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As Planktos Fades, Climos Gets Funds

climos.jpgJust last week ocean seeding company Planktos was found dead in the water, a victim of what it claimed was a band of “anti-offset crusaders” with a “highly effective disinformation campaign” that it said had curbed its ability to raise funding. Hmmm, the offset-haters don’t seem to have stopped another ocean seeding startup, Climos, from raising funds; the company tells CNET that it has raised a Series A round of $4 million, which it will announce next week.

Climos’ plan is actually very similar to that of Planktos. Both companies want to dump iron into the ocean, with the idea that plankton eat CO2 and throughout their lifecycle, sink down into the ocean, which can theoretically then sequester the carbon. Like Planktos, Climos plans to sell carbon credits (they’re calling them Climosets) from the project.

Environmentalists have been highly critical of ocean seeding, alleging there could be unintended consequences. While the technique has seen some scientific study — Climos cites on its web site 12 publicly funded experiments since 1993 — the technology is far from proven.

Ocean seeding is also an example of a category of highly controversial methods to “geo-engineer” the planet, or basically produce large-scale modifications of the global environment. Projects like re-icing the Arctic, cooling the ocean with pipes, or genetically modifying trees to eat more CO2 are being investigated due to the growing concerns over climate change.

4 Responses to “As Planktos Fades, Climos Gets Funds”

  1. Green energy is definitely the best solution in most cases. Technology like solar energy, wind power, fuel cells, zaps electric vehicles, EV hybrids, etc have come so far recently. Green energy even costs way less than oil and gas in many cases.

  2. As reported, several geoengineering proposals currently contemplate “fertilizing” the world’s oceans (with a dusting of iron, for example) to enhance the production of phytoplankton. The economic premise is that the phytoplankton would help combat or offset global warming by removing CO2 from the atmosphere – and private companies (such as Planktos, for example, and Climos) could then sell “carbon credits” to polluters for a profit by simply sailing out to sea and dusting the oceans with untold tons of powdered iron. W

    While assorted policymakers, offset brokers, and industries are attracted to such adventures, the passage below suggests that the results of any such large-scale projects could trigger a deep-sea extinction event of unimaginable proportions.

    Consider, for example, the ramifications suggested in both the outline and the footnote below:

    Ocean Fertilization and Depletion of Deep-sea O2
    (a recipe for a catastrophic anoxia in deep sea water strata)

    Typical deep-sea water masses have been isolated from the surface for long periods of time and have limited supplies of dissolved oxygen that are replenished at extremely slow rates.

    Multiple strata separate these deep waters from the surface waters and from the atmosphere, so that O2 equilibria in these deep water layers are (a) slow to replenish, and (b) likely to be highly-sensitive to disruption.

    Given what we already know about nutrient-induced eutrophication in aquatic systems and the catastrophic effects of the anoxia that results (classic textbook subject-matter), we should be quite skeptical of schemes that imagine wide-scale fertilization of the ocean’s surface layers. First, of course, on a century-to-century time scale, deep-sea organisms are adapted to one of the most stable, unchanging environments on earth.

    Secondly, while fertilization of the sea’s surface waters (with a dusting of iron, for example) may enhance phytoplankton growth, the increased biomass will not be confined to surface waters, but will result in export of tons of additional organics to the deep-water layers.

    Heterotrophic microbes in the deep-sea can be expected to respond to an increased import of such organics with a burst of exuberant growth – quickly depleting already limited supplies of dissolved oxygen, and producing a cataclysmic deep-sea anoxia.

    Since the ocean covers approximately 70% of earth’s surface, advocates of wide-scale fertilization, if successful in their campaign, may unwittingly trigger an ecosystem disruption and an extinction event on an unimagined scale.

    Even our brightest, most well-meaning, and most ingenious suggestions need to be measured against the human propensity to error, blunder, and trigger unintended consequences. (And perhaps especially so when financial matters, brokers, and markets are involved.)

    Although we are an inventive species, we are also brash and display a reckless lack of humility. Current projects that envision re-engineering the operation of 70% of earth’s biosphere constitute a clear example.
    (and apparently without so much as a vote or a ballot initiative)


    Humanity’s central problems today are: (a) the impending arrival of a 7th, 8th, and 9th billion by mid-century, along with (b) the extreme levels of overpopulation / environmental impacts that we already exhibit.

    With additional billions on track to join us by mid-century and many other millions rapidly industrializing, the combined effects of today’s planet-wide demographic tidal wave constitute the single greatest risk that our species has ever undertaken.

    And geoengineering schemes act to distract us from the true nature of our problem: overpopulation.

  3. Climos’ technology like the several others mentioned in the article anticipates that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will soon reach to “tipping point” and climate change will chaotically accelerate. Unfortunately, this is a likely scenario with the issue being “when”? The danger of course, is that panic pushes us into this type of geo-engineering and the unintended consequences that would very likely result.

    Another technology, the Solar Atmospheric CO2 Cleaner, offers a more measured “offensive” approach to dealing with the concentrations of atmospheric CO2. But it requires anticipation and is best acted upon prior to panic and in conjunction with the existing spectrum of “defensive” cleantech technologies.

    Although still in the theoretical engineering stage the SACO2C includes an apparatus having the following elements: An alternative power source, solar energy, a means to selectively dissociate the CO2 molecules in an air stream, and a means to render the by- products of dissociation neutral to the environment.

    The invention that is driven by concentrated solar energy. It utilizes a thermally powered
    photonic crystal to produce precisely unique terahertz frequencies of sufficient power to
    dissociate CO2 molecules in atmospheric gases to the exclusion of surrounding
    molecules of matter in air.

    The invention works on these principles. It is known that specific molecules
    absorb energy at unique frequencies. It is also known that bodies of matter resonating
    at the same frequency transfer energy to the exclusion of surrounding matter.
    Therefore, CO2 molecules in the atmosphere will absorb energy from a specifically tuned
    and sufficiently powered field of radiation, as they pass through it, to the exclusion of
    other molecules comprising air. The energy absorbed excites and dissociates covalent
    bonds resulting in new molecular fragments.

    The invention can be designed to produce two species of by-product from
    dissociated CO2 molecules. First, carbon (carbon black) and oxygen second, carbon
    monoxide and oxygen. In the first case, carbon is condensed for sequestration as a
    solid. In the second case, carbon monoxide is reacted with metals to produce a metal
    carbonyl that can be further refined into an alternative fuel. Interestingly this alternative
    fuel is harvested by the invention from a new untapped and decentralized source–the
    earth’s atmosphere. When the fuel is combusted it will be carbon neutral to the
    environment producing a new closed loop alternative fuel cycle driven by solar energy. LLC will shortly offer equity units to move this technology through a proof of concept and anticipates beginning to license the technology before the end of year.