Saturday, October 11, 2008

Where We Stand on Iron Fertilization

A few years back I wrote this comment in Treehugger. Still represents my views so here it is again:


People aren't giving iron fertilization fair chance. It's a promising technique and needs to be pursued.

The important thing to realize is that this technique, while it may be normally discussed in relation to carbon dioxide removal, is primarily an ocean restoration process...a potential "reversal" of damage we've already done (and are doing) to the oceans. We do such restoration every day, routinely, on land. We restore damaged ecosystems in fields, forests,and swamps.

Note that 30 years ago, there was actually similar opposition to such eco-restoration on land. People said the same thing "hey, just leave it alone."

Folks, I'm sorry to tell you this, but "just leave it alone" is equivalent to saying "just let it die". Luckily we got past such short-sightedness in the terrestrial ecorestoration field I hope we do the same in marine restoration.

The human race is far too big and too destructive a speciels to go back to this fake-innocent-sounding "just leave the oceans alone" nonsense. Our species is currently stripping the oceans clean of biologcal material, at an astounding rate. Nobody in the US or Europe has sufficient political power to stop this process. We are already destroying our oceans, and you can chant slogans about it all day long, but that won't stop it. So the second-best choice are techniques like iron fertilization.

Let the oceans die, or intervene with artificial support mechanisms. That may well be our choice.

So we'd better let the people doing these smaller-scale experiments proceed with their work, and see what they demonstrate. Give them a few years to try. If it doesn't work, then shut them down.

That's my view.