Planktos Echoes NASA Alarm over Marine Food Chain Collapse and Urges Ocean Restoration

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A new study in Nature describes the CO2-driven onset of an unprecedented famine in the sea, but ecorestoration firm Planktos shows that timely ocean restoration can not only help avert this crisis, it can significantly slow global warming, too.

NASA just released what it calls a "sneak peak" of a grim side effect of escalating CO2 levels on the world's oceans. New NASA satellite data reveal that the vital foundation of the ocean food web, ocean plant life, is shrinking as more CO2 builds up in the atmosphere. That discovery has scientists concerned about how much food for marine life will survive as our CO2 emissions continue to increase and impact the oceans even further.

However, Russ George, CEO of California ecorestoration firm, Planktos Inc. points out, "What the study does not discuss are the potent, affordable, and immediately available solutions now at hand to help deal with this ocean crisis. This is in fact Planktos' core mission. We've been working to develop and deliver just those solutions, and quite apparently not a moment too soon. Our ocean ecorestoration work will immediate address the deepening marine crisis of declining productivity and offer a broader partial fix to the 'cause celeb' issue of global warming."

The NASA data show a significant link between the impact of high CO2/global warming and reduced production of phytoplankton in the world's oceans, according to a report on the study just published in the journal Nature. Phytoplankton are the microscopic plant life that zooplankton eat and all other marine animals depend upon. They are essentially the ocean's grain crop and ultimately sustain all larger creatures.

"Everything else up the food web is going to be impacted," said oceanographer Scott Doney of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, who was not personally involved in the study.

"What's worrisome is that small changes that happen in the bottom of the food web can have dramatic changes to certain species at higher spots on the food chain," Doney said.

This is yet another recent study with real-time data showing the predicted harmful effects of global warming (aka high CO2) are not just coming, but in some cases are already here and can be tallied scientifically, researchers said.

Lead author Dr. Michael Behrenfeld of Oregon State University noted in the NASA study that recently some ocean regions, especially in the equatorial Pacific, have suffered an approximate 50 percent drop in phytoplankton production.

Phytoplankton, which use sunlight to turn CO2 into food, need a regular supply of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphates and iron from colder water below, Behrenfeld said. As surface waters warm up, it creates a thermal barrier to the ascent of those nutrients and gradually starves the phytoplankton.

Russ George notes, "In delivering our ocean ecorestoration solutions, we are taking our lead from 15 years of international research costing scores of millions of dollars that show replenishing vital natural micronutrients like iron to the seas can revive the phytoplankton and the entire ocean food chain."

Regarding the decline in ocean productivity Woods Hole Institute's James Yoder says, "It's something you certainly can't ignore, because its potential is quite significant."

Another worry is that with fewer phytoplankton, the world's oceans will absorb less carbon dioxide, increasing atmospheric concentrations of the Earth's chief global warming gas, said NASA ocean biology project manager, Paula Bontempi. That's because phytoplankton remove carbon dioxide from the surface waters and air as they photosynthesize these molecules into organic carbon-based food.

"That's where Planktos' business opportunity arises," says CEO George. "As we work to restore the health and vitality of the oceans, the phytoplankton populations we revive will remove CO2 from the atmosphere, which we can then verify and sell as 'carbon credits' or tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions."

Carbon credits are a new bankable tradable commodity in the environmental markets created by the Kyoto Protocol and now also emerging in the US in the wake of regional climate legislation like the 2006 California Global Warming Solutions Act. This year almost $50 billion dollars in carbon credits have been sold in the global climate change marketplace.

According to Mr. George, "Our ocean restoration projects are essentially just like the permanent climate forest parks we are helping develop in Canada and central Europe. On land or in the oceans, green plants are still the most natural, powerful and cost-effective means to reduce atmospheric CO2. Indeed CO2 reduction via ecosystem restoration is currently superior to simple source reductions, because ecorestoration not only delivers a vast array of environmental benefits, it directly addresses the most urgent ecological crises we face today."

Contact: David Kubiak Planktos 650-638-1975     207-332-3071

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