What is blue carbon or blue carbon - we tell you

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Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas responsible for accelerating climate change. It is a very abundant gas in our atmosphere, since it is the result of both a large part of biological activity and, above all, of human activity. It is generated in abundance with the burning of fossil fuels such as coal or oil, and it is the main threat we have to face if we want to stop and counteract the effects of climate change in the coming decades. Because CO2 is absorbed by plants, forests are one of the main ways to combat its high presence in the atmosphere. However, there are other ecosystems that also participate in this reduction. In fact, the one known as blue carbon is one of the main ones. If you want to know what is blue carbon or blue carbon keep reading Green Ecologist and we'll tell you about it.

What is blue carbon or blue carbon

As we have mentioned, forests are one of the main ways in which CO2 from the atmosphere is captured, reducing its presence and increasing that of oxygen (O2) as a consequence of plant respiration and photosynthesis. However, although forests represent one of the main CO2 absorbing elementsThere is another ecosystem that absorbs much larger amounts and that, in many cases, goes completely unnoticed. It is about the seaweed ecosystems. In these cases, it is true underwater forests which are located mainly on the coasts. This is because, being shallow bottoms, the algae can root and, at the same time, be close enough to the surface to have the sunlight they need to develop properly.

These algae are also plants that carry out photosynthesis. Specifically, they take the CO2 directly from what is present dissolved in the water, and release oxygen that remains dissolved in the water or passes into the atmosphere. In this way, they constitute one more element when it comes to reducing the presence of CO2 on our planet. This type of CO2 that is absorbed by coastal algae is the one called blue carbon or blue carbon, in reference to the fact that it is in the seas where carbon absorption takes place.

A more efficient ecosystem than terrestrial forests

Even though these algae ecosystems They represent less than 0.5% of the planet's plant mass, it is calculated that, as carbon sinks, they absorb about 55% of the CO2 present in the atmosphere. This means that they are the main plant ecosystem capable of combat climate change thanks to your high CO2 absorption rate. However, because it is an ecosystem that is not "visible" to most people, it often goes completely unnoticed.

In fact, one of the advantages that coastal algae ecosystems have over terrestrial forests is that, in addition to capturing CO2 much faster, they also capture CO2 for much longer. In fact, these are ecosystems that are not subject to the danger of fires, which allows that, under suitable conditions, the blue carbon that is captured remains in this state for thousands of years.

Seaweed ecosystems are in danger

However, there are many agencies that are warning of the rapid destruction of these types of ecosystems, which supposes a negative impact of great importance in the fight against climate change. The problems that degrade and end up destroying these types of ecosystems are various. However, most of them, as well as those that cause the most damage, are due to human action. Among the main dangers faced by marine ecosystems that absorb CO2 are pollution (presence of plastics, oils, synthetic chemicals, etc.), trawling, ocean water acidification, the massive construction of urban centers near the coast, as well as the use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture that end up dissolved in the fresh water that ends up in the seas.

This situation has meant that, in recent decades, more than 30% of the seaweed area has been lost across the planet, which has a major impact on the absorption of global CO2 in the form of blue carbon. Furthermore, this level of destruction, far from slowing down, has increased in recent years, which suggests that, unless we take immediate action, the situation will worsen exponentially in the coming decades.

Initiatives to protect blue carbon sinks

There are different organisms and institutions that are fighting to stop and reverse the risk situation in which the ecosystems that act as blue carbon sinks on our planet. To do this, they are carried out different initiatives which must be carried out in accordance with both the local population and with companies, institutions and administrations. Some of the most important are the following:

  • Include blue carbon in carbon market shares.
  • Promote environmental education programs to make the population aware of this situation.
  • Create marine environmental protection zones.
  • Limit and prosecute destructive fishing (especially trawling).
  • Carry out concrete actions aimed at the protection and reforestation of marine protection areas.
  • Limit the construction of urban centers near the coasts and, when they are done, that it is respecting the environmental protection regulations.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is blue carbon or blue carbon, we recommend that you enter our category of Other environment.

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