Risky venture

Published: Monday 30 September 2002

It was an experiment that sought to clear the air, but by jeopardising marine life. No wonder it encountered severe turbulence in the form of protests by global environmental groups, and had to be summarily aborted.

The project was based on the premise that dumping carbon dioxide (co2) in liquid form in the ocean can help reduce its build-up in the atmosphere. Slated to start this summer, it was funded by research institutions from Norway, Canada, Australia and the us. Norway studied the environmental and legal implications of an application by a consortium of research institutions to dump 5.4 tonnes of co2 in the ocean.

Greens got wind of the proposed trials. They launched an agitation and nipped the project in the bud. The activists contended that high concentrations of co2 would endanger aquatic life. That the experiment violated international conventions on dumping industrial waste at sea was also highlighted by them. After a quibble, Norway withheld permission for the project. "The possible future use of the sea as storage for co2 is controversial," said Norwegian environment minister Boerge Brende. Now, even as the matter is open to global debate, environmentalists are considering it a "victory for common sense".

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