I don’t know what to say….

Yellow and brown indicate relatively high concentrations of plankton in the waters west of Haida Gwaii in August, after iron sulphate was dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a controversial geoengineering scheme. It is not known how much of the plankton bloom was naturally caused and how much may have been triggered by the iron dumped into the sea.
Photograph by: Giovanni/Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center/NASA/Files, Postmedia News

 

Geoengineering experiment off B.C. coast called ‘blatant violation’ of UN rules The experiment involves controversial Californian businessman Russ  George

By Margaret Munro, Postmedia NewsOctober 15, 2012

VANCOUVER – A private company has conducted what is being described  as the world’s biggest geoengineering experiment off Canada’s west coast,  dumping tonnes of iron into the ocean that may have triggered an  artificial plankton bloom up to 10,000 square kilometres in size.

The experiment, which critics say is a ”blatant violation” of United  Nations rules, involves controversial Californian businessman Russ George  who teamed up with a First Nations village on Haida Gwaii to establish  the Haida Salmon Restoration  Corporation to run the project.

Environment Canada said Monday it is aware of “the incident,” which is  reported to have entailed dumping 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the sea in a  scheme to enhance both plankton and salmon and generate lucrative carbon  credits.

“The matter is currently under investigation by Environment Canada’s  Enforcement Branch, and as such, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” Mark Johnson, media relations officer at Environment Canada, said in an email  statement.

George and his colleagues at the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation  (HSRC) did not respond to requests for interviews Monday after news of the  Canadian experiment surfaced in the Guardian, a British newspaper.

It reports that George’s team dumped about 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into  the ocean from a fishing boat 370 kilometres west of Haida Gwaii in July. George  and his colleague John Disney sold the people in the village of Masset on the  idea of ocean enhancement, and the HSRC agreed to channel more than $2.5 million  into projects.

“He promised a plankton bloom and he got it,” Guujaaw, president of the Haida  Nation, told Postmedia News on Monday. “You can see it on the satellite  images.”

A large plankton bloom covering an area up to 10,000 square kilometres was  visible off Haida Gwaii in August, but it is not known how much was stimulated  by the iron sulphate dumped into the sea and how much of it occurred  naturally.

“The people on Masset council and the Haida Development corporation brought  this forward with good intentions,” Guujaaw said, noting how it was billed as a  salmon enhancement project that would help the marine environment.

The HSRC website says that the corporation’s “plan is to engage in the best  applied pasture and ocean science to develop and deliver practical and  affordable stewardship for our sovereign Haida Ocean.”

The HSRC website lists several scientific collaborators and providers  including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a U.S. federal  agency, and Canadian Centre for Ocean Gliders.

Guujaaw said he was unaware of the actual fertilization experiment until  after the iron was dumped in July and people began talking about it as a “great  success.”

Now that the story of the experiment is out, he said plenty of questions are  being asked including whether the experiment might have long-term negative  environmental impacts and if the money invested will ever be recouped.

George has long advocated ocean  fertilization as a way to generate carbon credits. The controversial  geoengineering technique involves dumping iron into the sea to create plankton  blooms to get the ocean to absorb more carbon dioxide, one of main greenhouse  gases associated with climate change.

George is the former chief executive of Planktos Inc. and his vessels  were barred from ports by the Spanish and Ecuadorean governments after previous  attempts to produce plankton blooms near the Galapagos and Canary Islands. The  Haida Gwaii experiment is believed to be the biggest geoengineering attempt to  date, Jim Thomas, of the technology watchdog ETC Group, said Monday.  The group has long tracked and publicized what Thomas describes as George’s “scams” and “schemes.”

He said George has been pushing various carbon credit schemes in Haida Gwaii  for a few years.

Guujaaw said he hopes the experiment will not harm the reputation of Haida,  long recognized for promoting sustainable logging and protecting and respecting  the marine environment.

Observers say the experiment has contravened the United Nations convention on  biological diversity and London convention on the dumping of wastes at sea,  which prohibit for-profit ocean fertilization.

“It appears to be a blatant violation of two international resolutions,” said  Kristina Gjerde, a senior high seas adviser for the International Union for  Conservation of Nature told the Guardian. “Even the placement of iron particles  into the ocean, whether for carbon sequestration or fish replenishment, should  not take place, unless it is assessed and found to be legitimate scientific  research without commercial motivation.

“This does not appear to even have had the guise of legitimate scientific  research,” she said.

The Canadian experiment is expected to attract plenty of attention this week  at a meeting about the UN convention on biological diversity in India, where  there will be calls for a comprehensive ban of geoengineering that includes  enforcement mechanisms.

“It’s urgent that governments ban open-air geoengineering experiments,” said  Thomas,  whose group  is calling on the Canadian government to back a  ban and push for enforcement. “These geoengineering tests are just not  acceptable.”

As for this summer’s experiment, Thomas said “we would like to see very clear  and strong action from Canada that they condemn this.” He said the people of  Masset may be able to take legal action “for being misled” that fertilizing the  ocean could generate carbon credits.

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