The Bad: During the 2009 session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Nicolas Lucas Ticum asserted: “The Earth does not belong to human beings. Human beings belong to the Earth.” Too many of us miserably fail to grasp the wisdom of his assertion. Here is just one consequence. While oceans do their best to be our friends, sequestering carbon much better than any technical tool we might develop, we weaken their capacity to do so. As Robert Krulwich explains, we dump so much carbon into the atmosphere that it warms the oceans, and the warmer they get, the less able they are to sequester carbon. The vicious cycle soon could lead to that point of no return we simply can not permit.
The Good: With regenerative ocean farming, we can behave as friends of the oceans, helping them to help us and producing a multitude of benefits. Here is a list from recent research:
- On average, one square kilometer of seaweed can sequester more than a thousand metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.
- It captures excess nitrogen and phosphorus, mainly from fertilizers that enter our oceans during storm run-offs.
- Seaweed cultivation has the ability to improve water quality and reduce acidity, so that, for example, shellfish have the ability to maintain their shells.
- Scaling up seaweed farming in just 0.1% of the oceans could create 50 million jobs.
- If seaweed production increased by 14% each year, it would boost the global food supply up to 500 million tons by 2050.
The potential to reap these benefits is increasing. The Asian seaweed cultivation industry is well developed, and initiatives in Europe and the United States are growing. GreenWave supports and trains ocean farmers in the US, with their reefs being developed in the Northeast, West Coast, and Alaskan regions. In Denmark, Havhøst, an association of maritime utility gardens, NGOs, schools, businesses, and citizens, harvests regenerative crops to support our oceans.
The Nerdy: Get ready! As this trend develops, we will see a growing array of kelp products, ranging from toothpaste, shampoos, salad dressings, puddings, cakes, dairy products, frozen foods, and pharmaceuticals. That might seem a little nerdy to many. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, “nerdy” is better than “normal” for the future of our planet and for all of us!
Submitted by Bruce Murray.
Samantha Goldberg's policy statement on regenerative ocean farming for a course on EU and US Climate change mitigation, which Bruce led at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in SS 2022, served as the foundation for this item.
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