Scientific research on the role of iron in the ocean proceeded from
1993 until 2000. Stimulated by very broad scientific discussions,
the research was quite exciting and successful. What is not widely
known, but has certainly been publicized, is that concurrent to
the scientific research, were plans for commercial fertilization
of the ocean.
Several patents have been issued for fertilization procedures using
iron, and possible seeding of the ocean with other nutrients such
as ammonium and iron to spur fish production.
here's what was laid out in one of the plans for ocean fertilization,
as reported in the popular literature (Wired magazine): 200 ships,
8.1 million tons of iron, 16 million square miles of high-nutrient
low-chlorophyll ocean, and a price tag of $16 billion was proposed
to sequester 8 gigatons of atmospheric CO2
one can certainly challenge the numbers quoted, but an important
point is that popular magazines are not the ideal forum for scientific
communication or debate. In the last ten years, my primary source
of information on the commercial applications of iron fertilization
have been the Sunday Times of London, Wired magazine, Discover magazine,
and sometimes the New Scientist. None provide a good opportunity
to look at some of these issues broadly.
Which brings up another important point. Time has flown by since
the 1991 consensus statement and yet it has not been formally reassessed.