Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ocean Scientists Warn of Mass Extinction, Call for CDR

The International Program on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), a group of marine scientists and other ocean experts, has released a report warning that climate change and other stressors are driving the oceans to the brink of disaster. Echoing another recent study (see Hurtling Toward the Sixth Mass Extinction, 3/6), the IPSO authors conclude that "Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our activities are at a high risk of causing, through the combined effects of climate change, overexploitation, pollution and habitat loss, the next globally significant extinction event in the ocean" (p. 7). One action they reportedly recommend is to move forward with research on CDR geoengineering, although they rule out iron fertilization on grounds that this technique would exacerbate ocean acidification (in the available summary report, IPSO calls only for "significantly increased measures for mitigation of atmospheric CO2" (p. 8), but a full report with more specific recommendations is due shortly).

The release of this report is timed to coincide with an UNCLOS meeting currently taking place in New York. It also happens to coincide with the IPCC geoengineering meeting now underway in Peru, as well as a CBD geoengineering meeting scheduled for next week in London. Hopefully these IPSO findings will influence deliberations at these gatherings by underscoring the urgent need for research on possible geoengineering strategies.

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