Please select your home edition
Edition
Wildwind 2016 728x90

Oceans Death? Answer Should be Blowing in the Wind

by Media Services on 22 Jul 2008
Planktos biologist Jenna dives to study the ocean .. .
Russ George is the founder and current President of Planktos Science, a privately held San Francisco-based eco-restoration and ocean eco-technology company, whose mission is the restoration of damaged habitats.

Here he offers a lucid and alarming account of the real problem for the survival of the world's oceans as we know them, and, literally blowing in the wind, an approach to a solution:


I have read some of the many news reports on the ocean acidification and reef crisis that are presently extant. I beg to differ with the position that reducing our global carbon footprint will help save our ocean bathing beauties, the reefs.

It's not that I don't fully support reducing our carbon footprint, I am rather more concerned about the role of the present deadly dose of anthropogenic CO2 already in the air on its way to our surface ocean waters.

Those hundreds of billions of tonnes of anthropogenic CO2, the bulk of which we've prescribed and put en route in the past 75 years, are slowly dissolving into the surface ocean.

By most accounts CO2 in the atmosphere takes on the order of 200 years to equilibrate with the surface ocean. Hence the pH drop we've been recording is just the proverbial tip of the dry-iceberg.

As the surface ocean absorbs the rest of this deadly dose, regardless of whether we emit more which we surely are doing, the acidification process already destined to occur is more than sufficient to change ocean ecology in far wider and disastrous fashion than merely scalding the bathing beauties at the shore.

In fact the devastating effects CO2 has on the ocean is not proceeding only via H2O+CO2=H2CO3 (carbonic acid), there is a secondary reaction wherein CO2 is enhancing the greeness of the planets dry lands. There is is a major benefit our high and rising CO2 delivers to droughty grasses who are losing less water via evapotranspiration, remaining green and growing bushier each spring, and as such are superior ground cover thus reducing topsoil loss in the wind. Tragically that dust in the wind is the major source of vital mineral micronutrients for the open ocean. Prophetically it seems, all we really are is dust in the wind.

So as our reef beauties cry out and dissolve like Dorothy's wicked witch in our acidifying oceans, the acidification will certainly continue for at least another century unabated even if we never emit another molecule of fossil CO2 into the air.

At the same time as the oceans suffer this chemical shock treatment, like those we give our swimming pools, they will continue as well to lose their photosynthetic capacity to counter this onslaught. The loss of net primary productivity, NPP, is reportedly 17% in the North Atlantic, 26% in the North Pacific, and 50% in the sub-tropical tropical oceans.

We can find the fundamental proof of the depth of this problem by considering it from the point of view of basic chemical thermodynamics. Indeed we have expended a hundred terrawatts or so burning fossil carbon to put that deadly dose of CO2 into our atmosphere and ocean. No trivial energy savings will serve to counter its certain first principals chemical effects. We can still trust in what the Second Law of Thermodynamics teaches us in that one must balance equations energetically. If we are to address a problem created by terrawatts of energy we must devote
terrawatts of energy. In this case those curative terrawatts better be emission free or we are lost.

So where is there a source of emission free terrawatts of curative power we can devote to saving the oceans and help restore the balance of Nature?

It is of course ONLY available from photosynthesis and therein lies the course we must chart to restore our oceans as we must surely not simply imagine the damage we've prescribed can simply be ignored and start from the present mortally wounded state. No mere conservation ethic or effort will suffice, we are far to far over the tipping point for that to work.

We must replenish and restore ocean photosynthesis for there in the vast living ocean expanse the terrawatts of power, solar power, can be found and used to compete with the H2O+CO2=H2CO3 reaction. There in lies hope if
we act now to assist the ocean plants, phyto-plankton, to convert CO2 in the ocean to life instead of death.

Without replenished mineral micronutrients, without our determined efforts to administer the antidote, life in the oceans, and on this small blue planet, will surely revert to the cyanobacteroa; state from whence it came.

How do we do that?

We must take on stewardship of the oceans and restore the dust that is missing.


This will be a long challenging task but one ship load at a time it has to happen. Planktos Science has been working on this for about a decade having taken the baton pass from the late great John Martin of Moss Landing Marine Labs here in California.

What Martin showed was that we could take iron, in the natural form of mineral dust, to the oceans where with infinitesimal amounts the imbalance of Nature can be balanced. For each tonne of iron ore dust - you know the red stuff that makes dirt red, hematite - hundreds of thousands of tonnes of phyto-plankton will grow.

For more information about the work of Planktos Science and about their programmes , go to their website

Bakewell-White Yacht DesignWildwind 2016 660x82Newport Boat Show 2016 660x82

Related Articles

LMAX Exchange wins the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race
LMAX Exchange was confirmed last night as winner of Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race. LMAX Exchange, skippered by Frenchman Olivier Cardin, was confirmed last night as winner of the tenth edition of the world’s longest ocean race, the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race.
Posted today at 9:03 am
Clipper Race – Constant trimming and little sleep in the North Sea
There is little opportunity for tactical moves and the timings of tacks are crucial if teams want to make vital gains. After a downwind start with spinnakers trimmed in light airs against the tide off Den Helder on the Dutch coast yesterday, the fleet has been match racing across the North Sea towards the Thames Estuary.
Posted on 29 Jul
Debriefing the 2015-16 Clipper Round The World Race with Huw Fernie
Sail-World talked with Huw Fernie of Visit Seattle to learn more about a Clipper Round The World Race skipper’s life. Skipper Huw Fernie and his Visit Seattle crew took top honors in the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, marking their second podium finish during the 2015/16 Clipper Round The World Race. I recently caught up with Fernie to learn more about Visit Seattle’s success in the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, and to learn more about the life of a Clipper Round The World Race skipper.
Posted on 28 Jul
Finale of Clipper Race global series starts in The Netherlands
The 198nm race to London is going to be one of the most nail-biting yet with just six points separating the top teams After a Departure Ceremony from Willemsoord Marina and a Parade of Sail in the presence of Dutch Royal Navy ship ZrMs Luymes, the fleet started the final short sprint to London off the Dutch coast.
Posted on 28 Jul
Thousands of spectators expected to welcome home Clipper Race fleet
Hurricane winds, giant waves, freezing conditions, battered boats and tragedy fail to quell fighting spirit of the crew. The tenth edition of the famous biennial race for novice sailors led by professional skippers is regarded as the most challenging on record after the event endured the most extreme conditions it has ever faced in its 20-year history.
Posted on 28 Jul
America's Cup World Series - Ian Roman's images of Pompey
Ian Roman was in Portsmouth for the America's Cup World Series capturing the Royal visitors Top international photographer, Ian Roman was in Portsmouth for the America's Cup World Series and provided this second of two galleries of the racing across the three days of the regatta, taking in the Royal visitors.
Posted on 26 Jul
America’s Cup World Series – More final day images by Ingrid Abery
Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images from final day Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images from final day
Posted on 25 Jul
America’s Cup World Series – Final race day images by Ingrid Abery
Ingrid Abery provided this gallery of images from final day Ingrid Abery provided this gallery of images from final day
Posted on 25 Jul
LV America’s Cup World Series - Up and down for Groupama Team France
The new leader is none other than the local team lead by Sir Ben Ainslie, who was rallied along throughout the six races 2016 America’s Cup World Series - This weekend the overall ranking for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series has been turned on its head and with the Portsmouth act complete, the new leader is none other than the local team lead by Sir Ben Ainslie, who was rallied along throughout the six races by strong support from a home crowd.
Posted on 25 Jul
LV America's Cup World Series - Land Rover BAR take two from two
While Oracle Team USA did all but everything they could to take the win with a two, one, one scorecard today 2016 Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series - While Oracle Team USA did all but everything they could to take the win with a two, one, one scorecard today, it wasn't enough to topple the fast and furious tenacity of a Ben Ainslie led Land Rover BAR on the final day of racing at the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series in Portsmouth.
Posted on 25 Jul