll learn a lot about terraforming which will come in handy so we can prepare our replacement home.