Fertilization of the ocean for climate mitigation
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Ocean iron fertilization (OIF) is being considered as a strategy for mitigating rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. One model for implementation is the sale of carbon offsets. The debate over fertilization of the ocean for carbon sequestration began about 20 years ago and has increased in sophistication, but the central themes are unchanged. Recently, recognition of the issue has broadened. OIF is being considered by the ocean policy community (London Convention) and proposals for new research are generating significant controversy. Here I review positions that have been taken over the years and identify key scientific questions that must be addressed directly if the potential risks and benefits of OIF are to be competently assessed. In particular, long- term effects of widespread fertilization, sustained over decades, must be shown to be acceptably predictable and verifiable. I propose that until this can be demonstrated -- and there is good reason to believe that it cannot - OIF should not be considered a viable technology for climate mitigation.
Cullen, J.. "Fertilization of the ocean for climate mitigation." CMOS Congress 2009 - Sea and Sky Come to Life, Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada), 31 May - 4 June 2009.