The Guardian is reporting evidence of a geoengineering experiment that took place off the coast of Canada. Apparently, some American businessman lied to an indigenous Canadian community to get permission to dump 100 tons of iron sulphate into the Pacific in a scheme to make money from carbon credits. WTF.
We've talked about ocean fertilization with iron sulphate on DVICE before: the idea is that, by dumping iron into the ocean, you can cause large blooms of algae. The aglae absorb carbon out of the atmosphere, die and sink, effectively trapping that carbon at the bottom of the ocean. Studies have shown that it does work as advertised, and that it may be one way of cheaply and effectively mitigating the buildup of carbon in our atmosphere. However, there are still lots of questions about it, especially when it comes to long-term effects like deep-water oxygen depletion and screwing up food chains. In any case, it's not ready to be tried on an industrial scale without a lot more study.
The fact that ocean fertilization might irreparably harm local ecosystems has not stopped Russ George, an American businessman and (it seems) total jerkface, from convincing the local council of an indigenous village on the west coast of Canada to spend $1 million helping him dump 100 tons of iron sulphate into their waters in a move that he said would help enhance the salmon population. Really, George was just hoping to create an algae bloom that would then generate carbon credits that could be sold for a profit.
For the record, this is a hugely illegal thing to do, in violation of two United Nations moratoria. And George has tried (and failed) to do it before, near the Galapagos and Canary Islands, after which both the Ecuadorean and Spanish governments banned his ships from their ports. In addition to being illegal, it's just a terrible idea for someone to go out and to do try and make money. I mean, if it proves (after much more research) that it's a safe and viable way of reducing global atmospheric carbon, then great, it should be done in moderation in carefully monitored and controlled ways. It should not be done for profit, since that's a surefire way to get to some serious environment disaster.
It's already too late for the Canadian coast. George dumped his iron sulphate from a fishing boat about 200 miles off the coast back in July, and satellite images from August show an algae bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometers. George is supposedly out there with some unspecified scientists monitoring everything and insisting that it's all great, but the UN, world governments, environmental groups, and the indigenous Canadians that he conned are all demanding legal action. We hope they get it.