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New Scientist: Coverage On LOHAFEX
9 January, 2009 by Kevin

New Scientist covers the LOHAFEX cruise on ocean iron fertilization, and has some excellent analysis of the legal controvery around this cruise.

"Regardless of the CBD's recommendations, which are not legally binding, Smetacek's experiment is not in contravention of the IMO's London Convention on ocean pollution.

Its statement on ocean fertilisation (pdf) says "ocean fertilization activities other than legitimate scientific research should not be allowed" and adds that scientific experiments should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Smetacek insists his experiments have been approved by all necessary parties.

There is also a good quote from Dr. Ken Caldeira:

"Twenty tonnes of iron particles in the vast ocean is very much drop in the bucket and is unlikely to have a lasting effect," says Ken Caldeira of Stanford University. "The rational concern is that experiments will lead down some slippery slope - that small experiments could be scaled up without any regulation."

Nature News: Coverage On LOHAFEX
9 January, 2009 by Kevin

Nature News covers the LOHAFEX controversy. This piece also does not mention the decision by the London Convention legitimizing scientitic research on OIF and trumping the decision by the CBD. However it does have an interesting quote on the purpose of the study:

"The new study will address, among other things, marine biology, the flow of carbonaceous particles, and biodiversity questions that have barely been analysed during previous experiments, says Karin Lochte, the director of the AWI. "These are exactly the kind of data you need to assess whether or not large-scale ocean fertilization is justified," she says.

Wired: More Coverage Of LOHAFEX
9 January, 2009 by Kevin

Wired's piece on the LOHAFEX cruise has promotes the CBD's position on OIF, and has an update on the LC/LP position. There is also an interesting quote by Jamais Cascio:

"ETC is right that we need international standards and safeguards for these experiments, and hopefully this attempt will spur action in that regard," Cascio said. "I think they're wrong, however, to suggest that any look at geoengineering is inherently problematic."


Yale Interview With Dr. David Keith
9 January, 2009 by Kevin

Jeff Goodell interviews Dr. David Keith on geoengineering. Dr. Keith is a leading proponent of albedo modification techniques.

"The central argument has to do with the uncertainty that has persisted for decades and still does about just how bad the climate problem is. It comes down to a parameter that climate scientists call “climate sensitivity” — how much the climate will warm if we, say, double the amount of CO2 in the air. And the answer is that's still uncertain by factors of two or three, which is just gigantic. So if we are very lucky, it might be that we could double or triple the amount of CO2 in the air and have relatively small climate change, some of which might be beneficial.

On the flip side, if we're unlucky, we might see 5 or 6 degrees [Celsius] globally — and you can double that if you're in the middle of a mid-latitude continent — which is just stunning. That's as big as the change between the glacial and the interglacial state and that would certainly, over a few hundred years, melt big sections of the ice caps. It’s really quite horrific stuff. And we don't know which of those two it is, and we're not going to know in time.

So we're making decisions every day by continuing to put CO2 in the air — decisions that we cannot easily reverse. And so the culmination of the CO2 in the air, and that uncertainty about how dangerous it is, that means you need a backup plan.

Times Of India: Covers Upcoming OIF Experiment
6 January, 2009 by Kevin

The Times of India also covers the upcoming LOHAFEX ocean iron fertilization cruise. LOHAFEX is jointly run by Dr. S.W.A. Naqvi of India and Dr. Victor Smetacek of Germany, who recently published a scientific article on designing the next generation of OIF experiments in the Royal Society special issue on geoengineering.

Daily Mail UK: More Coverage Of LOHAFEX OIF Experiment
6 January, 2009 by Kevin

The Daily Mail UK also covers the upcoming LOHAFEX ocean iron fertilization cruise, which sets sail in a few days. Leading off the article is discussion of the natural iron fertilization effect of rock trapped in icebergs. The Daily Mail is somewhat sensational, since iron fertilization from icebergs has been known for a few years, and they neglect to mention the "other" UN regulatory body, the London Convention, which recently approved scientific research into ocean iron fertilization.

Spiegel Online: Slowing Global Warming With Antarctic Iron
3 January, 2009 by Kevin

Spiegel Online writes, "Slowing Global Warming with Antarctic Iron", which provides the rationale for the large scale ocean iron fertilization cruise planned in March by Dr. Victor Smetacek.

A unique new project now aims to close this knowledge gap. The German research icebreaker Polarstern will set out for Antarctica from Cape Town at the beginning of January. Leader of the project is Victor Smetacek from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). An Indian-German team of 49 people will accompany him.

The plan is to create an artificial plankton bloom north of the island of South Georgia using several tons of iron sulfate. "It will be the largest bloom produced to date," Smetacek says. So large, in fact, that it will be possible to observe it from space with special satellites, and it will attract large swarms of krill from the south.

UK Independent: It's Time For Plan B
3 January, 2009 by Kevin

The Independent writes, "Climate scientists: it's time for Plan B". A poll of leading climate scientists says geoengineering may become necessary in the near future.

"This "geoengineering" approach – including schemes such as fertilising the oceans with iron to stimulate algal blooms – would have been dismissed as a distraction a few years ago but is now being seen by the majority of scientists we surveyed as a viable emergency backup plan that could save the planet from the worst effects of climate change, at least until deep cuts are made in CO2 emissions.

With the looming threat of climate tipping points, we need to conduct careful research to understand whether and how the various geoengineering proposals can help with the fight against climate change.

Audubon: Iron Fertilization Creates Life Around Antarctic Icebergs
3 January, 2009 by Kevin

Audubon Magazine published "Life on Ice", which describes in detail one mechanism of natural iron fertilization in Antarctic waters:  iron-rich dust released from melting icebergs. This is based on research published in Science, "Free-Drifting Icebergs: Hotspots of Chemical and Biological Enrichment", which shows that natural iron fertilization creates hotspots of life in a several kilometer radius. These scientists are continuing their research, so expect more results to be published soon.

Deutsche Welle: German Scientist Warns Climate Change Accelerating
3 January, 2009 by Kevin

Climate change is happening more rapidly than anyone though possible, the German government's expert, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, warned in an interview.

"The threats posed by climate change are worse than those imagined by most governments. We are on our way to a destabilization of the world climate that has advanced much further than most people or their governments realize.

USGS: Report On Abrupt Climate Change
29 December, 2008 by Kevin

The US Geological Survey has published a report on the threat of "Abrupt Climate Change". This report synthesizes recent research that suggests the IPCC has significantly underestimated the rate and severity of climate change negative impacts. In particular, Arctic sea ice will disappear more rapidly, ice sheet melting will cause much higher sea level rise, and sustained drought conditions will likely dominate the American Southwest. There has been plenty of news coverage: USGS Press Release, Washington Post, LA Times.

Official Report From The London Convention On Ocean Fertilization
29 December, 2008 by Kevin

The London Convention and London Protocol have officially posted the report from the meeting held in late October 2008. This includes a Resolution on the Regulation of Ocean Fertilization, which exempts legitimate scientific research on OIF from being considered "dumping" of pollution.  This is a postive step for those who want to see continued research into OIF as a potential climate mitigation technique. The Resolution also calls for the development of a scientific review panel to assess the legitimacy and safety of proposed ocean fertilization projects.

The full text of the Resolution is here:




RECALLING the objectives of the London Convention1 and Protocol2;

NOTING that the ‘Statement of concern’ on large-scale ocean fertilization by the
Scientific Groups in June 2007 endorsed by the 29th Consultative Meeting and the 2nd Meeting of
Contracting Parties in November 2007, and expanded on by the Scientific Groups in May 2008,
remains valid;

NOTING decision IX/16 on 30 May 2008 of the 9th Meeting of the Conference of the
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity which “requests Parties and urges other
Governments, in accordance with the precautionary approach, to ensure that ocean fertilization
activities do not take place until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such
activities, including assessing associated risks, and a global, transparent and effective control and
regulatory mechanism is in place for these activities; with the exception of small scale scientific
research studies within coastal waters”;

NOTING United Nations General Assembly resolution 62/215, concerning “Oceans and
the law of the sea”, adopted on 22 December 2007, which in its paragraph 98 “encourages States
to support the further study and enhance understanding of ocean iron fertilization”;

NOTING that a number of other international organizations are considering the issue of
ocean fertilization;

NOTING that knowledge on the effectiveness and potential environmental impacts of
ocean fertilization is currently insufficient to justify activities other than legitimate scientific

1. AGREE that the scope of the London Convention and Protocol includes ocean
fertilization activities;

2. AGREE that for the purposes of this resolution, ocean fertilization is any activity
undertaken by humans with the principle intention of stimulating primary productivity in
the oceans3;

3. AGREE that in order to provide for legitimate scientific research, such research should
be regarded as placement of matter for a purpose other than the mere disposal thereof
under Article III.1(b)(ii) of the London Convention and Article of the London

4. AGREE that scientific research proposals should be assessed on a case-by-case basis
using an assessment framework to be developed by the Scientific Groups under the
London Convention and Protocol;

5. AGREE that the aforementioned assessment framework should include, inter alia, tools
for determining whether the proposed activity is contrary to the aims of the Convention
and Protocol;

6. AGREE that until specific guidance is available, Contracting Parties should be urged to
use utmost caution and the best available guidance4 to evaluate the scientific research
proposals to ensure protection of the marine environment consistent with the Convention
and Protocol;

7. AGREE that for the purposes of this resolution, legitimate scientific research should be
defined as those proposals that have been assessed and found acceptable under the
assessment framework;

8. AGREE that, given the present state of knowledge, ocean fertilization activities other
than legitimate scientific research should not be allowed. To this end, such other
activities should be considered as contrary to the aims of the Convention and Protocol and
not currently qualify for any exemption from the definition of dumping in Article III.1(b)
of the Convention and Article 1.4.2 of the Protocol;

9. AGREE that this resolution should be reviewed at appropriate intervals in light of new
and relevant scientific information and knowledge.

Reuters: Scientists Urge Caution In Ocean-CO2 Capture Schemes
15 December, 2008 by Kevin

David Fogarty writes, "Scientists urge caution in ocean-CO2 capture schemes", which discusses the environmental concerns of ocean iron fertilization. Also posted is a Q&A with Dan Whaley (CEO of Climos). At issue is whether OIF could be scaled up safely as CO2 mitigation technique, and Dan's Q&A addresses many of the concerns raised in the article. A key point: contrary to the tone of the first article, the environmental concerns of OIF have been a major focus of scientific research since the Iron Hypothesis was first proposed -- these concerns and the way forward are summarized nicely in the recent Royal Society journal article by Dr. Richard Lampitt.

Guardian: "Let's Get Real On The Environment"
15 December, 2008 by Kevin

David Appell of the Guardian UK writes a provocative piece: "Let's get real on the environment". He argues that emission reductions of greenhouse gases simply will not happen soon enough to make a difference, because the political realities are too harsh. Therefore we need to research geoengineering and think more seriously about adaptation to climate change.

Dr. Leinen's Editorial In Oceanography: "The Business Of Ocean Science"
11 December, 2008 by Kevin

The journal Oceanography published an editorial by Dr. Margaret Leinen titled "The Business of Ocean Science".  Dr Leinen shares her perspective on the evolution of oceanography to develop  relationships with the private sector in oceanography, in much the same way as in the biomedical, chemical, and engineering disciplines work closely with private entities.

"Because for so long our field has had
a basic-research focus, as opposed to an
applied orientation, students with entrepreneurial
inclinations have generally
neither been attracted to ocean science
nor recruited. We have few examples
of fellow faculty or graduates who have
been successful in the private sector, and
some of those who are successful moved
to other fields to apply their quantitative

Obama Signals Rapid Action On Climate Change In 2009
12 November, 2008 by Kevin

Jason Grumet, the Obama campaign's lead energy and environment adviser, said that the Obama Administration would act quickly on implementing climate change and energy policies.

Grumet, who has been mentioned as a possible choice for the new U.S. administration's energy secretary, told the group of business and policy-making specialists: "My suggestion to all of you is to enjoy the holiday season ... and rest up because I think it's going to be a very, very busy 2009."

Dr. Ken Caldeira: Geoengineering Research Is Urgently Needed As Backup Plan
11 November, 2008 by Kevin

Dr. Ken Caldeira, in testimony to the British Parliament, says that we need to urgently study the potential of geoengineering to mitigate climate change.

"Only fools find joy in the prospect of climate engineering. It's also foolish to think that risk of significant climate damage can be denied or wished away," he said. "Perhaps we can depend on the transcendent human capacity for self-sacrifice when faced with unprecedented, shared, long-term risk, and therefore can depend on future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But just in case, we'd better have a plan."

Dr. James Hansen Says CO2 Levels Are Already Too High
11 November, 2008 by Kevin

In "Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?", Hansen et al. write:

"If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm."

This peer-reviewed article suggests that climate sensitivity is much greater than previously thought, and that our climate is on the verge of a tipping point that would radically alter climate.

Science Daily has the press release on this paper.

The paper is freely available for download at the Open Atmospheric Journal (click on "Year 2008") and scroll down to the Hansen et al. paper.

Cleantech Group Reports On The London Convention And Protocol Meeting
4 November, 2008 by Kevin

Emma Ritch writes on the results of the recent LC/LP meeting, "Murky waters for commercial ocean fertilization projects".

"The London Convention and Protocol (LCP) said "that, given the present state of knowledge, ocean fertilization activities other than legitimate scientific research should not be allowed."

The article also includes quotes from Dan Whaley (Climos), David Santillo (Greenpeace), and Dr. Ken Johnson, an oceanographer with MBARI.

"Climos's goal is to preserve opportunities for scientific research. Our goal is to bring private capital to these projects," Whaley said. "I think the question of commercialization is a question for the future."

"The next logical step is a big-scale experiment," Johnson said. "But you need funding to do that, and since the government isn't touching it, you have to look in the for-profit realm."

BBC Interviews Dr. Richard Lampitt On Ocean Iron Fertilization
30 October, 2008 by Kevin

Video interview of Dr. Richard Lampitt on the need for more research into ocean iron fertilization.

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