Dan Whaley, the founder and CEO of geoengineering firm , agreed that there remain unanswered questions about ocean fertilization, but to stop trying to answer them is a step in the wrong direction. When faced with the idea that the ocean is too complex to ever understand what might happen if we drastically change it, Whaley said “I think that’s an extremely unscientific point of view. It says that since we can never know the answers, it’s probably not worth even trying to find out.”
Whaley said that geoengineering proponents have asked for, say, one percent of the global climate budget to go toward research and testing of iron fertilization and other ideas like the injection of massive amounts of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to cool the planet.
“Do we have sufficient resources to look at multiple aspects of the problem? My argument is that we do,” Whaley said. “Let’s keep doing the research, we’re learning a lot.”
Some large ocean fertilization projects have already been conducted. Last year, the collaboration involved seeding a 300 square kilometer area of the Southern Ocean with six tonnes of dissolved iron. The researchers did see increased phytoplankton biomass, but increases in the slightly larger creatures who eat the algae negated much of the effect.
Overall, it appeared to to draw excess CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Trick, meanwhile, said that the most recent research on domoic acid just adds to the list of reasons why focusing on geoengineering fixes is simply the wrong way to go.
“It’s not that [the phytoplankton] makes the toxin, per se, it’s that we don’t really understand the consequences of these large-scale fertilizations,” he said. “If we can look for one thing that we think should occur, there is probably a good list of other things that we can’t predict right now that will occur. Let’s not look for a solution that allows us to maintain our high export of CO2 into the atmosphere.”