Ethics of geoengineering

Geoengineering is defined by dictionary.com as: the deliberate modification of earth’s environment on a large scale to suit human needs and promote habitability.  I would define it slightly differently in that I would say geoengineering is usually the result of well-intentioned humans trying to be nice to the planet and still maintain a happy environment for us as a species.   (but we all know what they say about good intentions and HELL)

Lately, there’s been debate about whether or not throwing nutrients into the ocean is a good idea.  The logic behind it is that it will increase plankton production which will then be able to soak up more CO2 and mitigate some effects of global warming on a macro scale.  Sounds okay, right?  Well, who decides how much?  Who regulates it?  Who funds it? 

 Here’s an interesting article from Nature which explores this topic in more detail than I could (and with better fact checkers):

International treaty aims to put rules on geoengineering.

phytoplankton.jpg

Excerpt: The parties to the London Convention, an international treaty that governs ocean pollution, have agreed that large-scale ocean ‘fertilization’ isn’t yet justified, given gaps in scientific knowledge.

The convention, which regulates activities such as the dumping of garbage at sea, had not previously taken a stand on the notion of throwing nutrients into the ocean with the intention of promoting plankton growth. Such projects have been proposed to help increase ocean productivity and thereby boost the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, combating climate change. But critics warn that little is known about the ecological effect of dumping large quantities of nutrients into the sea.

http://www.nature.com/news/2007/071112/full/news.2007.230.html

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~ by fluvial on November 13, 2007.

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