Iron-fertilized, carbon-eating oceans

Regardless of whether the oceans boil away in 7.6 billion years or not, we have a real-life crisis developing right now in the form of global warming. Or, as some would rather: ‘climate change’. Doesn’t sound so scary then…

One set of techniques to combat the rise of greenhouse gases is geo-sequestration – basically, sticking the CO2 underground – and there are lots of different ways proposed to accomplish this.

A series of articles is currently being posted that explains the process, benefits and side-effects of a geo-seq method called ocean iron-fertilization which uses excess iron in sea-water to promote the growth of plankton that use CO2 (like plants) and drag it down to the ocean bottom in an organic form.

The articles are long and can get a bit technical – although there are some fantastic diagrams to help along the way – so I’ll leave the final word to a better journalist than I:

You need to know three things … One, putting iron in the ocean does increase plankton numbers. Two, scientists don’t really have any idea how much of the carbon the organisms eat actually drops from the surface into the depths, which is the key to sequestration. It could be anywhere from 2-50 percent, which is almost like saying, “It could work or it could not work.” Three, the leading scientists in the field don’t have enough confidence to say that ocean iron fertilization could have any real impact on stopping or even slow climate change.

Still looking for a solution, then.


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