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Symposium to discuss geoengineering to fight climate change at the ESA Annual Meeting
Date:8/6/2009

e University says that ocean fertilization could create a rise in iron-limited phytoplankton populations, which by dying and sinking would use enough oxygen to create extensive dead zones in the oceans. In addition, he says, the maximum possible rate of ocean iron fertilization could only offset a small fraction of the current rate of carbon burning by humans.

Ocean fertilization also does not alleviate the increasing problem of ocean acidification, caused by carbon dioxide from the increasingly carbon-rich atmosphere dissolving into seawater. In fact, Miller says, ocean fertilization schemes will likely exacerbate this problem.

"Any large-scale fertilization could cause risks to ocean ecosystems as great as those of global warming itself," he says.

Despite its apparent hazards at the global scale, Jackson thinks that research should continue on safer ways to use geoengineering at a smaller scale. Geologic sequestration, sometimes known as CO2 capture and storage, takes CO2 out of the atmosphere and stores it in underground reservoirs. Jackson says that this solution has the potential to store more than a century's worth of electric power emissions at a relatively low cost. He notes, however, that some potential risks of geologic sequestration include carbon leakage and the potential for interactions with groundwater.

But on the planetary scale, most ecologists are skeptical of climate engineering.

"Playing with the Earth's climate is a dangerous game with unclear rules," says Jackson. "We need more direct ways to tackle global warming, including energy efficiency, reduced consumption, and investment in renewable energy sources."


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Contact: Christine Buckley
christine@esa.org
202-833-8773
Ecological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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