If you take the threat of global warming seriously, all potential solutionsâ€”nuclear power, so-called clean coal, even geoengineeringâ€”need to be on the table. Thatâ€™s why todayâ€™s Sustainability column at fortune.com looks at the intriguing, albeit controversial, idea of ocean iron fertilization.
The question: Should we try to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere by sprinkling massive amounts of iron dust on the ocean? Dan Whaley is the founder and CEO of a startup company called Climos that wants to do just that. Hereâ€™s how the column begins:
“Give me a half tanker of iron, and I will give you an ice age.”
So said a scientist named John Martin, after he discovered that sprinkling iron dust in the ocean could set off plankton blooms, suck carbon dioxide out of the air and cool a warming planet.
This was 20 years ago, and oceanographers have debated what’s called “ocean iron fertilization” ever since. Never mind that Martin, who died in 1993, later said he was only half-serious. The debate rages on, as a startup company called Climos prepares to build a business by fertilizing the ocean with iron.
Dan will speak next week at FORTUNEâ€™s Brainstorm: Green. We have more than 400 people coming to the first-ever Fortune conference devoted to business and the environment. Weâ€™ve got the most important leaders of the environmental movement in America, big-time CEOs, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, a brand-new electric car for people to test drive, the west coast’s hottest organic chefs, Shawn Colvin to sing and Chuck Leavell to play the piano and talk about American forests. Itâ€™s going to be great!