A Different Future: For Better or for Worse

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A Different Future: For Better or for Worse

Barrett Clark, Staff Writer

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One of the most common metaphors used for our modern political climate is the fable of the boiling frog. It states that, while throwing a frog into a pot of boiling water will cause it to jump out in pain, a frog, placed in lukewarm water that is gradually heated up, will stay in the water until both it dies, and the water boils.

Politicians, comedians, newscasters, actors, and any other number of public figures have used this metaphor as a way to insinuate that people will react violently to a quick change, good or bad, but will accept a gradual change, no matter the true threat that lies at the end of the waiting. This, however, is a lie. To say that gradual change leads to submission to circumstance is an assumption that is disproved by the very people who spout this myth, and of course, a myth is all that this story is. Even frogs will jump out when the water becomes too hot, and when it comes to the energy sector of the world economy, the water is becoming quite hot.

Fossil fuels, which are categorized as coal, petroleum, and natural gas,  are responsible for the majority (63%) of energy production in the world as of 2017, while 20% of energy is nuclear, and only 17% is created by renewable energy. Considering that the long-known harmful effects that using and harvesting fossil fuels has on the environment, this might seem like a harrowing statistic.

Just in the past decade, an oil spill occured in the Gulf of Mexico, killing excessive amounts of wildlife and polluting the water in the Gulf, and all of it was caused by irresponsible BP executives. This disaster, often called the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, is considered the worst in US history, and is reminiscent of the ExxonMobil oil spill so many years ago.

The way that we could circumvent this mounting number of tragedies is to change the method in which we harvest fossil fuels, to alleviate risk, or find more efficient ways of using them, to limit the amount of pollution, but, I propose a different idea. We should completely scrap the use of fossil fuels, and replace them, with seaweed.

Seaweed is more than likely the most underappreciated organism in the Western world, due to many amazing abilities, as well as its ease of care when compared to plants on land. One of the most amazing factors, in my opinion, is that seaweed has been recorded to grow a full two feet per day under the right conditions, though 10 inches a day is more common.

In the Pacific, Giant Kelp is already harvested for algin, which is used in things from toothpaste to ice cream, and in Eastern Asian, seaweed is harvested as food. Seaweed doesn’t even require freshwater, fertilizer, or pesticides, which is one of the main sources of land pollution in the world. Seaweed also contains large amounts of iodine, vitamin C, antioxidants, soluble fiber,  vitamin K, and vitamin B12, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals that aid human bodily functions, so simply changing the way we harvest seaweed would have huge effects on the food industry in our nation.

Second, seaweed completely outclasses corn as a biofuel alternative to petroleum. One square acre of seaweed can produce over 10 times as much gasoline substitute as corn can, which was once hailed as the fuel of the future. This staggering statistic is often hard to believe, but one needs to remember that almost the entire seaweed body can be used for fuel or food, and this fact is quite amazing.

On top of all of these amazing traits and abilities, seaweed provides a much needed habitat for marine animals, and can provide a shield against beach erosion. These qualities are also shared by both mangroves and coral reefs, however, both mangroves and coral reefs are on the decline, due to both pollution and deforestation. The logical conclusion would be to simply cultivate seaweed and allow it to become the dominant habitat in the ocean, terraforming the planet in a way that isn’t just beneficial for humanity, but in a way that is better for our future as well.


Source 1: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3


Source 2: https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/hidden-cost-of-fossils#.W3bm9OiUvrc


Source 3: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/plants-and-algae/giant-kelp

Source 4: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5391seaweed 1