Blue Carbon: The Climate Change Solution You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

This is the eighth part of Carbon Cache, an ongoing series about nature-based climate solutions.

Gail Chmura, a professor at McGill University, had recently joined the school’s geography department in the late 1990s when some of her colleagues were trying to solve a mystery. They were looking at global carbon budgets, and the numbers weren’t adding up. There was a missing carbon sink, sequestering a whole lot of carbon, and nobody knew what it was. They wondered if Canada’s peatlands were part of the missing sink.

Meanwhile, Chmura was sampling salt marshes in the Bay of Fundy, which spans between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Few people had paid salt marshes any attention as carbon sinks because the data showed pretty low levels of carbon at a first glance. But Chmura had a lightbulb moment.

Researchers had been looking at the percentage of carbon in salt marshes by weight. In peatlands, this makes sense because they are almost entirely made of organic matter, which is where carbon is stored in soil.


Stark Warning on Health of Oceans

Author: Tim Radford | Published: May 4, 2017 

Ocean acidification and global warming between them could severely damage the health of the oceans.

They could block the biological process that delivers nitrogen in the seawater to nourish micro-organisms. They could spark growth among the invertebrates but cause stress higher up the food web to destabilise the balance of marine life. And they could even create conditions that would make great stretches of oceans toxic.

Toxic oceans

The first two are possibilities based on laboratory experiments and warn of what could happen as the world warms, the climates change and the chemistry of the oceans continues to become more acidic. But the third may already be happening.

Marine scientists from Stony Brook University in New York state report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they looked at ocean temperature data and the growth of two of the most toxic algae in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans.

They have found that, since 1982, areas of these oceans have warmed and become more hospitable to Alexandrium and Dinophysis, two genera of micro-organism with species that manufacture neurotoxins that can cause paralytic and diarrhoetic shellfish poisoning in humans.


Mangroves in Crisis: Why One Man Works to Save the Plants That Fight Climate Disruption

Author: Dahr Jamail

It’s not news that anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is accelerating at unprecedented rates, according to climate scientists. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000, and this year is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded — by far. And the pace of planetary warming is only increasing, as is made dramatically clear in this recently published graphic.

Hence, the need to do everything possible to work towards mitigating this crisis is obvious. There is no way to completely reverse the trend, but as more and more people acknowledge our shared moral responsibility to mitigate the impacts, some are uncovering creative strategies for fighting planetary warming. For instance, an unlikely epiphany led one man towards an effort to preserve and protect mangrove forests, a tactic that would not necessarily be most folks’ first tactic to address climate disruption.

In 1992, Alfredo Quarto was in southern Thailand working on an article about fisherfolk when he became aware that mangrove forests were under threat by the shrimping aquaculture industry.

“The common threat I saw to all these local farmers [was] outside investors who were destroying both their lands and livelihoods by destroying the mangrove forests they depended upon in order to make more shrimp farms,” Quarto told Truthout. “I was deeply moved by a village headman whose father had been murdered by a local shrimp mafia because he defied their cutting down the mangroves.”

Quarto said that the man told him, “If there are no mangrove forests, then the sea will have no meaning. It is like having a tree with no roots, for the mangroves are the roots of the sea.”

The man’s words made a profound impact — in fact, they shifted the course of Quarto’s life. Quarto went on to become the cofounder and co-director of the Mangrove Action Project (MAP), whose aim is the preservation and protection of mangrove forests around the world.