Louis Druehl is a seaweed farmer. He lives and works in Bamfield, British Columbia. That’s in Canada. He has been farming kelp since 1982. Kelp is a brown seaweed.
Druehl has studied seaweed. He’s cooked seaweed. He’s even written a book about it. Druehl says the world is turning to seaweed as a solution to climate change . “People have discovered seaweed,” he told TIME. “They’ve discovered us.”
Seaweed can be used to make fuel. It can also be used to make renewable plastics. Plus, it takes carbon out of the environment. This is good for the health of the planet.
Some researchers say seaweed is even better for the environment than trees are. Seaweed doesn’t need fertilizers . It doesn’t need fresh water or land. And it grows fast.
Seaweed could also be a global food source. Carlos Duarte is a professor of ecology . “To feed the world population by 2050, in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, there is only one pathway,” he says. “Seaweed farming.”
Seaweed farming is not new. Native people of Canada have been farming it for thousands of years. Many of them have left the area to find work. Now, a booming seaweed industry could bring jobs to many people. This includes those who lost their jobs during the pandemic.
Seaweed may slow climate change. But there are risks. When it rots, it releases carbon. And too much seaweed could affect how much light reaches underwater creatures.
Halley Froehlich works at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She says seaweed “can be a part of the solution” to climate change. But it’s not a solution on its own.