Can a massive seaweed farm slow down global warming?

Date:

Can a massive seaweed farm slow down global warming?

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Sunday, October 16, 2022.
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • The mega-farm in Auckland hopes to take in one gigatonne, or one billion tonnes, of carbon each year.

  • It says that animals away from the farm should be starved of the nutrients the team plans to get from the deep ocean to feed their crop.

  • Prof. Smetacek thinks that if the salt fountain works well on a large scale, it will make a lot of sargassum.

  • Dr. Vaughan is also worried about a plan that could hurt biological systems in a big way.

  • Just leave the fossil fuel underground.

Imagine a massive seaweed farm floating between Africa and South America in the South Atlantic that is the size of Croatia.

Every year, it pulls a billion tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere and sinks it to the ocean floor, out of harm’s way while spinning in a natural ocean eddy.

Far-fetched? Maybe. However, a British entrepreneur hopes to have this operational by 2026.

According to scientists, controlling global warming will depend on carbon capture because cutting global emissions alone probably won’t be sufficient. However, carbon capture plans have only had sporadic success and have generally been small-scale.

They must be significant, daring, and appealing to investors if they are to succeed.

  • The opening of the largest carbon capture facility in the UK.

  • Licensing of seabed carbon capture facilities

  • Global aviation accepts the ‘aspirational’ net zero plan

John Auckland, a businessman, thinks he has such an idea. He wants to take advantage of what he refers to as “the amazing characteristics” of the sargassum seaweed that floats. He is sure that his Seafield floating farm will remove enough CO2 from the air to reduce the effects of climate change while also giving its sponsors carbon credits.

Auckland is planning big with its 55,000 sq km (21,200 sq miles) of land. It must be enormous to make a difference in the fifty gigatonnes of carbon dioxide we release into the sky each year. The mega-farm in Auckland hopes to take in one gigatonne, or one billion tonnes, of carbon each year.

The initiative is currently testing its technologies in the Caribbean and Mexico. These tests are based on the ideas of marine biologist Prof. Victor Smetacek. Seafield, who calls him their “Scientific Founder,” has always been interested in the idea that seaweed could grow in huge, rotating ocean currents called “gyres.”

In the middle, “they collect all kinds of items,” he claims. One of the best-known examples is the plastic trash that builds up in the middle of the subtropical gyres.

Seafield wants to keep its crop of sargassum in the same way these vast eddies keep garbage islands in place.

John Auckland argues that “the gyre prevents the sargassum from escaping.” It will only flourish there if we provide the right conditions for it. Any away from our farm will die off or stop growing. ”

He had better be correct. The tourism sector in the Caribbean has long been afflicted by sargassum. Its rot emits a horrible odour as it washes ashore on the coast. It’s not the ideal place to unwind on a beach blanket.

However, Seafield is confident that its seaweed will prevent this from happening. It says that animals away from the farm should be starved of the nutrients the team plans to get from the deep ocean to feed their crop.

The subtropical sun beating down on the surface water in gyres all day causes it to evaporate and make it very salty and nutrient-poor. For this reason, Prof. Smetacek refers to gyres as “the oceans’ deserts.”

The professor wishes to bring a colder, nutrient-rich ocean layer to the top to support the sargassum, but as these deserts slowly rotate, they pass over it.

Prof. Smetacek explains that if you attach pipes to the nutrient-rich, deep water and allow it to warm up, the water will rise naturally and keep flowing indefinitely.

Early in 2023, the crew starts testing its technology. It will be exciting to watch. Even though it was first thought of in 1956, the salt fountain has been made, but it isn’t as big as Seafield wants it to be.

Prof. Smetacek thinks that if the salt fountain works well on a large scale, it will make a lot of sargassum.

“They grow at extremely rapid rates.” Every ten days, their biomass doubles, “he claims.” The advantage of seaweed is that a combined harvester may be used to gather it.”

According to Prof. Smetacek, the crop will be baled up by floating harvesters before being sent to the inert depths of the ocean floor, where there is so little oxygen that the bales won’t decay. They will continue to be the same carbon sources the seaweed needs to grow. The team is still doing tests, but they think they will be able to store carbon for hundreds or even thousands of years.

Financial backers of Seafield are hoping that sargassum will also float money their way. In the global carbon markets, they intend to sell credits for carbon that has been captured. With these credits, companies like airlines that find it hard to cut carbon emissions can buy reductions made elsewhere.

Critics of the carbon market say that people who support CO2 capture have oversold technology that doesn’t do what they say it will do because they are trying to make money from CO2 capture. This makes me wonder if Seafields’s strategy, which seems to have a lot of potential, will work once it gets out of the lab.

“I’m a boring scientist.” “I’d want more evidence, more research before I’d wholeheartedly declare that you’re going to get that type of gigatonne-scale removal happening,” says Dr. Nem Vaughan, associate professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia.

Dr. Vaughan is also worried about a plan that could hurt biological systems in a big way. Can seafields deal with so much seaweed that might be dangerous in the South Atlantic? Is the salt fountain durable enough to withstand all circumstances?

If tonnes of plastic tubes were to become adrift in a major Atlantic hurricane like the one we just experienced, she claims, “people wouldn’t be pleased.”

She says there are easier ways to help nature, such as planting more trees and hedgerows and protecting places like peatlands that naturally store carbon. But she stresses that first and foremost, “We must refrain from putting it (CO2) up there.” Just leave the fossil fuel underground. Simply going it in the ground is far simpler than attempting to trap it once it has escaped. ”

John Auckland knows that some parts of the method haven’t been proven yet, but he still thinks the risk is worth taking.

“I see a lot of riskier items every day that investors are eager to invest in,” he claims.

“There is much progress we can make toward resolving the climate catastrophe. If everyone thought the same way, no one would be working on solutions of this scale. Therefore, you can’t avoid taking this risk. ”

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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