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To summarize: we have ecological uncertainties, and the potential for big problems associated with modifying ocean processes. Are we going to come to a point in the foreseeable future when commercial interests or private interests want to proceed with some sort of a sequestration scheme, and a group of scientists say this is not a good idea?

We have a long history of conflicts over environmental issues that can provide examples. The controversy over phosphorus and detergents is one. During the 1960's, a large number of scientists who were supported financially by industry were arguing that we shouldn't take phosphorus out of detergents. There were also a number of scientists who were not supported by industry arguing that we should remove phosphorus. We have since learned that the phosphorus should have been taken out, for the reasons presented by the anti-phosphorus scientists.

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Nonetheless, as the phosphorus debate went on at Congressional Hearings, the private sector argued that the elevated phosphate concentration measured in lakes is a result of organic pollution. In other words, they were saying that phosphate was found there because the algae were releasing it. In dissention, noted scientist Joseph Shapiro stated, "To me this is like saying lung cancer causes cigarettes."

Are private interests the only option for dealing with the issue of carbon sequestration? Well, that is one question being addressed at this workshop.

Lately there's been a great deal of discussion in the oceanographic community of association among leading research oceanographers and private entities interested in ocean fertilization. There is a lot of discomfort and confusion about the information being disseminated because we don't have a good feel for the consequences of these associations.

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I'd like to show you some possible models for association between the scientific research and commercial interests.

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In the example, on the left side of the spectrum, the scientific community essentially reiterates and hardens its position from the 1991 consensus statement and says research on ocean fertilization per se is out. On the other side is perhaps an enthusiastic commitment to joint funding of research between government and commercial interests, and in that light, the government is essentially going partners with the commercial people who do R&D for commercial fertilization.

imageSomewhere in the spectrum, there could be an independent foundation or a research agency committed to studying ocean processes but completely independent of any commercial interest. Or it might be an industry-financed research foundation, or perhaps a board of directors from a company or group of companies.

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Here's where we stand today. The effects of iron fertilization have been demonstrated in two major ocean regimes -- the Equatorial Pacific near the Galapagos Islands and the Southern Ocean. Important questions about iron, nitrogen, the ocean, and the atmosphere need much more research to understand. Climate change also must be addressed as well as the effects of changing land use, since farming of deserts could reduce the dust transport and therefore iron to the oceans. These scientific issues must be studied.

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