Action Not Words
Until now, kelp forests and other seaweeds have received almost no attention in terms of climate change mitigation policy discussions. Even other blue carbon ecosystems (seagrass meadows, tidal marshes, and mangroves) are a relatively new field. Why is seaweed carbon sequestrationimpo rtant?
Increased focus on seaweed sequestration highlights the potential for kelp forest “afforestation” as a novel climate change mitigation strategy. Policy interventions can encourage kelp production and the carbon sequestration it brings. Governments could directly implement kelp reforestation, kelp farms and protection programs, which have substantial benefits for marine ecosystems and can spur dive tourism. Carbon offset standards can develop kelp offset methodologies, inside or outside a government context (compliance or voluntary offset markets, respectively)
A recent study estimated that about 11 percent of total seaweed production may be sequestered, most of it after it sinks down into the deep sea.That might not sound like a lot. But seaweeds are incredibly efficient when it comes to sucking carbon up and using it to grow. Kelp, for example, can shoot up by as much as two feet each day.“It’s a small percent, but it’s a small percent of a very large number,” said Carlos Duarte, a biologist at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and one of the study’s authors. The total production by seaweeds is so large that even if just a small fraction is sequestered, it’s “enough to be globally relevant.”All in all, super-powered seaweeds could sequester around 173 million metric tons (190 million tons) of carbon each year, about as much as the annual emissions of the state of New York.
These numbers are just estimates right now. Duarte and his colleagues plan to conduct field research to get hard data on the sequestration potential of sinking seaweed.Sonja Smith, a marine biologist who studies how nutrients move through ocean ecosystems, was surprised to learn that the carbon in seaweed could be getting stored in the deep sea. “We assumed it mostly cycles back,” she said. “So if a lot of deep sea carbon originates from kelp, that would be amazing.”Because kelp forests and other seaweed habitats sequester carbon, Duarte said, they should be considered for “blue carbon” efforts that aim to protect and restore carbon-rich marine ecosystems.
Alarmingly, between one quarter and one half of coastal plant habitats have been lost over the last 50 years, and rising temperatures are already shifting the boundaries of kelp forests. These findings add one more dimension to the need to protect kelps and seaweed ecosystems, when we lose kelp we don’t only lose habitat that is a significant for many species, but we also lose an important carbon sink. Governments, local authorities and businesses in general should be encouraged to offset their carbon footprint though sponsorship of both seaweed farming or seaweed reefs. In the same way that airline passengers can pay an airline a fee to counter their carbon footprint.
Instead of planting trees which don't have any real effect on carbon capture for the first few years of their life, the investment would be better spent on seaweed, especially the Kelps. Kelp grows considerably faster than any land based plants 30% - 60% faster. Seaweeds starts to absorb carbon from their surrounding immediately and if left in situ will continue to absorb vast amounts throughout its life, reproducing each Autumn to ensure the continual cycle.
It takes five years for a tree sapling to start to have any positive effect on its environment, it only takes three months for seaweed to start absorbing large amounts of carbon and releasing oxygen into the seas. After five years the seaweed would have absorbed huge amounts a of carbon compared with a sapling and also released thousands of seaweed spores into the seas, which after only twelve months with would repeat the carbon sequestering of its parent 'plant.' That's an awful lot of carbon trapped by seaweed compared to a tree.
Where kelp is allowed to fully grow and is not used commercially, kelp cultivation efforts should hypothetically be additional, and therefore a credible source of offsets. Managing natural kelp beds, which face numerous existential threats, could also be a credible offset type. Another option is for governments to promote kelp cultivation through efficient economic incentives for the private sector. Kelp has various commercial uses: as a gel (hypercolloid industry), as an energy source, in pharmaceuticals, in fertilizers, and for invertebrate aquaculture (e.g., abalone, shrimp, sea urchins). Tax breaks for kelp cultivation could provide a “discount” to match the unmonetized social good that cultivation brings through carbon sequestration. Unlike terrestrial ecosystems and coastal marine sediments, the deep sea has minimal direct land-uses, such as farms, urbanization, industry, or coastal resorts. As a result, carbon that enters the deep sea is theoretically insulated against the risks of reversals that affect other biological carbon.
Here at Green Ocean Farming we offer three options for offsetting your carbon footprint.
Firstly an Eco friendly Seaweed farm owned and operated by you / or overseen by us. The seaweed is grown for the purpose of further use, whether that is for Bio Fuel, food, animal feed or other use is up to the investor. This method would also offer a financial return to the investor.
Secondly a similar set up to the first option but leaving the seaweed in to continue growing throughout the year, with the dying fronds being processed by nature and ending up in deep water sinks. This method would still need to be managed by you / us. The seaweed would spore and reproduce naturally each year creating other seaweed or Kelp forests in the area as well on the original ropes. A Hectare of Kelp sequesters around15 tonnes of carbon per year.
Thirdly our Artificial seaweed cubes can be places in the water purely for the purpose of make seaweed habitats for marine life, once the seaweed on the eco cubes starts to grow it makes a perfect nursery for other forms of sea life, some of which feed on the seaweed others just use it for protection.In each case the seaweed will absorb vast amounts of Carbon while it grows. The eco cubes are permanent and would have a natural life of 4 - 6 years.
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