Biomass by sea and by land

Posted Posted in TopStory, Uncategorized

The ocean provides for us. It provides the air we breathe from photosynthesizing algae, the seafood we buy and sell, and the recreational tourism and educational opportunities which are boundless for business owners and educational networks. How much time do we spend thinking about, or informing others, about what the ocean gives us? Did you know the ocean may one day provide a sustainable form of renewable energy? There is incredible research being conducted and many results already shared in the scientific community about garnering alternative energy sources from the ocean, especially that of using algae as a biofuel.

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The horizons of funding, studying, and collaborating about sustainable and renewable energy sources have grown consistently within the last two decades. Researchers from many esteemed universities such as MIT, Kansas State University, UC San Diego, Texas A&M, and Colorado State University, plus many more, are actively seeking solutions to meet the demand of finding these energy sources and establishing sustainable supply chains from extraction to sale.

 

“New research could help with the large-scale cultivation and manufacturing of oil-rich algae in oceans for biofuel.” (ScienceDaily)

 

“Photosynthetic marine algae are attractive targets for the production of biofuels and bio-products because they have the ability to capture and fix carbon dioxide using solar energy and they grow in seawater, thereby minimizing fresh water usage.” (ScienceDirect)

What the research referenced above explains is crucial to how we stand up for the protection of ocean health, whether we live on the coastline or not. Amazing amounts of biomass exist in our world’s oceans, just as a forest does. These varieties of biomass are the frontier of renewable energy research and practice. In fact, scientists and educators from our state’s very own Colorado State University are part of a regional alliance called Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies (BANR). Focused on researching how forest biomass can serve as feedstock for biofuels, BANR looks at ways beetle-killed tree biomass can contribute to a sustainable regional renewable energy industry.

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BANR is funded by the US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Coordinated Agricultural Projects through Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (USDA-NIFA AFRI CAP) grants. Say that 3x fast! These are currently 7 funded grant projects across the US. How proud we can be of CSU leading collaboration of this national and global initiative in our own backyard! 

 

So – what’s the connection between oceans and forests, you may ask? Why bother writing about the two in the same blog post about sustainable energy? I’m glad you asked!  If you look back to the first paragraph of this post, I think you can easily replace oceans with forest, and algae with trees, and seafood with timber, and so on. Our seas and our lands are bound intrinsically to humans as a resource – what we do to explore, learn from, and sustain them is up to us.

 

If you are an interested in attending a conference this May in Seattle about Biofuels and Energy Literacy, please see more at:  NARA Conference, SeaTac, May 3-4,2016  

More information about the excellent projects and organizations referenced in this post can be found at the following:

Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies 

USDA-NIFA AFRI CAP grant programs

 

 

Sarah Burgess is currently working as a Research Naturalist for University Wisconsin-Extension, and looks forward to transitioning back to the Rockies later this summer. Her thoughts and musings can be followed at BurgessAdventures.

Introducing the Colorado Ocean Coaltion

Posted Posted in TopStory

The Colorado Ocean Coalition…what? That doesn’t make sense. Did the Colorado River become the sixth ocean?

Don’t worry you haven’t missed anything, the Colorado River is still a river. And while hearing the name Colorado Ocean Coalition for the first time might throw you for loop, the reality is an inland based ocean organization makes perfect sense.

Living along the coast isn’t a requirement for caring about our oceans. In fact, it doesn’t matter where you live; we are all impacting the health of our oceans. Thanks to modern technology and a global economy, a fish caught off the coast of South America can end up on a dinner plate in Colorado. But should you be eating that fish?

Well…that depends. Is the fishery sustainable? Did the fishing method destroy other ocean habitats? Does that fish contain a heavy dose of mercury? Aren’t these things you would like to know before digging in? And you certainly can’t ask a baked fish those questions.

The Colorado Ocean Coalition is filling an inland ocean void by raising awareness of ocean issues and getting more people to start asking questions. This is very exciting because the more people ask questions the more they begin to make conscious consumer choices and the more power we all have to affect change.

Now with an ocean coalition in place, Colorado and other inland states can work with coastal states to develop healthy ocean policies and legislation inland. Hawaii passed a statewide ban on plastic bags this summer that becomes effective July 1, 2015. Wouldn’t it be great if an inland state did the same?

The possibilities are endless and every move in the right direction helps our oceans. Executive Director Vicki Nichols Goldstein sums it up best with her favorite question, “Do you really need to see the ocean to save it?” Definitely not! So join the Colorado Ocean Coalition on their quest to save our oceans and check out their website to start learning more about hot ocean topics. Because whether you live a mile high or at sea level you can be part of the solution.

Colorado Ocean Coalition’s 2nd Annual Event, Making WAVES is coming up on October 20th and 21st! Held in Boulder, this multifaceted symposium and celebration highlights ocean issues, solutions and is a change making event for engagement and national action. Making Waves provides the general public access to and opportunities to interact with cutting edge researchers, well known speakers, award winning film makers and advocates creating an upwelling of supporters and inland ocean activists. Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques Cousteau, will be the keynote speaker for the weekend.

Click here for 2012 Making Waves symposium information.

Click here for REGISTRATION and TICKETS to Making WAVES 2012.

Pre-registration for the Ocean Symposium is free, but required. Also, don’t forget to order a box lunch from The Purple Bus !

Carolyn Kraft is a freelance writer, content developer and social media manager for Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, and whale watch naturalist. She blogs at oceanwildthings.com.

Image Credit: Claudio Garzon