Most climate scientists agree that solving the climate crisis will take a lot of little solutions that add up to one planet-saving reality. Kelp farming is one of those exciting new solutions!
Kelp farm doesn't look like you would expect. A kelp farm looks pretty similar to any other stretch of ocean - it is grown on long ropes attached to buoys, growing on these ropes are many forms of mariculture. This is one great thing about kelp farming, it forms a habitat for biodiversity and poly-culture. Fish, crabs, snails, worms, and many other sea creatures like to have something to live on/ hang out under, kelp provides this! Another Pro is this buoy-rope system allows for 3D farming, which is incredibly efficient! You can grow muscles, oysters, seaweed, and scallops at different levels on the same rope and buoy. All organisms feed on nutrients in the water, so no fertilizer is needed! The ability to farm from top to bottom is great for sea life as well as efficiency.
Shifting some farming/food production off the land and into the sea is great for the environment. This shift would get rid of some of the profound climate impacts on-land farming has. Many farmers use herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers while farming on land, the chemicals in these products can cause a bounty of issues, for example, water pollution. Kelp farming has no use for chemical-filled products.
Kelp/ Seaweed helps the climate in 4 main ways. Kelp does photosynthesis, which absorbs CO2. Large-scale kelp farming would help to reduce acidity in the ocean by absorbing CO2. Ocean acidification occurs because of burned fossil fuels releasing Co2. The ocean has absorbed 1/3rd of that Co2 making its waters 30% more acidic! Ocean acidification has lots of negative effects, for instance, it makes it harder for shellfish to grow shells. Ocean acidification also makes it difficult for fish and other creatures to smell predators or find their way home.
Kelp farming helps our Co2 levels, our marine life, and us humans! Kelp actually helps protect our coasts. Having these kelp forests means that when a storm surge comes, it hits the seaweed before it hits the coast, adding a physical barrier protecting the shoreline, lessening the impact to storms.
There are lots of possibilities for kelp. It's tasty and nutritious, and does not swim away or need to be fed like fish! Win-Win! Kelp can be used to make Flour, Kelp chips, Beer and so much more. The U.S. Dept of Energy ARPA-E Program awarded $22 million in funding for research into kelp as fuel. Maybe one day you'll be driving a kelp powered car.
Kelp as a climate solution is exciting! Its many environmental benefits represent a new age of sustainable agriculture and eco-consciousness.
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Veronica Britton is a junior at Mac and she loves kelp :)