New Internationalist

Planktos wiped out

July 2008

In January we reported that something fishy was going on with California-based corporation Planktos. The geo-engineering company was planning to release iron into the ocean in order to build up phytoplankton stocks – which would, they claimed, help store carbon dioxide and allow them to sell carbon credits as a result. Scientists and environmental groups voiced deep concern about the possible ecological impact of dumping iron particles in the sea and questioned the scientific basis for such action.

Sadly for Planktos, but thankfully for everyone else, the tide has now turned. Having lost an estimated $2.6 billion since its start-up nine years ago, Planktos has now shut up shop, selling off its assets, closing down its website (‘for maintenance’), getting rid of its CEO and stating that it has indefinitely suspended its business plans.

Planktos blames ‘ideological hostility to and misrepresentations [of our work]’ for its demise. Its press release states that ‘due to widespread opposition to plankton restoration in the environmental world, the Company has encountered serious difficulty in raising the capital needed to fund a series of ocean research trials’.

Despite winning this round, campaigners have little time to surf the wave of success. There remain big fish in these murky waters, not least another US corporation, Climos, which in March secured $3.5 million to go ahead with its own iron fertilization research.

This column was published in the July 2008 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 413

New Internationalist Magazine issue 413
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