Who Owns the Geritol Solution: 
Part II

By Debra Allen PhD., University of Delaware, Problem-based Learning Clearinghouse
Modifications by John S. Peters, College of Charleston

Ten years after John Martin launched the Geritol solution through his provocative remarks at Woods Hole, Michael Markels, an environmental engineer, patented what he claims is a scalable, efficient ocean iron dispersal system. He has started a company called Ocean Farming, Inc. (OFI), and plans to fertilize the oceans with iron and farm fish.  Markels also believes that by bioengineering the oceans in this way he can profit by sequestering carbon on behalf of potential clients.  Companies that are producing too much CO2 could purchase CO2 credits from OFI and "buy down" their CO2 emissions to comply with future emission restrictions.  OFI has recently secured an option from the Republic of the Marshall Islands to privatize a portion of the 800,000 square mile "Exclusive Economic Zone" for commercial fish production (as well as for carbon dioxide sequestration), using a mix of iron, phosphorus, and trace elements.

The founder, president, and CEO of OFI dismisses environmental concerns about his new business venture. "What I'm proposing isn't new. I'm just doing it in a new way.....Mother Nature has been fertilizing with iron for eons," he explains in an interview in Wired magazine.

Developing your team's position statement:

Use your learning issues research to develop a position statement your team will defend in the Geritol Solution debate. Your decisions regarding the following questions should be used to develop a concise (1 paragraph) statement of your team's position.

  1. How urgent is the problem of global climate change?
  2. How quickly do we need to act to mitigate global climate change?
  3. How likely is it that OIF will work?
  4. On what scale should we implement OIF and why?
  5. Can small scale (short term, small area) experiments tell us enough about potential large scale consequences of OIF?
  6. Do the benefits of OIF outweigh the risks?
  7. Should a private individual be able to use the Geritol solution without restriction, and for a personal profit? Why or why not?
  8. What other recommendations does your team have for combating global climate change?
  Comments, suggestions, or requests to petersj@cofc.edu. Last updated 15 May 2010.  College of Charleston