Algae Could Alleviate Global Hunger

Algae Could Alleviate Global Hunger

Algae has numerous benefits: it grows 10 times faster than traditional crops, and can be cultivated in self-contained facilities that allow farmers to reuse nutrients. Best of all, it’s healthy. Some species of algae have protein content over 40% dry mass, and can supply vitamins, nutrients, and omega-3s that are necessary to a human diet.

Our Changing Climate: Can Seaweed Save the Planet?, May 6, 2022.

Algae farms are best suited to the coasts of the Global South, a region which has been particularly hard-hit by the climate crisis.

“Algae can actually become the breadbasket for the Global South,” said Charles Greene, Professor Emeritus of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell and the paper’s senior author. “In that narrow strip of land, we can produce more than all the protein that the world will need.”

BBC: The unique power of Australian seaweed, October 21, 2021.

Euronews: Is microalgae the sustainable food of the future?, May 25, 2021.

Bloomberg: World Food Program Says that There is a Hunger Crises, August 12, 2022.

Why This Matters

Global food systems stand to be severely disrupted by climate change. In this year’s COP27, transforming the way the world eats is set to be a core issue. Acute food insecurity has doubled since 2019 and this year’s intense droughts have threatened agriculture in the Global North and South alike. In 2022, food prices have soared by 20%, allowing corporations to profit while consumers starve. Meanwhile, a third of all food produced across the globe is lost or wasted.

UN: "Global hunger levels are at a new high" | UN Chief at the Global Food Security Call to Action, May 18, 2022.

DW: A world going hungry? How conflict and climate change disrupt global food supply, July 5, 2022.

CNBC: Will The US Face A Food Shortage?, April 20, 2022.

Bloomberg: Increasing Risks of Global Hunger, April 7, 2022.

TED: Re-Thinking Food | Transforming Food Systems for People and Planet | Frank Eyhorn, April 13, 2022.

Governments and scientists alike are working to create ways to reform the global food supply chain. Last week, President Biden introduced a new farm bill that aims to resolve vertical integration, price fixing, and workers’ rights violations, which are rampant in the meat and dairy industry. And in September, a study in Nature proposed that we alleviate world hunger by feeding livestock with discarded food byproducts like fruit pulp. Cereal crops that usually feed animals, then, could be put into the market for human consumption.

Bloomberg: How Big Beef Is Fueling the Amazon’s Destruction, January 22, 2022.

Cornell University: Climate change reduced farming productivity by 21% since 1961, April 1, 2021.

Sentient Media: Food System Emissions | How Can We Reduce Our Carbon Footprint?, June 18, 2021.

Tom's Outdoors: Changing Paradigms | Regenerative Agriculture | A Solution to our Global Crisis? (Documentary), May 10, 2021.

The Ocean’s Role in Fighting Climate Change

The current food supply chain generates 26% of all human greenhouse gas emissions, and takes up 43% of the planet's arable land. Relying on sea grasses and algae for sustenance could help preserve ecosystems on and offshore. The ocean is crucial in mitigating the effects of climate change. The ocean already absorbs up to 50% of all fossil fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions, 20 times more than all other land sources combined. Cultivating seaweed can help preserve these ecosystems that are increasingly under threat.

A Meat Atlas 2021 graphic shows greenhouse gas emissions of leading meat and milk firms. (Source: Bartz/Stockmar CC-BY 4.0.)

Verify: Yes, cattle are the top source of methane emissions in the US, December 14, 2021.

DW: Can we engineer the ocean to eat more of our emissions?, September 30, 2022.

Seaweeds can be a sustainable source of carbon capture, which some companies are banking on to help reduce emissions. Propagating seaweed can also be a boon to marine ecosystems. A seagrass meadow project in Malaysia aims to reduce the effects of sea level rise and pollution on the animals and humans that live nearby.

TED: The Ocean's Ingenious Climate Solutions | Susan Ruffo, March 13, 2022.

Economist Impact Events: Nature-based ocean solutions for climate change mitigation, December 22, 2021.

Ocean Conservancy: How Ocean-Based Solutions Contribute to Net Zero, April 20, 2021.