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Australian scientists have been uncovering a near-unending list of ways kelp and other kinds of seaweed can help in the fight against climate change. It’s the continued study and harvesting of seaweed species in Australia that has Dr. Pia Winberg convinced they can play as large a role in human civilization as commodities like wheat, lumber, plastic, concrete, or nitrogen. “If we used the infrastructure in the oceans and created seaweed islands, we would actually eliminate a lot of the climate change issues we have today,” she says, in an interview and documentary from the BBC’s Isabelle Gerretsen. Her reasoning is based around seaweed’s rapid growth rate and ability to absorb carbon at much, much faster rates than terrestrial plants. Coupled with seaweed’s rich nutrient profile and unique molecular structure, Winberg believes it should be farmed on the largest scale, and that it could balance emissions, deacidify the oceans, change the way we farm, and open up a Pandora’s box of new materials research that could include everything from biodegradable plastics to construction materials to artificial body parts.

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