Tuesday, October 16, 2012

World's biggest geoengineering experiment 'violates' UN rules

Source: The Guardian

Russ George, 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.

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.

Silvia Ribeiro of the international technology watchdog ETC Group which first discovered the existence of the scheme said, "It is now more urgent than ever that governments unequivocally ban such open-air geoengineering experiments. They are a dangerous distraction providing governments and industry with an excuse to avoid reducing fossil fuel emissions."

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