U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s speech last week advocating painting rooftops and roadways white to reflect sunlight may be yet another attempt to test the international waters on the controversial subject of geoengineering. “We need an unequivocal statement from the White House that the U.S. Government is not green-lighting geoengineering in the run-up to Copenhagen,” said Pat Mooney, Executive Director of ETC Group, an Ottawa-based civil society organization monitoring new technologies.
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Vicky Schutte of Oakville, Ontario (Canada) took top honors today in ETC Group's international geo-engineering contest for her proposal to combat climate change by re-engineering the earth's orbit. Her idea is to nudge the planet further from the sun (and closer to Mars). In her entry, Schutte helpfully pointed out that expanding the earth's orbit would not only increase the distance between the earth and sun, thereby cooling the planet, but it would also take our birthdays longer to come around – climate salvation and fountain of youth all in one!
OTTAWA – Reports from an Associated Press interview with U.S. Chief Science Advisor John Holdren claiming that the White House could now be taking a serious look at geo-engineering – including the radical proposal to shoot nanoparticles of sulphate into the earth’s atmosphere – are causing alarm around the world. “If this is somebody's trial balloon to test Obama's acceptance of geo-engineering, the White House should shoot it down immediately,” says Pat Mooney, executive director of ETC Group, an Ottawa-based civil society organization that has been monitoring geo-engineering technologies since 2006. Geo-engineering refers to large-scale, intentional manipulations of the planet's climate and other systems.
An international declaration was launched by 147 organisations opposing the growing hype and political support for Biochar. The groups signing the declaration "strongly oppose the inclusion of soils in carbon trade and offset mechanisms, including in the Clean Development Mechanism.” The groups further assert that ," the ‘biochar’ initiative fails to address the root causes of climate change.” 
We are grateful that the Royal Society is willing to accept a submission at this late stage in its proceedings. We regard this submission as an urgent matter, for we are alarmed at the apparent emergence of an "official view", most recently articulated by the UK House of Commons Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills, which is prepared to sanction real-world geoengineering experiments despite complete absence of any global rules or regulations. We find that emerging view complacent, irresponsible and dangerous. This short note outlines six points on the question of geoengineering governance that no study concerned with policy-making in this critical area should ignore:
OTTAWA, Canada –More than 80 civil society organizations (CSOs) from 20 countries sent a sharp message to scientists meeting in Copenhagen, by releasing a joint statement initiated at the World Social Forum in Belém, Brazil: “The Better World we seek is not Geo-engineered.” The statement is being released as a small group of scientists, using a high-profile platform at a climate-science meeting in Copenhagen1 , are ratcheting up pressure on governments to support and fund real world geo-engineering experiments. ETC Group, a Canadian-based international CSO, is releasing the statement, which focuses on ocean fertilization, one of the most controversial geo-engineering technologies. The groups assert that “Ocean fertilization and other unjust and high risk geo-engineering schemes are the wrong answer to the challenge of global climate change.”
This statement was initiated at the World Social Forum in Belém, Brazil in January 2009. ETC Group released it on March 10, 2009 on the eve of a geo-engineering panel at the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions.
Since the World Social Forum last met in Nairobi in January 2007, civil society organizations from around the globe have confronted an alarming new threat to our rights and biodiversity: the threat of unjust and high risk geo-engineering schemes and specifically ocean fertilization. We are facing off against several multimillion-dollar private and government-backed projects that aim to re-engineer our climate and oceans. We will soon face other attempts to intentionally alter our soils, deserts and other ecosystems on a large scale in the name of climate protection and profit-making, including the lucrative carbon trade.
With less than a month left (March 2009) to enter ETC Group’s Pie-in-the-Sky contest, people from all over the world are sending in their outlandish ideas to re-engineer the planet so it (and we) can survive climate change.
Some professional geo-engineers have real designs in the works to manipulate the earth, sea and atmosphere on a large scale – to make carbon disappear, to keep sunlight from hitting the earth and, of course, to profit from the carbon market. They're a busy bunch: pleading their case in the press and at meetings of international environmental bodies; dumping iron particles from ships to “fertilize” the ocean; applying for monopoly patents on schemes to increase the carbon-sequestering capacity of plants by applying proprietary insecticides(!)1; and publishing articles in influential journals declaring that now is the time to “take geo-engineering out of the closet.”
The first ever “Pie-in-the-Sky” contest for the wackiest geoengineering scheme to combat global warming is taking off just as controversial planetary techno-fixes are heating up.
Click here to download the full-color print-quality poster by Stig, which includes contest details and an illustration of a “pie-in-the-sky” launch, ETC's own geoengineering bright idea. You don't need to take a workshop to join the latest DIY (Do-It-Yourself) craze! Now you can geo-engineer the great outdoors – all of it! Geo-engineering is the intentional manipulation of earth, oceans and atmosphere to stop climate change.
ETC Group joined the chorus of voices, including the German Environment Ministry, expressing its deep regret at the decision of the German Minister of Research to re-authorize the controversial LOHAFEX ocean fertilization expedition. Researchers on board the German vessel RV Polarstern have now begun dumping 6 tons of iron sulphate over 300 square kilometers of open ocean in the Scotia Sea (east of Argentina) to artificially prompt the growth of a large plankton bloom. It will be one of the largest ocean fertilization experiments to date.
A controversial climate-engineering expedition – flying the German flag – set sail from South Africa, in defiance of a United Nations agreement signed by 191 nations and brokered by Germany last May. In response, civil society groups are calling on governments and United Nations to take action.
ETC Group and our allies in Germany, India and South Africa reported on an Indo-German research expedition, codenamed LOHAFEX, which was about to breach the global moratorium on ocean fertilisation established through the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).(2) The LOHAFEX researchers plan to spread 6 tonnes of iron sulphate (in earlier statements, they said they had 20 tonnes of iron sulphate)(3) over a 300 square kilometre patch of ocean, in order to spur phytoplankton growth. This "ocean fertilization" experiment is just one example of proposed technologies to intentionally alter the climate, known collectively as geo-engineering. By targeting the high seas, the LOHAFEX researchers are clearly breaching the terms of the CBD moratorium.(4)
At the beginning of this week, ETC Group learned that the RV Polarstern, a German research ship with a crew of 32 geo-engineers was about to leave Cape Town in South Africa for a 70-day voyage to Punta Arenas in Chile. Their aim is to dump iron sulphate in 300 square kilometres of the Scotia Sea off the coast of Argentina. This is part of an ocean fertilization experiment, code named LOHAFEX, that is co-sponsored by the Indian and German governments.
Stalled at the eleventh hour by three isolated countries that are attempting to block consensus, most of the world’s environment ministries and others are on the brink of reaching agreement on a worldwide moratorium on commercial ocean fertilization – controversial proposals to dump nutrients in the ocean to artificially alter the climate. The three blocking countries, Australia, China and Brazil have spent several days manipulating the process to avoid discussion and prevent progress, much to the exasperation of delegates and observers. The clock runs out on negotiations at 6pm today (30. May 2008).
Today (21. May 2008) the world learned which corporations, governments, institutions and individuals earned a spot in biopiracy’s hall of shame when the Coalition Against Biopiracy (CAB) announced the winners of the 5th Captain Hook Awards at a lunch-time ceremony during the Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Bonn, Germany.
As the ninth meeting of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) draws to a close in Bonn, Germany the world’s governments are set to unanimously agree a wide-ranging “de-facto moratorium” on ocean fertilization activities. This first-ever global decision on a geo-engineering technology should spell the end of commercial plans to sequester carbon dioxide by dumping nutrients into the open ocean. Nonetheless, one ocean fertilization company, Climos Inc. of San Francisco, appears to be moving full steam ahead in defiance of international consensus.
“The message from the UN Biodiversity Convention is clear. The world does not want commercial ocean fertilization and companies like Climos should be looking for another occupation,” says Pat Mooney, Executive Director of ETC Group, who is in Bonn at the negotiations. “Ocean fertilization could lead to toxic tides, lifeless waters and disrupted ecosystems and livelihoods. There is unanimous agreement among the 191 countries here that it is absolutely the wrong way to tackle climate change.”
An intergovernmental scientific committee of the London Convention on ocean dumping agreed at its closing plenary in Spain, to a tough consensus “statement of concern” warning that iron fertilization of ocean surfaces – as an attempt at commercial carbon sequestration – has environmental risks and lacks scientific evidence of effectiveness. The statement was triggered by news that Planktos, Inc. a for-profit enterprise with offices in San Francisco, Budapest, and Vancouver is about to dump 100 tons of iron nanoparticles over a 10,000 km² stretch of Pacific Ocean in the vicinity of the Galapagos Islands. The company’s goal is to sell carbon offsets on the unproven assumption that the phytoplankton bloom created by the iron dumping could lead to the permanent sequestration of CO2 greenhouse gases. “Its a very strong statement – literally an emergency call for the full London Convention [of the International Maritime Organization] to take up the threat of ocean geoengineering when governments convene in London this November 5-9,” says Jim Thomas of ETC Group, en route to Europe. “By publicizing the scientific body’s concern now, governments are bluntly warning companies that there could be national and international regulatory repercussions from commercial iron dumping.” Planktos has already been advised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that commercial iron dumping by a U.S. flagged ship could be in violation of EPA rules. In response, the company has told US officials that it will either find another flag or another ship. Although the company has said that it intends to dump 100 tons of iron particles in a stretch of ocean somewhere near the Galapagos Islands this month, the whereabouts of its vessel, the Weatherbird II, is not clear and ETC Group believes the boat to still be docked at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Claiming to protect the planet from greenhouse gases, geo-engineer, Planktos, Inc., is poised to dump iron in waters off the Galapagos Islands and thumbing its nose at the International Maritime Organization and the US government
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) London Convention (dealing with ocean dumping) should urgently launch investigations into the activities of Planktos, Inc., a private climate-engineering firm, according to ETC Group (Ottawa, Canada) and the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA - Washington, DC). The two civil society organizations believe that the company may soon begin dumping iron particles in an 100 km. by 100 km. expanse of ocean near the Galapagos islands – if it has not already begun. Planktos may also have violated the U.S. Ocean Dumping Act during iron dumping experiments carried out in 2002. ICTA and ETC Group submitted a formal request to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency early today even as IMO member governments meet in Spain to consider the legality of such high-risk geoengineering experiments. The letter to EPA is available here.