The latest news on the climate change front is that those melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland actually, by melting, aid in reducing the effects of climate change. Which is an interesting little thing we can pick up from our observation of the natural world around us. The reason is that the water, as it gushes over the rock underlying the ice, picks up a certain amount of iron. And we also know that there are areas of the oceans which do not have enough iron to sustain life (much of the deep ocean is actually a "desert" in that is has next to no life at all). So, iron in meltwater meets iron deficient areas, plankton blooms and some of that sinks to the ocean floor to, in time, become the sort of rock that Beachy Head is made out of.
Huge amounts of dissolved iron currently being released into the oceans from melting ice sheets might cancel out some of the negative effects of global warming, it has been claimed. A UK team has discovered that summer meltwaters from ice sheets are rich in iron. This can cause an increase in growth of phytoplankton - which capture carbon, they say.
This has all long been known to be possible, this is just a confirmation that it happens, through natural factors, more than we previously thought it did. But this poses another little problem. Chatting around to various scientists it's easy enough to find out that research has been done into artificially boosting the amount of iron that can be dumped into the oceans to create these blooms. And that it would be, in the words of one "ludicrously cheap" and could sequester, for geological time scsales, some 1 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Or about twice current UK emissions.
Quite seriously all that would be needed is a few ships tossing some ferrous sulphate over the side, something that any number of industrial processes would be delighted to give you for free.
Which leaves us with our little question, or perhaps two of them. Given that, from the political rhetoric at least, climate change is the most pressing problem of our times, a threat to our entire species, why was the last research into artificial boost to ocean iron levels this done a decade ago? And further, why would it be illegal to simply go out and do this? Who wants to stop a cheap and viable solution to at least some part of climate change and why?