Seaweed solution making waves in the quest to reverse global warming
4 June 2019 at 4:49 pm
Nearly all the kelp growing along the east coast of Tasmania has been wiped out due to the rising temperatures of the world’s oceans. But scientists have discovered a way to regenerate the seaweed, and reverse global warming in the process.
The team behind the 2040 documentary have teamed up with The Climate Foundation, The Intrepid Foundation and the University of Tasmania to build Australia’s first seaweed platform, off Tasmania’s eastern coast.
The seaweed platform will be home to floating kelp forests, which will provide food, fuel and fertiliser, while drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – seaweed is more efficient at absorbing CO2 than the Amazon rainforest.
The platforms will also protect large areas of coral from bleaching, provide habitat and cool surface ocean waters.
The solution is explored in the documentary 2040, which looks at what the future could look like if existing technologies were adapted.
In the film, actor and director Damon Gameau joins Dr Brian von Herzen, founder of the Climate Foundation, on a boat trip and a kelp forest dive, to learn about the foundation’s plan to restore marine ecosystems through marine permaculture.
von Herzen explains that seaweed – the fastest growing plant in the world – could sequester thousands of tonnes of carbon per square kilometre per year.
The Intrepid Foundation, which supported the film with a $100,000 donation, is now aiming to raise $350,000 – with every donation made matched dollar for dollar – to support the marine permaculture initiative.
Intrepid’s chief purpose officer, Leigh Barnes, told Pro Bono News the foundation was attracted by the project’s “triple whammy effect”.
“It draws down carbon. It grows faster than any other plant, so it brings back biodiversity. We’re seeing wildlife come back into that area, which is really important. And then there’s benefits from job creation,” Barnes said.
“So there were multiple positive benefits that we thought was super cool.”
The sustainable travel group is also taking steps to become climate positive next year, by offsetting more than neutral, setting climate science based goals focused on renewables, issuing a plan for plastics and investing in projects focused on women empowerment.
Barnes said it was only after seeing the film that he became aware of the potential impacts seaweed could have, and how this could fit in with their vision.
“I always thought it was that annoying crap at the beach, I didn’t realise it had such a positive impact,” he said.
He said the latest project was something new, that had not been done before at scale, and was focused on regeneration – the theme of the documentary.
The current aim is to get proof of concept and get the project happening, as well as show to other organisations that you can invest in good things for the planet and have a positive return.
Barnes said he expects the project will launch next year.
“But if we’re able to get funding, and get up and running faster, we can make it happen faster,” he said.
See here for more information about the Seaweed: The next (re)generation project.