Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Salicornia bigelovii and shrimp to the rescue!

Salicornia bigelovii and shrimp farms will save the world from global warming-induced rising sea levels--at least according to atmospheric scientist Carl Hodges.

On American Public Media's Marketplace, in a series titled "Plan B: Adapting to a Warmer World", Carl Hodges shared his vision in "Seeing opportunity in rising oceans", aired on January 28. I only caught a portion of the interview on the radio, so I jumped onto marketplace.org and found the transcript; some great photos are also linked to the website.

Carl is working on a project 6,000 feet above Mexico's coastal desert, south of the Arizona border. This region has been transformed into a network of saltwater lakes to grow shrimp. The shrimp farms in this area apparently pump more than 20% of the ice melt of the Antarctic.

The scientist is not interested in the shrimp farms, but is experimenting with Salicornia bigelovii, an oil-bearing plant that "packs as much high-quality vegetable oil per acre as soybeans, making it an ideal biofuel crop". The amazing thing is that this plant will apparently grow with seawater irrigation; he proposes that the fertile effluent from the shrimp farms could be used as the irrigation source. Finally, to deal with the larger quantity of water expected from rising sea levels, he proposes that the depleted coastal aquifers could act as giant reservoirs for the seawater.

So, if everybody is cool with driving biodiesel-powered vehicles to the local all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet, we won't have to worry about rising sea levels.

But seriously, if anyone has knowledge on this seawater-loving plant, or the true magnitude of pumping all this water, feel free to comment.

No comments: