The Canadian government knew about—but failed to prevent—an illegal geoengineering scheme that scientists say could worsen global warming.
In July, California businessman Russ George and partner John Disney dumped 100 tons of iron sulphate into the Pacific ocean about 200 nautical miles west of the islands of Haida Gwaii, “one of the world’s most celebrated, diverse ecosystems,” The Guardian reported Monday.
The iron spawned an artificial plankton bloom as large as 10,000 square meters, and was “in blatant violation of two international resolutions,” a senior high seas advisor for the International Union for Conservation of Nature said.
On Wednesday, The Guardian reported that it “has seen government correspondence which indicates that Environment Canada officers met with Disney’s company in June and expressed their misgiving about any ocean fertilisation going forward, but appear to not have taken further action.”
Environment Canada officials have refused to comment, according to The Guardian, saying instead that “the matter is currently under investigation.”
George told The Guardian, “Canadian government people have been helping us. We’ve had workshops run where we’ve been taught how to use satellites resources by the Canadian space agency. [The government] is trying to ‘cost-share’ with us on certain aspects of the project. And we are expecting lots more support as we go forward.”
John Disney, president of the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation, the company set up to spawn the 10,000-square-kilometer plankton bloom, said in an interview with Canadian radio that several Canadian government departments, including the Canadian Revenue Agency, the National Research Council, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada, all knew about the plan.
Allegations that he violated international resolutions Disney called “completely false.”
Jim Thomas of the watchdog NGO ETC Group said his organization understood that the company had no permission from the government.
However, Thomas noted that when rumors of the scene began to circulate at the Convention on Biological Diversity taking place this week in Hyderabad, India, the Canadian government “seemed embarassed. We haven’t had a very clear answer from them yet, about whether they knew about this ahead of time or about whether they took any action about it.”
Thomas said the impact of the bloom remains to be seen, as there has never been a bloom this large.
He’s more sure that “there needs to be swift action against Russ George and his company.”