Scientists Hope Seaweed Farming Will Reverse Climate Change

People have been trying to figure out effective and sustainable ways to reverse climate change for years, but who would’ve guessed that seaweed would be the answer?


Forests have long been considered the best natural defense against climate change, but researchers have recently been looking into seaweed as a new solution. They have found that seaweed is the most effective natural way of absorbing carbon emissions from the atmosphere, and companies and farmers all over the world are trying it out. 


The process is very simple: kelp-bearing ropes will be attached to floating cellulose buoys. The kelp will soak up carbon via photosynthesis, and eventually become too heavy for their biodegradable buoys. So, the kelp will sink to the bottom of the ocean and become part of the ocean floor where chemistry and water pressure will turn it into oil that we can use.


Many factors helped researchers decide that seaweed is the best option to combat climate change. Unlike tree planting, seaweed does not require freshwater or fertilizers to thrive. It also grows at a much faster rate than trees, expanding up to two feet per day. Seaweed doesn’t compete for demands on land as trees do.


“When we’re planting trees, we need to make sure it does not take away that land from food production, but that is not an issue with seaweed,” said Katie Lebling, a researcher with the World Resources Institute’s carbon removal team.


Seaweed also helps reverse greenhouse gas emissions in other ways. Adding just a small amount of Asparagopsis taxiformis —a red algal species— to cattle feed can reduce methane production from beef cattle by up to 99%. Seaweed farming would also create new jobs for many people who have been left unemployed due to the COVID-19 virus. 


There are some concerns about the environmental impact of the project. The seaweed might entangle whales and get in the way of shipping. Also, the gains from seaweed can be reversed if not used correctly. If the seaweed is not harvested, it will rot and release the CO2 it has captured back into the environment. But, many believe that the positive impacts will ultimately outweigh the negative. 


Many believe that seaweed farming is the most effective way of absorbing carbon emissions, and will be the main solution to climate change.


“There is no question that seaweed farming can be done at a large scale and can improve our lives,” says Louis Druehl, a seaweed farmer in British Columbia, Canada.