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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 364:235-242 (2008)  -  DOI:

Contribution to the Theme Section ‘Implications of large-scale iron fertilization of the oceans’


Cultural context of ocean fertilization

Michael K. Orbach*

Duke University Marine Laboratory, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University,
135 Duke Marine Lab Road, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA

ABSTRACT: All environmental law and policy, including potential policy governing ocean fertilization, involves trade-offs between the state of the world’s biophysical ecology, by which we mean all of the non-human elements, and the state of the world’s human ecology, by which we mean humans and their relationships with one another, including their governance institutions. All rules of governance affect—and only directly affect—human behavior, and through that behavior shape the biophysical world. All law is an expression of human culture. Legal statutes and rules are those elements of culture that we feel strongly enough about and share enough with each other that we write them down as rules of behavior and create some form of sanction for their transgression. In this paper I will discuss the broad-brush history of human value-based governance with respect to human use of the ocean and the kinds of decisions that face us with respect to the question of ocean fertilization. The general thesis is that ocean fertilization is essentially a ‘cultivation’ activity, even if done for the purpose of carbon sequestration for environmental conservation or market (carbon trading) purposes, and that such ‘cultivation’ is a new arena for ocean policy and regulation.

KEY WORDS: Ocean fertilization · Ocean policy · Carbon sequestration

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Cite this article as: Orbach MK (2008) Cultural context of ocean fertilization. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 364:235-242.

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