Azolla: The Plant That Could Save the World

The biggest crisis our mother earth is facing right now is climate change. There have been a series of Earth Summits where different countries are expressing their concern about carbon emission and passing the bucks upon one another as to who is the biggest contributor of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere. As such our CO2 content has exceeded 400 parts per million(ppm), which is a dangerous level and there is a possibility of melting of ancient ice, releasing a huge amount of CO2 and methane which are trapped under the ice. In order to save the world, one way is to reverse the mechanism of global warming by replicating the cooling process which brought in the Ice Age. One of these cooling processes was the Azolla Event which occurred 49 million years ago. Azolla is a form of fern, which grows on fresh water and needs very little nutrients and they can take up nitrogen from the atmosphere. They also die very quickly. 49 million years ago, the Arctic Ocean was a still water ocean which contained saltwater in the lower level and fresh water on the upper level which got replenished after each rainfall, carrying phosphorus and sulphur. In this fresh water Azolla bloomed and rapidly filled up the surface of the Arctic Ocean. When they died, they sank to the bottom salt water layer confining the carbon dioxide within. They functioned as CO2 absorbers. The rapid decrease of CO2 level decreased the temperature of the atmosphere so rapidly that Ice Age came in and  the CO2 concentration which was 3500 ppm, came down to 650 ppm. Our atmospheric CO2 which is currently 410 ppm needs to be immediately reduced. Therefore, we can use the Azolla ferns to mimic the ancient CO2. The rate of CO2 reduction by Azolla is 0.0035625 parts per million per year. Thus, it will need another 30,000 years to reduce the CO2 level back. Moreover, in order to use Azolla, we have to use a vast water body, like an ocean or a number of large lakes. We have to destroy all living forms in this water body, so as to mimic the arctic atmosphere 49 million years ago. This will have a huge impact on the ecology of the earth and will have a devastating effect to all living organisms. So, to save mankind, we must act now.