100 Tons of Iron Sulfate Dumped in the Pacific

'Fertilization' in violation of two U.N. conventions

Ryan O'Hanlon

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

In what is being called the “world’s biggest geoengineering experiment,” an American businessman dumped around 100 tons of iron sulfate into the Pacific Ocean off the Canada coast in July. The project, led by Californian Russ George, is in violation of two international conventions that outlaw any for-profit ocean fertilization attempts. The scheme was designed to net a mass of carbon credits: The plankton would absorb carbon dioxide and then sink to the ocean floor. Satellite images show a massive plankton outgrowth of more than 6,000 square miles caused by the procedure.

Ocean fertilization is a contentious topic, and many scientists believe such dumps could permanently damage ocean ecosystems, create toxic tides, kill sea life, and worsen global warming. “History is full of examples of ecological manipulations that backfired,” said John Cullen, an oceanographer at Dalhousie University. George, on the other hand, calls the two conventions outlawing his project “mythology,” and maintains that the effort’s effects have been all positive. “We’ve gathered data targeting all the possible fears that have been raised,” George said. “And the news is good news, all around, for the planet.” George’s ships have previously been banned from Spanish and Ecuadorian ports after similar, unsuccessful large-scale dumps.

Via The Guardian