Seaweed can do lots of things. Can it survive climate change?

Seaweed farmer, Analiza Hiyangan, pulls seaweed from the ocean in this still from Context video, 'Seaweed can do lots of things. Can it survive climate change?' Thomson Reuters Foundation/Meghan McDonough

For over 30 years, families have championed seaweed on the island of Palawan in the Philippines.

They have been growing seaweed cuttings on ropes in the ocean and harvesting them to make chips, noodles, and carrageenan, a valuable additive. In addition to its commercial benefits, it could also be key in fighting climate change. In recent years, seaweed farming has become the fastest-growing form of aquaculture in the world, in large part due to its many potential environmental benefits, like absorbing excess nutrients in the ocean and storing carbon on the seafloor.

But as a crop threatened by warming temperatures and volatile weather, it’s not immune to the very problems it might help solve. Some days, farmers in Palawan find that storms have ripped seaweed from ropes– or heat has made it decay from disease. As farmers experiment with typhoon warning systems and deepsea farming, scientists are cultivating climate-resilient seaweed strains in the lab. What they’re learning may help researchers better understand the costs of scaling seaweed around the world, and whether it can be the solution to climate change that they hoped for.

This video is part of a series supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative.

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