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We need to lessen our reliance on the livestock industry immediately and look into more sustainable alternatives that can help contribute to our global food supply to protect our planet from more anthropocentric damage.

 

Humans forever altered the planet’s climate with the emergence of the industrial revolutions. These industrial revolutions paved the way for the human need for mass production and mass consumption of the planet’s natural resources. Mass production and mass consumption are likely not to slowing down as the global population continues to grow, 7.8 billion as of July 2020. We need to start thinking about how we can adapt to our changing world. Author Andrew Hoffman explains in, How Culture Shapes The Climate Change Debate that our ideological filters on how we view climate change are influenced by our belief system. Some groups believe what’s happening to our planet is a radical socialist agenda while some groups believe it is due to anthropocentric behaviors. If our ideological filters don’t change about climate change, we need to focus our attention to ways we can adapt.  We can look for answers to our problem in the natural resource that covers 71% of our planet’s surface, the ocean.

 

Ocean farming is not a new innovation. Industrial farming as we know it today has changed what was once a sustainable practice. 1500 years ago, ocean farming was first developed in Hawaii. Egyptians, Romans, Aztecs, and the Chinese also used ocean farming to sustain their civilizations thousands of years ago. These populations started to utilize the ocean for farming because of the pressure that growing populations were putting on their agricultural and natural resources. Our industrial ideology has changed the way we view the world, different from our ancestors. We are seeing these same patterns of pressure on natural resources as our ancestors did.

 

Ocean farming has the potential to play a big part in how we can adapt to climate change if human behaviors don’t change soon. Ocean farming is the farming of aquatic plants (i.e. seaweed, kelp), fish, and shellfish on the open ocean. GreenWave, a leading non-profit in the industry, is using a polyculture farming system to farm sustainably unlike the livestock industry. The polyculture method creates a diverse submerged ecosystem of vertically submerged kelp in the ocean compared to the monoculture system of factory farming and crops in the agriculture sector. GreenWave’s model uses a vertical self-sustaining system that decreases their ecological footprint on the open ocean while producing a high yield of product for the global food supply. Kelp forests enrich ecosystem diversity. A self-sustaining ecosystem has the potential to restore damaged coastal ecosystems destroyed by anthropocentric activities.

 

GreenWave's polyculture farming system

GreenWave’s submerged vertical kelp farming structure that creates a new ecosystem within the area.

 

This sustainable farming alternative can lessen the pressure off the livestock industry by providing food but also gives the oceans a tool to detoxify from human’s carbon input. Ocean farming can play a big part in adapting to climate change by reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane levels. With a production of 500 million tons of seaweed, the ocean would be able to absorb 135 million tons of carbon.

 

The current livestock industry is not a viable option moving forward due to its contribution to CO2 and methane emissions. Animal Agriculture is responsible for being the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emission, fossil fuels are the first. The livestock industry accounts for 26% of the ice-free land while the feed for the livestock accounts for 33% of our cropland. The livestock industry is impacting water availability and contamination, soil fertility and biodiversity due to the industry’s land conversions. Ocean farming can play a part in the livestock industry by providing as an alternative to livestock feed. Adding seaweed to a cattle’s diet enriches their feed with vitamins and minerals and is low in fat. Adding 2% of seaweed to a cattle’s diet, reduces methane production by 99%.

 

YOU can make an impact by choosing to eat less meat from the industrial livestock industry. If everyone ate a little less meat, then we can lessen the pressure on the livestock industry. Partake in meatless Mondays. You don’t have to go full on vegetarian, but you can eat local farm raised meat. Support restaurants that give the option for veggie patties or use free range sustainable meat products from local farms. VOTING also makes an impact. Research and vote in policymakers that prioritize our country’s and world’s environmental issues. Support companies and politicians committed to sustainable practices and support funding for new innovations.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.oceanicinstitute.org/aboutoceans/aquafacts.html

https://www.greenwave.org

http://www.fao.org/3/ar591e/ar591e.pdf

https://essd.copernicus.org/articles/11/1783/2019/

https://climatenexus.org/climate-issues/food/animal-agricultures-impact-on-climate-change/

 Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken

 http://faculty.wwu.edu/patrick/Envs368–Hawaii/Readings/Aquaculture/Costa-Pierce-1987-Aquaculture-AncientHawaii.pdf

 https://documents.worldbank.org/en/publication/documents-reports/documentdetail/947831469090666344/seaweed-aquaculture-for-food-security-income-generation-and-environmental-health-in-tropical-developing-countries