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Evidence of Biological Impact Makes Deep-Sea CO2 Sequestration a High-Risk Option

Technology involved in U.S. Department of Energy projects may endanger oceanic ecosystems

WASHINGTON - New research reported today in the October 12, 2001 issue of Science suggests that deep-sea carbon sequestration strategies risk the biological health of ocean ecosystems and may create oceanic 'dead zones' similar to what currently exists in the Gulf of Mexico. Deep-sea carbon sequestration - injecting large masses of carbon dioxide deep into the ocean - is a component of proposed Administration policy and several U.S. Department of Energy projects. According to research evidence, the growth and reproduction of deep-sea animals may be inhibited by environmental changes in CO2 concentration and pH, the predicted consequences of deep-sea carbon sequestration or CO2 injection.

"This paper demonstrates how the injection of CO2 in our deep oceans is a dangerous attempt to treat only the symptoms of climate change, while ignoring the root cause and without developing a real cure," said Dr. Lara Hansen, senior scientist at World Wildlife Fund. "If we want safe, effective action to address climate change, we simply must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions now. Significant reductions can be achieved with proven technologies and practical actions - conserving energy and using renewable resources."

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) marine ecologist Brad Seibel and Patrick Walsh of the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science conducted research on how deep-sea animals respond to the physiological stress caused by increased carbon dioxide in their environment.