Restore the oceans and get up to 50 times the fish and store a trillion tons of CO2

Russ George was interviewed by the ecologist. He describes how iron fertilization could be used to remove one trillion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Russ George was involved in the fertilizing of the ocean off of Canada in 2012 with 100 tons of iron.

In the fall of 2013, 226 million pink salmon were caught. They stopped at 226 million because there was no longer any capacity to accept more fish. All of the fish handling facilities were filled. Reports from villages and communities indicate that half a billion pink salmon came back. This was ten times the predicted 50 million and a record.

The background level of iron in the open ocean is only 3 parts per trillion. Iron dust in dirt fall from the deserts can boost the level of iron to 100 parts per trillion.

Before the ice age, the Earth became dry and dusty. Restoring the ocean to a pre-ice age level would store 1 trillion tons of CO2 which is about all of the emissions that humans have put into the air. However, the pace of emissions has not slowed down. If it started slowing down the world might emit another 3 trillion tons from now to 2100 but if the emissions continued to increase then the world might emit another 6 trillion tons of CO2 by 2100. Storing 1 trillion tons by 2100 would lower temperature by about 1 degree. Storing 1 trillion tons of CO2 is about 20 years worth of emissions.

If we restore the oceans we will have ten to fifty times as many fish as today.

It would be easy to get the iron into the ocean. As noted by Goatguy when Nextbigfuture blogged about the iron fertilization 5 years ago, iron could be released from simple barges towed on the back of commercial ships (container ships, cruise ships, oil ships, fishing ships, etc…).

Massive kelp farms in the ocean can be like forests on land and agriculture on land

We are going to have to deploy negative emission technology at scale.

Usually the graphs showing temperature stabilization show the fairy tale of massive and immediate emissions drops to zero. They also show negative emissions in the future.

The negative emissions can start being scaled in parallel with to adopting cleaner energy and technology.

Nextbigfuture has listed simple and low cost and scalable carbon dioxide mitigation since 2009 and there are new ones as well.

These methods will be faster to scale then complicated and industrial intensive carbon capture at coal and natural gas plants and factories and creating massive national and global pipelines to move the captured gas into underground storage.

Expand Commercial Kelp Growth by 100 times

There is a proposal to use about 9% of the oceans surface for massive kelp farms. The Ocean surface area is about 36 billion hectares. This would offset all CO2 production and provide 0.5 kg of fish and sea vegetables per person per day for 10 billion people as an “incidental” by-product. 9% of the world’s oceans would be equivalent to about four and a half times the area of Australia.

In 2016, seaweed farms produce more than 25 million metric tonnes annually. The global value of the crop, US$6.4 billion (2014), exceeds that of the world’s lemons and limes.

A 2016 report from the World Bank estimates that the annual global seaweed production could reach 500 million dry tons by 2050 if the market is able to increase its harvest 14% per year. Hitting that 500 million mark would boost the world’s food supply by 10% from the current level, create 50 million direct jobs. The Ocean forest plan would accelerate growth of seaweed farming to 25-50% per year growth and reach about 20-60 billion tons per year of production. The world currently produces about 4 billion tons per year of agricultural product.

Ocean Afforestation (aka Ocean Macroalgal Afforestation (OMA)), has the potential to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations through expanding natural populations of macroalgae, which absorb carbon dioxide, then are harvested to produce biomethane and biocarbon dioxide via anaerobic digestion. The plant nutrients remaining after digestion are recycled to expand the algal forest and increase fish populations.

Ocean Afforestation research suggests 12 billion tons per year of biomethane could be produced while storing 19 billion tons of CO2 per year directly from biogas production and 34 billion tons per year from carbon capture. These rates are based on macro-algae forests covering 9% of the world’s ocean surface, which could produce sufficient biomethane to replace all of today’s needs in fossil fuel energy, while removing 53 billion tons of CO2 per year from the atmosphere. This amount of biomass could also increase sustainable fish production to potentially provide 200 kg/yr/person for 10 billion people.

70 thoughts on “Restore the oceans and get up to 50 times the fish and store a trillion tons of CO2”

  1. This is not ‘environmentalism’. This is total misconstruing of the marine systems of the oceans in every way. I am an ex-marine biologist and engineer. This scheme could only be managed in localized environments and could not fully lock up any significant carbon toward the figures suggested.
    A) The TINY level of the CO2 cannot be the main driver of the slight, but possibly significant (tbc) warming of the average ocean temperature by about 0.8 C over 100 years. Yes, that’s right. Less that 1 degree C. And there is not statistical significance to that increase related to carbon, since it does NOT follow in any defined relationship the CO2 increase which is LESS than +0.02% since the start of the 19th century.
    B) Carbon capture COSTS vast amounts of carbon production (of CO2) to carry it out. It is ludicrous folly (though an interesting experimental idea, and an idea only) and will fail, since the amount of infrastructure required to create the necessary capture would be huge; possibly greater than our energy industry equipment. Figures are way too optimistic.
    C) It is also possible that this is the very ignorance that could destroy the oceans as we know them. You cannot increase production of oceans by adding ‘fertilizers’ except in a controlled environment in which additions are removable. It certainly cannot increase fish cropping meaningfully. The acid buffering potential of the oceans is a finely balanced, and I believe marine biochemists and oceanographers would agree.

    Reply
  2. We need to do more research into whether the phytoplankton does ultimately sink and sequester the CO2 at the bottom of the ocean or whether it rots and releases vast quantities of methane into the atmosphere, but the necessary research SHOULD be done.

    Reply
  3. You are absolutely right on this. They need to start now! Apparently someone had the idea before for an area in the pacific to set buoys with iron at intervals and let the currents carry the now enriched waters over an area of country/islands so that the fish stocks would explode and provide food/income to the people. Well someone at the UN/science office put a stop to this idea. I received a similar response to my comment hoping that zebra mussels would find their way into the Potomac river which is essentially a toilet for the east coast. Can’t have any NON-natural ways to clean the river given that mankind is essentially destroying it. As if somehow a miracle will occur and billions will be spent by the municipalities to clean the waters. This purist thinking will impede any progress. We need to reduce temperatures and acidification now not in 20 years when an irreversible tipping point has started.

    Reply
  4. This is innovation–and that’s a problem. Bureaucracies reflexively dislike and disparage innovations because they solve problems, and problems are the bread-and-butter of bureaucracies. It’s not that bureaucracies (and their entrenched political support) are against curtailing global warming. It’s just that they’d rather do it their way, and keep their slice of the budgetary pie.

    Reply
  5. Completely agree. This is a fine example of the “stewardship of Earth” ethos supposedly behind some greens motivation. Of course, a lot of it is just lip service, given the modern green movement has been overtaken by Luddites, misanthropes and anti-capitalists.

    Reply
  6. I know it sounds pissy, but ”this is what I’ve been saying for quite awhile now”. At least as long as I’ve been commenting on NextBigFuture. The specifics are kind of wonderful — even if you get rid of the complexity and just concentrate on the iron fertilization angle. [1] WE PRODUCE MILLIONS OF TONS of ferrous sulfate (Iron II sulfate) from the manufacture of good old titanium-white pigment. Apparently, rutile-bearing rocks are degraded into a soup of sorts, and the titanium oxide is stripped of other also-ran materials such as iron salts, by way of a concentrated sulfuric acid bath. However, after that … are mountains of iron sulfate. [2] IRON SULFATE is modestly soluble in water. It is a very good starting point for an iron fertilization gambit. Its nearly free, it is modestly soluble, it exists preferentially in the non-caustic heptahydrate form, and it just needs spreading out over the ocean to get ‘er going. [3] THE HUGE FISH HAUL was perhaps a bit of a coincidence more than hard-evidence of the small 100 ton Iron Sulfate fertilization by catch. Oh… for sure… where the 100 tons was released was in one of the zones that grows much of the phytoplankton that the diatoms and such eat, which powers the next chains of predator, which ultimately becomes salmon food. And thus salmon. But one really oughtn’t think that a 100,000 to one multiplier will be the norm. [4] THERE ARE HOWEVER PLENTY OF SPOTS … on the ocean worldwide that happen to have enough sunlight, enough relatively nutrition bearing waters, missing only iron, that the experiments could be amped up to at least the 1,000 tons-per-release level, over a 5 year period, say 25,000 total tons a year. TO SEE… what happens. it is a tiny experiment compared to colossal volcanic cloud releases, over which we have NO ability to control things. Yet, done, it would say a whole lot about the principle. Anyway… there you are. GoatGuy

    Reply
  7. We need to do more research into whether the phytoplankton does ultimately sink and sequester the CO2 at the bottom of the ocean or whether it rots and releases vast quantities of methane into the atmosphere but the necessary research SHOULD be done.

    Reply
  8. You are absolutely right on this. They need to start now! Apparently someone had the idea before for an area in the pacific to set buoys with iron at intervals and let the currents carry the now enriched waters over an area of country/islands so that the fish stocks would explode and provide food/income to the people. Well someone at the UN/science office put a stop to this idea. I received a similar response to my comment hoping that zebra mussels would find their way into the Potomac river which is essentially a toilet for the east coast. Can’t have any NON-natural ways to clean the river given that mankind is essentially destroying it. As if somehow a miracle will occur and billions will be spent by the municipalities to clean the waters. This purist thinking will impede any progress. We need to reduce temperatures and acidification now not in 20 years when an irreversible tipping point has started.

    Reply
  9. This is innovation–and that’s a problem. Bureaucracies reflexively dislike and disparage innovations because they solve problems and problems are the bread-and-butter of bureaucracies.It’s not that bureaucracies (and their entrenched political support) are against curtailing global warming. It’s just that they’d rather do it their way and keep their slice of the budgetary pie.

    Reply
  10. Completely agree. This is a fine example of the stewardship of Earth”” ethos supposedly behind some greens motivation.Of course”” a lot of it is just lip service given the modern green movement has been overtaken by Luddites”” misanthropes and anti-capitalists.”””

    Reply
  11. I know it sounds pissy but ”this is what I’ve been saying for quite awhile now”. At least as long as I’ve been commenting on NextBigFuture.The specifics are kind of wonderful — even if you get rid of the complexity and just concentrate on the iron fertilization angle. [1] WE PRODUCE MILLIONS OF TONS of ferrous sulfate (Iron II sulfate) from the manufacture of good old titanium-white pigment. Apparently rutile-bearing rocks are degraded into a soup of sorts and the titanium oxide is stripped of other also-ran materials such as iron salts by way of a concentrated sulfuric acid bath. However after that … are mountains of iron sulfate. [2] IRON SULFATE is modestly soluble in water. It is a very good starting point for an iron fertilization gambit. Its nearly free it is modestly soluble it exists preferentially in the non-caustic heptahydrate form and it just needs spreading out over the ocean to get ‘er going. [3] THE HUGE FISH HAUL was perhaps a bit of a coincidence more than hard-evidence of the small 100 ton Iron Sulfate fertilization by catch. Oh… for sure… where the 100 tons was released was in one of the zones that grows much of the phytoplankton that the diatoms and such eat which powers the next chains of predator which ultimately becomes salmon food. And thus salmon. But one really oughtn’t think that a 100000 to one multiplier will be the norm. [4] THERE ARE HOWEVER PLENTY OF SPOTS … on the ocean worldwide that happen to have enough sunlight enough relatively nutrition bearing waters missing only iron that the experiments could be amped up to at least the 1000 tons-per-release level over a 5 year period say 25000 total tons a year. TO SEE… what happens. it is a tiny experiment compared to colossal volcanic cloud releases over which we have NO ability to control things. Yet done it would say a whole lot about the principle. Anyway… there you are.GoatGuy

    Reply
  12. It’s probably worth mentioning that there are some negatives or at least limitations to the iron plan.- Not everywhere in the ocean is iron limited. So you just can’t take the results from one spot and multiply it by the size of the ocean.- Other elements or compounds may be a limiting factor too so even when the iron is limited that’s not all you need in many cases.- A possible downside is that if the iron does cause a bloom that bloom will then use up other nutrients (such as phosphorus or something) and then the reduction in those nutrients will reduce plankton growth when that water reaches another spot mixes with some iron and would normally grow plankton in that location.- We really don’t know what {22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} of carbon in plankton ends up sinking to the depths and being long term sequestered.These none of them are reasons to reject the idea. But they are reasons to not just scale it up mindlessly in your calculations. There will be limits long before you reach the full size of the oceans.

    Reply
  13. The environmentalists will go “Until you have a FULL understanding of what happens with even a SMIDGEN more iron, we should not do it because that’s inviting a full ecological meltdown.” I think we ought to see if it’s a repeatable phenomena. 100 tons disbursed, wait three years, chart the fish returns. If there’s a substantial bump, do 200 tons – and wait and see what the bump is. But I think a lot of the eco-activists would rather see humanity (and fish) starve than human action benefiting the planet…

    Reply
  14. The environmentalists will go Until you have a FULL understanding of what happens with even a SMIDGEN more iron” we should not do it because that’s inviting a full ecological meltdown.””I think we ought to see if it’s a repeatable phenomena. 100 tons disbursed”” wait three years chart the fish returns. If there’s a substantial bump”” do 200 tons – and wait and see what the bump is.But I think a lot of the eco-activists would rather see humanity (and fish) starve than human action benefiting the planet…”””

    Reply
  15. Biomethane is a big problem. Right now 10% of US natural gas leaks from pipelines and gets into the atmosphere negating all of the CO2 reductions achieved thus far. It causes 80 times as much warming as CO2. If the kelp were converted into ethanol and methanol there would be no gas leak danger.

    Reply
  16. Not much tbh. Iron is cheap and plentiful and the amounts contemplated aren’t that large relative to global production. Plus, we’d likely be utilizing an existing waste product. Even if you were to reduce the increased production of fish by an order of magnitude, the whole venture would likely pay for itself.

    Reply
  17. This is from https://www.coherentnews.com/iron-fertilization-creates-short-lived-carbon-sink-in-southern-ocean/ The results of trial conducted by researchers in the Southern Ocean reveals that addition of each atom of iron to the sea can pull 10,000 to 100,000 atoms of carbon from the atmosphere and will increase growth of plankton. Planktons capture carbon and sink it deep into the ocean. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which leads to global warming can be reduced to a large extent by scaling up iron fertilization of the sea. Researchers say that this method will be able to absorb 15 percent of carbon dioxide that is build-up in the atmosphere.

    Reply
  18. Biomethane is a big problem. Right now 10{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} of US natural gas leaks from pipelines and gets into the atmosphere negating all of the CO2 reductions achieved thus far. It causes 80 times as much warming as CO2. If the kelp were converted into ethanol and methanol there would be no gas leak danger.

    Reply
  19. Not much tbh. Iron is cheap and plentiful and the amounts contemplated aren’t that large relative to global production. Plus we’d likely be utilizing an existing waste product. Even if you were to reduce the increased production of fish by an order of magnitude the whole venture would likely pay for itself.

    Reply
  20. This is from https://www.coherentnews.com/iron-fertilization-creates-short-lived-carbon-sink-in-southern-ocean/The results of trial conducted by researchers in the Southern Ocean reveals that addition of each atom of iron to the sea can pull 10000 to 100000 atoms of carbon from the atmosphere and will increase growth of plankton. Planktons capture carbon and sink it deep into the ocean. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which leads to global warming can be reduced to a large extent by scaling up iron fertilization of the sea. Researchers say that this method will be able to absorb 15 percent of carbon dioxide that is build-up in the atmosphere.

    Reply
  21. The precautionary principal says that until we have 100% proof that listening to environmentalists is safe we just can’t risk it.

    Reply
  22. The precautionary principal says that until we have 100{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} proof that listening to environmentalists is safe we just can’t risk it.

    Reply
  23. We got those zebra mussels into the great lakes. Yeah, the water is clearer now, remarkably so, but it seriously messed with the native ecosystem, because they so efficiently filter out the nutrients. It’s hard on the fish if you cut off the supply of nutrients to the bottom of the food chain. The lakes were a lot dirtier when I was a kid, but the fishing was much, much better.

    Reply
  24. We got those zebra mussels into the great lakes. Yeah the water is clearer now remarkably so but it seriously messed with the native ecosystem because they so efficiently filter out the nutrients. It’s hard on the fish if you cut off the supply of nutrients to the bottom of the food chain.The lakes were a lot dirtier when I was a kid but the fishing was much much better.

    Reply
  25. I could be wrong, but I just read that 10% is unaccounted for. Some of that is leaks, but the rest are metering errors and accounting errors.

    Reply
  26. I could be wrong but I just read that 10{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} is unaccounted for. Some of that is leaks but the rest are metering errors and accounting errors.

    Reply
  27. Environmentalists have strong group identity around being Liberal. Yet, such “we can’t possibly allow a sack of iron to be DUMPED in the ocean” attitude is decidedly conservative. Don’t shake the boat, its been floating ‘this way’ for a long time. Volcanic aerosols, cetacean poop, Saharan dusts notwithstanding. GoatGuy

    Reply
  28. Environmentalists have strong group identity around being Liberal. Yet such we can’t possibly allow a sack of iron to be DUMPED in the ocean”” attitude is decidedly conservative. Don’t shake the boat”” its been floating ‘this way’ for a long time. Volcanic aerosols cetacean poop”” Saharan dusts notwithstanding. GoatGuy”””

    Reply
  29. The Chinese are crazy as any government. A many headed monster. They are simultaneously decommissioning coal plants and building more of them. They claim they have achieved a net reduction in CO2 emissions by replacing coal and oil plants with solar and wind farms on a huge scale. I dont know if they are believable. And they are building nuclear plants that reduce CO2 emissions. After the multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima complex in Japan, I think anyone who advocates nuclear power has something wrong with them,.

    Reply
  30. What CO2 reductions? China builds more coal fired plants every year than the US has total. But, on the good side, the plants are enjoying the added CO2 since even at 400 ppm, the Earth is near plant starvation level and no where near the 1200 ppm and above they evolved to consume. New studies indicate the reversal of desertfication in Africa and the expansion of forests into savanna and movement of savanna into dryer areas.

    Reply
  31. The Chinese are crazy as any government. A many headed monster. They are simultaneously decommissioning coal plants and building more of them. They claim they have achieved a net reduction in CO2 emissions by replacing coal and oil plants with solar and wind farms on a huge scale. I dont know if they are believable. And they are building nuclear plants that reduce CO2 emissions. After the multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima complex in Japan I think anyone who advocates nuclear power has something wrong with them.

    Reply
  32. What CO2 reductions? China builds more coal fired plants every year than the US has total. But on the good side the plants are enjoying the added CO2 since even at 400 ppm the Earth is near plant starvation level and no where near the 1200 ppm and above they evolved to consume. New studies indicate the reversal of desertfication in Africa and the expansion of forests into savanna and movement of savanna into dryer areas.

    Reply
  33. Here in Texas & Louisiana we’ve gotten a big dose of Saharan dust the last week or two. Hazy days, spectacular sunrises & sunsets. Should be good for iron poor areas of the Atlantic.

    Reply
  34. Here in Texas & Louisiana we’ve gotten a big dose of Saharan dust the last week or two. Hazy days spectacular sunrises & sunsets. Should be good for iron poor areas of the Atlantic.

    Reply
  35. Ferric seeding will work, but this assumes that the only factor preventing phytoplankton and protists from growing is a deficiency of ferric. The addition of ferric will have other impacts on the chemical and physical behaviour of the water such as redox potential, zeta potential and concentration of priority chemicals. Ferric therefore gives the appearance of working but can it be sustained and bring the marine ecosystem back into stability, this is not likely. Marine productivity is dropping by 1% year on year, this is not due to a deficiency of ferric, nor is it due to climate change. There are many factors involved but one common denominator is ocean acidification in combination with priority chemicals and micro-plastics. For more information check the Goes Foundation

    Reply
  36. Ferric seeding will work but this assumes that the only factor preventing phytoplankton and protists from growing is a deficiency of ferric. The addition of ferric will have other impacts on the chemical and physical behaviour of the water such as redox potential zeta potential and concentration of priority chemicals. Ferric therefore gives the appearance of working but can it be sustained and bring the marine ecosystem back into stability this is not likely. Marine productivity is dropping by 1{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} year on year this is not due to a deficiency of ferric nor is it due to climate change. There are many factors involved but one common denominator is ocean acidification in combination with priority chemicals and micro-plastics. For more information check the Goes Foundation

    Reply
  37. Ferric seeding will work, but this assumes that the only factor preventing phytoplankton and protists from growing is a deficiency of ferric. The addition of ferric will have other impacts on the chemical and physical behaviour of the water such as redox potential, zeta potential and concentration of priority chemicals. Ferric therefore gives the appearance of working but can it be sustained and bring the marine ecosystem back into stability, this is not likely. Marine productivity is dropping by 1% year on year, this is not due to a deficiency of ferric, nor is it due to climate change. There are many factors involved but one common denominator is ocean acidification in combination with priority chemicals and micro-plastics. For more information check the Goes Foundation

    Reply
  38. Here in Texas & Louisiana we’ve gotten a big dose of Saharan dust the last week or two. Hazy days, spectacular sunrises & sunsets. Should be good for iron poor areas of the Atlantic.

    Reply
  39. The Chinese are crazy as any government. A many headed monster. They are simultaneously decommissioning coal plants and building more of them. They claim they have achieved a net reduction in CO2 emissions by replacing coal and oil plants with solar and wind farms on a huge scale. I dont know if they are believable. And they are building nuclear plants that reduce CO2 emissions. After the multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima complex in Japan, I think anyone who advocates nuclear power has something wrong with them,.

    Reply
  40. What CO2 reductions? China builds more coal fired plants every year than the US has total. But, on the good side, the plants are enjoying the added CO2 since even at 400 ppm, the Earth is near plant starvation level and no where near the 1200 ppm and above they evolved to consume. New studies indicate the reversal of desertfication in Africa and the expansion of forests into savanna and movement of savanna into dryer areas.

    Reply
  41. Environmentalists have strong group identity around being Liberal. Yet, such “we can’t possibly allow a sack of iron to be DUMPED in the ocean” attitude is decidedly conservative. Don’t shake the boat, its been floating ‘this way’ for a long time. Volcanic aerosols, cetacean poop, Saharan dusts notwithstanding.

    GoatGuy

    Reply
  42. I could be wrong, but I just read that 10% is unaccounted for. Some of that is leaks, but the rest are metering errors and accounting errors.

    Reply
  43. We got those zebra mussels into the great lakes. Yeah, the water is clearer now, remarkably so, but it seriously messed with the native ecosystem, because they so efficiently filter out the nutrients. It’s hard on the fish if you cut off the supply of nutrients to the bottom of the food chain.

    The lakes were a lot dirtier when I was a kid, but the fishing was much, much better.

    Reply
  44. Biomethane is a big problem. Right now 10% of US natural gas leaks from pipelines and gets into the atmosphere negating all of the CO2 reductions achieved thus far. It causes 80 times as much warming as CO2. If the kelp were converted into ethanol and methanol there would be no gas leak danger.

    Reply
  45. Not much tbh. Iron is cheap and plentiful and the amounts contemplated aren’t that large relative to global production. Plus, we’d likely be utilizing an existing waste product. Even if you were to reduce the increased production of fish by an order of magnitude, the whole venture would likely pay for itself.

    Reply
  46. This is from https://www.coherentnews.com/iron-fertilization-creates-short-lived-carbon-sink-in-southern-ocean/
    The results of trial conducted by researchers in the Southern Ocean reveals that addition of each atom of iron to the sea can pull 10,000 to 100,000 atoms of carbon from the atmosphere and will increase growth of plankton. Planktons capture carbon and sink it deep into the ocean. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which leads to global warming can be reduced to a large extent by scaling up iron fertilization of the sea. Researchers say that this method will be able to absorb 15 percent of carbon dioxide that is build-up in the atmosphere.

    Reply
  47. The environmentalists will go “Until you have a FULL understanding of what happens with even a SMIDGEN more iron, we should not do it because that’s inviting a full ecological meltdown.”

    I think we ought to see if it’s a repeatable phenomena. 100 tons disbursed, wait three years, chart the fish returns. If there’s a substantial bump, do 200 tons – and wait and see what the bump is.

    But I think a lot of the eco-activists would rather see humanity (and fish) starve than human action benefiting the planet…

    Reply
  48. It’s probably worth mentioning that there are some negatives, or at least limitations, to the iron plan.
    – Not everywhere in the ocean is iron limited. So you just can’t take the results from one spot and multiply it by the size of the ocean.
    – Other elements or compounds may be a limiting factor too, so even when the iron is limited, that’s not all you need in many cases.
    – A possible downside is that if the iron does cause a bloom, that bloom will then use up other nutrients (such as phosphorus or something) and then the reduction in those nutrients will reduce plankton growth when that water reaches another spot, mixes with some iron, and would normally grow plankton in that location.
    – We really don’t know what % of carbon in plankton ends up sinking to the depths and being long term sequestered.

    These, none of them, are reasons to reject the idea. But they are reasons to not just scale it up mindlessly in your calculations. There will be limits long before you reach the full size of the oceans.

    Reply
  49. We need to do more research into whether the phytoplankton does ultimately sink and sequester the CO2 at the bottom of the ocean or whether it rots and releases vast quantities of methane into the atmosphere, but the necessary research SHOULD be done.

    Reply
  50. You are absolutely right on this. They need to start now! Apparently someone had the idea before for an area in the pacific to set buoys with iron at intervals and let the currents carry the now enriched waters over an area of country/islands so that the fish stocks would explode and provide food/income to the people. Well someone at the UN/science office put a stop to this idea. I received a similar response to my comment hoping that zebra mussels would find their way into the Potomac river which is essentially a toilet for the east coast. Can’t have any NON-natural ways to clean the river given that mankind is essentially destroying it. As if somehow a miracle will occur and billions will be spent by the municipalities to clean the waters. This purist thinking will impede any progress.
    We need to reduce temperatures and acidification now not in 20 years when an irreversible tipping point has started.

    Reply
  51. This is innovation–and that’s a problem. Bureaucracies reflexively dislike and disparage innovations because they solve problems, and problems are the bread-and-butter of bureaucracies.
    It’s not that bureaucracies (and their entrenched political support) are against curtailing global warming. It’s just that they’d rather do it their way, and keep their slice of the budgetary pie.

    Reply
  52. Completely agree. This is a fine example of the “stewardship of Earth” ethos supposedly behind some greens motivation.

    Of course, a lot of it is just lip service, given the modern green movement has been overtaken by Luddites, misanthropes and anti-capitalists.

    Reply
  53. I know it sounds pissy, but ”this is what I’ve been saying for quite awhile now”. At least as long as I’ve been commenting on NextBigFuture.

    The specifics are kind of wonderful — even if you get rid of the complexity and just concentrate on the iron fertilization angle.

    [1] WE PRODUCE MILLIONS OF TONS of ferrous sulfate (Iron II sulfate) from the manufacture of good old titanium-white pigment. Apparently, rutile-bearing rocks are degraded into a soup of sorts, and the titanium oxide is stripped of other also-ran materials such as iron salts, by way of a concentrated sulfuric acid bath. However, after that … are mountains of iron sulfate.

    [2] IRON SULFATE is modestly soluble in water. It is a very good starting point for an iron fertilization gambit. Its nearly free, it is modestly soluble, it exists preferentially in the non-caustic heptahydrate form, and it just needs spreading out over the ocean to get ‘er going.

    [3] THE HUGE FISH HAUL was perhaps a bit of a coincidence more than hard-evidence of the small 100 ton Iron Sulfate fertilization by catch. Oh… for sure… where the 100 tons was released was in one of the zones that grows much of the phytoplankton that the diatoms and such eat, which powers the next chains of predator, which ultimately becomes salmon food. And thus salmon. But one really oughtn’t think that a 100,000 to one multiplier will be the norm.

    [4] THERE ARE HOWEVER PLENTY OF SPOTS … on the ocean worldwide that happen to have enough sunlight, enough relatively nutrition bearing waters, missing only iron, that the experiments could be amped up to at least the 1,000 tons-per-release level, over a 5 year period, say 25,000 total tons a year. TO SEE… what happens. it is a tiny experiment compared to colossal volcanic cloud releases, over which we have NO ability to control things. Yet, done, it would say a whole lot about the principle.

    Anyway… there you are.
    GoatGuy

    Reply

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