As the war on global warming heats up, some scientists argue that meddling with the environment might be the only way to save it.
By Emily Masamitsu
Source: Popular Mechanics
Illustrations by BlandDesigns
Published in the June 2007 issue.
The researchers sailing aboard Weatherbird II aren’t studying global warming — they’re trying to end it. The ship’s three-year mission, funded by for-profit ecorenewal firm Planktos, is to seed oceans with iron-rich dust, which should trigger plankton blooms. More plankton means more carbon dioxide can be pulled out of the atmosphere and trapped in the seas. The project is the first large-scale effort in a controversial field, known as geoengineering, that aims to actively combat global warming. Despite the risk of unintended environmental side effects, the Weatherbird II is already spreading iron in its wake. And it is only one of several extreme geoengineering attack plans on the table.