Google Groups

Re: [geo] Re: Pacific iron fertilisation is 'blatant violation' of international regulations

David Lewis Oct 22, 2012 10:34 AM
Posted in group: geoengineering
After I read "Geopiracy:  The Case Against Geoengineering" on the ETC website, I, mistakenly as I see now, concluded that ETC couldn't possibly be serious.  I thought their contribution was aimed at provoking laughter.  Hence, my satirical response.  

Readers may understand why I made my mistake if they read that ETC Geopiracy webpage, especially the paragraph that appears under the subhead Actors: 

In this paragraph, ETC describes a conspiracy, which is at present led in public by an alliance of two main groups.  The first group is made up of the leading scientific institutions that exist in the world.  Named specifically are the UK Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences, which are "joined by counterparts in other countries such as Canada, Germany and Russia".  The second group is described as "conservative think tanks (the very ones that used to deny climate change)".  

But the ETC tells us, these groups are just the public front who are taking "the heat" at the moment, for the real villains.  

The group that is "remaining in the background, for now", are waiting for their front groups to deliever "the shock - that climate chaos is upon us and GHG emissions won't be reduced in time", after which, at the appropriate time, they will step forward to deliver their "techno-fixes", i.e. geoengineering.   The group dictating the marching orders the National Academy, the Royal Society, and various conservative think tanks are marching to at the moment is:  "major energy, aerospace and defence industries", i.e. I presume they imply Exxon-Mobil, Haliburton, and what, Boeing?  

Hence, the ETC feels fully justified using their label for all this: "geopiracy", and all who read their argument will now oppose it, presumably.  

What else could I assume but that ETC presents this argument as entertainment?  I had no idea they were serious.  (I may have had an inkling...)

Perhaps "JimETC" will respond with some evidence.  How about some email records of the key communications between Rex Tillerson and Ralph Cicerone?    

On Sunday, October 21, 2012 9:23:04 PM UTC-7, JimETC wrote:
Obviously this is patently silly. ETC Group are not a party to  UNFCCC and if continuing to use air travel constitutes some sort of breach of a UN convention then many people and groups on this list are  also 'in breach' .  So is the IPCC etc etc.  Also didn't there used to be some sort of moderation rule on this list about 'no ad hominem attacks'??? Andrew: what happened to that?
Jim Thomas
ETC Group.

On Oct 21, 2012, at 5:36 PM, David Lewis wrote:

The ETC group is "blatantly violating" an international convention....

The ETC group, <a href="">as their website says</a>, consists of "nine staff members and nine board members scattered over five continents".  Many wonder when these 18 people will finally confess what their combined greenhouse gas "footprint" is.  

Speculation persists that the total tonnage of GHG emitted in a single year by these ETC members may be massive, i.e. it may exceed the amount of material involved in what ETC has been denouncing as the "world's largest geoengineering deployment", i.e. the 100 tonne BC Haida ocean fertilization project.  If the total lifecycle GHG emissions of the ETC group are considered, the tonnage must dwarf what's involved in this Haida project.  

Experts agree that "the ETC effect", i.e. increasing the GHG concentration in the atmosphere, will add to the forces driving global climate change and ocean acidification.  By aggravating the widespread disruption of regional and global ecosystems which the expansion of civilization is already causing, the changing climate and the acidifying ocean are diminishing global biodiversity.  As the areas most suitable for crop growing and for where people want to live change location, military analysts have concluded, tension of the type that has led in the past to conflict between human groups up to and including war between nation states will increase.  

There is less agreement about "the Haida effect", i.e. what the ultimate effect of fertilizing the ocean is.  One reason some scientists call for experimentation of the type conducted by the Haida is to find out if this type of activity might reduce what "the ETC effect" causes.  

Some say that the ETC attack on the Haida is a stunt designed to divert public attention away from their own questionable activities which have been going on for a very long time.  

Consider how the two groups behave.  The Haida are acting as if they have nothing to hide:  they publicly applied their possibly one time application of ocean fertilizer in the full light of day on an ocean they knew was under constant satellite surveillance.   But consider the "egregious eighteen", the members of the ETC, who hide away in their offices and homes constantly emitting silent but deadly dangerous gases day after day and year after year.

The members of the ETC know how serious adding greenhouse gases to the planetary system is.  Their ongoing refusal to stop their emissions must be taken to mean that they are, at best, blatantly ignoring the principal objective of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, i.e.: "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system", "within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally...."  

Some of these ETC members, i.e Executive Director Pat Mooney, have known about the link between GHG and climate change since 1988.  Has Mooney been geoengineering the climate for decades in order to intentionally make climate change worse as part of some diabolical or perverse plan only he can understand?

On Saturday, October 20, 2012 11:01:46 AM UTC-7, Josh Horton wrote:
Circling back to Ken's original question, given what we know it seems pretty clear that the Haida experiment did violate both the CBD and LC/LP.

CBD Decision IX/16(C)(4) explicitly prohibits any research "used for generating and selling carbon offsets or any other commercial purposes."

Resolution LC/LP.1 (2008) explicitly prohibits any research that has not "been assessed and found acceptable under the assessment framework."

George and his company have had a week to make their case, including a press conference yesterday, and have neither denied the commercial aspect of the test, nor shown that approval was granted under the LC/LP Assessment Framework.

Josh Horton

On Monday, October 15, 2012 12:38:16 PM UTC-4, Ken Caldeira wrote:
It would be useful if any legal minds in the group would assess exactly the relevant language that Russ George has supposedly violated.

I recall that in negotiations under the London Convention / London Protocol, there was concern not to impact fish farms which of course supply copious nutrients to surrounding waters.

If my recollection was correct, somebody proposed an exception for mariculture. I piped up and said that all ocean fertilization could be considered mariculture and that the CO2 storage could be regarded as a co-benefit, achieved knowingly but not intentionally (just as when we drive a car we knowingly heat the planet although that is not our intent).

My recollection was that in response to this comment, the word 'conventional' was added to the language, so that it now reads:

"Ocean fertilization does not include conventional aquaculture, or mariculture, .. ".   

Resolution LC-LP.1(2008) - IMO

Incidentally, it seems that they have a misplaced comma, as I believe the word 'conventional' was meant to apply to both 'aquaculture'' and 'mariculture', but with the placement of the comma, I read this as 'conventional aquaculture' or 'mariculture'.  I am not enough of a lawyer to know whether the intended meaning or the literal meaning is the one likely to prevail under some sort of adjudication process.


It is interesting to see the level of interest that intentional ocean fertilization draws relative to, say, nutrients added to the ocean as a result of farm runoff or inadequately processed sewage. We are very sensitive to the intent with which actions are conducted, and are willing to overlook travesties caused in the normal course of business so that we can focus on physically insignificant acts where the presumed intentions do not meet our high ethical standards.

We do not choose to focus on problems based on an objective appraisal of threats posed, but rather largely based on which actions we find to be most ethically repugnant. Apparently, dumping raw sewage simply to save the cost of sewage processing is less repugnant than fertilizing the ocean in hopes of increasing fish yields. One suspects that the real ethical boundary that Russ George is inferred to have transgressed is the desire to personally profit from unconventional mariculture.

Ken Caldeira

Carnegie Institution for Science 
Dept of Global Ecology
260 Panama Street, Stanford, CA 94305 USA
+1 650 704 7212  @kencaldeira

Our YouTube videos

On Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 7:08 AM, M V Bhaskar <> wrote:

One view is that fertilizing to grow / restore fish is NOT prohibited under LC / LP

Pl see the presentation by Dr David Schnare 

Geoengineering and the Four Climate Change Truths:
Perspectives of a Lawyer-Scientist
A Presentation at the
Research Triangle Institute, International 
November 18, 2008
Slide 59


         The London Convention / London Protocol: You may fertilize if the intent is to grow fish but not if the intent is to dispose of carbon in the ocean.  Hence, focus on “restoration”.

The Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation seems to aim at restoring the Salmon population.



On Monday, 15 October 2012 17:03:21 UTC+5:30, andrewjlockley wrote:

Pacific iron fertilisation is 'blatant violation' of international regulations

Controversial US businessman's geoengineering scheme off west coast of Canada contravenes two UN conventions

A controversial American businessman dumped around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean as part of a geoengineering scheme off the west coast of Canada in July, a Guardian investigation can reveal.Lawyers, environmentalists and civil society groups are calling it a "blatant violation" of two international moratoria and the news is likely to spark outrage at a United Nations environmental summit taking place in India this week.Satellite images appear to confirm the claim by Californian Russ George that the iron has spawned an artificial plankton bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometres. The intention is for the plankton to absorb carbon dioxide and then sink to the ocean bed – a geoengineering technique known as ocean fertilisation that he hopes will net lucrative carbon credits.George is the former chief executive of Planktos Inc, whose previous failed efforts to conduct large-scale commercial dumps near the Galapagos and Canary Islands led to his vessels being barred from ports by the Spanish and Ecuadorean governments. The US Environmental Protection Agency warned him that flying a US flag for his Galapagos project would violate US laws, and his activities are credited in part to the passing of international moratoria at the United Nations limiting ocean fertilisation experimentsScientists are debating whether iron fertilisation can lock carbon into the deep ocean over the long term, and have raised concerns that it can irreparably harm ocean ecosystems, produce toxic tides and lifeless waters, and worsen ocean acidification and global warming."It is difficult if not impossible to detect and describe important effects that we know might occur months or years later," said John Cullen , an oceanographer at Dalhousie University. "Some possible effects, such as deep-water oxygen depletion and alteration of distant food webs, should rule out ocean manipulation. History is full of examples of ecological manipulations that backfired."George says his team of unidentified scientists has been monitoring the results of what may be the biggest ever geoengineering experiment with equipment loaned from US agencies like Nasa and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. He told the Guardian that it is the "most substantial ocean restoration project in history," and has collected a "greater density and depth of scientific data than ever before"."We've gathered data targeting all the possible fears that have been raised [about ocean fertilisation]," George said. "And the news is good news, all around, for the planet."The dump took place from a fishing boat in an eddy 200 nautical miles west of the islands of Haida Gwaii, one of the world's most celebrated, diverse ecosystems, where George convinced the local council of an indigenous village to establish the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation to channel more than $1m of its own funds into the project.The president of the Haida nation, Guujaaw, said the village was told the dump would environmentally benefit the ocean, which is crucial to their livelihood and culture."The village people voted to support what they were told was a 'salmon enhancement project' and would not have agreed if they had been told of any potential negative effects or that it was in breach of an international convention," Guujaaw said.International legal experts say George's project has contravened the UN's convention on biological diversity (CBD) and London convention on the dumping of wastes at sea, which both prohibit for-profit ocean fertilisation activities."It appears to be a blatant violation of two international resolutions," said Kristina M Gjerde, a senior high seas adviser for the International Union for Conservation of Nature. "Even the placement of iron particles into the ocean, whether for carbon sequestration or fish replenishment, should not take place, unless it is assessed and found to be legitimate scientific research without commercial motivation. This does not appear to even have had the guise of legitimate scientific research."George told the Guardian that the two moratoria are a "mythology" and do not apply to his project.The parties to the UN CBD are currently meeting in Hyderabad, India, where the governments of Bolivia, the Philippines and African nations as well as indigenous peoples are calling for the current moratorium to be upgraded to a comprehensive test ban of geoengineering that includes enforcement mechanisms."If rogue geoengineer Russ George really has misled this indigenous community, and dumped iron into their waters, we hope to see swift legal response to his behavior and strong action taken to the heights of the Canadian and US governments," said Silvia Ribeiro of the international technology watchdog ETC Group, which first discovered the existence of the scheme. "It is now more urgent than ever that governments unequivocally ban such open-air geoengineering experiments. They are a dangerous distraction providing governments and industry with an excuse to avoid reducing fossil fuel emissions.

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "geoengineering" group.
To view this discussion on the web visit

To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "geoengineering" group.
To view this discussion on the web visit
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at

Jim Thomas
ETC Group (Montreal)
+1 514 2739994