In October 2012 ETC Group uncovered that a commercial geoengineering firm had quietly carried out the world's largest geoengineering deployment to-date (in July 2012). When the news became public as a result of ETC Group's investigations, it caused a wave of concern among scientists, governments, the public and of course the people of Haida Gwaii. HSRC have since said they intend to carry out further ocean fertilization dumps. On this page we have collected some of the background on the Haida Gwaii ocean fertilization episode, how the story was reported, the legal situation, the science and more.
Recent Content Related to Climate & Geoengineering
Almost six years ago ETC Group blew the whistle on a commercial geoengineering outfit called Planktos, Inc., which was making its way to dump 100 tons of iron nanoparticles into the waters of the Galapagos Islands . Working with allies ETC Group was able to prevent that ocean fertilisation dump. In 2012 however we were less lucky. The same geoengineering entrepeuner, Russ George, suceeded in dumping over 100 tonnes of iron into the Pacific ocean west of Haida Gwaii in Canada, claiming that his actions had prompted a 10,000 square km plankton bloom. This time his new company, The Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation (HSRC), was using millions of dollars in funds from a small indigenous community. Read here the full story of how ETC Group uncovered HSRC's rogue geoengineering scheme and the storm of international concern that ensued.
Geoengineering – the intentional, large-scale technological manipulation of the Earth’s systems – is another false solution to climate change being pushed from the global North. High-risk and high-tech schemes under development, including blasting reflective particles into the stratosphere, whitening clouds and dumping chemical compounds into the oceans, could have devastating consequences for ecosystems and for the food and water sources for billions of people. States responsible for most of the historic greenhouse gas emissions are pushing for geoengineering as they see it as “the perfect excuse” to continue business as usual – keep emitting CO2 while making new profits selling the geoengineering technologies. No government, industrial sector or billionaires club has the right to own the planet’s thermostat. Geoengineering diverts attention and resources from real solutions to climate change. In this workshop, we will provide a brief introduction to geoengineering technologies before discussing strategies to stop them. Hands Off Mother Earth!
* Tuesday March 5: SKIDEGATE
Kay Centre Performing House - 7 pm
* Wednesday March 6: MASSET
Howard Phillips Community Hall - 5 pm
Pat will share ETC Group's ongoing research into the potential impacts of geoengineering and his experience of the international legal and governance questions raised by ocean fertilization and geoengineering. He will also talk about the global movement of civil society groups, Indigenous Peoples Organizations and science and policy experts now calling for a halt to geoengineering.
Communique # 109
Chaos theory proposes that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could cause a hurricane in Texas. Complexity theory compounds the chaos by adding the quantum-like effects of, for example, genome changes in the butterfly to the conflictions of supercomputer models. Now, geoengineers want to multiply the complexity with politics. The result is an extreme form of artificial intelligence.
Gaia is complicated. From stratospheric currents to undersea rivers – and from plankton to palm tree emissions and sequestrations – quantifying, qualifying and calibrating planetary systems is at least as challenging as understanding genes or neurons. Despite decades of modeling, we are no more likely to predict next month’s best picnic day than we are to anticipate the proclivities of our DNA or to trace a memory in our cranium. Frustratingly, we have learned to map and manipulate genomes, geographies and memories, but we can’t control the consequences.
This briefing outlines the principal decisions and resolutions of the Convention on Biological Diversity and London Convention/Protocol relating to ocean fertilization in the context of the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation's "Haida Salmon Restoration Project".
The CBD Moratorium
The Contracting Parties to the London Convention and London Protocol, at their Joint Meeting in London this week (29 October to 2 November 2012), agreed on a statement of concern regarding the iron fertilization project in ocean waters west of Canada.
Hands Off Mother Earth (H.O.M.E) is a global campaign to defend our one precious home, Planet Earth, against the threat of geoengineering experiments.
The HOME campaign provides a common platform for organizations and individuals around the world to register their opposition to geoengineering experiments. The campaign asserts that the seas, skies and soils of our home planet should not be used as a laboratory for these unjust and risky technological fixes.
More information about the world’s largest geoengineering deployment to-date has come to light since news of the iron-dust dump made headlines on Monday. The so-called ‘Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation’ (HSRC) claims it dumped 100 tonnes of iron particles into the Haida Eddy of the north-east Pacific Ocean to produce an artificial plankton bloom, even though the practice is prohibited by globally agreed moratoria and Canadian law. The CEO of HSRC, John Disney, claims that several Canadian government agencies – including Environment Canada – were apprised of HSRC’s ocean fertilization plans before deployment. Canada’s Environment Minister says an investigation is underway and the dump would be illegal if it indeed happened.
From: Sweet,Adam [NCR] [mailto:Adam.Sweet@ec.gc.ca]
Sent: October-17-12 4:24 PM
Environmental protection and enforcement is a priority of our government. Under Budget 2012, we increased the levels of fines, and we have also recently increased the number of enforcement officers.
In October 2010 in Nagoya, Parties to the CBD adopted a landmark decision to place a moratorium on the testing and deployment of geoengineering technologies (Decision X/33 para 8w) – recognising the particular threat to biodiversity and livelihoods. That moratorium marked the first time an international body had begun to establish oversight over this new field.
From 8th - 19th October 2012 the CBD will be meeting again at COP11 at Hyderabad India. ETC Group proposes that parties meeting in Hyderabad adopt an “ABC” of precaution:
It's not just that we are facing "something new", we are facing "something else". The speed, breadth and depth of technological change is out-pacing and out-scoping policymakers. Since 1992, the convergence of technologies (living and inert) at the atomic - or nano - scale is adding new dimensions to the nature of technological transformation. Governments need global tools to respond to "something else". Find in this briefing ten technology leaps making the case for prioritizing Technology Assessment at the UN.
Pat Mooney analyses the different threats to be addressed at Rio+20 in 2012 and the counter proposals global civil society and its allies could avance. Interview made at the World Social Forum in Dakar in February 2011 for "The commons on the global agenda" chapter in remixthecommons.org.
It’s difficult to describe Rio+20 as anything other than a tragedy. Despite years of preparation and months of negotiations, nothing said or done in Rio can cover up not just the 20 lost years since the original 1992 Earth Summit – as seasoned delegates have quietly noted – but also the half-century of intergovernmental failures since Rachel Carson catalyzed the sequence of global environmental congresses following the publication of her book, Silent Spring, in 1962.
ETC Group publishes a world map of geoengineering -- the large-scale manipulation of earth or climate systems. While there is no complete record of the scores of weather and climate control projects in dozens of countries, this map is the first attempt to document the expanding scope of research and experimentation. Almost 300 geoengineering projects/experiments are represented on the map belonging to 10 different types of climate-altering technologies.
Hands Off Mother Earth (H.O.M.E) is a global campaign to defend our one precious home, Planet Earth, against the threat of geoengineering experiments. You can join the campaign at http://www.handsoffmotherearth.org
Although Rio+20 negotiators are discussing marine applications of geoengineering (so-called “ocean fertilization”) in the context of climate change and technological “quick fixes,” the wider issues of geoengineering, including so-called solar radiation management, are not being discussed. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity established a de facto moratorium on all forms of geoengineering in 2010. Nevertheless, some governments are continuing to look toward technological methods of blocking or reflecting sunlight and other planetary system adjustments. Rio+20 should make a firm statement banning geoengineering to prevent a handful of countries -- a new “coalition of the willing” from taking the Earth’s thermostat into their own hands.