James Lovelock urges ocean climate quick fix

Two of Britain’s leading environmental thinkers say it is time to develop a quick technical fix for climate change.

Writing in the journal Nature, Science Museum head Chris Rapley and Gaia theorist James Lovelock suggest looking at boosting ocean take-up of CO2.

Their idea, already being investigated by a US firm, involves huge flotillas of vertical pipes in the tropical seas. The two scientists say they doubt that existing plans for curbing carbon emissions can work quickly enough.

“We are taking the very strong line that we are not going to save the planet by the regular approaches like the Kyoto Protocol or renewable energy,” Professor Lovelock told BBC News. “What we have to do is to look at it in a systems sense, or a Gaian sense, and see if it’s curable by direct action.”

Professor Rapley, who has just moved to head up the Science Museum from a similar post at the British Antarctic survey, said the two men developed the ocean pipes concept during country walks in James Lovelock’s beloved Devon.

Unbeknown to them, a US company, Atmocean, had already begun trials of a very similar technology. Floating pipes reaching down from the top of the ocean into colder water below move up and down with the swell. As the pipe moves down, cold water flows up and out onto the ocean surface. A simple valve blocks any downward flow when the pipe is moving upwards.