By Stephen Leahy
A company is preparing to enrich seawater with iron in order to promote phytoplankton growth and the absorption of carbon from the atmosphere near the environmentally-protected Galápagos Islands.
PUERTO AYORA, Galápagos, Ecuador, Jul 9 ’07 (Tierramérica).- Later this month a U.S. company, Planktos Inc., plans to dump 100 tons of iron dust into the ocean near Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands, despite opposition from environmental groups and marine scientists.This will be the first-ever commercial effort to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, one of the main gases blamed for climate change, by using iron particles to create a 10,000-square-kilometer “plankton bloom”.
Planktos says the extra volume of these small, floating organisms will absorb large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and take it deep into the sea. And this method may be the fastest and most powerful tool to battle climate change.
“The currents will likely bring the bloom into the [Galápagos] Marine Reserve,” covering 133,000 sq. km, the world’s third largest marine reserve, says Washington Tapia, director of the Galápagos National Park, which includes the reserve.
“We don’t have any idea what will happen… We have tried to contact Planktos to get more information, without success,” Tapia told Tierramérica in Puerto Ayora.
The 19 islands of the archipelago, located 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian coast, and the surrounding seas are seen as a prime example of natural history, and inspired part of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution after visiting the Galápagos in the 19th century.
“Why is this being done so close to the Galápagos, a World Heritage site,” asks Pablo Barriga, project coordinator for FUNDAR Galápagos, a non-profit organization based in Puerto Ayora that supports sustainable development and conservation of the islands.
“Some scientists say there may be ecological risks with this experiment. Why not do it else where in the Southern Ocean,” Barriga said in an interview.
For complete story see Uncertainty in Carbon Absorption Project Near Galápagos