The Way To Fight Both Climate Change And Food Shortages May Be As Close As The Oceans

Though we often don’t think of it when discussing climate change, the world’s oceans have a vital role to play in helping alleviate the growing threat from both climate change and global food shortages, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum, which notes:

“While the Amazon plays a vital role in global carbon absorption (and we should continue to try and save it), between 1994 and 2007, our oceans absorbed 34 gigatons of the world’s carbon through algae, vegetation, and coral. In other words, the trees might not save us—but the oceans could.”

Also, while planting trees to combat climate change may sound like a good idea, it does have drawbacks: Scientists believe it might take hundreds of years before trillions of new trees could actually make a significant difference in helping to reduce carbon levels on a global scale.

That’s where the oceans and algae sequestration come into play:

“Algae, when used in conjunction with AI-powered bioreactors, is up to 400 times more efficient than a tree at removing CO2 from the atmosphere. That means that while we are learning to reduce carbon emissions and augment our consumption patterns, we can start to make big reductions in atmospheric carbon. When wielded correctly, it could make a city carbon negative without changing current production or consumption patterns of the city.”

Other benefits of using algae instead of trees to counter rising carbon levels is that it can consume more CO2 than trees because it can cover a greater surface area and grow significantly faster than trees.

If that’s not more than enough to recommend algae found in the oceans, consider that it can also help when it comes to food shortages across the world:

“Rebecca White is one of the rising aglaepreneurs in the space. She is a research scientist at iWi, a nutrition company that runs algae farms in Texas and New Mexico. Their mission is to accelerate algae’s potential as a solution for the food security of our planet. Population projections show that we will need a 70% increase in food supply by 2050 to feed the planet, and a recent United Nations report warns of a looming food crisis.”

Algae also had potential for the production of materials that can replace those that are in short supply or a threat to the environment.

Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros are currently using algae to make polymers that be used in 3D printing as an alternative to plastic. Project coordinator Johanna Weggelaar had this to say about the advances being made in the field:

“In principle, we can make anything from this local algae polymer: from shampoo bottles to tableware or rubbish bins. Our goal is to ultimately turn an industrial manufacturing process—a source of pollution that contributes to global warming—into a way to subtract CO2 from the atmosphere. Using algae as a raw material would turn any mode of production into a way to help the environment.”

Fuel is also being produced with algae:

“Algae can also be used to produce biofuels, which are fuels derived directly from living matter. This means it can provide a more sustainable alternative to carbon-producing fossil fuels, like petroleum. In fact, algae has been known to produce as much as 5,000 biofuel gallons from a single acre in one year.”

While we won’t be able to solve all of our environmental issues overnight, we have it within our means to use the Earth itself to help heal the damage we’ve done to our planet. But it will take a commitment by each and every person in order to reverse centuries of neglect.


Featured Image Via Pixabay

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Andrew Bradford

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