Thursday, June 26, 2008

One of the most valuable technologies in world today

I’ve had a few people ask “why are you working on iron fertilization when so many people are so violently opposed to it?” Good question. The answer is, I'm beginning to have a bit of a sense of history. Perhaps it comes with advancing age. I’d like to think that in my life I’ve made some contribution to the world.

From that perspective, there is no single technology on the planet, that I can think of, that is more important and more deserving of my attention than iron fertilization.

The fact that so many people are so violently and even hysterically opposed to it simply confirms for me that it is big, big, big. Assuming it can be made to work, and I think there is a very good chance it will, iron fertilization is probably one of the most potent techniques the human race has discovered in years.

It has the capability of making planetary scale improvements in the ocean. Just the increase in fish and ocean life, if valued in dollars, runs into the billions.

It has the capability of helping large swaths of the human population, people who depend on that sealife, who are often struggling to survive and are seeing their livelihoods die away, as the fish disappear.

If Climos and Planktos are to be believed, it has the potential to remove vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, a process that by any measure is worth many billions of dollars per year, at least.

Opponents of the technique have focused on the “carbon credit” aspect of the field, assuming that is the only money to be made (in this case, they hope to stop it completely by blocking carbon credits). As I stated in an earlier post, I don’t believe that will succeed; sooner or later, national governments will begin fertilizing regardless of what the environmentalists say. But even beyond the carbon credit value, there will be massive amounts of money, in the form of research funds and much more, flowing into the area of iron fertilization, and into the area of ocean science in general. Firms that have the scientific expertise, connections, and the reputation will be in a position to rake in the government contracts. That itself could be the basis of the next big environmental services company.

Does all this come without any risk whatsoever? Of course not. It's possible that it won't work, that it will fizzle out. But even the research required to arrive at that answer will be the fascinating scientific exploration.