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We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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Sahara Dust Produces Massive Bahama Carbon Sink - Russ George

Sahara Dust Produces Massive Bahama Carbon Sink - Russ George | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Iron in Sahara dust shown to produce massive Bahama carbon sink with similar effects proposed in ocean regions around the world.

 

A great mystery about how CO2 in ocean water is converted into solid carbonates is solved which in turn explains the formation of  vast regions of carbonate geology on the world’s seabeds.

This post was inspired by a terrific new and important paper that speaks to the role of Saharan dust, the iron and other mineral micronutrients it carries to the ocean, and how this results in a new explanation of the power and potency of ocean photosynthesis in regulating global CO2.

 

The dust that blows from land to the oceans proves to have yet another powerful mechanism through which in partnership with ocean pastures and their phyto-plankton it works to manage global CO2. This time the cyanobacteria/blue-green algae are stimulated to fix nitrogen which fuels plankton blooms and directly causes the precipitation and sinking of carbonate minerals sending vast quantities of CO2 to the seabed. 


However dust reaching the oceans and the iron it carries is in dramatic decline!

To make matters worse (from the oceans point of view) our high and rising CO2 improves plant growth on land producing much improved “ground cover” around the world which in turn by covering the ground is preventing dust from blowing out to sea where missing dust and minerals especially iron is the death knell for ocean pastures and their plankton blooms.


The solution to our own and Mother Natures deadly dilemma is of course for us to simple do the right thing. We must and we can restore and revive vital ocean pastures and their phyto-plankton by giving back to them the dust we are denying them. This is amazingly effective, immediately deployable, inexpensive, proven in real ocean large scale work, methodology and technology comes with the bonus that it begins with the fact that it  BRINGS BACK THE FISH, billions of fish to feed our children (feeding the kids, that’s proven too!)


There is a fine write up in FORBES magazine  27 July 2014 about the iron clad proof of CO2 sequestration for geologic time and about my work in this field.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We have a conflict: Since oceans NEED the iron dust blown from the land in order to grow the phytoplankton to sequester carbon and feed fish, if we improve ground cover, growing more land plants, we will end up preventing the dust from blowing out to sea.  

 

So until we get things balanced again, it appears we MUST fertilize the oceans ourselves.  

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Ocean Fertilization: A Dangerous Experiment Gone Right | PlanetSave

Ocean Fertilization: A Dangerous Experiment Gone Right | PlanetSave | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
A rogue ocean fertilization experiment carried out in 2012 may well prove to be the saviour of the world-renowned Fraser River sockeye salmon run.

 

When details of this experiment emerged it was widely condemned by scientists, and environmentalists.


And yet, here’s the thing; it appears that this rogue experiment may have worked, and worked much more dramatically than anyone could have foreseen.


One of the most critical nutrients required by phytoplankton is iron. 

For this reason, it has been suggested by a number scientists that adding iron to the ocean could have a beneficial effect on marine life. However the scientists who suggested this approach urged caution, since the effects of ocean fertilization on a large-scale are largely unknown.

 

Another potential benefit of ocean fertilization is that it could offer a way of sequestering atmospheric carbon. As phytoplankton multiply they use carbon in the process of photosynthesis, just as land-based vegetation does. The theory is that eventually the phytoplankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, where the carbon becomes locked up in sediments on the sea floor. Though not yet scientifically verified, there is reason to believe that large-scale ocean fertilization could sequester significant amounts of atmospheric carbon.

 

After the experiment became public, it was roundly condemned by environmentalists and scientists alike. However within a few months, satellite imagery showed that a massive 10,000 square kilometer phytoplankton bloom had developed in the Gulf of Alaska, centered around the area which was seeded with iron sulfate. The following year, in 2013, catches of pink salmon from the Pacific Northwest showed a 400% increase over the previous year. The latest estimates for the 2014 Fraser River sockeye run are more than double the numbers for 2010. This would be unprecedented, and would represent by far the biggest ever recorded run of sockeye salmon on the Fraser River.


While its potential effectiveness in removing CO2 from the atmosphere remains unproven, many scientists believe that ocean fertilization may be an inexpensive way of countering a significant percentage of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.


There have also been charges that ocean fertilization constitutes geoengineering. If this is the case, what about fertilization of agricultural crops, and the runoff of fertilizer into the ocean? This is unintentional geoengineering, with largely negative consequences.


The removal of atmospheric carbon is not about finding an excuse to carry on with business as usual. It needs to be carried out in parallel with decarbonising our economy. Moving to a low carbon economy does nothing about the extra carbon we have already added to the atmosphere. The only way to deal with that is through direct removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, and the take up of CO2 by photosynthesizing phytoplankton is analogous to encouraging forest growth on land, in that natural processes are being used to reduce atmospheric carbon levels. The process of ocean seeding has exactly the same effect as a large dust storm blowing iron-rich dust into the sea, a process which occurs frequently in the natural world.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I strongly agree with the argument that we MUST do more than merely eliminate carbon emissions.  We MUST do two things: (1) eliminate carbon emissions as soon as possible AND (2) remove the excess CO2 from previous centuries of emissions and any emissions going forward.  

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