It’s almost two months since fires rage in the amazon, people around the world took to the internet and latched onto the phrase that the Amazon is the “lungs of the earth.” Celebrities from all walks of life came together to raise funds to support the Amazon #prayforAmazonia went viral. Let me come closer to home. Mau forest fires have occurred occasionally, no one called it “the lungs of the earth” but we echoed, enough. Our hearts burst out for our forests for two reasons majorly: for the environment and the tragedy of watching icon locations burn, the other is the area that plays a vital role in removing world-heating carbon dioxide out of the air. The more the fires continue to spread over time, the less natural air filtration the earth will have.
But while forests play a vital role in carbon absorption, we have to acknowledge the fact that oceans have overtime absorbed a lot of the world’s carbon through algae, vegetation, and coral. In simple words, the trees might not fully save us- but the oceans could. Solutions to the natural world will help right the warming wrongs of the human-made world. The world could plant as many trees as it can. It could follow the footsteps of Ethiopia by planting 350 million trees in a span of 12 hours, but it will take many coupled decades before these trees scale back carbon-dioxide levels to the level needed, given the damage is not yet fully under control. The optimal time to plant trees to address current climate crisis was decades ago. There are challenges of forestation- continued climate change, land needed for farming to feed Africa’s growing population, reliance on wood products for energy and so forth.
Trees alone will not save us from the sea of crisis we put ourselves into. We must look for other solutions as we wait for the results of forestation to bear fruits. Such solutions involve us looking at the ocean with a different eye. an effective and scalable eye. say hello to Algae sequestration.
Algae can be utilized in several ways to reduce the carbon present in the atmosphere. Other than it serving the purpose of storing carbon dioxide, it can be used in a variety of other sustainable and commercial products or even materials, from steel alternatives to Veggie burgers, yes! For human consumption.
Algae, coupled up with AI-powered bioreactors, is up to 400 times more efficient than a tree at removing CO2 from the atmosphere. That means that while we are all learning on ways to reduce carbon emissions and cut down our consumption patterns, we can make big reductions in the atmospheric carbon. If studied and implemented correctly, it could make a county or city carbon-negative without changing the current production or consumption patterns in that particular area.
Trees and algae sequester carbon dioxide naturally. Trees consume it as part of the natural process of photosynthesis by absorbing the carbon into their trunks and roots then release oxygen into the air. The case of algae is no different in terms of absorption only that it absorbs the carbon in the form of more algae. It can consume more carbon than the trees as it can spread and grow faster, cover more surface area and can be controlled by bioreactors given its relative size.
Every innovation does have its challenges. For algae, the limiting factor is the cost of implementation and the difficulty involved in getting the right equipment in terms of technology for this venture. However, with the adverse effects of human activity on the environment, time to be cheap is over. We need to venture into solutions that are planet effective, not just cost-effective. We need to direct our capital to long term solutions that solve big problems.
Problems facing the environment and ultimately us need collective action, and human technology that seeks to improve the outdated ways of doing things. We need to be a part of changing the environmental crisis, and we have Algae for a start.