By Matt Styslinger
At the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, in December, the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Jacques Diouf, emphasized the need to promote what he called “climate smart” agriculture for food security and climate change adaptation. “By climate smart,” he said, “we mean agriculture that sustainably increases productivity and resilience to environmental pressures, while at the same time reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or removes them from the atmosphere, because we cannot ignore the fact that agriculture is itself a large emitter of greenhouse gases.”
The FAO says seaweed farming could mitigate GHGs, supplement incomes, provide dietary protein, and offer a sustainable source of biofuels.(Photo Credit: Tanzanian Cardiac Hospital Project)
Diouf said that multiple climate smart agricultural practices were already widespread in the developing world, and he gave examples of practices—including crop diversification and urban farming—that could be replicated on the larger scale in the coming years. The FAO released a report just before the conference outlining some of those examples. Seaweed farming, for example, could help to mitigate GHGs while also supplementing incomes, providing dietary protein, and offering a sustainable source of biofuels.
Unlike many crops, seaweed farming does not require fertilizers, forest clearing, or heavy use of fuel burning machinery. As a result, production of seaweed does not significantly contribute to global GHG emissions.
Seaweed grows quickly and has a rapid rate of photosynthesis—the process that turns sunlight and carbon dioxide into plant energy and oxygen. This means that it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere more rapidly than most plants, making the crop even more ‘climate smart.’ (more…)