Adapting to Climate Change
Industrial Innovation to Preserve Marine Biodiversity
Biodiversity loss is among the biggest environmental challenges that we face today. That’s especially true in our oceans where habitat degradation threatens to push half of the world’s marine species to the brink of extinction by the end of this century. To counter that trend, a Japanese steelmaker developed restoration technologies that are regenerating the marine environment.
For more than a 15 years, Japan’s JFE Steel has been using steel slag – a by-product of steel making that is produced during the separation of the molten steel from impurities in steel-making furnaces – to create technologies that regenerate the marine environment.
In Yokohama City, the preservation technologies were used in the sea area in front of Yamashita Park from 2013-2017. The accumulation of sludge coupled with deteriorating water quality due to algae blooms and rainfall had impacted the area’s role as a breeding ground for marine organisms.
These technologies are also being used abroad. The coral reefs in the North Sulawesi Province of Indonesia, for instance, were in poor condition due to dynamite fishing and coral bleaching. In 2010, the preservation technology was used in a coral transplantation experiment, serving as a base for young coral to grow in a better location.
By enhancing the marine environment, these technologies are helping to prevent the biodiversity loss in the ocean, in turn creating a more resilient world.
Making Agriculture Resilient Against Climate Change
Arid areas cover more than 46% of the earth’s land area and are home to around 40% of global population. While droughts and desertification already post major agricultural challenges in these areas, climate change threatens to worsen the situation, reducing output and making it harder to meet growing food demand.
Now, a soil improvement agent developed though a collaboration between Tottori Resource Recycling and the Arid Land Research Center at Tottori University promises to alleviate the challenges of agriculture in arid areas. The foamed glass agent is a porous material that is produced by burning pulverized glass from used bottles mixed with a foaming agent such as shell powder or calcium carbonate. When mixed with soil, the agent increases the water retention capacity and improves aeration for more than ten years, making it possible to grow crops in areas with limited rainfall.
Since 2015, the collaboration has been testing the soil agent in the Souss Massa region of Morocco, which is knownfor its large-scale farms. Climate change has resulted in longer and more frequent droughts in the region over the past several decades, in turn leading to the rapid depletion of groundwater.
Forecasts for a 20-30% decrease in rainfall across Morocco through the end of the century – also due to climate change – threaten to exacerbate water supply challenges in the region.
Water scarcity in the Souss Massa basin coupled with increasing water stress due to urban development were having a negative impact on tomato crops.
The region is responsible for more than 80% of Morocco’s tomatoes, which make up nearly half of the country’s vegetable exports. Using the soil agent developed in Japan, famers boosted tomato yields by 28% while conserving 50% of the water supply.
The soil agent has produced similar results in Senegal, where it boosted green bean yields by more than 70%. More recently, pilot projects in other countries including China, Somalia, Mauritania, Peru, and the UAE are testing the soil agent.
In each location, the soil agent promises to reduce the amount of water and fertilizer required in turn reducing the cost of production, or to increase the yield with same amount of inputs. By enabling farmers to boost crop yields and overcome chronic water supply challenges in arid areas, this technology promises to make agriculture more resilient against the challenges of climate change.