MAC: Mines and Communities

London Calling on a balmy (or is it barmy?) idea

Published by MAC on 2007-05-19

London Calling on a balmy (or is it barmy?) idea

19th May 2007

It's a brainy, or a hare-brained scheme, depending on your perspective. And it's been mooted for several years. Just throw iron filings off a boat into the ocean depths and - hey presto! - you have a ready-made fertiliser of plankton. This will then absorb massive amounts of the carbon dioxide we're all belching out on the surface and that contributes massively to adverse climate change.

However, it's only in recent weeks that this concept has been taken up by the international press, and criticisms of the idea have now started to get an airing. One came last week from a group of leading scientists, as the lead letter published in the May 14th issue of The Independent (UK) .

Just how much iron would be required if the plan gets UN or governmental backing depends on the amount of ocean "seeded". But it's conceivable that hundreds of thousands of tonnes would come into market play - and that's a helluva prospect for mining companies.

So, the carbon is chucked into the oceans where it gets neutralised by iron filings; big iron ore producers like CVRD, Rio Tinto and BHPBilliton then make a killing while re-affirming their efforts to reduce negative climate change. Meanwhile they can carry on churning out more and more steel, and thus contributing further to global warming.

What the heck, if the ocean's biota may be poisoned in the process? After all, there's been submarine tailings disposal of toxic metals for decades - and nobody's been caring much about that.

Have they?

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