By Terry Tamminen, President/CEO of AltaSea
Two-thirds of our planet is covered by oceans, so when we look for solutions to climate change and sustainability challenges, why would we only look on land? The nonprofit AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles has developed a model to unleash the power of the ocean to meet these challenges by harnessing the “blue” economy. This includes aquaculture on land and at sea; clean renewable energy, such as wave power and pulling carbon pollution out of the ocean, with hydrogen as a byproduct that can power ships and trucks; and underwater robotics that can help us explore and understand our changing ocean to unlock even more innovation.
But this is not just a concept. Already 30 companies, university partners and impact investors call AltaSea home, and we are partnering with community colleges on credential programs in aquaculture, underwater robotics and maritime hydrogen uses. Thanks to a vision in 2014 and support from the Annenberg Foundation, AltaSea launched with a 50-year lease on our 35-acre campus. We are now converting our 100-year-old warehouse and wharf complex on the ocean into a place for researchers, entrepreneurs and nonprofits to collaborate under one roof—a 4-acre roof covered in 2.2 megawatts of solar panels. This is enough to power our programs and technologies or the equivalent of powering 700 homes.
Just one great example of this work is the University of Southern California Nuzhdin Lab, which is “domesticating” kelp to adapt to climate change and yield more food, fuels, pharmaceuticals and industrial ingredients from strains that are “seedless” so they can be farmed in the open ocean without endangering native coastal species. The AltaSea model is being replicated in the ports of Kearny, New Jersey and Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, joining them with institutions in Asia, Africa and Europe so we can share solutions in policy, technology and finance to scale very quickly.
We’re proud of the opportunities we’re creating to expand the collaborative blue economy innovation partnerships with a focus on underserved communities, especially around ports where residents have borne the disproportionate burden of air pollution and other consequences of a fossil-fueled economy. We’re creating more diverse, equitable and inclusive opportunities that the emerging blue economy can provide.
Shakespeare says, “Nature’s bequest gives nothing but doth lend. Then how, when nature calls thee to be gone, what acceptable audit canst thou leave?” Join the thousands of students, job trainees, researchers, innovators and policymakers at AltaSea and help us leave a legacy that even William Shakespeare would applaud. •
To learn more about AltaSea, visit altasea.org.