Article: Fertilizing the Ocean with Iron
Author: Hugh Powell
Source: Oceanus; Jan 2008
“In today’s weather report its going to be another warm day.” That is a common phrase that not only here in southern California but around the world is meaning more and more. This writer feels that it is safe to say that global warming is an issue that no one can deny any longer. Having said that, what can we do to fix the problem? During the 1980’s an idea emerged that is beginning to receive another look at the possibility of cooling the planet. The idea is Iron Fertilization.
In 1988 John Martin had an idea that if we as a global community were to add iron into the open ocean waters, that it would cause a chain reaction that would result in the cooling of the atmosphere. This is a theory that has been proven to occur naturally but without much control as to when and how long. “Give me half a tanker of iron, and I’ll give you an ice age” was at the time very dramatic even Martin admits, but the idea he believed was and is very possible.
The idea behind fertilizing the oceans with iron is to begin with the bottom of the food chain, which is mostly comprised of microscopic organisms called Phytoplankton which are stimulated by the addition of iron into the water. The effect on their growth rate is so dramatic that almost immediately large blooms can be seen covering the surface of the seas. Due to their rapid rate of growth there is a tremendous increase in CO2 intake by the organisms and as plants do they absorb the CO2 as part of their daily conversion of CO2 into energy. Doing this removes the greenhouse producing gas that is responsible for the overall warming of the planet. Supporters of the idea believe that if this is done on a large enough scale that it would help decrease the effects of global warming and help restore the atmosphere to a more stable level.
Opponents of the idea argue that only a small percentage of the...