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George Russ, rogue oceanologist, dumped 100 tons of Iron Sulfate into the ocean

  1. Jan 29, 2013 #1

    Last fall.

    His intention is the stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, thus absorbing CO2.

    He also did so in violation of several UN charters (or whatever their rules are called) which were passed specifically to stop him from going through with this plan.

    There isn't much info I can find about it since then, but it appears that the experiment has been working as he had planned, six months out.


    He gave an interview recently. I don't know enough about oceanography to really dispute what he's saying, but he does appear to have thoroughly studied the subject.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2013 #2
    Has published the results of his 'experiment' or attempted to analyse them in a systematic way?
  4. Jan 29, 2013 #3

    Simon Bridge

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    Looks like this guy was trying to capitalize on an emmissions trading scheme.
    The idea seems to be to create a large industrial process that (at least, in the short term) absorbs CO2 so you can accumulate a large amount of "carbon credits" or whatever the scheme uses. Then you can sell them to carbon-producing industries and make lots of money.

    Whenever you get this sort of regulation it can skew the incentives: something that has to be watched for. Fortunately this one was already illegal. It may be that someone will come up with some environmentally nicer process though.
  5. Feb 8, 2013 #4
    Re: George Russ, rogue oceanologist, dumped 100 tons of Iron Sulfate i

    Try searching for Russ George, not George Russ:

    There is a world-wide moratorium on this kind of geo-engineering ~because~ marine scientists (especially ones at Oregon University) have discovered that algae blooms caused by fertilizing the oceans with iron can also lead to a marked increase in neurotoxins produced by the algae. This is a compound released when the algae die in the oceans, and their cells break apart, I believe.
    The moratorium will remain in place until these scientists can learn what the full consequences of those toxins are, on how they affect the various sea creatures they come in contact with.

    Russ George is also ~apparently~ wanted for fraud in some jurisdictions, a subject which was widely discussed in Canadian papers and other media last October when he convinced the Haida to dump 100 tons or so of iron sulfate into the north east Pacific.
    He convinced the Haida to borrow $2.5 million to finance this scheme, and that they would obtain a profit by selling carbon credits that result from the geo-engineering, "once the figures have been tabulated."

    It sounds good, but isn't. The Haida are now stuck with having to repay the loans.
    See also links in the Wiki article.

    As far as I can tell, Russ George has no qualifications in the appropriate Marine Science fields at all.
  6. Feb 8, 2013 #5
    Re: George Russ, rogue oceanologist, dumped 100 tons of Iron Sulfate i

    I can't seem to edit my OP to fix the name.

    What he did was illegal -- however, it's already been done. Might as well observe the effects.

    Here are some good critiques that go beyond the, "he has no credentials" argument:


    Oceanographer Mark Lawrence, an American currently with the Max Plank Institute in Germany, explains: “phytoplankton produce gases which directly affect the climate and atmospheric chemistry. For instance, one gas known as dimethylsulfide ends up causing clouds to reflect more sunlight, which cools the oceans’ surface, while other gases produced by phytoplankton can…affect other aspects of atmospheric chemistry.”
    Other scientists have completed work that points toward what is already obvious – if not iron, then some other nutrient will eventually be lacking. New Zealand researcher Tom Trull recently co-authored a paper that explained that, in the Southern Ocean, silicate may become a limiting factor. “In short,” Trull wrote me in an e-mail, “it is not obvious that iron can stimulate carbon sequestration, and it is likely that it will lead to a different phytoplankton community than normally present (rather than just a faster growing normal community), the composition, properties and desirability of this new community is unknown.” Sequestering carbon in these parts of the global ocean via iron fertilization “would require significant ecosystem change,” Trull’s paper said.
  7. Feb 9, 2013 #6
    Re: George Russ, rogue oceanologist, dumped 100 tons of Iron Sulfate i

    I have been interested in iron fertilization of the oceans for some time, and do have some non-expert knowledge in the subject. Before this 'experiment', I was following the effects of volcanic ash falls on the oceans south of Iceland and especially the Northeast Pacific.

    The Northeast Pacific has been described as a desert, marine wise: there isn't enough iron feeding into to keep a good phytoplankton population going, and this means it's not an optimum environment for larger species (read, salmon).

    A couple of years ago, 2008, I think, there were some notable volcanic ash clouds from the Aleutian Islands or Kamchatka peninsula which winds carried as far as central Canada. This ash did contain some iron content, and marine scientists noted a good bloom in the affected area. Following that, researchers (from the Pacific Marine Sciences center, UVIC, and elsewhere) voyaged into the area and took a lot of samples.

    This helped prove that the ash did lead to a bloom, and if I recall correctly, the bloom in turn lead to fatter fish. (good).

    Interestingly, the next salmon runs up the Fraser River and some others broke records: 33 Million+ fish returned to spawn that year.in the Fraser.
    I believe this also happened in the Columbia system. So many that spawners either re-established some old runs (the Upper Adams River, barren since about 1914) or moved into streams which had no prior records of salmon presence.

    The marine scientists won't make any claims that there is a relationship between the two events with out more proof, of course, but it is very reasonable to state that there may be a link.

    If budget cutbacks haven't handicapped the marine scientists, I'm sure they will be monitoring what the results of the Haida experiment are.

    It would be quite easy to put pure nanoscale or molecular food grade iron into the oceans once this is proven to be a good idea. And it wouldn't cost that much, all things considered.
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