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Ocean Fertilization Could Produce Toxic Effects Up the Food Chain

Study undercores unforeseen effects of geoengineered solutions to CO2 pollution

By Dave Levitan

Mar 16, 2010

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.”

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Toxic Effects

I am so excited that I have found this your post because I have been searching for some information about it almost three hours.

Pretty good post. I just

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geoeingeneering: already an industry?

Well, there've been reports on organizations and companies doing some commercial geoengineering of sorts, e.g. Climos. Not so sure whether the time is ripe, but articles like this certainly help to raise awareness on the CO2 and environmental issues.

Thx for the article. Übersetzer russisch

Opponents of geoengineering

Opponents of geoengineering schemes point to the immense complexity of ocean and atmospheric systems on the global scale, and that we simply have no way of knowing the way those systems will react to new inputs. This study highlighted one previously discussed concern, in that the Pseudonitzschia organisms absorbed the iron so well that they took it away from other organisms that also need the nutrients.

Great

It created a new view into me about pollution

It created a new view into

It created a new view into myself about pollution

Great

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Interesting blog with some good information. It’s really a nice post. I found it very interesting. Thanks for sharing this.

To put it succinctly, the big

To put it succinctly, the big secret regarding fitness, health and staying in shape in general is that it’s easy. That might sound like a bit of a sweeping statement or an over-generalisation, but 99% of the time it’s also completely accurate.

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I have no doubt that this type of endeavor will eventually be something that will ultimately benefit earth

small doubt

 Nature Geoscience indicated for the first time that iron flowing out of undersea volcanoes is responsible for as much as 15 percent of the total carbon storage in the Southern Ocean. This, of course, is a natural process and one that already fits into the global ocean system.

this is still happening!!

it would be wonderful if all

it would be wonderful if all of this could really work.. as it would greatly benefit everyone.. thanks for the well thought out article..

Advantageously, the article

Advantageously, the article is actually the greatest on this worthy topic "Ocean Fertilization Could Produce Toxic Effects Up the Food Chain". I concur with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your coming updates. Saying thanks will not just be enough, for the extraordinary clarity in your writing. I will directly grab your rss feed to stay abreast of any updates.

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Just some days ago I read an interesting article about the activity of sunspots. And the solar scientists in the article seem to be predicting that the sunspots are weakening to a dramatic degree and the last time something similar happened was the so-called Maunder Minimum (about 1645 to 1715), which is known as a Little Ice Age. The article still shows that there are even much much larger forces )in terms of impact on the atmosphere) out there compared to our industrialization. Regards,

"Engineering of this nature

"Engineering of this nature still seems a little immature to try on the oceans as they do make up seventy percent of the earth." thats really true.

It is an apt discussion

It is an apt discussion about the ocean fertilization could produce toxic effects food chain. I am exceedingly glad to learn that the research communities are at work and could prove toxic effects on food due to this experiment. It is a resourceful article. Thanks.

Ocean

Alfred Hitchcock was a great director. The "World's Oceans" from Steve Jenner was one of the best books ever.

"Yes, the research should be going on till when we can say that this iron fertilization would not affect the ocean ecosystem. As short-sightedness in this matter can result in consequences like Yellow stone park." thats very important.

The oceans are very wounderful.
Ulf - / Translator

Excellent article..

it would be wonderful if all of this could really work.. as it would greatly benefit everyone.. thanks for the well thought out article..

Steve Jenner - Author of Updated Edition

It is an apt discussion about

It is an apt discussion about the ocean fertilization could produce toxic effects food chain. I am exceedingly glad to learn that the research communities are at work and could prove toxic effects on food due to this experiment. It is a resourceful article. Thanks

Engineering of this nature

Engineering of this nature still seems a little immature to try on the oceans as they do make up seventy percent of the earth. I have no doubt that this type this type of endeavor will eventually be something that will ultimately benefit earth; However its something that should be done carefully. . Its fortunate that people with the know how are checking it out.

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Oops!

How does one say "Oops!" in a scientifically acceptable fashion after having provoked Nature into an irreversable, toxic chain reaction? RE:

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.”

Maybe we don't want to find out by experimenting on the entire planet! How about limiting this to SeaWorld before messing with an actual ocean?

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