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.