Press release -
Sargassum: The Climate Activist Under The Algae
Marine Biologist Franziska Elmer, PhD on what Sargassum beaching events and climate strikes have in common
For the global climate strike organized by Fridays for Future, Marine Biologist Franziska Elmer, PhD decided to write her climate justice parole in large letters on the beach of Playa del Carmen. She used the Sargassum algae that is present in large amounts on the beach to form the letters.
According to Franziska, “Sargassum are actually the climate activists under the algae.” When Sargassum arrived for the first time in large quantities on Caribbean and West African beaches in 2011, it was a major disruption and took everyone by surprise, similar to the first wave of climate protests and extinction rebellion actions. “This event is an example of our global system changing abruptly and in ways that could not be predicted.” Jake Kheel, Director of the Sustainability Center of the Grupo Punta Cana Foundation. Now, ten years later, Sargassum is still landing in large quantities on wider Caribbean and West African beaches. It is a constant reminder that our natural world is out of balance, a sign that is hard to ignore.
Like the climate activists, Sargassum is here to help us tackle the climate problem. The large masses of Sargassum floating in the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt and beaching on both sides of it, have taken up large amounts of CO2 . The algae act like a large forest out at sea, capturing CO2 out of our atmosphere and ocean as they grow. Out at sea, they doesn’t compete with other land uses, which is a huge advantage. In the summer months, the Sargassum mats travels close to shore and beaches, which theoretically makes it very easy for us to pick up this captured carbon and turn it into long term capture. But like with the climate activists, our society and governments were not ready to react quickly and often still regards Sargassum as a problem rather than an opportunity. Most of the Sargassum biomass collected from beaches is put in a pile where it rots and the carbon is released back into the atmosphere.
Franziska is one of the researchers and innovators who are looking for ways to turn Sargassum into useful products and long term carbon capture. She and her colleagues focus on information exchange and outreach to local communities. Every week, they release a new episode of The Sargassum Podcast in which various stakeholder are interviewed and share their solutions to the Sargassum challenge.
Franziska was a Guest Speaker for the launch of the very First Certified Carbon Literacy Teachers in the World and says that she is mobilising scientists and climate community organisers from across the world to work directly with the eduCCate Global Gold Award School, Holme Grange School, on an exciting STEAM collaboration project. She says, "I jumped at the opportunity to connect, directly, with the teachers, pupils and parents of the school that is now leading the charge towards the teaching of the Climate Curriculum. The Holme Grange pupils and our group of Climate Scientists are working together to share our knowledge and research to a wider audience globally. STEAM is an important component within the existing school curriculum and if we can ignite the passion that we hold for Climate Science and all that it delivers, then we will achieve what many have said would not be possible - the delivery of a truly Cross-Curricular Climate Curriculum in every school!"
Melanie Harwood, Co-Founder of eduCCate Global, says this of Franziska, "I attended an online talk that Franziska delivered about Sargassum and realised that I was in the presence of one of the greatest living marine biologists that would bring STEAM and Climate Science to life for millions of children throughout the world. When I asked her to take part in an exclusive initiative with Holme Grange School, the First eduCCate Global Gold Award School with Certified Carbon Literacy Teachers, she did not hesitate and I knew that this would be the beginning of a powerful alliance and partnership that will transform education globally."
eduCCate Global (EG) is the creator of the Original Certified Climate Change Teacher Course, delivered to more than 329,000 schools in 43 countries. Our mission is to upskill 100 million teachers in 12 months, with the follow-on mission to upskill 7.7 billion people on the planet, so as to ensure each and every person has a strong and clear understanding of Sustainability, Climate Literacy, Carbon Literacy, Transition and, ultimately, Transformation towards Net Zero. eduCCate Global is a Not For Profit Organisation.
EG has considerable experience in conceptualising, developing, building to final, trialling and launching: CPD Teacher Training, Lifelong Learning Training Programmes for adults, education and learning programmes for children and learners between the ages of 3 to 19 years of age. eduCCate Global has extensive experience organising international launches, conferences, webinars, Summits, Awards Ceremonies, Virtual Summits, Virtual Awards Ceremonies, Training Seminars and workshops (both in person an virtually), having staged over 14 events and conferences since 2019, ranging from 10-600 participants. In addition, eduCCate Global have developed a broad pan-European network of Foundation, Business, University, Vocational Training Colleges, Teacher Training Colleges, Primary and Secondary Schools, and experts in Early Years Education, SEN and Autism, Sustainability, Climate Literacy, Carbon Literacy, Transition Engineering, PR, Marketing, Social Media, Broadcast Media, Eco-Anxiety, Permaculture, Biodiversity, Green Finance, Rebuild Economics, UN Agencies, NASA, Environmental International Law Specialists, Green Inventors, and Transformation Specialists.
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About Franziska Elmer:
Franziska Elmer PhD is a research fellow with School for Field Studies at the Center for Marine Resource Studies in South Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands. She has spent much of her career in the Caribbean, including volunteer work and an internship at STENAPA in St. Eustatius and faculty positions at CIEE in Bonaire and SFS in South Caicos. Furthermore, she serves as treasurer for the Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean and is an Island Innovation Ambassador. Her research focusses are on coral recruitment, stony coral tissue loss disease and the impact of Sargassum beaching events on ecosystems and local communities.
In 2020, Franziska gave a TEDx talk in Luzern: How a Marine Biologist Became a Climate Pirate. Since January 2020, Franziska has been on a climate change sabbatical in which she volunteers for various projects working help to solve this crisis.