In 2015, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce CO2 emissions. This obliges the states to take their own steps and enact regulations, such as the introduction of a carbon tax levy or the abolition of coal mines. Despite these measures, the targets put forward in the agreement have so far not been met. According to the Climate Change Report 2021
of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global surface temperatures will, given current emissions, continue to rise until mid-century. Global warming will thus surpass 1.5°C and 2°C respectively during the 21st century if CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions are not sharply reduced in the coming decades.
The consequences of global warming are becoming increasingly clear: floods, droughts, hurricanes, glacier shrinkage or the rapid melting of the ice dominate the way we see the world. Images of polar bears on floating ice floes, detached from the permanent pack ice, are disturbing and thought-provoking. Such images make global warming more visible and give us an idea of its profound consequences.
The book featured in the current newsletter, "Slime - How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us," addresses not only the history and unique properties of algae, but also their potential benefits in the fight against climate change. Ruth Kassinger describes how vital algae are, as well as how, if used and cultivated wisely, they could help us out of the climate crisis. Ruth Kassinger describes how vital algae are, as well as how, if used and cultivated wisely, they could help us humans out of the climate crisis. Even a single sip of salt water contains several thousand different algae, which are the most vital source of food for microscopic animals and thus make up the foundation of the marine food chain.
A die-off of all algae would therefore result in the starvation of all marine animals. Without algae, life on land would not have been able to evolve 500 million years ago. Algae are not only a source of food for many living organisms; they also ensure that the earth does not heat up too much and that it remains habitable. This is because dead algae and their carbon-rich husks remain in sea-floor sediments for a long time, thereby storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere long term. In doing so, algae our planet from becoming an unbearable greenhouse.
The book introduces various projects aimed at cultivating algae, for example, to produce biofuel or compostable packaging. One example is the American shoe company Vivobarefoot, which replaces its foam components with algae and even makes some shoes entirely from algae, like its "Ultra III Bloom" model. Other products made from algae include standup paddle boards and surfboards.
Algae extracts have also been in our food and cosmetic products for several years, serving as texturizers or gelling agents in shampoos, toothpaste, and yogurts.