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Climos Developing Carbon-Offset Tool with Ocean Plankton

Climos mitigate climate change with carbon-dioxide-absorbing plankton in oceans

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California water conservation runoff to ocean Climos is a new California green tech company that says it can mitigate climate change by putting small amounts of iron in the ocean to spur the growth of carbon-dioxide-absorbing plankton.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Dan Whaley, CEO, calls ocean iron fertilization a meaningful mitigation tool to fight climate change. Climos is entering the growing carbon-offset market, in which companies like Climos sell credits to companies that produce pollution to make up for their greenhouse-gas emissions.

Some environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, have questioned what added iron might do to oceans and their inhabitants.

The company's initial mitigation focus, a technique known as Ocean Iron Fertilization (OIF). OIF applies trace amounts of iron to the deep ocean surface, which greatly enhances phytoplankton growth and ultimately sequesters atmospheric carbon dioxide into the deep ocean through the action of the "biological pump". OIF mimics the process of natural iron fertilization, in which hundreds of millions of tons of iron are deposited annually to the oceans from airborne dust storms and continental erosion. Over millions of years, natural iron fertilization has resulted in the concentration of the majority of the world's mobile carbon into the deep ocean.

Whaley contends that their research finds this happens naturally, and about 85 percent of the world's carbon is stored in the deep ocean. Adding iron will make more carbon storage possible.

The $3.5 million initial funding will allow Climos to fund an Environmental Impact Assessment, a series of science workshops together with major research organizations, and an application for international permits to support a subsequent initial demonstration.

Climos' funding comes from Braemar Energy Ventures of New York and Elon Musk, a longtime friend of Whaley and chairman of Tesla Motors in San Carlos as well as Space Exploration Technologies.

Dennis Costello, Managing Director for Braemar added, "Climos represents one of the most interesting investments in Braemar's history. While OIF has been well researched over the past twenty years by some of the world's top scientists, no private company has been able to combine the scientific expertise with the business management skills that Dan has assembled with his team. They have created a strong business plan for advancing this technology while addressing the questions surrounding it, which led to our funding of the company."

Science at Climos is overseen by Chief Science Officer Dr. Margaret Leinen, most recently the Assistant Director, Geosciences at the National Science Foundation, where she managed a $700M budget, the world's largest in Geosciences. Dr. Leinen is a PhD Oceanographer with a research focus in Biogeochemistry and Paleoceanography. She was recently voted chair elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) section on Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences at the AAAS 2008 Annual Meeting in Boston.

Climos sees the oceans as having tremendous potential for affordable carbon sequestration. Ocean microorganisms, such as phytoplankton, are very good at absorbing carbon ... and "the real estate is free, plankton are super-easy to grow and they bury themselves by sinking to the ocean bottom."

Countries are increasingly demanding that pollution-causing industries buy carbon credits. And some green-oriented companies voluntarily buy credits such as Google, Yahoo and Nike - to offset carbon they produce in their effort to become carbon-neutral.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: It was brought to our attention by a reader that Climos' technology is meeting with resistance from climate change scientists: "A new crop of geo-engineering companies with names like Planktos, Ocean Nourishment Corporation and Atmocean, are hoping to make a great deal of money from ‘carbon credits’, awarded for encouraging the growth of phytoplankton in the oceans which they claim will ‘sequester’ or store carbon dioxide.

Despite the fact that ocean scientists, including the International Panel on Climate Change, have warned that this technology is potentially dangerous to ocean ecosystems, unlikely to sequester much carbon dioxide, and has the potential to increase levels of other dangerous greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide and methane, the companies are proceeding with their schemes . . .

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) delegates were clearly unpersuaded by Climos’s slick presentation. On 9 November they announced their decision: ocean fertilization is scientifically unjustified and in contravention of international agreements on dumping toxic waste."

SOURCE: New Internationalist, A communications co-operative NEWINT.ORG

Additional Resources on Ocean CO2 Sequestration

International Maritime Organization

IMO is the United Nations' specialized agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships.

CO2 Capture and Storage

This website provides a collection of resources related to the capture and storage of CO2. Deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are required in order to meet the UNFCC goal of stabilising anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 capture and storage technology would be used in combination with the other mitigation measures (e.g. fuel switching, energy efficiency and renewable energy) to achieve these necessary reductions. The site is produced and maintained by the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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