How Seaweed Could Slow Down Climate Change

We are hooked on meat. We chop, slice, and sink our teeth into it, it’s rooted in our genes and culture, and globally speaking, appetites are on the rise. The average amount of meat consumed per person has nearly doubled in the past 50 years. And this demand is putting an incredible amount of pressure on the world’s resources. Is there a way to feed everyone and help the
planet at the same time? Scientists think they might have found something in a new supplement plucked from the ocean. Here at UC Davis’s Beef Barn, a team of
scientists and students are mixing together molasses and a special kind of seaweed. They’ll sprinkle it over the cow’s meals, like a nutritional boost. We’re using for low dose about a quarter of
a percent. In our high dose is half a percent. It may not seem like much, but this dash of
seaweed is part of a new diet that could help curb greenhouse gas emissions in cows. Livestock are responsible for about 14 and
a half percent of the greenhouse gas emissions. And cattle are far and away the biggest contributors. Usually when you hear about methane from cattle
you think about cow farts and it’s actually the complete opposite. Methane from cattle mostly comes from the burps. But methane does not stay too long in the atmosphere, it actually gets destroyed in about ten to twelve years. However, it does have a global warming potential and traps heat within our atmosphere at about 28 times greater than carbon dioxide. But the world’s 1.5 billion cows really
can’t help themselves, it’s in their biology. A majority of the methane that comes from the animal itself is actually through enteric fermentation. There’s microbial populations within their
stomach and these microbial populations are actually degrading the feed and producing byproducts that the cows either absorb into nutrients, or other microbes actually ingest them and create other byproducts. Methane is one of these byproducts. Greenhouse gas emissions are very much related
to the quality of diet, the more forage, the more fiber, you get proportionately more methane emissions. And that’s why this seaweed, Asparagopsis, is so intriguing to an international community of scientists. It was first found in Australia. Some of this Asparagopsis was introduced into a Petri dish with the bacteria from the cow guts. They could actually prevent methane from being
produced. It struck me that this is something that could
also work quite well in real animals. Asparagopsis has an active ingredient called
bromoform. It basically acts as an inhibitor to an enzyme that’s required by the microbes to convert hydrogen into methane. It disrupts that process so that methane is not formed. Once the cows finish their dinner, the team will calculate their emissions to see if the seaweed is doing the trick. We use a machine called green feed. When an animal walks in it reads their ear
tag, it drops down feed, and they get to stay there and eat feed. Usually they barrel in there, but these young
steers were a bit camera shy. The machine will take their sample of the
breath and will then automatically analyze it. You can actually monitor it in real time. And their first study with dairy cows netted
some promising results. What we saw was a reduction of up to
60 percent when we feed 1 percent of seaweed to the cows. What we’ve seen so far is the amount of methane
that can be reduced is proportional to the amount of bromoform that the seaweed contains. This second study with beef steers will be
looking into the overall health of the animal. These animals will be eating seaweed for approximately 200 days. We’ll be able to capture that, if there’s any long term benefits to feeding seaweed. If it increases any weight gain, we’ll be able to see that as well. And another big question on everyone’s mind: we will have taste panels. They will tell us if they can pick up differences in meat quality from steers that have been fed seaweed and those that were not fed seaweed. So while they’re trying to understand how Asparagopsis will affect cow health and wellbeing, we’re trying to understand how to influence Asparagopsis’ health and wellbeing. Dr. Jennifer Smith is a marine biologist at
UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She’s working with the UC Davis team to
see how we can cultivate seaweed responsibly, so this potential solution doesn’t
become a whole new problem. Asparagopsis taxiformis is incredibly beautiful red seaweed. It produces a lot of really unique chemical
compounds, and some of these chemical compounds have been found to be really valuable. Just because we find that it could, potentially,
mitigate methane production in cows doesn’t mean that tomorrow we’re ready to mass produce Asparagopsis. I knew, given the complexity of this seaweed’s life cycle, that it was gonna take a bit of research. When you look at Asparagopsis growing in the wild, you often see these large, pink, feathery, iridescent, beautiful plants, and that is
one of the stages of Asparagopsis that eventually grow into another phase, and that phase looks a little bit like a pink cotton ball. It’s a filamentous, very delicate phase. To date, nobody has really completed the life cycle of Asparagopsis in cultivation. In my laboratory at Scripps, we’re manipulating things like light, temperature, and nutrient concentrations to explore growth rates and
chemical composition of the tissue. If you can alter light or temperature and
you can get a doubling of growth, that’s going to be really important for thinking about scaling up cultivation. Like the UC Davis team, this research
project is at very early stages. There’s so much to be done, and it’s such
an exciting time. Ultimately, what we need to know is how fast can we grow Asparagopsis, how much space do we need, how much resources do we need, how can we scale this to make it viable as a supplement on a global scale. We don’t want to have a cultivation facility
that requires a ton of electricity and power in order to grow the seaweed, because we’re trying to, ultimately, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our carbon footprint. There’s hope that if this proves out, all
cows around the world could have this supplement added to their diets. It’d be a small tweak with big ramifications. I think every sector, including the animal agriculture sector, needs to find ways to reduce their overall greenhouse gas emissions. We have to be working towards a more sustainable system. It could be complementary to other things that would help in reducing emissions. And so if feeding seaweed at a cost effective way that doesn’t negatively affect these animals, I think it’s a viable way for us to actually meet those standards. For more science documentaries, check out this one right here. Don’t forget to subscribe and keep coming back to Seeker for more videos.

Comments 100

  • Cows are not the problem. There are too many people eating meat

  • Now we human are overly sensitive about the naturalizations of creation and free animals nature.

  • Disgusting meat consumprion.

  • we can't even save Notre Dame from fire, let alone the planet you little flea LOL

  • That was smart of the Australian government to discover, fully research & then patent this technique back in 2016 wasn't it. Probably not so smart of these people to try to take credit for it! Last time someone did that with a CSIRO invention (like this is) was with wifi & they sued. Expect the same here if you don't credit the creators!

  • This is great, but should be viewed as a short-term solution while we transition toward replacing meat in our diets. Impossible burgers are actually good y'all.

  • Fascinating story! How can we grow Asparagopsis faster? Grow in its native environment in clean ocean waters in underwater horticulture pens. This will employ tens of thousands of workers who will don underwater breathing equipment and farm these along the same lines as kelp. If this can be proven it reduces methane levels from cattle even a few percentage, I say it's well worth the investment. We need to try any and all means to reduce our global footprint before our polar caps melt and every seaport, shoreline, and beach in the world is fully inundated.

  • Have you not looked into the "vegan footprint" and "beyond meat"? Seriously?

  • If we're serious about climate change we should fund projects like this 1000%

  • Next research project should be: How to stop eating animals.

  • Wow they figured out how to grow more meat. Great! 😀

  • Also, how will it affect humans that eat the meat.

  • wouldnt it be easier if you just go vegan?

  • go vegan to save our planet if you consider yourself environmentalist!:)

  • This Red Seaweed could be as valuable as corn

  • I'm curious how inhibiting the methanogenic bacteria interferes with cow digestion. The cows employ the bacteria for a reason, I imagine that this could decrease the efficiency of cow digestion and cause cows to eat more food – which also means more emissions. On the other hand, I could imagine the methanogens are actually wasting carbon that could be diverted to the cow's metabolism. It seems though that most methane is from CO2 and hydrogen, both of which are useless to the cow, so maybe it will be neutral? Very curious.

  • You guys should probably know about, which is working to close the life cycle of Asparagopsis.

  • Wait a minute, first we ruin the world for growing food for the annual 120 billion(!)cattle . And now we ruin the seas.. welcome to earth. Where the "intelligent " life willingly causes a mass extinction..

  • Is this Gospel Truth these people in this video were saying, or was it left-wing lunacy I was hearing?…I don't know what to think.

  • I'd say the most productive area to solve the food and co2 problems is food waste. We throw away so much food esp due to money rather throw stuff away instead of giving it away to use it. Or the liability of giving food away. Example when federal government allocates money for food(part of something obviously) that food cannot be given away because that money was allocated for that function otherwise else it's diversion.
    I understand it's a hard problem. It will be nice if we could at least keep organic trash and non decomposable stuff separate reuse the nutrients instead of just burying it in a big pit poison you never be used again.
    I know giving food away is tricky managers have to think is that thing really going to go bad that they're giving away or thinking people might not buy stuff if they can get it when they give it away

  • So what about the land they take up compared to crops?
    How much of their shit leaks or is put in the ocean?
    How can you continue to try and meet a growing populations hunger, impossible…

  • I was watching a 'climate change' protest in London, this innovation will help the environment, research and supporting/funding the scientist who want to make a change for the better is needed. Thank you for the informative video. 🙂

  • couple million years Cows be able to breathe fire n fly.

  • Climate change is the biggest lie since the birth of religion. HEY LIARS, WHEN PEOPLE BREATH OUT YOU BREATH OUT CARBON DIOXIDE. WE ARE CARBON BASED ORGANISIMS..

  • Can humans eat this seaweed?

  • There's a much simpler solution: reduce meat consumption


  • Or could just reduce the need for these products in the first place. This is about as useful as putting a old T-shirt over you're exhaust pipe and thinking you are helping to curb pollution… At scale how much fuel is going to be burned to just grow and harvest this seaweed? Please quit this, and focus on getting a 5% reduction of beef consumption instead.. Just because you get a supplement eventually at a 'net curb of gases' does NOT mean you're supplement will be affordable at any price to those new economies and demographics that are surging in beef consumption around the world.

  • Yeah or just stop eating the cows.

  • Humans also produce Methane, in their breath, you should check how much humans emit.

  • Instead of having cows stuck in factorys, maybe it would be a better option to let them graze naturally in holistically managed grasslands? Perennial grasses rely on large herds of grass eating herbivores to recycle the organic matter produced each year during the growing season. Unlike annuals, perennial grasses grow extensive roots systems 10 to 30ft deep, that actually sequester huge amounts of carbon into the soil and enable bacteria and fungi to flourish which also sequester carbon. Properly managed livestock could actually reverse climate change and build better soil. Grasses need cows and cows need grasses.

  • Instead of having cows stuck in factories, maybe it would be a better option to let them graze naturally in holistically managed grasslands? Perennial grasses rely on large herds of grass eating herbivores to recycle the organic matter produced each year during the growing season. Unlike annuals, perennial grasses grow extensive roots systems 10 to 30ft deep, that actually sequester huge amounts of carbon into the soil and enable bacteria and fungi to flourish which also sequester carbon. Properly managed livestock could actually reverse climate change and build better soil. Grasses need cows and cows need grasses.

  • Do we know yet if beef is safe to eat after it's been fed this stuff?

  • Problem fixed. Niiiice

  • Instead of feeding sea weed to cows, creating more emission reduced meat, seal it off so we actually can reduce CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

  • Can't they extract the active component and grow it in a GMO?

  • You all need to watch this:

  • Honestly, seaweed snacks are really good.

  • Sooo…. What you are trying to say is…..
    Stuff a cows arse with mermaid TP?

  • “Life finds a way” The methanogens will learn to reactivate that enzyme that produces methane gas.

  • CO2 = Plant Food.Please don't starve the Earth's trees and Algae. They produce all our food and oxygen.

  • just give up consuming meat, that's it. why bullshit ?

  • The problem is acidification with respect to aragonite of seashells in zooplankton dissolving, they are the basis of the oceanic food-chain and in both polar seas pteropod populations are down >10%, these a primary food of salmon with no replacement species.

    As long as we continue emissions it only gets worse, you will see the Great Barrier Reef die, bleached too often and water too warm in the end, corals are going away by 750ppm.

    We're at 493ppm CO2 equivalent all gases, adding 3ppm/yr, to kill the corals only 86 years from now, sealevel will be 2m/6.7ft higher with business as usual, 1m/3.28ft if we zero emissions soon.

    Sealevel never goes back down with a greenhousing planet … like for 120,000 years if we quit our addiction this week, 1/4th of tailpipe emissions last over 10,000 years today.

    Better get busy … a cold forcing requires far less logging and land disruption for monocrop plantations when the need is diversity to survive an extinction, Andean farmers are tending over 1000 species of potato, what are 'developed' nations doing?

  • Just stop consuming meat you savages!

  • Wow pretty cool ?

  • Is this a joke ? Are you fuckin joking ? STOP eating the fuckin animal…The reason we eat so much meat is the same why we eat so much processed food…big corporations tell us to do that thro advertising…it has nothing to do with necessity… People who eat at McDonalds can't claim they eat meat because of the flavor…

  • solution: indoor cow farming, then collect all the methane and compress it into a liquid gas and use as fuel or electricity generation, collect the imitions from the burning of the methane and filter out the carbon, releasing only oxygen…

  • Are you kidding? How about just not enslaving and murdering animals?

  • totally backwards..
    still doesn't make animal agriculture any more sustainable or moral.

  • We need anything at this point

  • Take away dairy subsidies from farmers who don't use this new idea? Once the seaweed production has matured obviously.

  • To all vegans and vegetarians in the comments, this is great because it reduces carbon emissions. The entire world won't become vegan, meat has become an important part of our diet whether we really need it or not. This is a great way for non-vegans to reduce their carbon footprint.
    Those of you pointing to lab-grown meat and insects to replace the meat industry are also wrong. Not only are people icky about both of those but currently we can only make burgers and minced meat. People who want to eat a steak can't get one that's grown in a lab because muscle tissue is just too complex, same with crickets they can't substitute for a steak or a piece of lamb.
    So can we just applaud this research?

  • I refuse to eat ocean salad…

  • "viable way to meet those standards" uhh no. The only way this goes through is if you can offset the cost of the seaweed with some benefit it provides. The meat industry is cutthroat and the only reasonable way to reduce greenhouse emissions is to just stop eating so much meat.

  • if use the plastic from the great paccific plastic dump u can make floting farms . find japanese guy that grow seaweed on nets or something.

  • The important thing is we don't stop killing and eating cows. We must do whatever it takes, go to any lengths, to keep killing and eating cows.

  • Beef is basically the coal of animal protein. I love eating it, but trying to make it clean and green is a losing battle. We need to eat more insects and plant protein.

  • Welp, there goes one argument by Vegan to curb meat consumption. Honestly, good riddance

  • I just realized that cow is a cute animal… lol, still got no problem with eating it tho

  • And America is going to taxes that shit so pretty much this won’t happen soon.

  • Can this be possible for other types of seaweed?

  • We don't need to slow down climate change. Its a hoax that climate change leads to global warming.

  • I love these videoes, but please, lower the music volum, it is a bit intrusive

  • Are y'all bored, how about we just dont eat the cows lol!!

  • Keen for the results!

  • morons, did you not notice the sun is white now, 20 years ago it was yellow, oh you didn't notice wow just wow

  • Use condom

  • told you
    weed is good for love & environment

  • I find these statics to be really bullshit. if you only look at one aspect you get this type of stats. You can make any stat work for you .

  • Those poor cows will be slaughtered. Hopefully we’ll be able to culture the meat without having to grow and kill cows. And maybe this way it will be even more environmentally friendly.

  • Hmm, why not reduce the number of cows and stop burning rainforest for grazing?

  • Eat potatoes,wild animals!!

  • Or… and hear me out… we could just cut back on how much meat is consumed?
    In practice both should be worked toward. It's pretty unrealistic to get people more interested in cutting back on meat consumption. I speak from personal experience… I was very pro-meat and had to come to switching to a vegan life style on my own time.

  • Or you could just stop eating beef and dairy. Much simpler and more effective in preserving the environment.

  • Really stupid thing to do. cows are bad to the planet in so many more ways than that methane issue, which are much more of a deal – food for cattle is the biggest reason for deforestation. terrible "solution". cows should just stop being grown. if there were no cows and their food, which humans eat as well (wheat and soy), there was much more food available for humanity. WHAT A SCAM.

  • Smh ?‍♀️
    How is it that these liberal channels end up with millions of subscribers and conservative channels don’t?
    It just goes to show how are you brainwashed a majority of the world is.
    Greenhouse gases? Global warming? Globes? Living on a “planet “ SMH

  • What about the organic arsenic in most seaweed? I'm curious if there would be a chain effect from bioaccumulation (I'm aware that inorganic the more toxic form). Sounds like a good way to rapidly slow down the methane production though.

  • Seaweed :
    50% sea
    50% weed

  • The real solution? Go vegan. So, so many problems solved. You’re welcome.

  • How Bout the factory’s and cars

  • I don't think its necessary to change a cow's diet to help solve a problem that we've created… when these animals naturally produce methane long before humans significantly impacted climate change. ??

  • This might be a temporary workaround, but I don't think this will be developed and implemented faster than lab grown meat (and maybe also plant based "meat", if people will ever enjoy that).

  • This is when When Patrick becomes Plankton's partner and gives him ideas to compete with the Krusty Krab. BTW those cows are amazing; well kept and we'll fed.

  • Just use pasture land, grazing animals capture carbon. Methane doesn’t contribute to global warming. Methane from animals is in a ten year cycle. Carbon monoxide is hundreds of years. So saying cows are the largest greenhouse gas emitter is a lie.

  • That's why India is polluted.

  • You are idiots methane can't posible cause global warming, it's too heavy in specific gravity of its compound, 20 times heavier than carbon dioxide which is 100 times heavier an oxygen nitrogen air…!
    It can't possibly cause global warming that's why it's found in liquid form at the bottom of all accuforce of all oceans and all water bodies on the planet ..! Your so-called quasi science test how an absolute abandon the refrigeration of principles that control atmosphere…!
    And by the way if it wasn't for microbes that cell divide when exposed to methane we would not have one source of pure water to drink on this planet..! after exposure to methane they sell divide and take in minerals out of that water and take nitrogen out of that water for plant growth and that's the only time they do that after their exposure to methane without methane there is no life on planet Earth ! Now when NASA looks for methane as evidence of life on other planets what the hell are you doing working for NASA and you don't believe in it..!

  • No feeding cartel sea wead will help their thyroid and growth thalimis glans..!
    After Chernobyl Fallout fell all over the world are farmers needed seaweed desperately to repair the damaged thyroids in their cattle..! After fall out all of our cattle had the equivalent of human Graves disease…! And if anybody knows anything about Graves disease I do it will drive you mad..! There may be way more to mad cow disease did cows being fed cow parts! Chernobyl Fallout affected all cattle on Earth where ever the radiation fell..! Cattle pigs chickens all got Disease from The Fallout..! You are wrong seaweed has been proven to give Healthy thyroids in humans and Cattle already been proven we needed it desperately after the Fallout from Chernobyl.!

  • Seaweed is the most excellent source of digestible iodine for healthy thyroid..! And for thyroid balance..! It's highly about time someone farming did that..! The healthier our cattle are with respect to this iodine producing plant of the seed the healthier we are..!

  • Buy the way methane and CO2 in the ocean and in all accufers on earth in liquid form are a REFREGERANT IN THE OCEANS, THAT COMPLETELT OFFSET ANY WARMING YOU MIGHT THINK..,!
    People that believe in global warming /climate change ABSENT scientific knowledge of refrigeration is astounding..!
    Methane is too heavy to be a global warming agent is compound is three times as big as CO2 it's simply too heavy to get in the upper atmosphere..!
    Only over a Caldera where gravity is less as in a volcano can it get into the upper atmosphere and it immediately falls back to Earth because it's too damn heavy to be up there..!

  • Happy cows without unhappy clouds, God bless amen.

  • Beef, it's what's for dinner!

  • 1:15
    Cow: "Get me out of here…"

  • By next year your going to have to watch 4 commercial to watch 1 video on youtube

  • I told u. Find the Japanese guy that grows see weeds on nets and use the great garbage patch plastic to make the nets and just fucken let it grow

  • aint gono happen, companies will not spend (new) more money on the feed, and even if they did, those companies would be limited to industrial countries, because less wealthy countries either dont care or dont have enough money to do so.

  • Three great reasons to #SwitchToVegan / Vegetarian:
    1) Health
    2) Empathy
    3) Environment

    Reasons against:
    1) Habit / tradition???
    2) Apathy?

  • Is there way to feed everyone and fight climate changes in unite front?
    Yes there is, but I order to do that, we need to kill few billion ppl, change ourselves to global welfare system, get rid of nukes and… well it’s not gonna happen isn’t it?

  • you the Aqeen of the good taste, a new fun medi, life could be up or up and down at the same time, this makes humans happy.

  • Methane can't possibly be a global warming agent it's too heavy..!
    With the specific gravity I'm 10 times heavier than carbon dioxide that is 100 times heavier than nitrogen oxygen air there is no way in hell methane can be a global warming agent and that is why it's found at the bottom of all of our oceans underneath liquid CO2 as a liquid..!
    Seaweed is a great idea though it will control their thyroids better and raised better beef..!

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