Marine Snow Storms: Assessing the Environmental Risks of Ocean Fertilization

The adverse impacts of anthropogenically induced climate change on the terrestrial and marine environments have been acknowledged by a succession of expert reports commissioned by global and national bodies.1 This recognition has prompted a variety of marine geo-engineering schemes to mitigate the detrimental effects of climate change on the environment including enhanced schemes to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using the world’s oceans.

The threats posed by climate change to the global environment have fostered heightened scientific and commercial interest in marine geo-engineering schemes designed to boost the capacity of the oceans to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. This is the primary goal of a process known as ocean fertilization, which seeks to increase the production of organic material in the surface ocean in order to promote further draw down of photosynthesised carbon to the deep ocean. This article describes the process of ocean fertilization, its objectives and potential impacts on the marine environment, and some examples of ocean fertilization experiments. It analyses the applicability of international law principles on marine environmental protection to this process and the regulatory gaps and ambiguities in the existing international law framework for such activities. Finally it examines the emerging regulatory framework for legitimate scientific experiments involving ocean fertilization being developed by the London Convention and London Protocol Scientific Groups and its potential implications for the proponents of ocean fertilization trials.

Copyright: © Lexxion Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
Quelle: Issue 4/2009 (Dezember 2009)
Seiten: 11
Preis inkl. MwSt.: € 41,65
Autor: Robin Warner

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