Half of the Earth’s photosynthetic CO2-fixation is accomplished by marine phytoplankton. These are usually singlecelled, microalgae (i.e., diatoms), that float in the light-irradiated surface of the ocean
(from the Greek “planktos” meaning wanderer) and can process 10-20 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equal to the amount of carbon captured annually by the world’s rainforests1. While floating, phytoplankton makes energy-rich nutrients (food), releasing oxygen as by-product. It is estimated that 50% of the oxygen on Earth is produced by phytoplankton.
Therefore, oceanic life depends on them for food or oxygen. We are currently facing an exponential climate crisis due to the incessant global warming, paralleling CO2 emissions and the extensive burning
of fossil fuels, which in turns is responsible for the steady deoxygenation of the open ocean and coastal waters. “The Ocean is losing its breath” which sets the urgent imperative to (i) globally reduce atmospheric greenhouse-gases, (ii) move to a carbonneutral renewable energy schemes, and (iii) augment oxygenic photosynthesis.
The Climate-Clock is running fast towards the irreversible threshold of 1.5° temperature increase. To add time to the Clock, we cannot address one crisis at a time, but we need a multi-faceted approach, faster than any biological cycle and complementary to other renewable energy technologies including photovoltaics, solar thermal, photoelectrochemical cells, monolithic “artificial leaf” devices.