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Japan and Storing CO2 Under the Ocean Floor

One method of disposing carbon dioxide produced by industry is ocean disposal or injection. Just like it sounds, it involves collecting carbon dioxide produced by industrial sources and pumping it down into the deepest parts of the world's oceans, or under the sea floor, thus preventing its release into the atmosphere and hopefully slowing global warming. Disposing CO2 in the ocean is environmentally problematic because in short, CO2 can destroy marine habitats. It’s another example of trading one potential environmental catastrophe for another; in this case, possibly destroying deep ocean habitats with CO2 instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, which would cause more global warming.

Last September 2006, a new amendment was made to the 1972 London Convention (an international agreement between 81 countries including the U.S. that set standards for dumping waste in the ocean), adding CO2 to the list of items that countries can dump into or store beneath the ocean. International approval in hand, Japan, the world's 4th largest emitter of CO2, may give ocean CO2 disposal a bureaucratic green light.

Japan's Environment Ministry submitted a law to the Japanese Diet that would allow businesses to get permission from the environment minister to begin projects for storing carbon dioxide in deep down under the seabed. The move is significant because it provides the Japanese government with a framework for regulation, which will hopefully prevent any construction or disposal methods that in the interest of profit, may be too harmful for marine habitats to be worth doing. Whether or not it works, let alone be made law, is another matter. But it will be interesting to see how or if this idea gets much debate over here on our side of the Pacific.

"Japan to embrace CO 2 storage in seabed," The Japan Times Online.
Here's a link to the London Convention web site.
For information on the top CO2-producing nations, take a look at page 283 in the 2007 World Almanac.


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