Humans like to eat, need to eat, and we need to clean up after ourselves too. The ocean provides about 30% of humanity's protein needs around the world. Coastal regions likely depend on it more for food, however we all eat marine products regularly, even as thickeners in our dairy equivalent food products. Eating more seafood of certain types can help protect the ocean and our food supply for more generations into the future.
The shells of shellfish and smaller crustaceans sequester carbon dioxide. About 40% of the weight of a shell is carbon and oxygen. Calcium makes up most of the ret of the weight. Crushed shells are used as a calcium supplement in gardening.
Image: The White Cliffs of Dover, are made of limestone, which is formed from ancient seashells. (Wikipedia) Calcium carbonate is the chemical that makes up the majority of seashells, limestone, pearls, egg shells, marble, chalk, and the stalactites and stalagmites found in caves. (science.jrank.org)
Clams, mussels, and oysters can help with current sequestering of carbon dioxide. Increasing shellfish aquaculture can help provide protein for hungry humans which is a need, and remove carbon dioxide from the ocean water with the creation of shells. Humans need to save the shells though, and prevent them from being thrown into ocean water as waste.
Life and ecosystems are interconnected. Farming marine plants and shellfish can help support a balanced ecosystem. Coastal grasses and mangroves also can help where erosion and wave action is damaging. The trees and grasses buffer some of the power of the waves and the roots help prevent erosion of the sandy ocean floor. Plants also produce oxygen and use carbon dioxide.
The shells themselves are also of value - and need to be preserved from increasing acidity in coastal waters. Save the shells from dinner, but beachcombing may also be fun. Beach-combing can be a vacation destination, so can secondhand shops. Gathering shells may also be possible at local resale and second-hand shops. People value shells and make a variety of craft items for decorative or functional purposes.
Dredging or beach combing for old shells is something anyone near the ocean could do depending on regulations or legality about removing anything from public or private property. Ask permission. Marine areas that are already experiencing increased acidity would be target areas to try to remove shells from the ocean floor in larger amounts by dredging and sifting for various construction needs. Sand itself is becoming scarce in many areas. Crushed shells are used for paving on pathways and driveways, similar to gravel, but the edges lock into a firmer surface that is still porous enough for rainwater to drain well.
Urban areas where garbage is dumped in the ocean would be target areas to try to get restaurants and other shellfish diners to remove the shells from the waste stream first. Save the shells for construction projects, or just make a big pile somewhere. The shells will not release the carbon dioxide unless they are in acidity, so we don't want shells thrown back in the ocean. Especially near coastal areas the ocean water is increasing in acidity.
Shells contain about forty percent carbon dioxide by weight. If they are in a more acidic ocean the shells will dissolve and release the sequestered CO2.
Shells were used as an item of trade value, similar to money - this token is worth so much goods or services from someone else. Money in earlier stages of history had physical value - gold or silver had more value than a copper penny or a nickel made of 75% copper and 25% nickel (1866). Savy traders from the 1800's wouldn't want a paper check - basically just an IOU (I owe you). With cryptocurrency there isn't even a wooden nickel to represent your work or goods.
Saving shells and building lasting structures out of them could include a tangible message to the future - We cared, we tried to slow carbon dioxide accumulation in the air and ocean -here is a monument or building made of shells containing ________tons of carbon dioxide..
Leaving a Shell-Legacy for the future could also be a reminder to the present that there are tangible lives at stake - shellfish. We are risking their ability to survive and grow homes of their own - their exoskeletan.
Cryptocurrency and blockchain recording could be used to track an individual's shell-legacy, their individual bank storage vault of sequestered carbon dioxide. Wampum e-units could be used as a trade value representing the physical stash of sequestered CO2. Most things are possible if enough people are working together to make it happen.
It would take a little organization to set up a restaurant system that makes saving the shells in a simple but possible. Restaurants are busy and need to be clean and easily cleanable.
One extra bucket near the plate clearing station half full of briny water that had a little Borax TM added to it would be needed. The staff member clearing plates would put the shells in the brine water. Once it was full or whenever someone collecting them stopped by, it could emptied and refilled with fresh Borax water.
Additional cleaning might be needed and the shells could be collected by someone who might pay something for their weight - to help incentivize the restaurant to save them. Or a chain of restaurants might collect shells as a social action campaign - and part of the goal is eating more shellfish, so win/win.
Shellfish are a very good source of copper, zinc, iron, and other trace minerals. As a protein source they also provide a good amount of nucleotides - needed for use to form RNA and DNA. While we can make nucleotides it is slower than using some from dietary sources. Meat and meat broth, soy products, cheese, Nutritional Yeast Flakes, are also sources.
Nucleotides are needed for a good immune response and T-cell function:
Excerpt from: Foods and Phytonutrients that may benefit T-cells. (document)
Nucleotides are not considered an essential nutrient but they are complex molecules which take fourteen chemical steps for our body to make from simpler chemicals.
Nrf2 plays a role in the production of nucleotides.
Nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. DNA is a double helix or spiral, shaped like a zipper or ladder that is coiled like a long metal spring. RNA is half of the zipper, one pole of the ladder with half of each step. Each half step would be one nucleotide.
In order for our cells to make new proteins from the DNA recipe, the encoded pattern of amino acids that will form the new protein, first a matching strand of RNA has to be produced, using many nucleotides. That is a lot of nucleotides to make before we even get started on making a new protein.
To shorten up the long chemical story - we also get some nucleotides in our diet and those are absorbed intact and can be used without the fourteen steps we would need to make our own. Different foods might provide RNA and would be good sources of varied nucleotides. Supplements are available with a more specific balance found to affect health in more directed ways such as helping with weight loss, diabetes, or for promoting recovery after surgical stress.
The balance of nucleotides available would be a limiting factor as to which genes could be activated, a chronic shortage may be affecting blood sugar or appetite. Infants born small for gestational age, low birth weight or with slow growth also may benefit from other types of nucleotides. Improved growth and reduced diarrhea was found in two different studies. (Brunser 1994 Cosgrove 1996). (p 14, Yasko 16)
Lack of nucleotides in the diet was found to cause breakdown of mucosal integrity. The mucosal lining protects our digestive system and lungs from pathogens and is needed for our other organs to function well. It is like mortar between our cells and a coat of paint along the outer surface - sealing out microbes or dust in our lungs or acidity in the stomach.
We are watery on the inside but stabilized by fibers and proteins so that the mucous layer is a moist environment but semi-solid like a gelatin dessert or fruit jelly. RNA and DNA are somewhat ladder like, or thread like, which would add to the structural matrix of the mucous lining.
This shell information was gathered while thinking about sequestering carbon within the guidelines of the X-Prize $100 million dollar Carbon Sequestering contest. It is four years long with two phases. Entry in the first phase has a deadline of this year. More about the contest is in a series of blogposts - the Home Team - what can we do in our homes to help the planet?
The contest may be oriented more towards big business, and big budgets, however with teamwork many individuals might be able to show what homesteads can do towards carbon sequestering goals - including eating more mussels, oysters, and clams, and saving the shells. You can start your own team - more details in this post, first in a series: Home Team - an X-Prize Call to Action!.
Team Lawn Annihilation may sound worse than it is - it is the lawns that we want to get rid of. There is a lot of nonrenewable resources used to maintain lawns in the U.S. and elsewhere.
More sustainable groundcover and some grazing sheep or goats would use less fossil fuels and water - or just ground cover, no grazing animals, however grazing animals are fairly sustainable and good choices on less arable, less farmable land.
More vegetable gardens and more fruit trees - and more teams of helpers too. We have many homes with modern owners who are too busy working, or who are now too frail to do heavier gardening work even though they have the time. Community organization of gardening teams might be an answer. There could be people with limited resources or who do have time and like to tend gardens, and they could garden for people who can't but who do have sun and soil, The produce could be shared among the home owners and the gardeners, increasing nutrition content in local diets and also increasing socializing among community members.
We need more duck ponds and mini wetlands, and less use of chemical herbicides and pesticides; more wild bees and wildflowers, more insects, yes, mosquitoes, because that means there are likely more lightening bugs too, and frogs for frog ponds who like to eat mosquitoes.
Life is interconnected, we need biodiversity to promote healthier species throughout the web of life.
Big tech, big money, big solutions - all a focus of climate action, and it is needed - big policy change. Blaming individuals isn't the answer - except when it is part f the answer. Individual action could choose more shellfish on average, and more vegetable gardens, orchards, or groundcover instead of inefficient, ornamental lawns.
Urban areas could have more community garden space, or more groundcover that is suitable for the natural landscape - which might be sand and rocks in an ornamental display, and a few cactus or sagebrush. Your homestead's sagebrush could help support 350 other species of plant and animal life. Sagebrush leaves contain camphor, which can help clear congestion. The leaves are used by indigenous Americans to make tea. (floodexplorer.org)
Disclaimer: This information is being provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individualized health care guidance. Please see an individual health care provider for individual health care services.
Jennifer Depew, R.D.
Copyright © 2020 Jennifer Depew, R - All Rights Reserved.
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