Lawrence Martin in a singer and Canadian politician of Cree heritage. Brian von Herzen is an expert on ocean permaculture – especially kelp farming. Peter Wadhams is an expert on Arctic sea ice and methane. These people discuss two potential projects — to refreeze parts of Hudson Bay year-round, and to harvest kelp and manufacture such commodities from it as bio-stimulant for plants and fodder for ruminant animals to reduce their production of methane from enteric digestion. For the video, audio podcasts, transcript and public comments: https://tosavetheworld.ca/episode-540-kelp-and-ice-in-hudson-bay.
Brian von Herzen
kelp, Hudson Bay, people, seaweed, area, ice, kelp forests, harvest, species, bay, communities, growing, Brian, produces, Cree, water, methane, world, regenerate,
Peter Wadhams, Brian von Herzen, Metta Spencer, Lawrence Martin
The conversation is mainly about a project to refreeze some of the ice in the Arctic and harvest kelp as a way to combat global warming. This marine cloud brightening project would spray seawater into the air, which will brighten clouds and reflect more sunlight back into space, thereby cooling the water underneath, possibly enabling it to stay frozen even in the summer. The idea needs to be evaluated for its viability and potential negative consequences, especially for Indigenous communities in the Hudson Bay area, who rely on the ice for their livelihoods.
The group considers the potential benefits of harvesting kelp, which can be used for food, feed, and fertilizer products, and create fish habitats. Kelp is a sustainable ecosystem that combats global warming by capturing large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. Studies on the biodiversity of the Hudson and James Bay areas are ongoing. Indigenous communities must participate in the decision-making, as they have traditional ecological knowledge and rely on the land and waters for their livelihoods.
Lawrence Martin, a leader in the Mushkegowuk Council, is studying climate change in the Hudson Bay area and the measures being taken to preserve the ecosystem. He highlights the importance of the area for migratory birds, which depend on eelgrass that is disappearing due to rising temperatures. There is a significant increase in new bird and fish species in the area due to warming.
The Mushkegowuk Council is conducting a feasibility study for the National Marine Conservation Area designation to partner with Canada and non-government organizations to preserve the ecosystem. Ships exploring the bay are finding kelp forests, mostly on the Quebec side where it is shallow and rocky. On the west side of the bay, the kelp is farther out from the shore line and farther north.
The large forests of seaweed in Hudson Bay create new economic possibilities for local communities that have lost access to the sea ice. Brian von Herzen explains that kelp can capture carbon out of the atmosphere, making it a sustainable ecosystem that could help combat global warming. There are machines like lawn mowers that harvest seaweed that grows near the surface, but the kelp in Hudson Bay is mostly underwater, so harvesters would either need to dive or use some machines that can harvest bladderwrack. But in shallow waters they can do a partial harvest.
Lawrence Martin is concerned about the loss of eelgrass, which happens when the water becomes murkier due to eutrophication or runoff. Von Herzen notes that, fortunately, kelp forests are good at reducing nutrients and making the water clearer, so that’s an extra benefit.
There are four kinds of kelp growing in Hudson Bay now. Laminaria is the most widespread but it will disappear by 2050 if the bay keeps warming. The nutrient levels may get too low and stratified in the summer. Von Herzens says that Saccharina will increase until 2050 along the western shores of Hudson Bay, but it will decrease significantly by 2100 for the same reason. Right now there are 227,000 kilometer square kilometers of saccharina but there will only be 17,000 by 2100. Still, there’s a ready market for Saccharina now and, given that it’s going to increase until 2050, it’s a good species to consider starting with.
Lawrence Martin says that the indigenous elders believe that climate change is a natural phenomenon and cannot be reversed. They see our whole objective is to keep the earth as it is and not mess around with the environment; take only what you need, for example. He will take on the challenge of suggesting to them that some actions might make a difference. The elders do talk a lot about the impact of climate change on permafrost melting and the release of methane gas. People on the west side of the bay have not used kelp as a food, but have heard about how the people on the east side do use it.
Peter Wadhams expresses concern about methane explosions and their increasing frequency in the Arctic. Brian von Herzen says that eelgrass in James Bay and Hudson Bay is threatened by mining activities associated with the Ring of Fire.
Metta Spencer asks about the practical uses of kelp, and Brian von Herzen explains the production of biostimulants, fertilizer, and other commodities from kelp. As a food it has digestive benefits and improves the immune system. He also talks about the potential market for sustainable kelp products and how they can be used to make Canada’s agriculture more sustainable without the use of chemical fertilizers.
Lawrence Martin observes that the provincial governments are not interested in conservation, for their focus is more on economic development. He talks about the importance of partnerships with federal government components, such as the environment ministries, the Fisheries and Oceans, and natural resources, to mitigate the impact of economic development.
The panelists consider building canals in the ice, similar to the Panama Canal, to enable year-round shipping through the Northwest Passage, while thickening the ice on both sides of the canal and charging for the service, bringing in revenue to the surrounding territories. Peter Wadhams suggests that this needs to be done with care to avoid damaging the inhabited areas.
The group returns to the topic of seaweed cultivation to provide a range of products such as food, feed, and fertilizers.
Hudson Bay area can potentially benefit from seaweed harvesting and processing into valuable products on site using transportable seaweed processors. Could a little industry be created there to manufacture the biostimulants? If the small factory were located near Churchill, Manitoba, there is a train going from there that carries freight south. However, there are no roads in the northern areas, but in the winter they have ice roads.
Another commodity that could be produced from the seaweed is cattle feed supplements. About 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture come from ruminant livestock. A cattle feed supplement at even 1% concentration can eliminate most of the enteric methane emissions of ruminant livestock.
The feasibility study that Lawrence Martin’s Mushkegowuk Council is conducting includes a socio-economic component that aims to identify economic opportunities and social responsibilities, and may consider the potential for seaweed cultivation.
This transcript has been machine generated using “otter.ai.” Prior to using information from the transcript, please watch the video to catch any obvious errors.
Metta Spencer 00:00
Hi, I’m Metta Spencer, today, we’re going to have fun, we’re going to bring together some people who probably would never meet in real life, I’m going to have a conversation about something that I’m planning for them. But I don’t know whether they would ever hit upon if they did meet in real life. We, I want to talk about kelp and ice in Hudson Bay. Wow, you have to explain yourself. You’re going to talk about that. So I have an expert on kelp, who’s going to be talking, you know, answering any questions that I might have. And I have a lot of them about kelp in Arctic waters. And this is Brian von Herzen, who is the founder and executive director of the Climate Foundation. He is engaged in permaculture of the ocean, especially in creating large kelp farms in the Pacific. And so we can refer to him as the authority on kelp. But, I’m very interested in kelp and ice and Hudson Bay. And for that we need to talk to somebody who knows a thing or two about Hudson Bay. And that is Lawrence Martin. He is a Canadian musician and singer, a songwriter, and a politician of Cree heritage. He is also a Juno winner, believe it or not for singing in Cree, I believe, he’s active in Indigenous politics, and the former mayor of Cochran, Ontario. He’s now the manager of a feasibility study regarding rain conservation of Hudson Bay and James Bay, which is the little well, it’s big, but compared to the size of Hudson Bay, it’s a little, a little extra bay. And so we’re going to have the benefit of his knowledge of, especially that region. Now, I’m also glad to see that Peter Wadhams has just joined us because Peter Wadhams is the ice expert for Northern Arctic ice. Closer to home is my assistant Adam Wynne, who’s in the other room. He’s, he’s somebody I depend on every day, and he has a strong interest in Northern Affairs, Canadian affairs, and my friend Ellen Judd, who is in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is a retired professor of anthropology at the University of Manitoba. Peter Wadhams is part of a plan, which we’ve been thinking about, which is very innovative and uncertain, at this point, we are very far from convinced that we’ll be able to do it. But one of the things that we want to investigate is the possibility of refreezing some of the ice in the Arctic, by spraying seawater into the air, where it will go up to lower clouds and brighten the clouds, turn them more white in the summertime, and reflect more sun back into space. And thereby cool, the water that’s underneath. And this could, the next time it’s time to freeze, it would make it easier for it to freeze and stay frozen, because the water will be cooler than it would have otherwise been. So we are very, very far from saying that this is going to happen. We have not, you know, it’s just a very brilliant idea. But we can imagine all kinds of things that get in the way. But in the course of thinking about that, I also began to think about the people who live on the shores of Hudson Bay, mostly Indigenous communities – they are Cree, they’re Inuit, they’re probably other Dene, I think – communities that make their living from having an opportunity to go on the ice and hunt and fish and so on. And so it’s very important to talk to people who live there, before going too far with our far out ideas. And so we need a lot of conversations about the very idea of whether people want to have you know, parts of the Hudson Bay re-frozen and kept frozen year round, if it could be done, which maybe it can and maybe it can’t. In thinking about that I became aware that you know, there are a lot of other people who also depend on Hudson Bay for their livelihood, but you know, they if this if there’s no ice on it, is there anything else that they can do to, to make a good living and create jobs there. And one of the things that I understand is happening in the Arctic waters now is that kelp or seaweed is proliferating, I was amazed to know that seaweed could grow in Arctic waters. But it’s not only growing, but it’s really going gangbusters, really flourishing. And so it occurs to me that maybe there’s a possibility of creating a situation where the local people harvest some of the kelp and manufacture some of the things that that would be helpful for farmers to use for fertilizer and for stimulating the growth of their plants, which also would be helpful for for our main purpose, which is combating global warming, and bringing the current climate crisis back under control, because kelp are very good at capturing carbon out of the atmosphere. So that was, that was the idea that I wanted to explore. And so I’ve spent a lot of time trying to think about what might go wrong with such a plan, which I have to say is very unlikely to happen. It’s probably a goofy notion. But when I talked to Brian, he didn’t laugh at me. Why this strange far out idea that well, maybe we could create jobs for people manufacturing, stuff from kelp. So I want to maybe ask Brian, if he if you will, Brian. Give us a little rundown on what might be why we would maybe want to have kelp production, not just to create jobs. But what are the good things kelp might do for us, and anything bad because we have to really pay attention to the potentially negative consequences of this weird idea of mine. So would you do that? Brian?
Brian von Herzen 07:18
Yes, I’d be happy to Metta. Thank you and greetings everyone. Yeah, kelp is pretty transformative. I think it’s important to understand that in North America, and in Australia alone, we’ve lost 3000 square kilometers of kelp forest over the last century, because the waters become too warm and traditional habitat and the nutrient levels have become too low. So there’s a chance to try to regenerate that now, Hudson Bay may actually be some of the beneficiary of that, because in waters that may have been frozen or too cold previously, there are a lot of kelp species, macro algae species that are now coming into their preeminence, you know, so regions that could not support kelp before, including, you know, well limitations in Hudson’s Bay and James Bay are now possible. In fact, there are some recent papers on this that I can share with you some images of the increase in area that’s possible under in a warmer world. Kelp has a lot of benefits, we can produce food feed and fertilizer products from it. And it’s quite sustainable. It also creates a lot of fish habitat, as shown behind me right here. forage fish love to hang out in kelp forests because it protects them from predators. And then the game fish of course, love to come around and try to eat the forage fish and it produces a biodiversity and an ecosystem. Kelp occurs naturally in bays like Hudson Bay, but the species are changing in a warmer world. And I have some charts that I can share with you the different pictures of the different kinds of kelp and also maps of Hudson Bay showing where the kelp is likely to increase in where it’s likely to decrease. It’s not a zero-sum game. And we need to monitor that and you know, kelp is a natural growing ecosystem. So it will evolve. And I think there’s a chance for economic as well as ecological opportunities, certainly in Hudson Bayand James Bay going forward.
Metta Spencer 09:12
Thank you. Well, Lawrence Martin, you have now been informed about this strange proposal. Tell me how goofy it’s it seems to you, and and let’s take it from there.
Lawrence Martin 09:28
No, every good idea always seems goofy at the beginning right. And it takes a lot to try and prove otherwise. In regards to kelp and where I work in Hudson Bay and James Bay. We only began to do the studies last couple of years actually, with scientists partners to come in and actually determine the amount of kelp that is in the Hudson Bay and change Bay Area and to see all of the different information that Dr. Brian has mentioned and where it is exactly. So we’ve been able to locate some of that information. But our study is not just on kelp, but actually the whole biodiversity of Hudson been changed big. So we could take a look at what the production levels are at there for all the activities that happen in these two bays. Because for one thing, we have these billions of birds that come from South America and North America, into the area every spring. And so they’re there for a very specific reason to feed and to breed, and, and so on. So we know there is a lot of that going on. And with this talk about the climate change, and the changes that have happened over the years, we do see changes happening in the migratory birds, there’s new birds coming in, as the weather starts to warm up, there’s new species of birds coming in. And there is new species of fish that are coming down the rivers as well that are now inhabiting James Bay and Hudson’s Bay. And it’s being noticed by the people who live along the shorelines, as you mentioned. And so as we find what’s what’s under the bay, what’s under the water, even this summer, we had the National Geographic people come and do some filming on your water in Hudson Bay and parts of James Bay. So the studies are only beginning to take place in regards to what is in the water to James Bay and Hudson Bay. However, our people our Inuit people and our First Nations Cree people, Muschkegowuk people have always known what’s there. And so we’re doing a study also on traditional ecological knowledge as part of our feasibility study for the National Marine Conservation Area designation, and we’re hoping to have, there’s a number of things that we want to have that designation for, one is to be able to become partners with Canada, and other and other non government organizations, like foundations, and so forth that can help us you know, preserve the earth and try to keep it safe and keep it intact for all of us humans and other living species to continue. So there’s a, there’s a, there’s an agreement between Canada and Mushkegowuk council that I represent, that looking at a number of different types of studies, we’ll be looking at eel grass as well, because eel grass has been the food source for the geese that come up from the south, but that eel grass is disappearing. So we want to know why and what can we do to sustain this, this food that we depend on every spring for our families. So we’re looking at different things. And of course, as their ships gol and do these research, they are finding this kelp, but it’s mostly on the eastern side on the Quebec side of our area as opposed to our side because our side is very shallow. And it’s very sandy because we have a lot of these rivers that are just flowing out all the sediments into the James Bay and Hudson Bay for one thing and it’s a different terrain so there’s a lot of questions still for us to determine you know about the kelp itself. And but it’s been known to be there for from our people for many years. As a matter of fact, it’s even part of our Creation story.
Metta Spencer 13:26
Oh, really the kelp thing? I believe I’ve heard that the kelp grows in rocky places if the if the shore line is rocky, underwater Is that is that the case? But you say it Sandy on the western side?
Lawrence Martin 13:41
That’s right so therefore it kelp is further out in the bay as opposed to close to the shoreline. Whereas on the Quebec side, it’s very, very rocky on that side. So it’s more closer to the shoreline on that area. And especially further north as we merged James Bay into the Hudson Bay, that’s where you’ll find most of it.
Metta Spencer 14:02
Now, what do you have to do this as farms? I know that Brian is setting up a very structured kind of place where he’s farming kelp in the in the Pacific Ocean. But I presume that you know, people could maybe they already know how to go out and just pick up the stuff or drag it to shore and and produce commodities from it there various things that could be produced. It is what would have to be done to, are there places that people just harvest wild, kelp or seaweed from from the natural forests underwater, or are they always grown in, you know, structured planned farms?
Brian von Herzen 14:51
Well, there are canopy farming camps like macrocystis giant kelp depicted behind me that goes all the way to the surface and then it grows along the surface. And there you can Use a lawnmower or call it a steamship kelp cutter.There’s more than 100 years of history of that, in fact, the kelp harvest put San Diego on the map during World War One, where it was a strategic material to create smokeless gunpowder. So the kelp harvester would harvest 600 to 900 tons per day and just take the top meter of kelp like mowing the lawn, and the kelp would grow again from 20 meters down. So that was a natural harvest. That said, the kelps that are present and prevalent today off Hudson Bay, are subtitled kelps that are not as long as macrocystis. And so they’re subtitle they’re underwater, you either need to dive or they have some machines that can harvest bladderwrack. But they’re, I mean, some that they’ll they’ll do also do a partial harvest, and so in shallow water that can be done. And I think in answer to Lawrence’s question, we have seen eelgrass on the East Coast diminish, because the water becomes murkier. And when it’s murkier, either due to eutrophication or runoff, and you get more micro algae, the visibility drops, and then the eelgrass starts going away. That’s a key factor. So keeping the water clear is key. And it turns out kelp forests are very good at reducing nutrients and making the water clearer. And so I think that’s a big opportunity going forward. I do have some maps of Hudson Bay showing the projections of different kelps and how they are going to fare in the years ahead. And so with your permission, I’ll share my screen. And I’ll share it share with you some of the maps because I thought it was very interesting to hear that the west coast of Hudson Bay is a sandy and the East Coast is rockier. And of course kelps do love rocks. We do encourage if you know lines and platforms offshore, so you can take advantage of large areas of Hudson Bay. But along the shoreline here, the green represents. There’s four species of kelps here just in a nutshell. They represent different kinds of kelp, I can maybe share with you some of those that are here, which I’ll do in a moment. But there are four different kinds of kelp. And the green shows where it is today. The blue in the middle shows where it will be where it’ll to increase in 2050. And the red is where it would decrease in 2050. And with these simulations where it would decrease in 2100. And so Agra was one species.
Metta Spencer 17:23
Wait a minute. I am real difficult at learning these things. Now, the green area is actually underwater, and it’s the shallow rocky plot parts where the kelp is growing. Is that right in this first…
Brian von Herzen 17:38
That is correct. And there are four kinds of kelp there’s sieve kelp, which produces ag R. And that grows today. All these species grow today. And Hudson Bay. Bladder locks is a second kind of kelp that is also useful for food, feed and fertilizer products. Laminaria is also called let’s see, well, I think it is called Laminaria. And I don’t know the common name offhand. But that grows all over from Alaska to the eastern areas, and in a lot of Arctic areas as well. And then Laminaria Saccharina. A saccharina is is a very popular kelp. It’s called sugar kelp. And it’s harvested in large quantities across the Pacific Ocean as well. So those are the four different species. And then the green shows where it is today. These are nearshore areas where the kelps are growing today. And here’s the laria, which will have decreases and 2100 additional on the right laminaria is growing a lot right now in the Hudson Bay region, but it’s gonna get wiped out by 2050. And totally wiped out by 2100. Given businesses, temperatures, the temperatures are gonna get too warm. And the the nutrient levels might become too low and might be stratified in the summer. saccharina. Interestingly, as an economic health today, it will see increases in 2050 along the western shores of Hudson Bay, but decreases significant decreases by 2100. Because again the water will likely get too warm and the nutrient levels too low.
Metta Spencer 19:08
Hold on, hold on. Now you got to decipher this, there’s blue and there’s red. That’s different from where it’s green over here. What Tell me again, what these red and blue things mean.
Brian von Herzen 19:21
Green is where it is today. Blue is where it’s going to increase in the coming decades. And red is where it’s going to decrease in the coming decades.
Metta Spencer 19:28
Oh, so you can predict it that well.
Brian von Herzen 19:31
Yeah, so there’s 227,000 kilometer square kilometers of saccharina. Right now, an extra 64,000 square kilometers in 2050, but only 17,000 by 2100. In contrast to this one, which is laminaria. And there you’re gonna see losses of 39,000 square kilometers and 212,000 square kilometers by 2100.
Metta Spencer 19:55
Okay, well know what which kind do we like?
Brian von Herzen 19:59
Well, we like just about all of them. We’ll, in terms of what’s economic today, saccharina is economic. Today we have people growing saccharina from the eastern shores of the United States and North America to the Faroe Islands and as far west as Japan. So saccharina is a ubiquitous kelp there is a ready market for it. And given that it’s going to increase, at least through 2050, I’d say that’s a that’s a really good one to consider starting with.
Metta Spencer 20:30
What do you think we will be doing with the stuff that we don’t do now? There are a lot of things that I understand you can you can turn it into, that would be good commodities. Okay. Well, first of all, I’d like to ask Lawrence are the the people living on those shores already using kelp for their diet or any other purposes? Or is this would this strike them as, as crazy an idea as it probably does to most other people.
Lawrence Martin 21:04
We haven’t been using the kelp in that way as foods as a food source on the western side. And then our whole objective to is to be able to keep the earth as it is, and not to mess around with the environment. So if we can help keep things as they are. That’s, that’s the reason why we want to have a conservation project in tech. And but at the same time, we want to determine what is the best way in doing that. Our elders, they often talk about, you know, the changes that are coming around. And for us to work vigorously and figuring out what is going to, might happen. Because the air and the water are changing rapidly in this area. And as you can see from these diagrams, these are the changes that we’re going to be seeing in the future. But there’s already been changes that have happened. And those changes are, what they’re talking about now afraid may interrupt how well we live today, with the air being clean. And especially with all that peat, peatlands the carbon that we have inland, which you know, and this area that we have, it’s third largest carbon sink in the world. So making sure that we balance all of this. But in terms of just the kelp itself, we haven’t been using it in very much on our side of the bay. But of course, into the north, and to the eastern side, there’s often stories about how how it is being used by the people over there.
Brian von Herzen 22:39
Yeah, Lawrence is right..
Metta Spencer 22:41
Yeah. What are they used for besides food?
Lawrence Martin 22:46
It’s food. And it’s also keeping it intact in recognizing it’s part of the ecosystem, that other species of fish and so forth, depend upon it. And we depend upon the fish. So we don’t want to be no harm the way the cycle of life goes. So being really careful that we’re going to harvest it for any reason, making sure you only take what you need, that sort of concept. And that applies to everything that we have to take from the land, from the fish in the sea, and so forth.
Brian von Herzen 23:17
A couple of examples of this, in 1620 the pilgrims were stuck on the eastern shores of Massachusetts, and half of them starved to death in the winter of 1620. Sadly, they starved to death within meters of kelp that was growing in the sea, you know, just very nearby. And in fact, two little girls got stranded in Alaska for four months. And they lived underneath this little thingy that they had. And they ate kelp for four months. And they actually sustained themselves with kelp. So it’s amazing how different of course in Asia, they’ve been using kelp for centuries, seaweed soup has always helped mothers in childbirth, I mean, after childbirth, they would eat seaweed soup. And that’s just one of the examples of so many benefits. I take a little seaweed every day and look what’s happened to me. I can attest to both his digestive benefits and improved immune system. And so I do recommend adding seaweed here as a supplement to your diet. And it’s about sustaining nature and Lawrence said it beautifully. And that is we want to build a permaculture and what we mean by marine Permaculture is helping to regenerate the kelp forests that exist and that we’ll be growing and then have a sustainable yield from those kelp forests, but also leave enough for nature. Because we need to not only feed 8 billion people on this planet, but have enough primary productivity enough food generation for the 8 million species who can’t vote, the 8 million species who are on this spaceship Earth with us. And we need to support those ecosystems because they are what is supporting our civilization.
Metta Spencer 25:00
Is this something that the people doing marine conservation have thought about so far? And and if it were possible to retain ice in certain areas, would this so far as you know, be a welcome contribution? Or would you be apprehensive about it? Or people, other people living there? What can you think of? We have to think of all the downsides, everything that could go wrong? And what how do you think people would regard this as a, as an intervention to protect the ice?
Lawrence Martin 25:39
Well, the first image that I got when we started talking about this is that all this folks that are waiting for the Northwest Passage to open up all the transportation people that are trying to run their ships across the north part of Canada. I can see them jumping up and down and disagreeing with this, because they want the ice to be removed so they can transport goods. And and as far as what we’ve been talking about so far in our studies, and speaking to the elders, they talk about the natural adaptations that we have to apply as the world begins to change. Again, it’s always been in constant change over the over since time immemorial. And now we’re seeing another change coming about. And I’m sure they would tell me if I were to talk about this in my language, that I was being really foolish. And because we’re so minut, in terms of being a particular species, we think we’re the ones that are causing this world to come to harm. But they say no, it’s a natural changes that’s going on. And to think that you can actually reverse the changes, it’s even sillier. That’s the first thing they would say to me if I were to talk about this. But I think by connecting the dots, you know, what you guys were talking about Brian, Peter, connecting those dots with what exists in the environment. So it was the kelp in this case. And the impact it has now with the earth as it is, I think, if we were to approach it from a whole perspective and talk about it from from that, then I can see, people started to connect those dots and start to accept Oh, yeah, there’s possibilities that this could happen. I think people are afraid of the climate change itself and what it could lead to. And now we see permafrost melting in our territory. And of course, that releases methane gas gases. And there was a video that was made by some people from California, I think it’s called fire on ice. And it’s quite, it’s quite interesting to see the melting of the permafrost and the gases coming to the surface of the ice and being able to light those gases. So with that matches that somebody has that down south here. And so I think they’re, I think people are open to looking at different things and to be able to hear them because the, as we watch the world change, you know, we’re also in a constant debate about different things that are going on. And to think that maybe there’s something we can do to help one way or the other. I think it’s open. So for me to hear this, I’m glad to, to bring it to this topic to this level of discussion. And for me to share it with my audience, before I do zoom, with the elders, quite often. And I do radio shows as well talking about the work that I do. So we’re constantly talking to our people and hear it so I’d like to take this topic. You know, that’s one of the times when we talk to the elders and say, Listen, this is what I heard from these folks. What do you think?
Metta Spencer 29:02
Wonderful. Well, actually, you’ve talked about the methane under the ice, and that is, you know, very, very important. And in fact, Peter Wadhams is maybe the world’s leading authority on methane under the Arctic ice so so you got to you got the right guy to talk to.
Brian von Herzen 29:20
I think there’s an opportunity for us to work to regenerate healthy climate and it won’t be you know, Revert, they won’t be going back to exactly what we had before. But hopefully, it’s something that can sustain our populations and sustain civilization for decades to come. So it’s a challenge and an opportunity that we need to do and I think it’s going to happen one step at a time it needs to start small. But if we can build economic sustainability into what we’re doing with agricultural products, and be part of a regenerative habitat and biodiversity in Hudson Bay, James Bay and and larger areas that it presents an opportunity. And I did want to mention on the ice topic, you know, the Panama Canal is a very good model for this, you can actually build canals in the ice so that you can have the shipping year round. And you can also have the ice. And that’s something that, you know, if you’re, if we’re going to create thicker ice in places, we can also have the canals and the model, the economic model we use, there is the Panama Canal, which gets $2 billion in revenue per year. And this has been explored for the Northwest Passage. And that is, you charge a fee to run through the canal, but you keep that canal open year round, and you thicken your ice on the sides of the canal. And now it becomes a bit more managed. But it also preserves the ice ecosystem, and enables the ship traffic. And it provides sustainable revenues for the communities and the surrounding territories. So just one thought I wanted to share.
Metta Spencer 30:49
I love that idea. Yeah.
Lawrence Martin 30:50
And I know in, in where I lived here up in northern Ontario, we’re trying to partner up with all the different federal government components, the environment, ministries, the Fisheries and Oceans, and natural resources and so on. And the partnership is good, because everybody has the same mindset, you know, to work together. But in today’s climate, with the provincial governments, they’re not interested in the conservation, we’re talking about the more into economic development and opening up mines in this particular area, just upriver from us call the Ring of Fire. And so we’re afraid of the impact that will have on the whole ecosystem, right into change Bay, you know, 200 kilometers away, in the Hudson Bay, and so forth. So we’re kind of partnered up and try to work with them to develop some kind of mitigation plans to offset what could happen. And it’s been really a really tough sale. So
Metta Spencer 31:55
Excuse me, I think we should explain, because I’m not to clear myself, I think that Ring of Fire is something that would destroy the wetlands the peat lands on the south coast, is is that right? That is real risk that it’s going to interrupt and release carbon from the peat lands?
Lawrence Martin 32:17
Yeah, it’ll do all of the above. But it’s up river, it’s in a watershed area. So the water flows from west to east into Hudson Bay and James Bay, not just in a river session, but that whole peatlands is all wetlands, the water flows through there, and through the creeks and everything, so yeah, so of course, we will have an impact. And people are afraid of that. And because they depend on the food from the river systems that depend on the animals and the Caribous, that that migrates through that area. So it would be a big change for…
Peter Wadhams 32:51
It may have enormous care as well, because of the increasing prevalence of methane explosions, which has been happening greater and greater frequency and it’s, it’s in the movie that you mentioned, Fire and Ice I was in that movie. There was some efforts to look at what happens if in the winter, if you have simply frozen lake for instance, methane accumulates under the lake, and you can get an explosion or you can set fire to it or or the whole thing might explode. But also the this has been happening on land, in coastal regions, and in the north of Canada, and in areas like Barrow in Alaska, where you get kind of gigantic explosion, and a whole area that used to be used to be permafrost has become the permafrost just been blown away. So there has a problem where enormous care is needed to avoid doing some really terrible damage to a place which is inhabited. And so we we really, I think need to worry a lot about methane and more than we have done in the past because of the its potential role in in this in this these phenomena.
Metta Spencer 34:48
Thank you, Brian.
Brian von Herzen 34:50
Yes, Lawrence mentioned the importance of eelgrass and James Bay and Hudson Bay and how so many birds, migratory birds depend on the eel grass per healthy habitat. And this is exactly what gets threatened by the Ring of Fire. Here’s an example showing a map of the Ontario Ring of Fire. And it depicts the, you know, the regions that are at risk, and you can see rivers flowing to the east from The Ring of Fire. The murkiness of the waters in James and Hudson Bay, are likely to be greatly affected by the mining activities that would be associated with the Ring of Fire. And thus, as soon as it gets a little murkier, you lose half or more of the eelgrass. And it’s really a challenge to make the eelgrass waters clear so that the eel grass can thrive better. And I think in many ways, kelp forests and eel grass together, can, can work can can can grow together, because the kelp forests will make the waters clear and the eelgrass will thrive in the clear waters. And in contrast, you know, the mining activities are going to make it much worse for both eelgrass and the kelp forests. So that’s a great example of how we need to really think through the environmental ramifications of what we’re doing, and how can we sustainably manage those marine resources and address some of the challenges about these mining activities?
Metta Spencer 36:17
Well, I would like to know, what are some of the products that could be made from kelp. And I believe that Brian says you have some sort of collapsible lab that you could, you could ship off and you know, and sort of unfold it and you’ve got yourself a lab in which you can create all kinds of goodies for and manufacture them and send them out. So I have this fantasy, that where we set up stations to freeze the ice to keep the ice frozen in the winter and the summer, that if if those stations are near places where kelp is already growing, then the communities would have an opportunity to have some jobs of both types, you know, maintaining the these operation, the state station that’s going to spray saltwater, but also harvesting seaweed, but the practicalities of the thing are completely beyond me. I don’t know how much of the seaweed you could take out without destroying or wrecking the ecosystem of the area. And once you get it, what can you make from it? And what would be some of the practical uses for it? I think that you’ve talked about biostimulants for plants, but I know that they make fertilizer from from seaweed as well as food. And I believe there are other commodities that could be produced. And I have the notion that, you know, if you had a little factory someplace near Churchill, that there are trains that go from Churchill, you know, into Manitoba. And and you could ship the stuff out. And that would be part of one of the other projects that we’re looking at is ways in which agriculture could benefit from soil amendments. And this seaweed material could be part of the the effort to make Canada’s agriculture more sustainable without using chemical fertilizers which are downsides to them. So I’m asking him a whole bunch of questions of Brian but in a word, is there could there be a real market for some new products thatcould be produced from sustainably from kelp in Hudson Bay?
Brian von Herzen 38:54
Yes, well, you found a dozen value chains for seaweeds and other kelp and other seaweeds and they start with food and feed and fertilizer. We’ve touched on the food and the biostimulant fertilizers to some extent, but I do want to mention that seaweeds have been found to reduce the enteric methane emissions of ruminant livestock, which means cow burps and cattle and whatnot and Canada and the US have a lot of cattle. Did you know that 40% of all emissions of all greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture come from these ruminant livestock and the methane factor is huge. And so being able to develop a cattle feed supplement and other kinds of products even at 1% concentration, they can eliminate most of the enteric methane emissions of ruminant livestock. And in fact, this whole technology started in Canada, a farmer in Nova Scotia had a farm and that farm had a road that went through it. And so half of the cows had four walls, and half the cows had three walls and a beach And it turned out the cattle that he had on the beach were healthier, heavier, and some would say happier because they could eat all the kelp they wanted. So I think that was the beginning of what became an Australian technology that’s being really developed now. And, and I think there’s a dozen different seaweeds that have this effect or more, some of which could likely grow right near the Hudson’s Bay. So it’s a great opportunity. And at the Climate Foundation, we’ve been developing our marine permaculture, transportable seaweed processor, and any community that can take a 20 foot shipping container on a track and drop it can have one of these little bio processing facilities. And so it’s one thing to harvest seaweed. And I want to say it’s more like mowing the lawn, and less about ripping it out of the ground. So the right techniques, if you’re just mowing the lawn on the seaweeds gonna grow back. And that’s a very good perennial technique and refining perennial crops are 10 times more valuable than the annuals because the annuals, continually disrupting the soil and you’re disrupting the worms and the ground and the soil and everything. By moving to perennial crops, we can clap once, and harvest a dozen times. And whether we’re on land or sea perennials makes so much sense. It’s less work, it’s higher production, and it preserves the ecosystem for our microbial friends on land and in the sea, and the fish habitat. So with that said, it’s one thing to mow the lawn and dry some kelp and ship it off. But it’s another thing to process it into valuable food and feed and fertilizer products, right there in Churchill or right there on the coastal communities. In fact, I flew in one one day to Rankin inlet way up north and, and stayed overnight. And it was a wonderful experience. And I love the Arctic communities around the coast of Hudson Bay, there’s this beautiful, and so being able to get those containers there and unpack that little bio refinery, and enable those communities to produce the high value food and feed and fertilizer products and provide them to neighboring agricultural communities. That’s a huge value add that retains more of the economic dollar, if you will, within the community, and enables these regenerative processes and we call it a circular ecology from seed to land. And when you use biostimulants, it results in 20%, less nitrate fertilizer, 20% Less nitrous oxide emissions, and 20% less runoff back into the sea again. So there’s a circular ecology from sea to land back to sea. And that becomes a circular economy, from coastal communities, to farmland, and then back to the coastal community again, and that’s what I believe will regenerate healthy communities across our nations. And I’m looking forward to being part of that regeneration.
Peter Wadhams 42:47
Like if I can put a word in for an area I know about that very similar. The Channel Islands in between England and France, as their as hundreds of years have been harvesting kelp from the beach, as they call it, vraic. And they just got it just just take a horse and cart and fork it up into the cart, and feed that to cattle. And it’s exactly the same effects highly, highly efficient in reducing fractions and being nourishing. And because they were forced to do this, during the war, when there was no food around and the cattle lived entirely off of seaweed then it worked. They survived and it’s an it’s still an industry now so that there’s there’s there’s long histories of this in different parts of the world we can learn from.
Metta Spencer 42:47
It’s exciting. Brian.
Brian von Herzen 43:58
Just adding to what Peter’s saying I am familiar with the Orkney Islands where they have sheep that live on these small islands. And some of them eat 100% kelp to this day. And it’s really interesting. You know, some of them eat a bit of grass in the summer, but they’re eating seaweed year round. And they do remarkably well. So I think there are examples of livestock that are doing remarkably well. And of course, many seaweeds are generally recognized as safe by Indigenous communities in Hawaii, for example, and across the Pacific Ocean. And these are generally recognized as safe in the United States GRAS, which means you can offer these whole food products on the market. And that’s, I think, a great opportunity to include seaweed in our diets because, you know, humanity evolved it through a bottleneck about 100,000 years ago, I believe it was in South Africa or some region near there. And it’s pretty clear that we were coastal communities back then because there what there is evidence for such a coastal diet, you know, shellfish small fish, seaweed, and maybe some vegetables and whatnot. And that’s something that humanity seems to have evolved with. And so we’re looking forward to getting us back to our marine roots, if you will, and ensuring that we’ve got healthy foods for sustaining our civilization for decades to come.
Metta Spencer 45:15
Well I love the idea of return restoring things that have been lost, because clearly we know that the ice, you know, there used to be ice and things are going wrong, because of the stuff we put in the atmosphere. And and so if we can put it back to the way it should be that nature had it, and using natural methods. And then this spraying of sea water into the atmosphere is something that nature does anyway. But we would just take the technology and apply it in a somewhat enlarged way. But then also the notion that all of these seaweeds that used to be great forests that are dying off in the warmer climates now, at least we want to replenish the the world’s forests of seaweed someplace. And if they’re, if it’s possible for them to benefit by growing in the Arctic and expanding, then let’s look at that if and if people would welcome that. But of course, the people living there are the ones who have to decide whether this is something that that would be useful, and that they would desire, it’s going to mess up some other aspects of their livelihood. And for that, we need to talk to a lot of people who live in that area.
Brian von Herzen 46:43
That’s a great example of Metta. And that notion that your spraying, you know, seawater into the air to kind of regenerate some of that natural resources important. And if you do that, in the winter, you can actually build meters more sea ice on the Hudson Bay. And that’s something that will provide the insulation for the summer, I liken the the planet Earth to a glass of ice water. And you know, you’ve got a glass and it’s full of ice, right? But no, you can heat it up for a long time. And the ice will melt and melt and melt, but the water temperature will stay at zero degrees Celsius until that last ice cube melts. And then you go to hell in a handbasket. And you think of planet Earth as a glass of ice water and you’ve got ice at the top of the planet, you know, well, what are we going to do on that last bit of sea ice melts and on our planet, really, we’re going to get all the global warming we paid for then. And I think we it behooves us to keep the ice in the glass of water, and to keep the planet frozen, as Peter has so aptly articulated in previous years and decades. And that includes the Hudson Bay. And so it could be that spraying a little water in the wintertime can help us keep parts of the bay frozen, and can do it in a sustainable way that really is CO designed with the communities. But we have the technologies, that feature is here today. It’s just not broadly distributed. Yet. Anything we can do to help regenerating healthy ecosystems on the planet can go a long way towards getting us back to a healthy climate.
Metta Spencer 48:12
Yeah, I love the fact that you know, this is a natural phenomenon anyway, nature does it. We just have to learn how to mimic nature. Lawrence, do you think that we should talk to some other people? I want to make sure that we’ve given this absolutely as much thought as we can before we start talking to before we actually suggest to people that we might be able to do such a thing, because I’m not sure we can. But we’re looking into it. And of course, it’s it’s very important to consult with and find out whether people would want such a thing. What do you think?
Lawrence Martin 48:53
Well, the study that we’re doing now the feasibility study, there’s a socio economic component to it, which we’re about to launch. So we in that sector, we’re going to be identifying various economic opportunities, social responsibilities, and so on. So I can see this question of what you’re talking about could be part of that study. So we can ask the people about kelp, because there’s been a few communities in the past say 10-15 years who have experimented in growing kelp. We used in solar energy and trying to grow it in the small little building because electricity appear in northern Canada, it’s pretty much non existent. And the infrastructure is not there, either. We don’t have roads, we have winter roads, ice roads. So to look at it from from a marketing perspective, it’s a bit more a bit more challenging. But I think by asking the communities and if they find something feasible, something they would include in their diet, then it makes sense to have you know grown in the community in some fashion. And as far as the spraying seawater into the air, I think to be able to explain that maybe another movie, Peter will have to come and be our view we’ve made up here to talk about that. And to, you have to show people, you know that this actually works can work. And that there’s all these different benefits to it. So yeah, I would like to have a continuation of this conversation as part of our feasibility study, because we need to look at everything that is possible in Janesville, in Hudson Bay Area, and at the same time, be able to solve some of these threats that we do have on the mining, mining industries, and so forth. And but I think by reaching out, you know, our elders often say, you may go to great lengths to try and save these migratory birds. But don’t forget, you have established partners in California, and South America, Central America, because good birds fly over there. So you can’t be the one to try and save them yourself in the north, because they come from somewhere. So I think in this case here, what we’re looking at doing, and what we need to do is expand our partnerships. So if I may get on some kind of a list that you have people that can be contacted for further, incredible ideas like this, I’d like to be that person.
Metta Spencer 51:27
We are so eager to talk to you and to other people living on those communities around Hudson Bay. I reached out as much as I can, but you know, I haven’t been able to, to get many people. But I hope that in the future, every time we have a conversation about this issue, that we will include some people like you or some of your friends, and other people working on the issues.
Lawrence Martin 51:54
Yeah, and I can make and introduce you too.
Metta Spencer 51:56
If Peter, if Peter Wadhams is willing to appear in the movie, I think you should also appear and sing in Cree.
Lawrence Martin 52:04
Yeah, I’ll do the soundtrack, okay.
Metta Spencer 52:06
Brian von Herzen 52:07
That’s wonderful. And I think as we’re building the social licence, we can also begin the first plans, we actually several years ago, designed a very small floating wind turbine that can spray water into the air in the winter, and create more sea ice. And you could have a tiny little platform and just show, you know, we have a funding gap of a few $100,000 to make it make the first one run. But there’s no reason that can’t be a small demonstration that people, the community members and others can come and see. And just say, Okay, well, this is a big ice cube, and it’s lasting all summer. That’s the kind of demos that we want to be able to create in the years ahead with, with public support at the Climate Foundation and working to regenerate healthy climate.
Lawrence Martin 52:48
Alright, well, let me know what I can do to introduce you to our folks up here.
Brian von Herzen 52:54
That sounds wonderful. Yeah. And those seaweed seaweed maps were done by Fisheries (sic)Canada. So you know, we need to connect with all the groups and help to make that a reality. So this isn’t a totally goofy idea. After all, is it?
Lawrence Martin 53:13
No, it’s actually made sense in the last hour.
Metta Spencer 53:18
Well, I’m glad. So let’s do it again and with with other people, because we have a lot of people we have to check in with, and find out more about, but I’m really grateful to all of you for your special expertise, which came together in a very productive way, I think, and I feel a lot smarter than I did an hour ago. So thank you very much. And time’s up, and I’ll be back in touch with you all okay?
Lawrence Martin 53:44
You have my email. If I can have yours, send your email, that’d be great. And I will keep in touch.
Metta Spencer 53:48
Sure, I’ll certainly get in touch with you. I’ll show you the link to this too. Okay. Project Save the World produces the shows. And this is episode number 540. You can watch them or listen to them as audio podcasts on our website. To save the world.ca you can share information there to about six global issues. And you can comment on ideas that other people have expressed in the comments column to find a particular talk show enter its title or episode number in the search bar, or the name of one of the guest speakers. As I say the world also produces a quarterly online publication Peace magazine. You can subscribe for $20 Canadian per year. Just go to pressreader.com on your browser. And in the search bar. Enter the word peace. You’ll see buttons to click to subscribe
Brian von Herzen 53:51
Thank you all.
We produce several one-hour-long Zoom conversations each week about various aspects of six issues we address. You can watch them live and send a question to the speakers or watch the edited version later here or on our Youtube channel.