News brief—January 11, 2008

Marine scientists question commercial plans for ocean fertilization.


Scientists study iron fertilization during the 2002 SOFEX experiment

In the January 11 issue of Science magazine, MBARI chemical oceanographer Ken Johnson joined 14 other prominent marine scientists from around the world in stating that there is not enough scientific information to justify selling carbon sequestration credits based on ocean iron fertilization. Several private companies have claimed that they can reduce global warming by dumping large quantities of iron into the ocean. These companies claim that the iron will stimulate the growth of marine algae, which will take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then sink to the seafloor. Johnson and other scientists state that there is not yet enough scientific evidence to determine whether such schemes would be effective. In addition, they suggest that such strategies could pose risks to the marine environment, but that these risks cannot be assessed based on currently available information.

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