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Global warming = cure for global warming?

Quick, you have five seconds to answer: Melting ice caps and icebergs … bad or good?

We’ve been hearing the answer, “Bad” (as in rising sea levels, saltwater encroaching on freshwater supplies, etc.), for some time now, but a team of UK researchers say they might have found a plus to this symptom of global warming. In fact, they say, this symptom of global warming might actually hold the clue to a cure for global warming.

“Enough, greenbang!” you’re saying. “What on Earth are you babbling about?”

Well, here’s the deal, as reported this week in the Mail Online: Ice sheets sitting on the surface of Antarctica scrape of bits of bedrock as they slide toward the sea. Those bits of rock contain iron. When the rock-bit-strewn ice hits seawater and melts, the iron sinks into the water. Iron provides a tasty food source for algae. The algae goes wild on its newly iron-enriched diet and blooms like mad, sucking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it does so. Eventually, the algae dies, sinking to the sea floor and taking the carbon dioxide with it for long-term burial.

Carbon dioxide problem, solved?

As Leed University professor Rob Raiswell tells the Mail Online, “The Earth itself seems to want to save us.”

Now, ocean-seeding ventures have been proposed before as a way to soak up carbon dioxide and sequester it deep under the oceans. But some enviros and scientists have been leery of the proposition, saying it could have unintended — and harmful — consequences for sealife. Such concerns have prompted the UN to put the kibosh on ocean-seeding experiments and have led one former heavyweight in the field, Planktos, to explore other lines of work (copper mining).

With the new discovery that this process happens naturally, though, the UN has given researchers the go-ahead for an ocean-seeding experiment in the waters off of Antarctica. The icebreaker Polarstern is set to sail shortly for a test run. The venture will mark the largest-ever scientific (rather than commercial) test of the long-term effectiveness of ocean seeding as a way to fight climate change.

1 Comment

  • russ
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    PLANKTOS has not changed it’s focus to “cpper mining” rather the public company Planktos Corp. which had to cease operations broke up leaving the empty shell company Planktos Corp. and a new private company Planktos Science which comprises the original founder and team of Planktos which continues on course in its role as the principal developer of ocean eco-restoration.

    Anyone who reads the SEC filings of Planktos Corp. will see the details of the dissolution of the original Planktos.

    To learn more about the ocean eco-restoration work of Planktos Science visit thier web site at http://www.planktos-science.com.

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