But will this actually stop it from happening?
The Australian Labor government has introduced a bill to regulate marine geoengineering – the deliberate intervening of ocean environments to ‘combat climate change’.
The bill involves proposed amendments to the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act, which would introduce a new guidelines for those using emerging marine geoengineering technologies.
The bill will add to Australia’s existing international obligations under the London Protocol, a marine pollution treaty that “prohibits the dumping of waste at sea without a permit”.
The move follows a parliamentary inquiry that recommended Australia ratify these international rules, and if passed, it may ‘encourage’ other countries to adopt these rules and make them legally binding.
This week, the amendment has moved to the Senate for a reading, after being introduced back in June.
The Australian government has taken an important first step towards regulating marine geoengineering, but could this actually help prevent the concerns of these practices, or is it all just a bunch of fluff?
Let’s take a look at what they are proposing with this amendment:
Yes, that’s the catch: It won’t actually stop the activities, it will now just need a permit to do so. Those considered “legitimate scientific research activities” will be approved and allowed to continue.
Can you believe that this wasn’t the case already?
Once again highlighting our constant need to catch up to laws for emerging technologies, much like our surveillance laws catching up to the vast overreach of biometrics and artificial intelligence.
So, the experiments will continue, but at least it is something.
Perhaps the fact that this will now be documented in a database, or will have to be visible under an existing international treaty, may help us better identify who and what is occurring in our oceans.
But we must always remain sceptical even of that.
Let’s not forget that the United Nations recently signed a “historic” treaty that will allow them to take control of over two-thirds of the world’s high seas as a means to ‘protect it’.
We will have to wait and see just how legitimate this regulation is, if it’s even passed for that matter.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has said of the bill:
“Regulating this type of activity, though a robust application, assessment and approval permitting process, would ensure that only legitimate scientific research activities exploring options to reduce atmospheric CO₂ can proceed. This amendment also provides for regulating other potentially harmful marine geoengineering research activities should they emerge in the future.”
I won’t hold my breath for the actions to be as strong as the words, but only time will tell.
Remember when geoengineering was a ‘crazy conspiracy theory’?
Now, dangerous marine geoengineering is a concern that threatens the marine bio-structure of this world, and if they are not serious about regulating it, could end up wreaking havoc on a mass scale.
Interest in marine geoengineering has grown in recent years as the so-called ‘climate crisis’ has ‘worsened’, and as a result, scientists say removing CO₂ from the atmosphere via geoengineering is “now necessary” to achieve “net-zero” emissions and limit ‘global warming’ to 1.5℃.
Scientists are already experimenting with ways to ‘store more carbon in the ocean’ or ‘shield’ vulnerable ecosystems. They include ocean fertilisation and marine cloud brightening.
Marine geoengineering proposals present many risks to the marine environment.
For example, the method ocean fertilisation could decrease water oxygen levels and “rob” neighbouring waters of nutrients, reducing marine productivity.
The Southern Ocean – which extends from Australia’s southern coast to Antarctica – has been identified as a suitable location for ocean fertilisation. This involves feeding iron dust to marine algae.
Another proposal is modifying acidity in oceans.
Oceans naturally absorb large amounts of CO₂, which is making the water more acidic.
Scientists believe that a technology that essentially adds “antacids to the ocean“ could ‘help counteract this’ and ‘enable the oceans to store more’:
Other proposals seek to ‘reduce the damage from marine heatwaves’.
“Marine cloud brightening” seeks to ‘limit coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef’ by spraying sea-salt particles into clouds. It is a form of solar geoengineering.
The idea is to ‘make the clouds whiter’ by spraying trillions of nano-sized crystals to ‘better reflect sunlight away from the ocean’. Tests have already been conducted right off the coast of Queensland:
Of course, when questioned on this, the former Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef had absolutely ‘no idea’ about any type of activities, before being moved to a new role in cabinet.
Let’s hope that some type of serious regulation is on the way for these dangerous activities.
Do you think that this bill will ultimately achieve anything in the end?
Let us know in the comment section below!
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