Iron fertilisation

Nurture notes some controversy over LOHAFEX. We’re taken aback by this flagrant disregard of international law, says someone I’ve never heard of.

Well, my reading of COP 9 Decision IX/16, Section C (Ocean Fertilization), paragraph 4 is that it says it requests Parties and urges other Governments, in accordance with the precautionary approach, to ensure that ocean fertilization activities do not take place until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities, including assessing associated risks, and a global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanism is in place for these activities; with the exception of small scale scientific research studies within coastal waters. So since it is merely a request or an urge, its not law (LOHAFEX news also makes the assertion that the document is not legally binding).

If we ignore that niggle, it comes down to whether the experiment fits under the exemption of with the exception of small scale scientific research studies within coastal waters. Its definitely a scientific study. “small scale” is a near meaningless term, but 20×20 km sounds pretty small to me – smaller than an ocean GCM grid box, anyway. And 20 tonnes is not a lot, either. OTOH it doesn’t look like they are going to be coastal: the pre-cruise booklet says they haven’t decided exactly where to do it, but it will be in an upwelling eddy in the Polar Front region north of South Georgia. Scientifically restricting things to coastal sites appears completely pointless – probably the text of the resolution at this point is some meaningless politicians bodge. The Indians assert that such experiments were to be restricted to coastal waters was perhaps an aberration, which has since been amended which sounds like wishful thinking to me; if there has been an amendation, no-one knows where it is.

Conclusion: seems fair enough to me. Don’t think the whingers have got a leg to stand on (or maybe they have one leg out of four to stand on, but thats not good enough to stop you falling over).

[Update: there is a whole blog about IF, but its badly out of date -W]

Comments

  1. #1 Brian Schmidt
    2009/01/12

    Not my legal field, but I’d interpret coastal as meaning “territorial waters” although that interpretation still leaves questions – it’s 200 nautical miles for fishing, less for other activities.

    It could be described as violative of a request, which is fair enough. My quick read suggests the majority of COP consists of non-mandatory language.

  2. #2 Carlos Rocha
    2009/01/13

    Feels to me someone is doing something, and effectivelly conducting a scientific experiment, instead of nurturing long and pointless discussions about the need to take our heads out of the beach sand and eventually address the issue.

    General law also states that fraud is a crime and should be punished. Doesn’t seem to stop a lot of pseudo-science friendly “luminaries” from expounding on their (blind) views in every corner of the public ear. And getting heard, too. One almost expects to hear from a pack of asinine lawyers pushing for a court challenge on this, based on the possibility of it destroying the world (a la LHC), or our way of life, or similar crap. Here be dragons :) – maybe krakens will be reborn?

    Keep up the good work, William.

  3. #3 Tim Worstall
    2009/01/13

    Bleedin’ ‘ell. Why are there any whingers at all?

    Don’t they want to solve AGW? In which case, why whinge about somebody experimenting with a way to do so?

    (no, we of course don’t know whether it will work. That’s why it’s an “experiment”)

  4. #4 Adam
    2009/01/14

    Can’t seem to read the full article now, though I was able to yesterday – but only had time for a quick read. Am I right in that the article doesn’t give a reason for the criticism? I’m sure the people quoted probably expanded on why they are against the experiment (maybe not), but without knowing what they said, it’s hard to know whether they had a valid point or not – unless one wants pre-existing prejudices to determine that.

    [Just generic outrage really. The std "all experimentation of this type is bad, we should fix the real problem not use a techno-fix". With the subtext of "Hey, we think we own part of this area, how dare you not involve us". What I would have said 10 years ago (the first bit)... -W]

    I suppose we could Google the organisation concerned and see if they have a press release with the quote in it. However, as I can’t read it now, I can’t do that. :)

  5. #5 Eli Rabett
    2009/01/14

    Try Greenpeace them’s agin it

  6. #6 Dunc
    2009/01/14

    There is an argument to be made that looking for new ways to address AGW distracts from the one way that (a) we actually have available right now, and (b) are virtually certain will actually work – namely reducing emissions. Throw in some concerns about Jevon’s Paradox, and there’s your case against.

    [are virtually certain will actually work - namely reducing emissions - except in the real world, where relying on this is virtually certain not to work, as it won't happen. yes I know it *could*, but I'd hate to have to rely on it (until the oil runs out) -W]

    Personally, I see no major problem with further research. Research is (almost) always good. However, in the absence of concrete action of the sort I’ve already mentioned, I’m not going to take such initiatives particularly seriously.

    On a related note, can we try to move away from the term “geo-engineering”? “Engineering” implies that you have a good, detailed understanding of what you’re doing and how it’s all going to turn out. Instead, I propose “geo-KerPlunk“.

  7. #7 Dunc
    2009/01/15

    Well, I just said that the argument could be made, it didn’t say it was inarguably correct. How you view it depends on how you view the relative likelihood of serious emission cuts vs successful large-scale geo-KerPlunking. I tend to agree that the chances of serious emission cuts in the foreseeable future are pretty slim, but that’s a political argument. However, I don’t personally think the chances of successful large-scale geo-KerPlunking are any higher (unless you define “success” in extremely narrow and restricted terms).

    The argument based on Jevon’s Paradox is the stronger one, in my opinion. The longer we put off the need to change political reality to match physical reality, the harder it’s going to be.

  8. #8 mugwump
    2009/01/15

    The longer we put off the need to change political reality to match physical reality, the harder it’s going to be.

    It’s the other way ’round. The problem for the envirofascist program is that physical reality is lagging political reality. The world is no warmer than it was 30 years ago. People know that little, if anything, has actually changed climate-wise, and that their quality of life is still fundamentally determined by economic growth, not arcane physics.

    Only when people see direct negative impacts of CO2 will they be willing to make sacrifices and the envirofascists will have an opportunity to impose their austerity program. Except, of course, they won’t. Even if that time comes people won’t wear it anymore than they’re willing to wear it today. They might accept CO2 cuts but there ain’t gonna be no envirotopia. Still, let the greenies keep dreaming. Viva La Revolución!

  9. #9 iRobot
    2009/01/15

    No one’s life has changed for the worse? Ask the people living in the artic where the permafrost isnt so permanent and their houses are falling into the ground.

  10. #10 Richard Simons
    2009/01/15

    The world is no warmer than it was 30 years ago.

    How do you manage to manipulate the data to come to this conclusion?

  11. #11 cce
    2009/01/16

    Richard,

    It’s easy. You use the standard mathematical technique, “least honest fit.”

  12. #12 P. Lewis
    2009/01/16

    ROFLAPMP!

    Wish I’d thought of that line.

  13. #13 mugwump
    2009/01/16

    No one’s life has changed for the worse? Ask the people living in the artic where the permafrost isnt so permanent and their houses are falling into the ground.

    They’re not cold enough? You’re not serious…

    How about the people living to their south just below the permafrost line who (supposedly) now don’t get as frigid winters. Are they worse off? Or is this some weird and wonderful climate phenomenon where only the thin band of permafrost melts but everything else is unchanged?

    How do you manage to manipulate the data to come to this conclusion?

    No manipulation required.

    Click the link and tell me it is significantly warmer today than 30 years ago.

  14. #14 Dunc
    2009/01/16

    It is significantly warmer today than 30 years ago – 0.35 degrees by eyeballing your graph.

    That’s not a polynomial trendline is it?

  15. #15 mugwump
    2009/01/16

    It is significantly warmer today than 30 years ago – 0.35 degrees by eyeballing your graph.

    It is significantly warmer by 0.35 degrees today than 30 years ago. Now take another look at the graph. In the last 30 years the temperature has varied by nearly twice that amount within a two year period on at least 8 occasions.

    IE, 0.35 is not significant.

  16. #16 Dunc
    2009/01/16

    Ah, I see what you’re trying to do. By restricting the sample to an artificially short period, you’re trying to exclude any possible claim of a statistically significant trend.

    There is, of course, an easy and obvious solution to this – look at a longer dataset. But that doesn’t give the result you want, does it?

    I ask again: is that a polynomial trendline?

  17. #17 mugwump
    2009/01/16

    I am not “trying to do” anything. It simply has not warmed significantly for 30 years. 30 years is longer than current alarmist horizons for great catastrophe if we continue emitting CO2.

    Looking back, I am betting the alarmists are wrong (there are a lot of other reasons to believe they are wrong – bad, politically motivated science chief among them – but we don’t need to have that argument. The data doesn’t lie.)

    [Unless of course you believe the claptrap about how all the extra heat is hiding in the oceans just waiting to be released in some giant gaia fart]

    [I don't know what that line is. It's not mine, and it's not relevant.]

  18. #18 Brian Schmidt
    2009/01/16

    “I am betting the alarmists are wrong”

    Really? Care to make it interesting, as opposed to just talk?

  19. #19 Carlos Rocha
    2009/01/16

    “I don’t know what the line is. It’s not mine, and it’s not relevant”

    I see. We might just as well redraw the line anywhere – it’s not relevant, so who cares? The mind boggles.

    Of course, this way all bets are off, goal-posts will move after anybody but the line-artists win. Which in turn means they are already scheduled to move. That is not science, I am sorry, it is artistic outlook. Only last time I checked, however colourful, artistic views are meaningless to the way the Earth’s ecosystems work.

  20. #20 maksimovich
    2009/01/17

    with the exception of small scale scientific research studies within coastal waters.

    iron is not a limiting quality within coastal waters.Strzepek and Harrison 2004 noted that diatoms adapted to coastal regions, where iron is more available, and have a higher PSII/PSI ratio of around 9. compared to diatoms adapted to oceanic regions of around 3, where available iron is often a limiting factor for growth eg southern ocean

    Not particularly interested one way or the other but it is a good example of why lawyers and bureaucrats go wrong.

  21. #21 Richard Simons
    2009/01/19

    They’re not cold enough? You’re not serious…

    How about the people living to their south just below the permafrost line who (supposedly) now don’t get as frigid winters. Are they worse off? Or is this some weird and wonderful climate phenomenon where only the thin band of permafrost melts but everything else is unchanged?

    Yes, it seems that they are worse off, although the evidence so far is not conclusive. Communities in Manitoba that do not have regular road access are dependent upon winter roads built across the lakes and muskeg for trucking in bulk supplies such as timber, cement and fuel oil. In some recent years (but not earlier, according to long-time residents) freeze-up has been late and truck loads have been restricted so places like St Theresa Point have had to air-freight in some of their supplies.

    Regarding your claim that global temperatures have not increased over the past 30 years, why are you so convinced of the greater reliability of satellite measurements (that, as I understand it, do not cover the Arctic and Antarctic regions) that ground-based measurements can be completely discounted?

  22. #22 Crakar14
    2009/01/20

    William, Just so i am clear on this you want to lace the oceans with iron to sequester C02 and have got the shits up because (as you put it) the four legged people think it is a stupid idea? Is that right?

    [You need to calm down old fruit. We won't save the planet with impassioned ranting. No, I don't want to lace the oceans with iron. I do think that doing limited experiments to find out whether its likely to work or not would be a good idea -W]

    Have you ever heard of the cane toad? it was introduced to Queensland from Brazil to get rid of the cane beetle, 40 odd years later cane toads now live in over half of the continent and are a huge environmental disaster, and the beetle? they are still there.

    Tim Flannery Australian of the year 2007 says we need to lace the atmosphere with sulphur, he admits there is problems with his plan (acid rain etc)but we have no choice otherwise climate change is gunna getcha. Totally stupid plan but then his field of expertise is as a mammologist and paleontologist so i would not expect anything less form a moron like him.

    What about the other moron whos name escapes me who wants to lace the atmosphere with crushed glass!!!!!!

    So now they want to lace the oceans with iron, i blame people like yourself and some posters here for morons like these because you lot actually listen to this crap and believe every word these idiots say.

    And what evidence do you have which would require us to let these mad scientists loose on planet?

    Where is the damning evidence that you have that stops you thinking like a rational human being. Please for the planets sake show me the evidence.

  23. #23 Crakar14
    2009/01/27

    Old fruit? are you implying that i have gone off and no longer edible?

    thats ok i have been called worse, actually i have read somewhere they are looking at growing algea to do the same thing is that right? or am i thinking of something else?

    Cheers

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