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Slimy, green and unsightly, seaweed and algae are among the humblest plants on earth. A group of scientists at a climate conference in Bali say they could also be a potent weapon against global warming, capable of sucking damaging carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere at rates comparable to the mightiest rain forests.
“The ocean’s role is neglected because we can’t see the vegetation,” said Chung Ik-kyo, a South Korean environmental scientist. “But under the sea, there is a lot of seaweed and sea grass that can take up carbon dioxide.”
The seaweed research, backed by scientists in 12 countries, is part of a broad effort to calculate how much carbon is being absorbed from the atmosphere by plants, and figure out ways to increase that through reforestation and other steps. Such so-called “carbon sinks” are considered essential to controlling greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere and are blamed for global warming.
The conference in Bali is aimed at launching two-year negotiations for a new global warming pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012, and using the earth’s natural resources to remove carbon from the air is a major topic of discussion.
While the lion’s share of attention to carbon sinks has been on forests, the seaweed scientists say the world should look to the sea, where nearly 8 million tons of seaweed and algae are cultivated every year.
Sources: The Times Of India