Environment, News, Science

Scientists Criticize Iron-Dumping Experiment

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Salmon. Image: Earth'sbuddy
Salmon. Image: Earth’sbuddy

Scientists around the world have criticized a group of Canadians for dumping more than 100 tonnes of iron dust into the Pacific Ocean last summer.

The group, called the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation, is supported by the village of Old Massett, British Columbia. About 700 people live in the village, which is located on the Haida Gwaii islands.

They used to make their living by fishing for salmon, but now there are not enough salmon and 70 per cent of the villagers don’t have jobs.

Last July, the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation paid $2.5 million to an American businessman named Russ George to dump a mixture of iron sulphate and iron oxide dust into the ocean about 370 kilometres west of the islands.

They hoped the iron would cause more plankton to grow in that part of the Pacific.  (Plankton are tiny plants and animals that live in the ocean and provide food for larger animals like fish and whales.) They believed that more plankton would help increase the number of salmon in the area.

Russ George said large amounts of plankton would also absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which could help reduce global warming.

Experiments that try to reduce global warming by deliberately changing the environment are called “geoengineering.” Scientists do not agree on whether geoengineering is a good idea. Many say that there is no proof such experiments work, and also that they can cause dangerous side-effects.

Kenneth Coale is a scientist who has studied iron dumping experiments. He says the experiments have led to many problems, such as creating harmful greenhouse gases, producing poisonous algae, and reducing the levels of oxygen below the ocean’s surface.

It is against Canada’s environmental laws to dump iron into the oceans. Canada has also signed an international agreement not to do such experiments. But the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation said it did not break Canadian laws because the ore was dumped in international waters.

The Canadian government is investigating the incident.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The article explains,

Experiments that try to reduce global warming by deliberately changing the environment are called “geoengineering.” Scientists do not agree on whether geoengineering is a good idea. Many say that there is no proof such experiments work, and also that they can cause dangerous side-effects.

Try to explain “geoengineering” in your own words. Do you have an opinion about whether it is a good or bad idea? Pick one side and think of three ideas to support your opinion. Then pair up with someone who picked the opposite side and debate whether it should be allowed.

Reading Prompt:
Have you ever heard the saying, “things have gone from bad to worse”? What do you think it means? Can you connect this expression to the article? 

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Grammar Feature: Tense
Underline sentences written in the past tense in green, sentences written in the present tense in yellow, and sentences written in the future tense in red. Which type of words did you look at to know what colour to use?