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View Poll Results: Do you believe technologies like this can reduce global temperatures

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  • Yes

    2 20.00%
  • No

    5 50.00%
  • Possibly in the distant future

    3 30.00%
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Thread: Reducing global temperatures using the oceans

  1. #1 Reducing global temperatures using the oceans 
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    Hi,
    I am currently working on a project considering the use of ocean iron fertilization to stimulate phytoplankton bloom growth and consequently decrease global temperatures, by reducing atmospheric CO2, I was wondering whether anyone had any thoughts on whether these technologies would be a viable option to decrease the effects of current global warming.

    The technology has been tested in small (month long) experiments such as:

    Boyd et al. A mesoscale phytoplankton bloom in the polar southern ocean by iron fertilization. 200. Nature 407 695 - 702

    and

    Kenneth H. Coale et al. A massive phytoplankton bloom induced by an ecosystem-scale iron fertilization experiment in the equatorial pacific ocean. Nature Vol. 383. 10 Oct 1996

    I was wondering whether had any comments or discussion points on whether or not this technology could be used on a long term and wide spread (1000km+ scale) across the globe to counteract the creation of carbon dioxide by modern industries, or whether this would be a problemati


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  3. #2  
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    I have to wonder what havoc this would wreak on the ecosystems. In rivers and lakes, dumping of fertilisers causes algal blooms. As more organisms are living, this leads to more dying, and the decomposing bacteria quickly raise the biological oxygen demand (BOD) of the system, leading to the reduction in numbers or even elimination of many species from the area as there simply isn't enough oxygen for them to survive. In extreme cases the water becomes so cloudy and poor that practically nothing can live there. I'd expect the effect to be greatly reduced in open ocean, but am still concerned about the potential effects.


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  4. #3  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    the problems with this type of scheme are usually twofold :

    1. it is unclear whether it will make any real difference to the problem
    2. it is unclear whether all the side effects are fully known/understood
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  5. #4  
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    If the experiments are able to give us a satisfactory answer to marnixR point number 2 and if it would in theory reduce co2 levels, then yes, but only as a short term measure. In the long run we would still need to develop (and use) clean sustainable technology's to replace our current ones.
    Eat Dolphin, save the Tuna!!!!
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  6. #5  
    Forum Freshman Junglist_Movement's Avatar
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    i voted no because i wouldnt support dumping massive amounts of fertiliser in rivers oceans and seas, that is just immoral. if you want to reduce carbon dioxide why not just plant a bunch of trees and make it more difficult for forests and rain forests to be chopped down?

    i dont even know that global warming is here either, maybe its just something politicians use to make us afraid and vote for them?
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junglist_Movement
    i dont even know that global warming is here either, maybe its just something politicians use to make us afraid and vote for them?
    and where might you live? Here in Belgium, the past year, every month we heard on the radio that another climate record had been broken, all in 1 year. Whether it was the hottest month since 18xx, or the wettest, or extremely dry.
    And i thought i heard something about new york having had a little wintervacation again in mid-april. I don't think you can doubt that global warming is truly happening.
    Nevertheless, i agree with the fact that hypocrit politicians who drive SUV's and never even concerned themselves with the environment suddenly want to be Mr. Tree-hugger, all because Al Gore made a movie that seemed to be succesful, and they wanting to exploit that.
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  8. #7  
    Forum Freshman Junglist_Movement's Avatar
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    i live in canada. i wondered if there was actual evidence for global warming because well, i go by what i see and i havent seen it get noticably warmer in my home town. toronto has always had smog warnings in the summer and cold warnings in the winter. maybe other places notice it more but nothing is really different here. record breaking temps are normal, records are like rules, their made to be broken
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  9. #8  
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    True, if a record has been broken, it means that at some point it has to have been about equally dry, or wet or warm, but my point is it's a bit bizarre that all these records are being set the last 20 months or so. Here in Belgium we are used to crappy weather, we're lucky if the temperature reaches 25°C in the summer. But the past 2 years we've had 2 heat waves in july, and last month in april, temperature reached up to 29°C for about 2 weeks. Now, that's just here. Maybe it's global warming, maybe it's something else.
    But if you look at Antarctica or at some glaciers, it's noticable that some areas that used to be frozen all year around, suddenly completly melt in the summertime. They freeze back in the winter, but nevertheless ... it has to have some impact on the sea level.
    anyway, maybe I've just been brainwashed too much by all this doomsday propaganda, but I still strongly believe that global warming is really a fact, and a fact that has to be dealt with as soon as possible. That's why nowadays I tend to ride my bicycle instead of going by car like I used to. Or put on a sweater instead of raising the thermostat in the winter. And even if global warming wasn't true, that still saves me some money
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  10. #9  
    Forum Freshman Junglist_Movement's Avatar
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    i know what you mean about the glaciers, a little while ago far north i think in the north west territories a big chunk of ice partially melted and broke off into the water, which kinda scared some people because its a sign that the north is heating up. but yeah i agree, if its not global warming why do we still have to continue living our stupid ways? its cheaper and still better for the environment to reduce electricity and gas etc.
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  11. #10  
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    They say that there are no real signs of global warming YET as there is increased solar rays acting on the planet at the moment so there would be heating anyway, but its if this activity decreases but the temperature continues to increase, that is a sign of the greenhouse effect and man indced global warming.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    the problems with this type of scheme are usually twofold :

    1. it is unclear whether it will make any real difference to the problem
    2. it is unclear whether all the side effects are fully known/understood
    Agreed. Futzing with the global environment is rarely a good idea (and we haven't shown a particular knack for doing global good, either).

    Quote Originally Posted by ronseal86
    Hi,
    I am currently working on a project considering the use of ocean iron fertilization to stimulate phytoplankton bloom growth and consequently decrease global temperatures, by reducing atmospheric CO2, I was wondering whether anyone had any thoughts on whether these technologies would be a viable option to decrease the effects of current global warming.
    Since algae produce nearly %75 of the world's oxygen, having more would be good, but there's a lot more than oxygen in the air, and I'm not sure about the effects of upsetting that balance. Not to mention that the algae presence is both a benefit and a problem, so while increasing the populations would increase the benefits, it would also increase the problems. That, and there's a lot more than just algae and oxygen effecting the climate of the planet.
    Wolf
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    the problem with big projects like the one you propose is that when they go wrong, they do so in a big way

    you know the problem with algal blooms ? when the algae die off, their rotting remains consume probably as much oxygen as they produced when alive, thereby creating anoxic conditions on the ocean floor

    in prehistoric times there's been a number of mass extinctions that have been correlated with instances of widespread anoxia in the oceans
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  14. #13  
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    Well, no the whole point of algae is that they die individully and fall to the ea bed where they remain, his has two effects

    (i) the carbon is removed from the atmosphere and is essentially trapped in the dead algae,
    (ii) this may eventually form oil some dya in thousands of years time (so the whole cycle can begin again!)
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  15. #14  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    but what is the effect of causing the benthic zone to become anoxic ? that's a big chunk to take out of the ecological chain
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  16. #15  
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    doesnt affect us- we dont care, not our problem. I dont think theres much oxygen down there anyway; there is some mechanism by which they dont decompose down there.
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  17. #16  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robbie
    doesnt affect us- we dont care, not our problem.
    well ... maybe so, but it's a big thing to get wrong should you be wrong
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  18. #17  
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    Probably one of the more likely side-effects of causing larger algae blooms is not what happens when they die, but what happens to the ecosystems that live off of them. Almost all ocean life in one way or another lives off of the algae. In places where farmland runoff has created increased amounts of chemicals and nutrients in the ocean waters, some species of plants, animals, and even algae, have grown out of control, causing harm to the local ecosystem.

    Does anyone really know the effects of drastically increasing the amounts of algae in the ocean's waters? Scientists are just now beginning to be able to create models of algae concentrations in the oceans of the world, and thus are only now understanding the true dynamics of what these blooms do. To attempt to cause a change like the one proposed, in an area we hardly understand, is probably not the wisest thing to do. Maybe way way down the road, but not now.

    Besides, like I said earlier above, simply creating more algae to convert CO2 is not going to solve the problem. There are a lot of other natural and artificial factors involved here.
    Wolf
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  19. #18  
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    Thankyou for your replies to my question.

    In response to some of the points, alhough i do agree that global warming due to CO2 has been hyped by the media and possibly politicians, the 2007 IPCC report and other studies by organisations such as the met office show strong links and evidence between the rise in CO2 and recent global temperature increases. I still think this area should be examined as clearly the wearth has gone through cycles of temperature increase and decrease, notably the little ice age, however currently Co2 increase does seem to have an effect on global temperatures however the scale of its effects are still debatable. Some specific evidence i have found from studying global warming and ice ages is that during the last ice age ther CO" concentration was 200ppm, while now it is at 383 ppm.

    I agree that the side effects should be determined, the most recent studies/trials have been done on the mesoscale (around 200km2), in oceans such as the southern ocean. As this technique could be used in an area such as this which is relatively isolated from large ecosystems, do you thin that it would be accepatable to risk these exosystems if it could help slow global warming and subsequent ocean rise to save areas which are at immediate risk from these effects, such as bangladesh and coral reefs across the globe.

    thanks for your time
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