Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Enforcement for Geoengineering Violations? With what? The Science Army?

I'm shocked, appalled, despondent, and depressed at this story about some asshole running a scam on innocent people to take their money to pollute the ocean.
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.... 
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.
Anybody besides me remember what happened when oceanographers tested iron fertilization? Using ordinary grant money with an honest explanation of what they really wanted to do? When iron ceased to be a limiter in the ocean chemistry there was the expected algae bloom that sequestered carbon, but it also caused a shift in the distribution of plankton in favor of one that released a strong toxin that killed all the fish. It pretty much convinced all oceanographers that iron fertilization was off the table. No point in even testing it further because it does so much harm.

And then this ass goes and does this.
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."
The problem with highly motivated psychopaths like this is they have no compunction about ruining the ecosystem, stealing money from people, and breaking the law. But the people that want them to stop have to worry about all those things. And often they are ineffectual little wimps to boot.

It reminds me of working for the Bureau of Beaches for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. There are unambiguous laws against building walls on the beach. In the rare event they give a special permit to build a wall it has to be a certain kind of wall. This is spelled out plainly in only two pages or so of regulations. So when I found a condominium complex building a wall out of dry stacked concrete blocks backfilled with gravel I immediately called the enforcement officer. I sent him pictures and expected to see the Sheriff roll up while I waited to stop the contractor and tell the men stacking the blocks to start shoveling up the gravel instead and get it all off the beach. None of it is "beach compatible material." It all has to go. Instead the enforcement officer in Tallahassee did nothing. They finished building the wall, using $1mil of the homeowner's money. For a blatantly illegal wall. I felt helpless and frustrated and miserable every week when I took pictures to document the progress.

The example was set that the State of Florida is unable to enforce it's own laws. Anybody walking on that beach would know they could do anything they wanted and get away with it, as long as they had money.
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 organizations are calling for the current moratorium to be upgraded to a comprehensive test ban of geoengineering that includes enforcement mechanisms.
How in the hell am I supposed to be reassured that the UN is going to be able to enforce something like "no dumping iron" on the high seas when Florida can't do it right where officers with guns in cars with lights drive by several times a day?! Is there going to be a budget for drones to patrol the Pacific Ocean? Are they going to drop sondes that can tell ordinary sewage which ships are allowed to dump at will from an insidious experiment?

I'm having a very disappointing day. I only got on the computer again this afternoon to look at pictures of baby platypuses to try to cheer myself up. I imagine they feel like the ears of Labrador Retrievers. I can't fix the world today, must go to my happy place....

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