DP: Is there a connection between what is popularly called “geoengineering” and the term "environmental modification”? I suppose one could argue that the re-branding of these activities suggests an attempt to distance them from a troubled past…
FB: That’s right. I would say that geoengineering could be called geological modification. In the same vein, technically we could categorize modifications as geo- or litho-, or atmo-, bio-, or hydro-engineering. I am more inclined to place them all under the term “environmental modification.”
DP: It’s not a very well-known or publicized term.
FB: As far as public perception goes, I am surprised by how muted the dialogue is. I can see an interest growing, but for me it is worrisome that the push to conduct these sorts of tests seems to be ahead of the discussion over whether we even want to experiment with whole earth systems.
DP: Is there a positive case to be made? Obviously support for this exists.
FB: Yes, absolutely. I am not staking a position against environmental modification or taking a moral position against the application of technology towards anthropocentric environmental goals. The global climate is changing. This will place pressures on economic and ecological systems: power, waste, food, water. Powerful nations will do what they can to mitigate these pressures. I think there was an agreed target to keep global warming to under two degrees Celsius. I now hear talk of four.5 What I am saying is that I expect the modern military of powerful nations will have an expanded role in forcing localized changes in climate. More powerful nations will offset climactic change at the cost of other environmental systems and geographical locations.
In 2012 the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation dumped 100 tonnes of iron sulfate (1) from the largest Canadian fishing vessel registered in the province of British Columbia. The iron fertilized a 10,000 square kilometer plankton bloom in the Pacific Ocean (2). The plankton attracted a large diversity of wildlife which came to feast on this basic food (3). Uneaten plankton died and sank deep to the ocean floor (4). Sequestered with the plankton was CO2 used in its growth.
Glossary of Environmental Modification
“Climate Supremacy - an interview with Mr. Byrne,” in Ground 21: Politics, Landscape Architect Quarterly, OALA (Spring, 2013): 16 - 19.
FIONN BYRNE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE