Ocean reforestation to counter global warming

by aaditeshwar on Dec 04, 2007      Category: Environment Tags: climate change global warming oceans plankton

Here's a very interesting project whose outcome could change the world! More than 20 tons of iron dust has been dumped into the water near the Galapagos Islands. The idea is to revive the ocean plankton that absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and then sink down into the depths of the ocean. Apart from the technical aspects, it is probably also an example of social entrepreneurship -- making profit by selling carbon credits. But there is also huge skepticism that this could have adverse effects on other ecological processes in the ocean, because so little is understood right now. The project has similarities with thoughts by Freeman Dyson http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dysonf07/dysonf07_index.html, where he talks about the regeneration of biomass on land to reduce carbon dioxide.

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aaditeshwar's picture


ICTD researcher and founder of Gram Vaani.....read more



amadduri's picture

This is something that was actually tried in the past or at least talked about and I remember learning that there was no conclusion as to the positive effects of any such measure. Its interesting that they are trying something like this out without knowing the full effects that it could have. Here is an older link urging some caution: http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/oceangard/overview.php
And here is a slightly dated but appropriate cartoon!: http://www.planktos.com/educational/images/MartinCartoon.gif

aneeshcs's picture

Ocean fertilization, which has been an idea for sometime now, is slowly losing its support. Repeated experiments show a negation of the assumption that ocean fertilization with iron and other nutrients will mitigate the CO2 increase in the atmosphere and hence global warming. This link has a report on a recent study which shows the same. It not only says that ocean fertilization might not help in reducing global warming but it might pollute the oceans and destroy the ocean ecosystem.


aaditeshwar's picture

These references were very insightful. There is surely a lot of skepticism to the topic! I wonder how the approval system works though; can somebody just take approval from the government of one country and dump iron into the oceans? It sounds dangerous! And I know that people are also thinking of weird schemes to cool the atmosphere...

mynk's picture

I would definitely belong to the sceptic lot - whatever happened to the simple idea of mass afforestion?


Most of these might be ruled out as there would little tangible returns - no investors.

One of the biggest reasons for the global warming would be the incessant deforestation for paper, pulp, etc. at one end and the automobiles, planes, thermal stations, etc on the other end.

“The cost of offsetting carbon through these technologies is less than the cost of building solar panels or windmills,” Mr. Kammen said. “There’s no question that this is going to grow,” he said of various carbon offset strategies.

I think Shai Agassi has a different view in this matter. He has projected how logistics can be worked out in this talk:


I would think of this approach of making cars go oil free, however far fetched, to be a more friendlier one possibly the one to take.

Hoping the approval system doesn't work as suggested in the cartoon! :)

Till some sane ideas are taken seriously and something is done about the whole situation I would count more on individual changes - replacing bulbs at homes to CFLs, avoiding paper towels, saving power/fuel or -


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