US scientist calls for deep-sea carbon storage tests

Experiments into deep-sea carbon storage must begin “promptly”, in order to assess the impact on marine life, Wallace Broecker, a leading US earth scientist, wrote in the Guardian on Wednesday.

Deep-sea carbon storage involves releasing carbon dioxide directly into the sea at depths of more than 3, 500 metres. At these depths, scientists believe that the carbon dioxide (CO2) would be compressed into a slush that would settle on the sea bed. The environmental organisation Greenpeace and others are concerned that the CO2 could dissolve in the seawater, damaging larger marine life.

Broecker acknowledges that smaller marine life on the seabed under the storage will be destroyed. However, he argues that unless experiments are carried out, there is a danger that “deep-sea disposal will commence without adequate testing and evaluation".

According to Broecker, an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to the carbon pollution from about 16 years of the world’s current fossil fuel use could be stored safely in the deep waters of the Pacific.

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