I recently noticed on a friends climate change web site he speaks favourably of OIF ‘ocean iron fertilization’.
That he is a kindred spirit in understanding the vital role of ocean pastures is a sign of the rising tide of recognition for this important field.
However I wrote to him about his unfortunate choice of words/moniker for the work of restoring those greatly impacted vital ecosystems.
Here’s my letter to my good friend and kindred spirit.
I write to you to talk about how you refer to Ocean Iron Fertilization (OIF) as a positive, even vital, part of climate action. It involves the replenishment of trace amounts of natural iron that humanities fossil fool age has denied the oceans plankton pastures. As a result of our CO2 driven denial of natural mineral dust to sustain the ocean pastures they are dying off at an incredible rate.
In a context most will understand the die off of ocean plant life is equal to the eradication of an entire Amazon Rainforest in every five year period starting at least as far back as the 1960’s. The world is in dismay and alarm at the loss of just 1/5th of the Amazon Rainforest but it isn’t willing to be concerned for the loss of a dozen entire Amazon’s of plant ecosystem life and biodiversity equivalents in the oceans in the past 60 years.
While I thank you for bringing attention to this work the use of the word ‘fertilization’ needs some attention. To refer to replacement of something taken away from nature is hardly akin to ‘fertilization’. The words ‘iron fertilization’ to described this concept has been the meme that has been foisted upon this field of eco-restoration to twist, demean, and diminish it. This inaccurate phrase is meant to create doubt and fear in the minds of the public by those with political and economic intent on preventing this vital work from seeing the light of day.
It is so absolutely vital to the continuation of life as we know it on this blue planet that we keep the vital role of ocean pastures active and in ‘the light of day.’
To describe this eco-restoraton work as ‘fertilization’ is a widespread devious ploy that has come to mean and make this vital restorative work seem like some sort of un-natural human intervention, aka geo-engineering, fertilization. When one speaks or reads of ‘fertilization’ the context of is in terms of what we human’s / terran’s are familiar with on earth.
On earth we spread vast amounts of fertilizers onto lands and into environments with the intent and effect of raising concentration of nitrates and phosphates by tens of parts per million and more in the soils and subsequently into the waters that flow from those soils. There is a long history of this being a dubious fertilization enterprise with a plethora of environmental ills and political debate surrounding it. The act of fertilization deserves some environmental concern.
But it is simply wrong to use this language when speaking of replenishment of minuscule amounts of iron in the oceans where we seek to replace what we have stolen from the natural cycle. Our work results in returning the natural concentration of iron in concentration to levels amounting to tens of parts per trillion. Note this is a million times less than what humanity achieves with the ‘fertilizers’ we apply to our pastures on land to keep them productive. Words have the power to deceive.
Not the entire of the world’s oceans
An added spin in the phrase ‘OIF’ is that the use of the broad all encompassing term ‘OCEAN’ associated with ‘iron fertilization’ as this is used in such a manner as to infer that the whole of the world’s singular oceans might be intended to be replenished with iron in some impossibly global ‘geoengineering’ enterprise. Nothing could be further from the truth, but in this age of ‘fake news’ that fakery doesn’t even merit a mention on most circles.
The only potential and utility for mineral micro-nutrient replenishment on behalf of ocean eco-restoration lies in targeting such work in micro-environments, I call these ocean pastures. It is only feasible and indeed only necessary to target the nano-mineral replenishment work to a small subset of ocean ecosystems that are my ‘ocean pastures.’ But the generic OIF inference is that a global ocean wide willy nilly spreading/replenishment of iron/minerals is the plan and this spin mastering of words engenders fear in readers. Those fears are being created and sustained by the manipulative and downright wrongful use of language that has been spin-mastered into this meme.
You should revise your web materials to stop using the anti-iron replenishment cabals spin mastered term ‘ocean iron fertilization’ the continued use of that negative insures that your readers will be smitten by the gut level misdirection of their attention and concern.
A plethora of benefits
On another side to your apt and helpful description of the use of mineral micronutrient replenishment of ocean pastures you’ve missed discussing the broader range of positive effects that result from this vital eco-restoration work. While the regrowth of ocean phytoplankton is one obvious effect it is not merely a singular effect or result. The repurposing of CO2 into replenished and restored ocean life measuring in the billions of tonnes of CO2e is surely a major positive restoration result that will help save the planet but the role of ocean pasture plankton blooms doesn’t stop there.
Bringing the fish back is a stupendous beneficial restorative effect on behalf of all of nature, humankind included. It is likely that the billions of additional and sustainable fish that will swim into the nets and onto the plates of people everywhere will be one of the greatest tools to ending world hunger and malnutrition. However please do not think of fish as merely something we humans get to eat, neither they nor we are freeloaders on this blue planet.
The most vital role of fish and all the other grazers of ocean pastures is that they are the very active caring and sustaining shepherds of their pastures. They reprocess and recycle the inventory of nutrients in their pasture to keep it blooming as long as naturally possible. When one pasture has seen its bloom cycle complete, and it must lie fallow to recover like all pastures, the ‘farmers’ of that pasture migrate to the next pasture.
The power of the trillions of fins, flippers, and feet of this blue planets ocean pasture shepherds is by far the single greatest energy of stirring that exists in their ocean. That stirring when in balance which it no longer is, keeps the great heat sink that is the blue part of this planet functioning.
Starve and shut off the heat sink circulation as we have done with our denial of minerals to the ocean and the system is going to overheat and go into a ‘root level’ operating system re-boot… Life will be just fine when version Blue 2.0 evolves following the big blue screen of death re-boot, it will just take the usual many hundreds of millions of years to do so… We and our grandchildren will be long gone.
And the saga of the ocean pastures continues.
Ocean pastures and their blooming plankton are the primary source of clouds on this blue planet and the cloud sustaining work of healthy ocean pastures is today dramatically diminished. This may be the single most potent harm done to the climate of this planet its potency certainly far exceeds ‘radiative forcing and global warming’ by CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Restoring the ocean pastures will restore cloudiness and indeed those plankton formed clouds are the whitest and brightest of all clouds so they were and can be again in fact the greatest part of earthly albedo, now greatly diminished do to loss of the ocean blooms. The return of the blooms will result in the immediate return of massive amounts of immediate earth cooling albedo.
But ocean clouds also act more powerfully than merely being reflective albedo on the other side of the reflective white clouds, that is sending sunlight and heat back into space, is the immediate cooling shading effect that the clouds have on the warming oceans. Which effect is more vital to life on this planet is a question but I maintain that it is the ocean cooling effect that is most vital.
Let’s also not forget yet another role of marine clouds, they are largely if not solely responsible for recycling water from the 72% of this planet that is ocean into rain that falls. The precipitation that falls in the ocean is not so important compared to that which falls on land save when those marine clouds deposit their precipitation as snow in the polar ocean regions in winter where that plankton initiated and controlled snowfall becomes another vital part of earthly albedo.
All of these benefits of the work to replenish to the oceans with the mineral micronutrients our modern age has denied the oceans is the most inexpensive effective and immediate means to working in harmony with Mother Ocean and her sister Mother Nature. In doing so we help empower the sisters ability to harvest the unlimited amount of solar energy that is available freely to ocean photosynthesis. About that photosynthesis…
Clean Green Energy
Don’t forget the 2nd law of Thermodynamics and its over-lord command of the CO2 from the use of the energy of all of the fossil fuel already burned to make CO2. We must, according to the 2nd Thermo-law, use an equal amount of energy to reverse the CO2 producing reaction and deleterious results we have been imposing on this planet for a century and more.
ONLY the clean free energy of photosynthesis, and ONLY the vast areas afforded by ocean pastures as the location of that solar energy harvesting can conceivably be used to reverse the chemistry performed to make the CO2 that is killing ocean photosynthesis first and foremost. It is the law.
Sure human engineers can muster their ideas and manpower to try to use expensive energy to save the world from our yesterday’s lethal overdose of CO2 but the energy required must be considered in the engineered methods to be deployed. The planet simply cannot afford to wait while humans argue and compete over who gets to manage that energy money.
The greatest threat to the planet is waiting for someone else to save it.
We Bring Back The Fish – www.russgeorge.net