Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ge(o)nomics

Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Climate Change



There has been some chatter in the scientific press, especially when concerning climate change and efforts at geoengineering, you know, the process of attempting to alter global systems (like climate) through various forms of chemical, mechanical or other forms of intervention.
An apparent "big deal" in this regard is underway (recently being cleared by the German Federal Ministry of Research) with the beginning of an Indo-German experiment (named LOHAFEX) at "fertilizing" an area (115 square miles) of ocean, in the Scotia Sea east of Argentina. The German ship RV Polarstern is headed there to dump 20 tons of iron sulphate particals in the hopes that it will help produce a booming plankton population (plankton apparently needs iron). The idea is that the plankton will intake a large amount of carbon, and take it with them to the bottom of the ocean as they die. Basically, it sounds like a creating a lawn on the ocean' surface, where it will do what plants do... intake carbon, output oxygen.
Some people, however, are concerned that this initiative isn't considering possible unintended consequences, like what an increase in iron sulphate and a geographical shifting of marine life might mean. There are also concerns over accountability and regulation - who's responsible for regulating and monitoring such globally situated experiments.
What groups like ETC fear in terms of this experimentation is that it will unfold along the lines of the biotechnology revolution, where the technology was established and covering much of the globe before many people even knew what it was, with very little oversight, and directed by profit motives. Geoengineering also follows the same philosophical and technical methods as biotechnology, treating the Earth as an organism that can be manipulated and treated by altering its components, its genetic make up, if you will. Let's just hope that the Earth, and we, fair better than the early test subjects for genetic therapies.
Wired Magazine's coverage of LOHAFEX
image above: source

posted by ryan griffis  # 1:05 PM

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