A private company backed by a controversial U.S. businessman has unilaterally conducted the world’s most significant geoengineering project to date. Russ George, in conjunction with a First Nations village on Haida Gwaii, has dumped around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean in a technique known as ocean fertilization. The experiment, which is in violation of two United Nations moratoria, has outraged environmental, legal, and civic groups.
The iron sulphate was dumped into the Pacific back in July, but recent satellite images are now confirming its effects — an artificial plankton bloom that’s 10,000 square kilometers (3,861 square miles) in size. The intention of the project is for the plankton to absorb carbon dioxide and then sink to the bottom of the ocean. George is hoping to cash in on lucrative carbon credits.
To make the project happen, George convinced the local council of an indigenous village to establish the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation. He told them that the project would restore salmon populations, leading the First Nations people to channel more than $1m of its own money into the project.