"…ocean fertilization to affect climate have a low chance of success"

Remember this story? Ocean iron fertilization CO2 sequestration experiment a blooming failure. Well it seems there is more bad news. A new summary for policymakers suggests the whole idea of ocean fertilization has a “low chance of success”.

From the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme via Eurekalert, another far fetched climate related scheme shot to hell.

Ocean Fertilization: summary for policymakers

Geoengineering schemes involving ocean fertilization to affect climate have a low chance of success, according to the first summary for policymakers on the issue.

Failure to tackle rising greenhouse gas emissions effectively has led to intensifying debate on geoengineering – deliberate large-scale schemes to slow the rate at which Earth is heating up. The public debate often mixes opinion with fact so scientists have now released the first summary for policymakers on ocean fertilization, one of the earliest geoengineering proposals. The authors report that the chances of success of using ocean fertilization to deal with climate change is low.

Ocean fertilization involves adding iron or other nutrients to the surface of the ocean to trigger growth of microscopic marine plants.  These plants use dissolved carbon dioxide to grow, which led to the idea that deliberate fertilization of the ocean on a large scale would remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Lead author of the report Professor Doug Wallace from the Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften (IFM-GEOMAR) says: “The published findings suggest that even very large-scale fertilization would remove only modest amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over 100 years”.

For two decades, marine scientists have been carrying out a series of small-scale fertilization experiments to understand how ocean ecosystems respond to environmental change. However the experiments were not designed to address issues relating to geoengineering. Proposals to scale up this approach to slow climate warming or be included within emissions trading schemes to generate carbon credits have stimulated intense debate and criticism amongst scientists and the public.

The new summary, involving independent scientists from seven countries, explains the complexity of the underlying science and brings the detailed findings together in an accessible form for policymakers.

The summary notes that there are still major knowledge gaps. For example, it is unclear whether findings from small-scale experiments apply fully to larger scales. And a major concern is the possibility of large-scale fertilization having unintended consequences for ecosystems. The summary points out the extreme difficulty of assessing long-term effectiveness or unintended side effects.

“It’s vastly more complex than assessing carbon storage in a forest” says Wallace “the carbon, and many of the potential impacts, are largely invisible and likely to be spread over vast distances”.

Publication of the summary coincides with a symposium in California (La Jolla) on the ecosystem impacts of proposed geoengineering schemes and organized by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme. The one-day symposium, streamed live online, will bring together the world’s leading experts in this area of research.


Download file (Pdf 1.3Mb)

Images available on request

NOTES: Ocean fertilization: a summary for policy makers

Published by: Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), which is part of UNESCO.   Document  prepared with the assistance of the Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS), an international programme that focuses research effort on air-sea interactions and processes, sponsored by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the International Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution (ICACGP).

The summary for policymakers is available here:



D.W.R. Wallace, C.S. Law, P.W. Boyd, Y. Collos,

P. Croot, K. Denman, P. Lam, U. Riebesell, S. Takeda &

P. Williamson; Ocean Fertilization. A Scientific Summary for Policy

Makers. IOC/UNESCO, Paris 2010. IOC Brochure 2010-2

Authors: Doug Wallace (IFM-GEOMAR, Germany), Cliff Law (NIWA, New Zealand), Philip Boyd (University of Otago, New Zealand), Yves Collos (CNRS Université Montpellier, France), Peter Croot (PML, UK), Ken Denman (Fisheries & Oceans, Canada), Phoebe Lam (WHOI, USA), Ulf Riebesell (IFM-GEOMAR,

Germany), Shigenobu Takeda (Nagasaki University, Japan) and Phil

Williamson (NERC, UK).

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February 2, 2011 4:33 am

“The summary notes that there are still major knowledge gaps……..The summary points out the extreme difficulty of assessing long-term effectiveness or unintended side effects.”
the gap between reality and fable is one of them

John Marshall
February 2, 2011 4:40 am

Rising atmospheric CO2 levels were due to outgassing of oceanic water as it warmed. Now waters are cooling the CO2 levels should start to fall as it is readsorbed. Human produced CO2 is but 3% of the overall annual CO2 produced (according to the US Dept of Energy) so we can ignore this as a significant addition to the natural producers.
Let the oceans do their own thing. Oceans have been reservoirs for CO2, O2, N2 for millions of years. There is nothing we can do to improve these natural cycles and processes.

February 2, 2011 5:02 am

This is similar to what happened when a volcano erupted in Alaska in 2008. A storm picked up the iron rich ash and dumped it into the ocean. Enormous plankton bloom, but even this massive scale event had little impact.

February 2, 2011 5:03 am

What happened to the Precautionary Principle anyway? Oh, I see. It goes out the window when the meddling is done by The Correct People. It’s only The Incorrect People who are forbidden to mess with Nature by planting crops, mining, cutting trees, or breathing.
The plankton are already having trouble adapting to the earth’s weakening magnetic field, which is getting ready for a pole-switch. Let’s not throw another wrench into their system.

Welsh Wizard
February 2, 2011 5:04 am

I should think that dumping large quantities of anything into the oceans flies in the face of common sense. Why do some people insist on trying to fix something before they are even sure if it is broken?

Ken Hall
February 2, 2011 5:08 am

I am sorry, but how is this bad news? If this prevents a massive and expensive vandalisation of the oceans floor, then this has to be a good thing.
We should be cleaning up the oceans, not spending billions of dollars trying to alter them further in the vein hope of tackling a far from certain problem which might not even happen.
The effects of large-scale geo-engineering and climate-engineering projects could be far far worse than the problem that they are trying to solve.

February 2, 2011 5:08 am

…but will we stop wasting our money on it? I suspect not.

February 2, 2011 5:26 am

this work should tell us what the mineralization rate at which CO2 is removed from the aqueous biosphere. The loss of carbon, on the ocean floor, is a sink in the whole carbon cycle. Carbon lost to the biosphere by this mechanism has to be replaced, either by vulcanos or from weathering of carbonaceous rocks.
In the long term these influxes and effluxes should match, but there is no reason for then to match in the short, 1,000 year, term.
Carbonates in the oceans are the buffering system for the carbon cycle.

February 2, 2011 5:48 am

The argument for fertilization should have always focused on what it can do to improve fishery productivity.
Large fishing companies should be encouraged to ‘lease’ fishing rights to oceans, and be required to maintain them like farmers as part of the ‘lease’.
Improved fishery health would include taking steps to improve yields in a sustainable way over time. This would mean fertilization, harvest management, etc. The CO2 impact would be significant, but is not the central reason to do it. CO2 should never be the sole reason to do anything.
Think of how the US great plains went from being the ‘The great American Desert’ to the breadbasket of the world as a go-by example.
Once again climate science, by its obsession on CO2, is reducing the level of intelligence by limiting thinking about how to solve real problems. The opportunity costs of the global warming mania is starting to add up.

February 2, 2011 5:50 am

If it weren’t for premise that it was needed to combat climate change, dumping iron into the ocean would be taken to task for what it is – pollution.
Thank you very much but no, the ocean and atmospheric CO2 self regulating system functions quite well and Ill not have silly fearmongers fiddling with it.

Pamela Gray
February 2, 2011 6:03 am

Could this thoughtful response to a climate control suggestion be related to the lack of thought preceding “Let’s use whirligigs! Yeh! That will work!” climate control suggestion? Maybe AGW’s main contribution to the world will be to remind us what happens when we fail to think before we act.

February 2, 2011 6:07 am

agree with hunter. putting minerals back into the oceans is reasonable irrespective of carbon uptake. we have too long reaped where we have not sown… or fertilized.

February 2, 2011 6:12 am

Any CO² entrapment scheme has minimal probability of making a significant impact on the glogal climate, because CO² doesn’t drive the climate and its IR absorption effect is already pretty much saturated.

Another Gareth
February 2, 2011 6:21 am

Could this be industrialised to produce animal feed? I’m thinking along the lines of man-made salt water lagoons which get fertilised with iron oxide, an algal bloom occurs and zooplankton population soars. Then filter out most of the zooplankton and mash them into some kind of meal.
The ability to improve fish stocks is a good one even if the geo-engineering they wanted hasn’t turned out to be workable. I used to think the fishing industry ought to be roaming the oceans in disused tankers breeding fish fry and releasing them to conserve the fish population but this method would be more practical.

February 2, 2011 6:23 am

Ocean fertilization involves adding iron or other nutrients to the surface of the ocean to trigger growth of microscopic marine plants.
I grew up being told that’s eutrophication…….
….and we should spend billions stopping it

Dave Springer
February 2, 2011 6:35 am

As synthetic biology gets rolling with practical applications we’re going to be needing all the atmospheric CO2 we can get because carbon is a basic building block for both fuels and durable materials. The atmosphere is the carbon supply source for synthetic organisms. Here’s one of the first that’s getting close to commercial application:
It just takes a few minutes at this website to get a good handle on the technology. This is just the beginning. In the next decade we’ll have a labor force of engineered bacteria building all kinds of things out of carbon and carbon compounds with molecular precision. The possibilities are mind boggling. The sun provides all the needed energy and is virtually unlimited but atmospheric CO2 is not in such great supply and it’ll be used up – sequestered for a very long time – in the construction of durable goods. I believe in 25 years cap & trade will be turned on its head where instead of trying to limit how much CO2 is released into the atmosphere the limitation will be how much CO2 is removed from the atmosphere.

February 2, 2011 6:41 am

One study says it wont work. Well then, better abandon the whole idea.
This probably also ‘proves’ that there isnt any negative, CO2 feedback mechanism from warmer temps and CO2 fertilization, either.
Better put this new info into the models ASAP, and get on with that draconian carbon tax, seeing as how it is our only hope.

Bill Marsh
February 2, 2011 6:51 am

Quickest way to destroy the planet (or at least degrade our ability to live on it) is to attempt massive ‘terra forming’ without actually knowing what will happen when we do.

February 2, 2011 6:54 am

“world’s leading experts” which in this case is a bunch of amatuers who don’t have a clue …

Patrick Davis
February 2, 2011 6:55 am

Yeah, the introduction of cane toads in Australia worked well to kill the sugar cane beetle.
/sarc off

Ian E
February 2, 2011 7:06 am

Puts one in mind of the nursery rhyme …
There was an old lady
Who swallowed a fly ……….
Think of Earth as the old lady and it all fits!

February 2, 2011 7:11 am

Met Office reply to:
“Please supply copies of all communications between the Met Office
and government departments since 1st August 2010 that refer to
long-range forecasts covering this winter’s weather.”

Bill Hunter
February 2, 2011 7:23 am

“Think of how the US great plains went from being the ‘The great American Desert’ to the breadbasket of the world as a go-by example.”
Gasp! Save lives!!! With oceans making up 3/4ths of the world surface you are talking about dramatically increasing the world’s carrying capacity! Can’t have that. . . .natural starvation undone! Let em eat cake instead!

February 2, 2011 7:54 am

Item 8 on the diagram: from 1 to 15% of the carbon reaches the bottom. Well, we knew it was somewhere between 0 and 100.
The results if it was 1% and if it was 15% would be markedly different.
In the North Sea there is an algal bloom every spring as lengthening days enable phytoplankton to make use of the nutrients over winter. Whether higher dissolved CO2 will have an effect on this, don’t know. It depends on limiting nutrients – whether CO2 is ever limiting (or if it is phosphorus, iron, etc).

February 2, 2011 7:55 am

“nutrients accumulated over winter…” I mean

Charles Higley
February 2, 2011 8:00 am

It is simply not possible to fertilize the oceans without radically screwing up the ecosystems. Furthermore, it is economically impossible and too expensive to implement, besides the fact that IT WOULD ACCOMPLISH ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
If water vapor is 95% of the heat-trapping gas, why would anybody think it is subservient to CO2?
Are scientists giving a molecule human traits and control over other chemical just as the liberals want control over everybody else?
Even if CO2 did cause some warming, this would do nothing else but ramp up the convectional cooling of the atmosphere and increase the efficiency of this huge global heat engine as it delivers energy to space. We would, thus, probably cool a bit.

DD More
February 2, 2011 8:01 am

Let’s just go back to ‘ Ocean iron fertilization’ with oil platforms. As many studies have shown they at least increase fish stocks.
The deployment of petroleum structures in the mid-twentieth century in the western Gulf and thousands of artificial reefs in the northcentral Gulf have markedly increased red snapper habitat in those areas. Currently, snapper populations around
artificial reefs in the northcentral and northwestern Gulf support the majority of the U.S. harvest. If habitat is limiting, the designations of “overfishing” and overfished” may be misleading, and “unrealized harvest potential” may be a more accurate descriptor of the current status of the stock given the increased presence of additional habitat for red snapper. Decreases in these artificial structures (owing to natural degradation or removal) may decrease future harvest potential.

February 2, 2011 8:08 am

“Ocean fertilization involves adding iron or other nutrients to the surface of the ocean to trigger growth of microscopic marine plants. ”
And there’s the error.
Any good carbon sequestration scientist knows that you need just the right dollop of magical pixie dust to make any sequestration plan work properly.

February 2, 2011 8:46 am

These fertilization of the oceans people fail to realize how vast and how deep the ocean is. We could pour in all the world’s iron from all the buildings and cars and it would do little. We need more CO2 for real food crops, anyhow, because we are CO2 starved today, and could use 1000 ppm to really boost crop yields. The correct approach to fishing is simply to improve what already is doable—fish farming. There the nutrients are controlled and delivered locally to the fish.
Second, to improve fishing.let’s cull and control (and eat) ocean top predators, which compete directly with us for food at the top of the chain. Sharks, seals, whales, dolphins, etc. One whale eats a half ton of menhaden and herring at a gulp. Whales and sharks are at record levels since we have been counting (that is trying to count—like trying to count flies in a chicken house). Oh, please do not offer up more “endangered stats” from WWF types, children’s propaganda books or government grant recipients. We know how reliable these figures from non-objective, dependent “scientists” are, and we know about the polar bears! They thought we wouldn’t find out about the polar bears! It is the same with the sharks and Shamus of the oceans. I live in Florida, and I see with my own eyes the shark population increasing in just the last ten years. And they are delicious!
But no, let’s spread soot on the Arctic—oh wait, that was last century—sorry, let’s put iron filings in the ocean, make thousands of Dr. Seuss ships that spew sea water, put shades or mirrors in orbit, tax the air we breathe, bury CO2 in the ground for no good reason (so it can gush out and kill every living thing within miles like in Lake Nyos), etc.
I am not against creative thinking. I have lots of patents and inventions, some that have reached the market. I am proud to say that I was not taxpayer funded at any time! The things had to stand on their own merit. I love science fiction and feel creativity of that kind belongs with that genre, not with the government.
Also, simply, messin’ with Mother Nature is like messin’ with Sasquatch. Could have unintended consequences.

February 2, 2011 8:53 am

We must stop this insanity!
I have been warning Warmists about unintended consequences but they are convinced about the case for AGW being the main driver of the recent temperature rise. Let’s hope temps plunge hard to make some of them think again.

Andrew Parker
February 2, 2011 8:55 am

The Law of the Sea Treaty has pretty much stifled utilization of international waters for exploitation, beyond conventional fishing. Farming algae in the open ocean may be made to work, technically, but the legal hurdles may be insurmountable, unless you can stay entirely within national boundaries and Economic Zones. Saying that, those tiny Pacific atolls control huge swaths of ocean territory. Sounds like a green scam just waiting to happen. Remember to throw in some floating windmills and wave driven generators as props.

February 2, 2011 9:01 am

Is 25 billion tons of carbon per year dropping to the ocean floor without fertilization insignificant? And how much iron do we need to drop over 361 million km^2 to boost that amount – every year?
You need to provide 4nM iron (1). Assuming 1 m depth for each m^2 of area, you need 223 mg/m^2, or 223 kg/km^2. To fertilize the entire ocean requires 81 million tons of Fe, or 219 million tons of FeSO4. At 2840 kg/m^3, you need 77 million m^3 of iron sulfate. The iron dissipates within 3 days of last application. How many times per year do we want to do this?
Coale, et al. (1) recognize the challenge of scaling up their experiments. “[A] mesoscale enrighment experiment in these Southern Ocean waters poses a tantalizaing, yet formidable, challenge.”
Iron fertilization of every square kilometer of ocean is not possible or necessary, however, it certainly would be necessary to deliver iron monthly or more frequently to the selected ocean regions to have any lasting effect. Furthermore, to achieve any significant impact on atmospheric CO2 concentrations, a majority of ocean surface area in the most productive regions would need to be treated.
It is amusing to see what happens when laboratory-scale thinking has to meet the reality of the real world.
And what’s your carbon footprint to deliver all that iron?
1) http://www.unioviedo.es/marioquevedo/eco3/AGN_coale_et_al_96_nature.pdf
Note: I tried to be careful making these calculations. If there are any errors, you can have your money back.

February 2, 2011 9:02 am

I concur. The good thing (unintended consequence) about this cAGW fiasco is that I predict that the environmentalists’ influence is and will continue to be mitigated in coming years, because of the publics’ eyes being opened to the dangers of their tricky schemes.

richcar 1225
February 2, 2011 9:03 am

Jimbo said:
“I have been warning Warmists about unintended consequences but they are convinced about the case for AGW being the main driver of the recent temperature rise. Let’s hope temps plunge hard to make some of them think again.”
You have just got your wish.

Steve Keohane
February 2, 2011 9:10 am

I came across an old copy of OMNI, July, 1993. It has an article about geoengineering modifications, like Fe in the oceans, to prevent CO2 from causing AGW. It is not a good idea to try to change a system one is still largely clueless about. At least having it seem a futile effort might inhibit someone from trying.

February 2, 2011 9:13 am

I think i’ll start a book series, called “C++ for policymakers”, “Gardening for policymakers”, “Losing weight for policymakers”… as “…for dummies” is already trademarked.

February 2, 2011 9:15 am

I remember hearing of and reading about an ocean fertilization experiment conducted off the coast of Scotland, some 3-4 decades back in time , with the aim of increasing the fish stocks there. If I remember correctly they sprayed either som calsium or potassium compounds from crop duster areoplanes on the ocean surface in a couple of firths in order to stimulate plankton growth, I do not remember much of the detail like but the area covered was few hundred square km. and the project was run for 5 consecutive years, and the result was said to have been a from two to fivefold increase of the catch of the inshore fishermen in the affected area, but it was also deemed that it would not be be cost effective to continue or scale this thing up as the biggest catch increases were in fish species that commanded the least price at the auctions.
Now as to were I saw this , I cannot remember , but I am sure it was not in a scientific journal but I got the impression it was a rehash of a scientific article , with most of the detail left out, and I remember taking it’s truthvalue with a few grains of salt , and thinking “neat if it really works, wonder if it can me made cost effective somehow” , and then I really forgot all about it , until this posting jogged my memory.
For what it is worth my thougth is that it migth be worth pursuing some limited ocean fertilization if it can be shown to strengthen and increase the fish stocks , in a cost effective way, but as a technique for sequestering CO2, I think it’s at best an upwind fart.

February 2, 2011 9:21 am

“Remember this story? Ocean iron fertilization CO2 sequestration experiment a blooming failure.”
I remember at the time thinking how stupid and ill-conceived the experiment was.
The experiment was designed to increase the number of phytoplankton –>phytoplankton= food –> food gets eaten. The “scientist” was surprised and disappointed to learn this (!) because fro some reason he anticipated the phytoplankton falling to the bottom of the ocean to get mummified in the sediment. I wonder where he got that crazy idea from?
Deep ocean waters are actually very clear, due to the almost complete absence of organic matter or “marine snow.” And yet, very small numbers of creatures amble along slowly at the greatest depths feeding off the tiny amount of debris that does fall. Carbon-based life incorporates carbon, it doesn’t sequester.

February 2, 2011 9:36 am

A new summary for policymakers suggests the whole idea of ocean fertilization has a “low chance of success”.
I hear ya’ – that means it “could” work! So as soon as the Post Normal Scientists figure out how to get the “violence” out of sciencey debate – of course, while keeping the Holy panic which takes an issue out of the realm of mere normal science and reason and allows the self-annointed Post Normal Scientists to wax superior on any issue they feel panicked about – they’ll be able to tell us how to vote on this one, before it’s too late!

February 2, 2011 9:48 am

There’s an old admonition in the computer geek world that also applies to the geo-engineering geeks: “Tweakers Suck”.

Dan in California
February 2, 2011 10:23 am

So what would be the effect on sea level if there were more sponges living there?
Yes, I am joking. 🙂

February 2, 2011 10:37 am

DirkH says: February 2, 2011 at 9:13 am
I think i’ll start a book series, called “C++ for policymakers”, “Gardening for policymakers”, “Losing weight for policymakers”… as “…for dummies” is already trademarked.
DirkH. Of course you know who the policymakers are don’t you. They are the half-witted w–kers in gument departments feeding off the hind tit i.e. paid by you, to dream up impractical solutions to non problems half the time and to take you money in taxes for the rest of the time.

February 2, 2011 10:51 am

Patrick Davis says:
February 2, 2011 at 6:55 am
Yeah, the introduction of cane toads in Australia worked well to kill the sugar cane beetle
Exactly! Last summer we heard a lot here in the UK about an ‘alien’ species of ladybird that was ‘invading’ our shores. It wasn’t being brought here deliberately like the cane toad – or the rabbit – in Oz, it was getting here quite naturally. But the naturalists got themselves in a frenzy over this ‘invading’ species – IT MUST BE WIPED OUT! otherwise our nice British ladybirds might suffer. But these are the same guys who bang on about evolution and survival of the fittest and how species die out because they fail to adapt and so on. That’s all OK in the distant past apparently, but when it actually happens in the here and now, that’s different and MUST BE STOPPED! Bad nature! Naughty nature! It’s got it wrong again and must be corrected! Where do these people get their messianic delusions from? To any and all warmists – exactly what ppm of CO2 is the ‘correct’ one? Exactly what global temperature? What sea level? You must know because you keep telling us it’s all too high, so come on, let’s have the figures!

David Davidovics
February 2, 2011 11:02 am

“Welsh Wizard says:
February 2, 2011 at 5:04 am
Why do some people insist on trying to fix something before they are even sure if it is broken?”
Its really quite simple. Terrifying – but simple.
This is what they call “The Precautionary Principle”.
Simply put, it means that even if we don’t know everything, we still need to act because doing anything is better than nothing when dealing with the unknown.
Then throw something in there about future generations for the clincher and you’re all set.

bob sykes
February 2, 2011 11:08 am

There is a reasonably well-established theory in ecology that predicts the failure of the iron (or any other nutrient) enrichment scheme. It is called “the trophic cascade.” In this theory, limiting nutrient additions always stimulate the population of the top predator, but depending on the effective number of trophic levels, they may or may not stimulate the primary producer (here marine algae).
Several groups have attempted iron (or other) nutrient enrichment schemes, but all have failed. Apparently, they couldn’t be bothered to become current (competent?) in their own research areas.
Fretwell, S. D. 1977. “The Regulation of Plant Communities by the Food Chains Exploiting Them,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, vol. 20, no. 2.
Fretwell, S. D. 1987. “Food Chain Dynamics: The Central Theory of Ecology?,” Oikos, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 291-301.
Hairston, N. G., Smith, F. E., and Slobodkin, L. B. 1960. “Community Structure, Population Control, and Competition,” The American Naturalist, vol. XCIV, no. 879 (Nov./Dec.), pp. 421-425.
Sykes, R. M. 1973. “The trophic-dynamic aspects of ecosystem models.” Proc. 16th Conference Great Lakes Research, vol. 16, pp. 977-998.

Billy Liar
February 2, 2011 11:35 am

Welsh Wizard says:
February 2, 2011 at 5:04 am
Why do some people insist on trying to fix something before they are even sure if it is broken?
‘Cause there’s money in it? It can pay to study any crackpot idea if there’s a fool willing to pay for it.

CRS, Dr.P.H.
February 2, 2011 11:54 am

Thanks, Anthony! This reminds me of the two sexy-startups that thought they would get mega rich from this scam, namely Climos and Planktos:
Having done consulting work for the CDM component of Kyoto, I watched this closely to see if they could ever figure out an economic model, i.e. how do you verify Certified Emission Reduction credits from ocean fertilization?
Well, the idea was just bad to begin with, and the copepods finished the job!! This is a great example for those (Chu) who advocate immediate geoengineering including dispersing sulfates into the atmosphere. It ain’t broke, don’t frick with it.

CRS, Dr.P.H.
February 2, 2011 12:00 pm

Climos & Planktos were two California start-ups hoping to get rich off of this, see how that turned out for them!

February 2, 2011 12:35 pm

Dr. CRS,
The report lists, at the end, three “Main Commercial Interests”:
Atmocean Inc (wave-driven ocean upwelling system) http://www.atmocean.com
Ocean Nourishment Corporation Pty Ltd (macronutrient additions
to enhance fish stocks and carbon sinks)
Climos (potential application of ocean iron fertilization)

February 2, 2011 12:37 pm

“Douglas says:
February 2, 2011 at 10:37 am
DirkH says: February 2, 2011 at 9:13 am
I think i’ll start a book series, called “C++ for policymakers”, “Gardening for policymakers”, “Losing weight for policymakers”… as “…for dummies” is already trademarked.
DirkH. Of course you know who the policymakers are don’t you. They are the half-witted w–kers […]”
🙂 – of course i do. My idea does not play on the IQ of policymakers but on the fact that we see this “advice for policymakers”, invented by the IPCC, become a “scientific” mainstay. I am very sure that the UN biodiversity bandwagon will deliver many sequels. (Hey – if i trademark it they’ll have to pay me after each “working report”!)

February 2, 2011 12:53 pm

“…ocean fertilization to affect climate have a low chance of success”
That’s a pity. I had high hopes for ocean fertilisation since reading that now-not-so-confident claim that went, “Give me half a tanker of iron, and I’ll give you an ice age.”
Not that it was ever possible to carry iron compounds in tankers. One needs a bulk carrier for that type of job.

CRS, Dr.P.H.
February 2, 2011 2:40 pm

I love this phrase = “Hack the Planet”!! Check out the safety card:

Steve R
February 2, 2011 3:19 pm

There is actually a variation of this ocean fertilization idea which may work better. That would be to create an artificial upwellings in the tropics. A wind powered turbine pump could easily pull cold phosphate and nitrate rich water from below 8,000 feet or so and release it at the oceans suface. Photosynthesis would take it from there. Perhaps I could sell carbon credits to fund the project, as long as I can claim exclusive rights to the fishery that would develop in it’s vicinity.

February 2, 2011 4:34 pm

Help me understand something.
“Acid rain” was the result of Sulphur dioxide (SO2) changing the Ph levels of rainwater.
Can CO2 also change the Ph levels of rainwater?
And, since we’ve had such a spell of record rain and snow, is this scrubbing the air?

February 2, 2011 5:20 pm

DirkH says:
February 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm
“Douglas says:
February 2, 2011 at 10:37 am
DirkH says: February 2, 2011 at 9:13 am
I think i’ll start a book series[—].
DirkH. Of course you know who the policymakers are don’t you. They are the half-witted w–kers […]”
🙂 – of course i do.[–. (Hey – if i trademark it they’ll have to pay me after each “working report”!)]
Well its good to see that you have got your priorities sorted DirkH – might be better to have the payments made before the’working report’ though – can’t trust these people – plagiarists all!

February 2, 2011 5:22 pm

henrythethird says:
February 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm
Help me understand something.
CO2 + H2O -> H2CO3 (carbonic acid)
Drops pH of distilled water to around 5.5.
The presence of alkalinity as bicarbonate or sulfate buffers the acid (neutralizes it), and keeps the pH higher. Oceans have lots of alkalinity. Furthermore, the system is not static; living creatures modify their surroundings. That means living things influence and modify, or regulate, ocean chemistry. Some CO2 drops out (falls to the bottom of the ocean) as CaCO3, very roughly around 100 billion tons per year.

Pamela Gray
February 2, 2011 7:16 pm

We know so little about birth rate and migration life cycles in the ocean. It was decades long salmon migration patterns that led us to discover the PDO. These cycles appear to be tied to long term drought/dust cycles that send iron into the ocean. When we start messing with natural air born iron fertilization cycles, we are messing with birth rate cycles that took thousands of years to establish.
Here’s a peek at insect cycles:

February 3, 2011 8:09 am

If the report is, as reported, a series of we-don’t-knows, then the conclusion that there’s little chance of success is not justified. For example, if “it is unclear whether findings from small-scale experiments apply fully to larger scales” then it may or may not scale up, we just don’t know.
But I do know that good scientists should spend their time doing experiments to answer such questions rather than writing propaganda.

Gary Hladik
February 3, 2011 2:12 pm

The posts by hunter (February 2, 2011 at 5:48 am) and Steve R (February 2, 2011 at 3:19 pm) reminded me of Arthur C. Clarke’s 1957 novel The Deep Range. In Clarke’s future world, much of humanity is fed by ocean farming of fish, whales (meat and milk), and algae/plankton. The author fertilizes much of the ocean with artificial upwellings of nutrients from the ocean floor (and presumably with processed human waste products, too).
Compared with today’s gloom and doom stories, it was quite an optimistic novel.

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