Marine micro algae becoming the next fossil fuel and sustainable food source

As we already know, our planet Earth is warming at an alarming rate. The high temperature is not only melting glaciers and sea ice but they are also causing a detrimental effect on many plants and animals as well. Some of the many impacts that have already occurred includes, melting of mountain glaciers in West Antarctica, Greenland and the sea ice in the Arctic. In about 30 years, the population of the Adelie penguins has reduced from 32 000 pairs to 11 000. Sea level rises has also been increasing at a very fast rate. Butterflies, foxes and even alpine plants have moved up north to higher, cooler areas. Precipitation has increased worldwide compared to previous times. The list can go on (National Geographic 2015). Many policy makers have agreed that the average global temperature rise caused by greenhouse gas emissions should not exceed 2 °C above the average global temperature of pre-industrial times. It has been estimated that to have at least a 50 per cent chance of keeping warming below 2 °C throughout the twenty-first century, the cumulative carbon emissions between 2011 and 2050 need to be limited to around 1,100 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. However, the greenhouse gas emissions contained in present estimates of global fossil fuel reserves are around three times higher than this, so unfortunately the temperature would increase even higher than 2 degrees Celsius (McGlade and Ekins 2015).

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However, there has been a breakthrough using marine microalgae, taken from the bottom of the marine food chain. Charles H. Greene, proposed a study to an overview on a concept of large-scale industrial cultivation of marine microalgae, or ICMM for short. ICMM could reduce fossil fuel use by providing liquid hydrocarbon biofuels for aviation and cargo shipping industries. The biomass of microalgae remaining after the lipids have been removed for biofuels can be made into nutritious animal feeds and even can be consumed by humans. Marine microalgae does not compete with terrestrial agriculture, nor does growing it require freshwater. Although, this may take millions of dollars to have this kind of project done, it will be rewarding and beneficial at the end (Cornell University 2016).

References:

Cornell University. 2016. Marine microalgae, a new sustainable food and fuel source. ScienceDaily.

McGlade C, Ekins P. 2015. The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 °C. Nature 517:187–190.

National Geographic. 2015. Effects of Global Warming.

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