Home International Grow seaweeds to reduce carbon dioxide in atmosphere

Grow seaweeds to reduce carbon dioxide in atmosphere

By Joydeep Gupta, IANS

Bali : Every school student knows trees take in carbon dioxide from the air to make food through photosynthesis. Now a group of scientists from India, South Korea and Australia have suggested that growing more seaweeds could help control global warming. Plus, they can provide biofuel.

Carbon dioxide is the gas whose increase in the atmosphere is leading to climate change. There is not enough land to grow trees that can take in so much carbon dioxide. So growing more seaweed is the solution, says Dinabandhu Sahoo of the Botany Department in Delhi University.

Sahoo is co-author of a paper that appraises the use of marine algae for carbon sequestration – taking in carbon dioxide from the air. The other authors are from Pusan National University in South Korea and Monash University in Australia.

They are here to push their idea during the Dec 3-14 UN climate change conference being attended by over 10,000 delegates from 187 countries.

Half the photosynthesis in the world takes place in the oceans and the seas, Sahoo told IANS. But 98 percent of that is by microscopic plankton in the open sea and humans can do nothing to increase their number.

The other two percent is by seaweeds such as kelp, which grow on seashores. All these seaweeds and sea-grasses can be cultivated and their volumes multiplied to take in more carbon dioxide, Sahoo said.

Of the 20,000 species of seaweed known around the world, 221 are used commercially – 145 of them for food. Even among those, only a dozen species are being cultivated, while the rest are exploited from the wild.

The Asia Pacific region accounts for 80 percent of the world’s seaweed production. China is currently the global leader, producing five million tonnes per year. India, producing 500 tonnes a year, is in the seventh place.

What Sahoo and his co-authors are suggesting is a huge increase in these numbers so that not only can seaweeds take in more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but they can also be converted into biofuel when they die and then replace fossil fuels – helping fight climate change in two important ways.