Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Dangerous Downside of Carbon Trading

Once you create a market where polluters can buy carbon credits it raises the problem of just who's buying, just who's selling and what's up for grabs.

Coming up with carbon offsets can turn into a potentially big bucks proposition, especially given some of the controversial, even wacky, technologies being floated these days.

Enter a Vancouver-based company, Planktos, Inc. The company plans to sell carbon credits it creates by pouring iron dust into the ocean near the Galapagos Islands. The iron is supposed to induce the growth of phytoplankton that then suck up atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The World Wildlife Fund argues that Planktos is taking unacceptable risks in the quest for profit. The WWF claims that Planktos' meddling may trigger a change in the make-up of the phytoplankton bloom which is the bottom rung of the oceanic food chain.

“World Wildlife Fund’s concern extends beyond the impact on individual species and extends to the changes that this dumping may cause in the interaction of species, affecting the entire ecosystem,” said microbiologist Sallie Chisholm, a WWF board member. “There’s a real risk that this experiment may cause a domino effect through the food chain.”

Planktos' CEO Russ George denies the WWF claims and says the iron dust experiment will be not merely harmless but beneficial to the ocean ecosystem.

4 comments:

Jay said...

Very concerning considering iron rusts in the presence of oxygen, that includes water borne oxygen.

I have the few issues with this idea.

1. decay of huge phytoplankton blooms reduces oxygen levels in the water.

2. microbial activity associated with low oxygen levels may produce potent greenhouse gases such as methane.

3. in order to have any benefit as a way to store carbon, iron fertilization needs to be done in the southern ocean because it is the only high nitrogen- low carbon region where the water sinks to the deep ocean which is necessary for taking carbon with it.

4. adding iron will completely change the marine community.

The Mound of Sound said...

Jay - Can you post any links to this stuff? I agree with your concerns and know I've read this stuff before. I just needed to grab this item and post it before it passed, even though I knew I'd lost track of the explanation for why this was quite dangerous.

The Mound of Sound

The Mound of Sound said...

Jay - Can you post any links to this stuff? I agree with your concerns and know I've read this stuff before. I just needed to grab this item and post it before it passed, even though I knew I'd lost track of the explanation for why this was quite dangerous.

The Mound of Sound

(another Jay) said...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071129132753.htm

'Fix' For Global Warming Discredited By New Research