The rogue geoengineering experiment off the coast of British Columbia has raised a lot of questions. The experimenters claim they did it to help the salmon fisheries. Critics say the lack of scientific rigor means we won’t learn much from this experiment.
The Haida Salmon Research Corporation dumped 100 tons of iron dust into an eddy off the coast of British Columbia in the summer. The intent was to induce a plankton bloom with the excess nutrients, which would then feed smaller fish that the salmon ultimately feed on.
The problem? The summer plankton bloom in that area is an annual phenomenon. The entire ecosystem is keyed to it. The plankton blooms, herring come to eat it, seabirds come to eat the herring. The plentiful food makes it the perfect time to hatch chicks.
Did the geoengineers increase the size of the plankton bloom? It’s hard to say. Right now, it just looks like the average plankton bloom for that time of year. The company website says this (October) is the eleventh month they’ve been working on this project, so it’s clear they didn’t take measurements of the plankton bloom last year to compare. Even if they had, scientists would need several years of data to know if it was the iron or some other factor that caused this particular plankton bloom.
Sea creatures of British Columbia photo via Shutterstock