A California businessman managed to convince the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States to lend him ocean monitoring equipment such as buoys. He then went on to load a large fishing boat with about a hundred tonnes of iron dust, which he then dumped directly into the ocean waters. The cruise started off from California, travelling through the Pacific waters off the coast of Canada.
This massive iron dumping is part of a climate change experiment, but its potential side effects are angering scientists and governments world wide. Many are wondering how the businessman was even allowed to do such a reckless experiment.
Many scientists, especially marine biologists are enraged over the iron dumping experiment, saying that it was completely unscientific and irresponsible. They mention that the experiment is also a violation of international agreements, especially since it is a reckless tampering of delicate marine environments.
The Canadian ministry is now reviewing the case especially since the California businessman’s experiment has no government or scientific insight. In fact, a spokesman says that the company was warned by the ministry before, especially since it violates international agreements.
Scientists are angry that this dangerous experiment was done because of false beliefs that it would help reverse climate change. Many are now saying that the impact would be downright minimal and actually have worse side effects, adding a dangerous pollutant to the marine environments.
The businessman in question, Russ George, said that he accepted $2.5 million from a local Canadian group. They used the money to scatter fine iron dust around a hundred miles off Haida Gwaii in Northern British Columbia.
However, the effects of the iron dumping was completely unprecedented, and the company did not expect the pollution to spawn millions of plankton. This process is a special kind of geoengineering, which still remains highly controversial even among the scientific community.
While many agree that geoengineering should be given a shot in order to see if they have any good effects on climate change, many agree that it has to be done transparently, under heavy guidance of both the scientific community and the the affected countries’ governing bodies.
Mark Wells, a marine scientist at the University of Maine says that Mr. George’s actions were considered “ocean dumping”. Since the experiment was not completely transparent, a spokesperson from NOAA mentions that while they did provide the various monitoring buoys to the company, they said that they did not know or approve of the fact that there was ocean dumping involved.
However, Mr. George maintains that 100 tonnes of iron dust was considered a negligible compared to the actual amounts that enter the oceans every year. He mentions that “This is a community trying to maintain its livelihood” since the Haida group commissioned the iron dumping in the hopes to improve the salmon populations too, which feed off the plankton created by the dumping. But many scientists are still against the experiment since geoengineering is risky.