Is Iron Fertilization Good for the Sea?
This case study describes experiments to seed the ocean with iron to encourage algae growth. It explores how human activities contribute to greenhouse effects and global warming, proposals to potentially counteract these effects and make the ocean more productive for commercial fishing, and the issues and possible unintended consequences of such activities. The case is appropriate for introductory biology, ecology, environmental biology, microbiology, and environmental microbiology classes as well as courses dealing with environmental policy.
- To examine how human activities contribute to greenhouse effects and global warming.
- To show the importance of microbes in biogeochemical cycling.
- To consider the potential ramifications of ecosystem-scale experiments.
- To consider some potential environmental effects of agriculture and aquaculture.
- To appreciate the impact that human activities have on other species.
- To guide students through decision making by analyzing information and incorporating concepts learned from the classroom and assigned readings.
- To consider the gap in our current scientific knowledge regarding long-term iron fertilization and the proposed commercialization by Ocean Farming, Inc.
- To formulate a global policy regarding the generation of CO2 and other greenhouse gases by different countries
KeywordsIron fertilization; global warming; climate change; ocean; sea; greenhouse effect; carbon dioxide; environmental decision making
Topical AreasEthics, Policy issues
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsDebate, Dilemma/Decision, Discussion, Role-Play
Subject HeadingsEnvironmental Science | Ecology | Microbiology | Biology (General) | Marine Science / Oceanography | Natural Resource Management |