May 02, 2007

Geoengineers to Foul Galapagos Seas-Defying Climate Panel Warning

As the UN's top climate science panel, the IPCC, prepares to criticise the idea of geoengineering, one maverick geoengineering company, Planktos Inc, has announced it is about to dump several tonnes of tiny particles into the waters around the Galapagos Islands, covering an area larger than Puerto Rico. Doing so, they claim, will re-engineer the atmosphere, win them commercial carbon credits and perhaps a shot at the $25 million prize for greenhouse gas reduction put up by Richard Branson. Mainstream scientists are sceptical and environmental and social justice groups are crying foul.

"In a sensible world geoengineering fanatics like Planktos would have their license to operate taken away," says Jim Thomas of ETC Group. "Instead, they are being allowed to pollute the high seas and are even being considered for a prize! Climate change is a real threat but common sense should not be its first victim."

On May 4th the International Panel on Climate Change, a body of the world's leading climate scientists will publish policy recommendations to governments on how to mitigate global warming. According to an article from Agence France Presse (AFP) who have seen a leaked draft of that report, the panel gives the "thumbs down" and "pours scorn" on a clutch of wacky plans to intentionally re-engineer large scale ecosystems, referred to collectively as geoengineering: "Geoengineering options...remain largely speculative and with the risk of unknown side-effects" claims the IPCC draft according to AFP (1). The US government has reportedly been lobbying the IPCC to more prominently support geoengineering technofixes in order to sideline the Kyoto Protocol (2).

However, even as the UN report becomes public this Friday in Bangkok, one commercial enterprise, California based Planktos Inc, will be sailing from Florida to carry out a large-scale geoengineering experiment. Planktos, a self-styled 'eco-restoration' firm that also doubles as a nuclear fusion company(3), intends to dump tens of tonnes of tiny iron particles over 10,000 square kilometres of ocean around the Galapagos Islands at the end of May 2007. By stimulating a massive growth of plankton, called a bloom, Planktos claims to be able to draw millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere into the deep oceans over the next year. Eleven smaller iron fertilization experiments have already taken place.

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