The Quick Report

How Seaweed Could Save the World

There are more than 12,000 different types of seaweed. And humans know how to cultivate fewer than 30 of them. 

However, by understanding and learning how to make the most of the various types of this miraculous, plant-like algae, humans could leverage it to save the planet.

A Sustainable Food Source

Envato

Currently, more than 800 million people are facing starvation world-wide. Seaweed is packed with nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. When seaweed is dried, it retains its nutrients and maintains a long shelf life, and has no need for cold storage. Moreover, seaweed provides nutritious food that doesn’t require the carbon emissions of keeping perishable food fresh.

Given that more than two-thirds of planet Earth is covered in water, seaweed is an abundant resource. Currently, oceans contribute less than 3% of the world’s total food calories, according to some estimates.

Growing the Seaweed Market Could Solve 10% of the World’s Food Problem

Envato

While seaweed is abundant in the world’s oceans, its cultivation is mostly limited to Asia, where 98% of the 35 million tons sold worldwide annually comes from.

According to a study that was led by the University of Queensland in Australia, there is enough available ocean in the world to farm an area the size of Australia. Such farming would provide enough food for 10 percent of all human diets by 2050.

The problem that remains is getting the world to embrace seaweed as a food. While people around the world have caught on to nori as part of sushi wraps, it hasn’t caught on in large form past that.

Other Uses

Beyond consuming seaweed as part of food production, there are several other uses for seaweed that are biodegradable and compostable.

A SWIFT LOOK

Watch the latest episode of 'A Swift Look' with host Zoe J!



These include an alternative to plastic packaging and an alternative textile cotton. Cotton has a significant environmental impact, requiring huge quantities of land, large volumes of water, and pesticides.

Carbon Reduction

Envato

Another usage for seaweed is a nature-based, scalable solution for tackling climate change. It actually draws large volumes of carbon dioxide as it grows. Giant kelp can grow 50 centimeters a day, consuming huge amounts of carbon.

It is speculated seaweed may have the potential of storing carbon, similar to all of the earth’s seagrass metals, salt marshes, and mangroves combined. However, more study is needed. 

Under Threat

Some types of seaweed are under threat. For example, in recent years, California, Norway, and Tasmania have all lost more than 80% of their kelp, CNN reported.

Conservation efforts are needed to protect, replant, and cultivate seaweed ecosystems. It creates a critical habitat for Marine life, as it creates a place for smaller creatures to evade predators.

Final Thoughts

Envato

Seaweed has superpowers humankind has barely tapped into – a nutritious food, an alternative to plastic, ocean restoration, and tackling climate change. If humans make the most of this mysterious plant it may save the world.