Side Effects and Consequences
A radical new technology such as that described here will inevitably have negative consequences, some of which can be predicted, while others may not become evident until the program is well under way. All we can do here is make the best informed guesses about what some of these problems may be.
Consequences fall into many different categories, physical, chemical, biological, environmental, legal, political and so on. Discussion under these headings follows.
Huge waves containing tiny bubbles of low buoyancy sea foam oscillate the sea surface above the mouth of the fat pipe, so much so that Surfing might become a major industry of the tower standing above such waves over the mouth of the fat pipe.
The effluent from hydrothermal vents (HTVs) contains some nasty chemicals and these are brought almost undiluted to the top end of the thin pipe.
These chemicals include heavy metal sulphides and hydrogen sulphide which are rapidly oxidized to sulphurous and sulphuric acid. Some of the metal sulphides could have commercial value and it may be worth harvesting the precipitates that form inside the fat pipe.
The huge "gain" of 33,000 modelled for the Nutrient Megapump is also the dilution factor within the fat pipe. The chemicals will be diluted yet again as the turbulent nutrient plume emanating from the steam bubble quencher and out of the top of the submerged fat pipe mixes deeply and radially with surrounding surface water.
Furthermore, HTVs are the original ultimate source of a major portion of the oceans nutrients. HTVs have been pumping these chemicals into the oceans for billions of years. Life has co-evolved with them.
These chemicals are not poisons like dioxin or plutonium which are alien to living things. They are just common ocean chemicals in higher concentrations than usual within our Megapump.
Dilution renders them harmless, and this happens strongly immediately surrounding the Megapump, generally situated in middles of oceans.
Unlike the artificial fertilization schemes discussed in the Rivals section, the Nutrient Megapump's various nutrients remain in the same proportions overall as they do in the rest of the ocean. They are also much more dilute. Hence the problems associated with iron fertilization simply will not happen in a Nutrient Megapump scenario.
Upwellings created artificially using Nutrient Megapumps closely resemble natural upwellings in all but two respects: the vertical velocity is much greater and the nutrient plume is more localized. This may have unintended consequences in the development of the biota bloom, but it is impossible to predict what they will be.
Intuitively it seems that mixing the ocean can only be good for life in general, given that such enhancement of marine ecosystems would buffer the destructive effect of man’s fishing of the world’s oceans. Nevertheless there may be short term or localised problems that will need to be considered.
Legal and Political
At first Nutrient Megapumps may be deployed in the territorial waters of one or more nation states. Japan comes to mind as a likely participant; a developed country with capital to invest, a taste for wild ocean fish and plenty of tectonic activity within its borders.
However, Megapump economies of scale are huge, and hugest HTVs are likely to be elsewhere, so the industry is likely to move elsewhere.
The best places to deploy Nutrient Megapumps will ultimately be above mid-oceanic ridges which generally lie outside territorial waters, i.e. on the high seas. Jurisdiction is therefore a matter of Law of the Sea which has yet to evolve to deal with issues likely to arise as a consequence of this technology.
A company investing $100 millions setting up an artificial fishery on the high seas is unlikely to take kindly to others taking its fish, but under present law there would be no way to prevent this from happening short of taking up arms.
In the interest of good relations between nations, investors will need to be assigned some sort of jurisdiction, lest they take the law into their own hands, employ private navies to guard their investment and so on.
The highly nutrified and tectonic East Pacific Rise south of Easter Island, and the similarly resourced mid-South Atlantic are strong candidate sites for Nutrient Megapumps. So some sort of new Law and Order would have to be worked out, preferably multilaterally via the UN and so on.
Large migratory species like tuna or whales will certainly visit such fisheries from time to time and eat their fill. Who will own the tuna? The whales? Traditional fishers of tuna and whales, mostly East Asians, particularly the Japanese, are thus indicated as most obvious early investors in the Nutrient Megapump.
Another legal matter is the issue of carbon credit trading. Will companies and nation states be able to claim carbon credits for carbon sequestered using the Megapump, either offshore or on the high sea, or even within another nation's jurisdiction?
There will surely be political problems with "Green" zealots who want to reverse growth, who are opposed to Economic Growth and every human activity associated with it, such as the Nutrient Megapump. Such people are likely to very vocal and uncompromising.
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