Min Kyuu Kim
SEAWEED FOR CARBON CAPTURE?
Seaweed, like any other plant, does photosynthesis: which is where they turn carbon dioxide into biomass for the seaweed. However, unlike other plants seaweeds grow significantly fast and can use up the carbon dioxide around them at a really fast rate. By doing so it acts as a carbon sink/ a use of carbon capture. This is a great advantage overland/forest plants/trees due to their fast-growing nature. Due to this benefit “Coastal marine systems can absorb carbon at rates up to 50 times greater than forests on land”- Emily pigeon, senior director of strategic marine initiatives at conservation international. And to put that into perspective “seaweeds are thought to sequester nearly 200 million tonnes of co2 every year”- which is as much as New York state’s annual emissions.
However, with all these benefits, the ever growing threat of climate change is also hindering seaweeds. Even though the seaweeds absorb carbon dioxide, the amount of carbon that is put into the ocean or atmosphere is making it harder for seaweeds to combat these harsher combats. As the carbon dioxide in the air can dissolve into the ocean making it more acidic, along with warmer ocean temperatures impacts the lives of coral reefs and seaweeds ecosystems.
“In Tasmania alone, rising ocean temperatures and acidification have wiped out 95% of kelp seaweed forests over the past 80 years, destroying bountiful marine habitats and decimating fisheries.”
From all this negative news, seaweed planting has started to work, and additionally, the potential for seaweed cultivation is not only limited in the oceans, as it is possible in the land. Additionally, some research from the University of California, Davis found that feeding seaweed to cows significantly reduces the methane production from burps and farts: which is a highly potent greenhouse gas, which has a global warming impact 84 times higher than CO2 over a 20 year period.
This will be our next project at Carbon Neutral. We will be working with other youth-initiatives and NGOs to carry this out.