Climate Change Prize Receives First Claimant
The Virgin Earth Challenge, a $25m climate change prize launched by Sir Richard Branson, has received its first claimant. The entry, by the Ocean Nourishment Corporation, claims to have a method that will remove at least 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year.
Climate Change Prize
The climate change prize, which was announced last week by Branson and former Democrat Presidential Candidate Al Gore, is to be awarded to any company or individual who can come up with a commercially viable method for removing at least 1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere every year, for at least 10 years. The Ocean Nourishment Corporation claims to have a method to meet that requirement that will also improve the ocean's fish stocks.
Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas attributed to man made global warming and climate change, and is caused by the burning of fossil fuels in cars, planes, power plants and heavy industry. Removing large amounts of the gas from the atmosphere would help to cool the planet and buy us time in the race to become less dependant on fossil fuels.
Natural Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Removal
Large amounts of the air 's carbon dioxide is dissolved into the sea. This process helps to naturally remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, the sea can only hold so much carbon dioxide before it becomes saturated, weakening its ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. With increased levels of carbon dioxide the ocean also starts to turn acidic, threatening the lives of much marine life, especially coral reefs.
The solution that the Ocean Nourishment Corporation has devised is to manufacture and then pipe nutrients into areas of the ocean that suffer from a lack of life. These areas of sea, nicknamed "Ocean Deserts", account for over 70% of the world 's oceans. The nutrients would provide food for phytoplankton (tiny animals that feed on a mixture of carbon dioxide and sunlight). The phytoplankton would reproduce at a high rate, absorbing even more carbon dioxide from the sea. The removal of carbon dioxide from the sea (by the phytoplankton) would allow room for more carbon dioxide to be absorbed by the sea, from the air. Many fish feed on phytoplankton, so the increase in the number of phytoplankton in the sea would in turn help to increase fish stocks.
Professor Ian S F Jones, head of the Ocean Technology group at the University of Sydney, will present a case to the Virgin Earth Challenge judging panel, to claim the prize using the Ocean Nourishment™ concept.
Professor Jones said:
"A large-scale commercial demonstration is planned to show the potential of the technology to sequester the large quantity of carbon dioxide contemplated by the Earth Challenge."
"The commercialisation of the technology will benefit from the Earth Challenge Prize. We are seeking expressions of interest from potential sponsors of the large-scale demonstration, who wish to be associated with the competition."
John Ridley, Executive Director of Ocean Nourishment Corporation (ONC) said:
"We are reliant on bio-sequestration to reduce and stabilise atmospheric carbon dioxide, and the oceans are the main player in this game. Ocean Nourishment™, an Australian technology, can now play a significant part in an International effort to catch up for lost time. "
The company made the following statements in its press release:
"Ocean Nourishment™ technology mimics the natural process of nutrient upwelling that occurs in the ocean. It requires only solar energy, an infusion of nutrients and existing standing stocks of phytoplankton 'algae', to safely initiate the process in the ocean 'desert'. These desert areas represent 70 per cent of the world's oceans.
"ONC is offering to licence suitably qualified organisations to introduce Ocean Nourishment™ technology at selected sites around the world. The company will also explore opportunities to produce and sell large quantities of carbon offsets in the near future. These high quality offsets would allow socially responsible organisations to make themselves carbon negative. "