Profitable Climate Fixes Are Too Tempting for Rogue Geoengineers to Resist

It is the politics of climate change – not the science of geoengineering – that has created the opportunity for controversial iron dump.

MCG Images 2/Flickr

It was only a matter of time before somebody broke the fragile social and political consensus surrounding geoengineering, and had a first crack at “experiment Earth”.

The news that American businessman Russ George has dumped 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to fertilise algal blooms that absorb carbon dioxide, was received with justified indignation and outrage by campaigners and mainstream scientists. But there have been rumblings (and rumours of shadowy trials) for many years, and the idea of being a “geoengineer” was always going to prove tempting for the likes of George (who is blacklisted at several international ports for previous algae-related misdemeanours).

Geoengineering – the possibility of using large-scale technologies to counteract the effects of climate change – has arrived. The question is, are we ready for it?

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The Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The partners are The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Slate, and Wired.