I am talking about activist Russ George, the businessman who dumped iron dust off the coast of Canada in July, right? No, I am talking about the LOHAFEX expedition in 2009, which had 50 scientists and 20 tons of iron sulphate, the idea being to create an algal bloom and suck up some evil carbon. The difference between the two events is negligible but George has gotten a lot more vitriol and condemnation, despite it being no more unscientific, irresponsible or outside international agreements than when Germany did it.
Scientists are rightfully worried that environmental activists are going to take the world's ecology into their own hands. But why should the public not consider science a world view, when scientists perpetuate that notion? Well-meaning activist scientists in the LOHAFEX group found a loophole in international law and disregarded the rules of 191 signators to the United Nation's Convention on Biological Diversity that put a moratorium on widespread experimentation with the ocean - and yet Germany, one of the signatories, paid for the experiment. George contravened the same law.
Yet what happened to the LOHAFEX project participants? Nothing, it was retroactively sanctioned. A New York Times piece by Henry Fountain, even carried a quote from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven, Germany, which provided the ship and funding and the chief scientist for LOHAFEX. Victor Smetacek was quoted as saying, "This kind of behavior is disastrous."
Well, that kind of statement is hypocritical.
An alarming number of people who insist we should accept the consensus on climate change, and say only politics is preventing action, outright deny the consensus on food science and nuclear power. And they do it with a straight face. How can we expect the public to look at science as a neutral force for the public good rather than a cultural world view when political activist corporations, including those with science in their names, dismiss scientists as being irresponsible and wrong - and very few in science media can find any fault in them? Scientists who say uncontrolled experiments are a bad idea should also not be in the environment doing them.