Scientists have just published a new paper that warns about the possible dangers of using ocean CO2 removal as a way to mitigate climate change.
As the climate crisis intensifies and humanity finds itself in a race against time to limit rising temperatures, new solutions are being offered to help reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses (GHG) in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide.
One such solution that holds massive potential for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) at scale is ocean-based.
Different research groups and startups have been working on ways to enhance the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and send it deep below its surface, or even boost the growth of algae and phytoplankton to draw down more CO2.
However, according to this latest study published in Science by ocean experts, all of these well-intended proposals may hide a number of serious risks.
Namely, ocean-based climate interventions, or OBCIs, are very likely to have major consequences for entire ecosystems, due to the vast scale required for them to be effective, according to the paper’s co-author, Dr. Nélia Mestre from the University of Algarve, Portugal.
The paper was authored by a team of ocean specialists from eight countries and under the leadership of professor Lisa Levin from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, and it argues that the deep ocean provides more than 90% of the world’s habitable space.
This makes it by far the largest realm on the planet, a fact that is often overlooked.
Furthermore, the deep ocean’s biodiversity provides humanity with key services, including food and medicine supply, not to mention its role in the natural carbon cycle, all of which may be compromised through the use of OBCIs and ocean CO2 removal.
One example is that sending carbon dioxide directly to the deep ocean is likely to cause the flora and fauna there to suffocate.
Essentially, the team brought together by the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) is calling on academia, business and policymakers to work towards diligently analyzing the potential consequences of such climate solutions.