The ocean and climate are inextricably linked — and these waters are the planet’s greatest carbon sink. But with so much pollution in the atmosphere over the centuries, it’s going to take more than nature to restore the balance.

AI and emerging technology are critical in reducing emissions and helping us better understand the ocean’s impact on climate.

Canada is an ocean nation, with marine waters spanning our North, West and East Coasts — so, it likely comes as no surprise that we’re a leader when it comes to ocean advocacy and preservation.

The concept of World Oceans Day was first proposed by the Government of Canada at the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Not only do the oceans connect people worldwide, they play a key role in the fight against climate change. And while two-thirds of the world’s surface is covered by oceans, many ecosystems are still largely unknown — particularly those in the deep ocean.

As a nation, we’re also a leader in ocean research — and punch above our weight in ocean innovation. Atlantic Canada was recently named in the top ten oceantech ecosystems in the world — with the highest concentration of ocean scientists.

Canadian companies are building world class sensors, autonomous platforms, and some of the most impressive marine carbon dioxide removal technologies — to measure ocean emissions and mitigate climate risk.

But can innovative tech turn the tide in the climate crisis?

On this episode, John Stackhouse visits Nova Scotia — to check out the Cove Demo Day, Canada’s largest showcase of marine technology. He is joined by Anya Waite, CEO & Scientific Director and Eric Siegel, Chief Innovation Officer at the Ocean Frontier Institute, led by Dalhousie University to discuss the opportunities for our nation — and the planet.

The waters hold vast potential in the fight against climate change — and they may be nature’s great disruptor.

Speaker 1 [00:00:01] I’m Candace Smith from Rockland Scientific. We’re, a Victoria-based company that makes these instruments to measure turbulent mixing in the ocean. This is a cylindrical tube. It’s about a meter long. At one end, we have something to make it steady when it’s falling in the water. And at the other end, we have a bunch of sensors.

Speaker 2 [00:00:19] I’m Adam Comeau. I manage the glider operations at Dalhousie University. So we’ve got a Slocum glider here. This is an underwater robotic submarine that’s battery powered, that can stay in the ocean for months at a time, collecting data for researchers.

Speaker 1 [00:00:34] I’m Julie Angus, CEO of Open Ocean Robotics. So this is our uncrewed surface vehicle data explorer. It’s about as big as a kayak. It’s covered in solar panels, and it has a roll bar on the back that allows it to self. Right. So this means it can go out in big storms and collect data.

Speaker 3 [00:00:52] My name is Nicole Ivan up on Bernie Koski and I am currently a field support specialist with Rockland Scientific. So this is called a wave glider. So this is a, surface platform that can collect data for months in the ocean and can carry a range of sensors. The data gets streamed via satellites back to shore. And then scientists and users can look at the data and have information in real time.

Speaker 2 [00:01:17] Those were clips from The Cove Demo Day in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It’s Canada’s largest showcase of marine tech, with more than 50 companies demonstrating their latest innovations and technologies. It also happened, if you didn’t know this to be World Ocean Day and the concept of World Ocean Day, it’s been around for a while. It was first proposed by the Government of Canada at the U.N. Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Not only do the oceans connect people worldwide, as well as people across Canada on all our coasts especially. They play a key role in the fight against climate change, and it’s going to take all hands on deck to fulfill the potential that oceans have. We’re going to talk about some of the technologies on this episode, and some of the ambitions that lay right before us in Canada. This is Disruptors, an RBC podcast. I’m John Stackhouse. Today, I’m live at the Ocean Frontier Institute, led by Dalhousie University in Halifax, and I’m joined by Anya Waite, the CEO and scientific director at the Ocean Frontier Institute, or OFI, as you’ll hear it called. Anya is a renowned researcher who currently sits on the board of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster and was the first woman to co-chair the Global Ocean Observing System Steering Committee. We’re also joined by Eric Siegel, OFI’s Chief Innovation Officer. Eric serves on the UN Ocean Decade Technology and Innovation Working Group. He also sits on the board of directors at Sustainable Oceans Applied Research, and is the executive in residence at the Creative Destruction Lab Ocean Stream. Anya and Eric, welcome to Disruptors.

Speaker 3 [00:03:03] Thank you John.

Speaker 4 [00:03:04] Thank you.

Speaker 2 [00:03:05] Let me start first with your ocean journey and how you got so engaged in oceans. Anya, I’m going to start with you because I was curious to learn you have a musical background. So how do you go from music to oceans?

Speaker 4 [00:03:16] I think it’s a rhythm. I think it’s the color blue. There’s lots of link between how music moves and how it works in the brain, and the rhythms and structures of ocean movement and patterns. So in a way, it’s not such a different system.

Speaker 2 [00:03:31] Do you have a favorite piece of music that makes you think of the ocean?

Speaker 4 [00:03:35] I’m a fan of Bach. My kids kind of laugh at me because of course, that’s not at all what they listen to. But the rhythms and structures of Bach, to me are like the rhythms and structures of tides and waves.

Speaker 2 [00:03:46] That’s beautifully said. Eric, what drew you to the ocean?

Speaker 3 [00:03:49] The oceans have always been close to my heart. As a young adult, I crossed the Pacific Ocean on a small boat from Seattle to New Zealand, and then, with my family and three young kids, crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Scotland to North America. So I’ve always have been very close to the oceans. And then I just have always enjoyed the interface between ocean science, technology and innovation and how we can couple those things together to make interesting measurements and hopefully solve some important problems.

Speaker 2 [00:04:13] And that point about oceans and technology, we’re going to get deep into this, but it’s probably something that doesn’t jump to mind when people think of oceans as being a tech center. How did you connect those two pieces? Oceans and technology?

Speaker 3 [00:04:26] Well, as an ocean scientist, we know that we have to study the ocean to understand it. And the best way to study it, other than looking at it, is to actually measure it. And measuring the ocean is very challenging, and it requires a lot of technology and a lot of innovation. And those things have happened over the generations. But things are happening very rapidly now.

Speaker 2 [00:04:43] And of course, we could talk about all sorts of things when it comes to the seven seas, but this conversation is going to focus on climate and the vast potential that oceans have in terms of addressing the climate crisis. Anya, give us a high-level view of how we should be seeing the oceans in the context of climate.

Speaker 4 [00:05:01] I think it’s important to realize that, in fact, the oceans control our climate. And that’s something that’s been missed not just by policymakers and governments, but even some cases by scientists. So the ocean absorbs most of the heat that we produce. So 90% of that and also holds most of the carbon on Earth. And that means that the ocean is probably the world’s most natural carbon sink. And it’s a place we need to look for solutions and control of the whole climate system. So just as an example, as the ocean warms, it starts to change rainfall patterns on land that impacts forest fires. It impacts how we deal with hurricanes. For example, hurricanes become more intense. They move deeper into continents because they have more moisture. So the ocean controls a lot of land based weather patterns. And without having enough information from the ocean, we can’t actually predict key things like rainfall. And that’s something that’s of critical concern. So when we’re looking at the climate and we think of the ocean sometimes as a bit of a victim, you know, poor ocean that’s becoming acidic, we’re losing species and so on. But the ocean actually is the powerhouse that is saving us from climate change.

Speaker 2 [00:06:14] It’s intriguing to think how carbon goes from, say, the tailpipe of my car up into the atmosphere and then somehow ends up in the ocean. How does that happen?

Speaker 4 [00:06:24] So interesting. So if we follow that molecule out of the tailpipe of your car and it goes up into the atmosphere, what happens is that the ocean actually has a slightly lower concentration of carbon than the atmosphere. And so as that carbon accumulates in the atmosphere, it starts to literally pump down into the ocean. So the surface ocean has a higher concentration of carbon dioxide than the rest of the ocean. And then the surface ocean moves up towards the poles, and then it cools and sinks, and it carries that carbon rich water deep into the belly of the ocean, if you will. And so it turns out that the carbon that you have emitted ends up stored at 2000m depth along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge somewhere.

Speaker 2 [00:07:03] And some people may hear that and say, great, there’s the solution to climate. Let’s just let the oceans be that powerhouse for us. But oceans can’t do this on their own. Why is that?

Speaker 4 [00:07:14] That’s right. So the oceans have done. Most of the work in controlling the climate to date, and that means that we have relied on them without knowing that we’re relying on them. And that’s always a really risky scenario. When you are leaning on a chair you don’t even know is there and someone takes it away. So what we really need to do is understand exactly how this operates. Because if we don’t understand the ocean and it changes, then we’re not prepared for the impact that’s going to have on the global climate and as nations, as citizens, as people who work with industry and government, we need to understand how do we create policies that can allow society to respond to climate change? And if we don’t know what that trajectory is going to look like, we can’t respond to it effectively. So not understanding the ocean means that we’re critically insecure about our climate future, and we can’t afford that anymore. We need to be able to predict what’s going to happen, so we can respond intelligently to it and inform the public of what they need to do to respond.

Speaker 2 [00:08:13] So if we understand the oceans better, we’ll understand these surprises, which shouldn’t be surprises when they hit us like forest fires, as you mentioned, because we’ll see the weather patterns changing as they come off the oceans.

Speaker 4 [00:08:26] That’s exactly right. We need to get the climate models right. And to do that, we need to get the ocean right. And that means a lot more observation and understanding than we have to date.

Speaker 2 [00:08:35] We are an oceeanary planet, which a lot of us forget because we are landlubbers most of us. But Eric, to understand the great beyond of the oceans, we are going to need a lot more of those technologies, those sensory devices that we heard about in our opening at Cove on Demo Day. Tell us a bit about the role of technology in better understanding the oceans.

Speaker 3 [00:08:58] Yeah, measuring the oceans is very difficult. At the surface, there are wind and waves and ships that can hit things. At the bottom of the ocean, it’s very deep and there’s a tremendous amount of pressure that can crush things. Then once you start trying to do that, to measure things like climate, climate change and how the oceans are absorbing carbon and other dissolved gases, it gets even more difficult. If you think about going outside in the winter. You might look at your thermometer and say, is it four degrees? Is it ten degrees? Is it zero degrees? And those changes in temperature will make a big difference on how you get dressed, what you wear and how much you heat up your car. But the changes in the ocean are tiny. They’re just small fractions of degrees. And if you get that wrong, if the actual measurement is incorrect, you’ll have a different concept about the way that climate is going. So making consistent and accurate measurements that are stable for decades is a very difficult challenge.

Speaker 2 [00:09:47] And the ocean is just so vast as to be beyond certainly my imagination. How do we measure something so vast?

Speaker 3 [00:09:54] Yeah. So traditionally people would go out on boats and put buckets in the water and sample that way. Over the last couple decades, there have been fairly sophisticated ocean buoys, which are floating objects on the ocean that are anchored to the seafloor, not just along the coast, but in the middle of the ocean, across the Atlantic Ocean, across the Pacific Ocean and other places. And those measure the wind and the water temperature and the water salinity and other things within the ocean column from the surface to the bottom. But those are expensive. They’re expensive to build, they’re expensive to maintain and expensive to deploy, and they only measure in one place. And as we’ve seen more recently, there’s been some innovation in autonomous surface platforms. That means boats that run on the surface, that don’t need people, vessels underwater like submarines, and things that can sit on the seafloor without people. And those types of measurements are allowing us to reduce the cost of making good quality measurements and expand the volume of those measurements all over the oceans.

Speaker 2 [00:10:52] All of this, of course, generates lots of data. What are we going to do with all that data coming out of the ocean?

Speaker 4 [00:11:00] That’s a really great question. And I think oceanographers have been scratching their heads over this for a while. It used to be that you could, as Eric said, put your bucket over the side and make a little measurement of temperature. And then you’d write that down in your notebook. You’d have a notebook full of numbers. And that’s what’s called a data set. Now, with all the sensors that Eric has described, what’s happening is that the data are starting to come really fast. So they’re called data flows. So this instrument is sending a constant stream of data that then has to be caught somewhere, like on a laptop computer stored somewhere in a, in a big storage system. And then as those flows get faster and faster and with more and more sensing systems and observation points, it really becomes a mapping of data flows and data streams, as opposed to my little data set in my notebook. And that requires a whole new set of statistics, a whole new type of mathematics. You’re dealing with billions of numbers rather than six. That’s a really, really different problem. And so mathematics has come in and there’s a whole lot of really interesting new statistical ways of handling this where you use computer models, you use crazy new formulae from new types of statistics that can make sense of that. And you need really smart people who can put their heads to that and create knowledge from it. And so I think our knowledge creation has really changed when we’ve gone from our little data set to our data flows to our data Niagara Falls. AI and other technologies are so critically important to help us make sense of all that. So it’s it’s like a whole new journey for scientists. It’s new learnings for all of us, but kind of an exciting time as well.

Speaker 2 [00:12:40] I like that idea of the river flowing from data to knowledge. Of course, from there it has to take us to action. And one of the pieces of action that’s really exciting in this conversation is the idea of marine carbon dioxide removal, or MCDR. Give us a sense of the potential for carbon removal. And then we’ll talk a bit about how that actually can be carried out.

Speaker 4 [00:13:02] So the international scientific organizations that give us information that we need about climate change have identified that we can’t just stop emitting. We’ve emitted so much of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that we actually need to pull it out of the atmosphere. If we’re going to get to a reasonable climate future, pulling it out of the atmosphere is hard. It takes technologies and it takes a concerted effort. It’s also pretty true that no one has really done it successfully at big scale yet. The ocean executes carbon uptake in several ways. It takes up the carbon in that way of sinking cold water in the deep sea. It takes up carbon just through dissolving at the surface, and it also takes up carbon through organisms growing. They form their carbon bodies through photosynthesis and and so on. Then all of those can be perturbed to make them happen more. You can increase photosynthesis in the ocean. You can increase the absorption of carbon dioxide, and you can increase that sinking capacity. Now those are not easy things to do. They’re costly. And they also cost carbon, right. Because they cost energy to drive them. So the trick is how to do that and actually have a net positive impact. So 80% of the total climate carbon is sitting there in the ocean. It is the place to do this work. So it has the biggest capacity to do it, but also one of the hardest technological challenges.

Speaker 3 [00:14:19] I would also add that the ocean is already naturally doing this. It’s already sequestering the excess carbon from the atmosphere. And if the globe stopped emitting today, the ocean would solve climate change. It would absorb all of the net carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into the ocean. Has the capacity to do that. The problem is it would take hundreds of thousands of years. Naturally, it would do it. But we don’t have hundreds of thousands of years. So this concept of marine carbon dioxide removal, the different pathways that Anya just spoke about, we’re trying to accelerate those natural processes because we don’t have hundreds of thousands of years to wait.

Speaker 2 [00:14:51] Give us a bit more of a sense of what those processes can look like. We’ve talked on previous episodes about eelgrass and seaweed as one way of capturing carbon in the ocean. It’s an important effort, but limited in terms of its scale compared to the vast oceans, as well as all that carbon in the atmosphere that we have to remove. What other opportunities are there?

Speaker 3 [00:15:14] Yeah. So the the blue carbon that you spoke about, the eel grasses and kelp and mangroves, those are very important to maintain healthy ecosystems. That’s where baby fish are born. That protects us against storm surge and coastal erosion. And there’s a lot of legacy carbon stored in the root system. So that’s very important to maintain and not disturb. But the real opportunity for large scale, high volume net carbon removal from the atmosphere into the ocean comes in the form of what we call deep blue carbon. And that’s in the chemistry of the ocean and in the biology of the ocean.

Speaker 4 [00:15:47] So the chemistry of the ocean basically can be perturbed. So that it can absorb more carbonates into the ocean system, and the biology can be encouraged to grow, usually by some kind of artificial upwelling or bringing nutrients to the surface or seeding with iron. And I was involved in one of those early experiments.

Speaker 2 [00:16:05] What do you mean by seeding with iron?

Speaker 4 [00:16:07] So the further you get away from the land, the less iron is in the ocean, because iron comes from land borne dust. And so if you’re way out in the open ocean, the ecosystem is actually anemic. So we did an experiment back in 1999 where we put our iron sulfate in a big patch of ocean and created a big plankton bloom, which then carried its carbon down to the deep sea and doubled the flux of carbon that was naturally already occurring. And that’s also a perturbation that has been controversial because people are concerned about what are you doing to the ecosystems. Could you cause anoxia, low oxygen zones. And those are really important questions that have to be answered. But this is one way that the carbon system has been perturbed, an increase of carbon sequestration into the deep sea.

Speaker 3 [00:16:54] I would just add that coincidentally the same year you did that in the Southern Ocean. I did a similar project in the Gulf of Mexico in 1999. You did that as a newly minted post-doc for amazing, scientific research. I did that I was still an, a graduate student. I did it simply because they offered to pay me and give me food for three days.

Speaker 2 [00:17:11] In the Gulf of Mexico, which is depending on the time of year, not a bad place to be, but give us a bit more insight into the kind of research you were doing there.

Speaker 3 [00:17:19] Yeah, we were doing the same kind of work, which is trying to figure out how do we fertilize the ocean to grow more plankton and sequester the carbon dioxide. We found a very small patch of the Gulf of Mexico that I believe was outside of the U.S. waters and outside of Mexico waters, and somehow — I was not involved in the permitting of it — it happened, but we did leave in the middle of the night before reporters could get out there.

Speaker 2 [00:17:44] Give us a sense of the scale of the challenge, but also opportunity here. I’ve heard you talk of gigatons, so this is again beyond most of our imaginations, but help us understand the scale.

Speaker 4 [00:17:57] I struggle myself to be honest, to understand the scale. It’s just so big. A gigaton is a billion tonnes and we need to be pulling out ten gigatons per year. Now we are nowhere near that in any of the technologies, land based or ocean based. So I scratched my head about how to even describe it, because most of the work we do feels like it’s being done in a teacup or a, you know, a thimble in comparison to the great ocean. But what it means really is that if all the potential in the ocean was harnessed, we could probably do about between 10% and 25, maybe 30% of the work that needs to be done of pulling that carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. That means doing tankers full of iron or, massive interventions in the open ocean. And I am not sure we understand the real impacts of those yet. So there’s huge amount of work to do to say, what are we willing to do as a society? What do we have to do to save ourselves from climate change, but also what is ethical? My view is we just need a massive push to understand the impacts. We also need kind of a forum, a place where we can have these conversations about what kinds of decisions are we going to make. And as a community, how do we make the right decisions for humankind.

Speaker 2 [00:19:14] And a home for that kind of transparency, and certainly knowledge building and conversation is in part what you’re trying to build here at the Ocean Frontier Institute. Give us a deeper sense of what you’re trying to create in the OFI. And then also in the North Atlantic Carbon Observatory.

Speaker 4 [00:19:30] The Ocean Frontier Institute brings together researchers to tackle big problems, and we want to do that in an open and a transparent way. And we want to support government and industry to get their answers right. So we want to be useful. And one of the ways that we’re hoping that we can deliver to society is by the creation of a North Atlantic Carbon observatory, which starts in the North Atlantic. To understand how is the carbon cycle working right now and how is it changing? How is it likely to change in future? It’s a critical point in the whole ocean circulation system, where we have the formation of this deep water, where the carbon rich water sinks into the ocean interior. And it’s also a basin that’s surrounded with nations that basically get along and are all good ocean observers. So we’re working to discuss how that could look. Just as an example, there’s telescopes that work globally. There’s dozens of these and nations support them. They work together. They all invest their infrastructure in one place. They share the data, and then they make these beautiful information products which are shared among the partners. And that’s the kind of governance model, if you will, that we’re thinking about. How do we bring ocean observation in the North Atlantic together so that can actually really deliver for nations, for industry and for the public, the kind of understanding of the ocean that’s going to make us really be able to reach our climate targets.

Speaker 2 [00:20:50] What role can and should Canada play in this, not just as a North Atlantic nation, but also as an oceans nation with three oceans that make up our coastline?

Speaker 4 [00:21:00] Canada has a huge opportunity here. We’ve always been leaders in ocean research, and now, more than ever, that leadership is necessary. I think it’s important that a small, highly qualified nation step up to global leadership. We are also a powerful nation in terms of our education, in terms of what we do in the ocean. And now, with the new ocean tech industry springing up in Canada, we have every opportunity to lead here. So I think it’s a real opportunity for Canada to take global leadership.

Speaker 2 [00:21:32] I want to bring this back to technology and innovation as well. I mentioned in the introduction. The connectivity here at Dalhousie and in Halifax to the Ocean Supercluster. But how does the work of the Supercluster of the Creative Destruction Lab, Eric and other groups take on this massive challenge?

Speaker 3 [00:21:50] Yeah, Canada’s really always been punching above its weight in terms of its delivery of ocean innovation and technology into the world. It was recently at least Atlantic Canada was recently named in the top ten ocean tech ecosystems in the world. And considering we only have a little bit more than a million people here, to be in the top ten in the world is really saying something. And we naturally have a cluster here. We have more than 450 PhDs in ocean science in this, area, which is the highest concentration in the world of ocean scientists. And then we have this fantastic ocean ecosystem. We have several top universities here. We have the government organization Bedford, instead of oceanography, we have the Cove Center for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship. We have the Creative Destruction Lab, which is a global ocean tech accelerator that happens to be housed at Dalhousie University, and then programs like Ocean Supercluster and other government support. And so what we’re finding here is that there are companies that are building some of the world class sensors to measure the ocean, some of the world class, the autonomous platforms we used to measure the ocean, and some of the most impressive marine carbon dioxide removal technologies. They’re all based in Canada.

Speaker 2 [00:22:58] Let me turn to a possible commercial opportunity here and ask if we’re going to get any time soon to a market approach to this where investors, companies, governments can pay for some of these as offsets or through other financial exchanges and therefore create a monetary incentive, but also the capital that may be needed to take on these rather massive undertakings.

Speaker 3 [00:23:25] Yeah. So as Anya mentioned, some reports say that we’ll need to get to around ten gigatons of carbon removal by 2050, and that the ocean pathways will probably represent several gigatons and a future forecast value of about $100 per ton each gigaton is $100 billion. So if the ocean pathways can create two or 3 or 4 gigatons removal, that’s three, four, $500 billion of opportunity. But that’s going to happen slowly. It’s not happening today. Right now there’s maybe millions of dollars of removal, but not billions. And the other interesting thing is similar to the gold rush, where it wasn’t the miners of the gold that made all the money. It’s the suppliers for the miners of the gold, those that sold the picks and shovels, things like that. And that will also have opportunities to make money. So it’s not just the CDR pathway providers, but those providing the sensors, the models, the verification in the markets. Those are all pathways to create a large economy here.

Speaker 4 [00:24:24] I think the other thing to remember is that we cannot create this economy without observing system that’s good enough to give us that baseline, because any carbon credit in the ocean needs to be a measurement of carbon absorption against a baseline of an ocean that’s already absorbing carbon. So if we don’t do that correctly, then we get into the problem of fraudulent credits. So ocean observation becomes kind of this critical piece without which the whole industry could be hobbled.

Speaker 3 [00:24:52] And that’s where we see this North Atlantic Carbon Observatory fitting in. It would be a climate relevant scale. That means over large areas of the North Atlantic, over very long time frames, that can do two things. It can help understand the changing ocean to help improve climate forecasts for countries and industries to better inform their climate strategies, but also, as we get to these multi gigaton scale removals, provide the observations to provide the credibility and to provide the responsible opportunity to remove carbon safely from the atmosphere into the ocean.

Speaker 2 [00:25:25] The great challenge of MRV of measurement, reporting and verification. What kind of overlap is there between MRV approaches on land, whether it’s for forests or soil and that which is emerging with oceans?

Speaker 4 [00:25:39] The problem with the ocean is that they move, and so you will bring carbon into the ocean at one point. But the actual sink of that carbon is at another point in the ocean, and that point in the ocean might be hundreds of kilometers away, and it might be 1000 or 2000 or 3000m in depth. So you have to track the carbon when it’s being absorbed by the ocean, which you don’t have to do in a direct air capture facility. You know exactly where that is. It’s in the thing. You don’t have to run around with an oceanographic model to find it, but oceans move. And that’s the big challenge.

Speaker 2 [00:26:12] This idea of not being able to track the carbon is fascinating. Is there any way of tracking it? It’s not like a plant or animal that you can tag, or even part of the food supply chain that we can trace. Any chance of doing that in the ocean.

Speaker 4 [00:26:26] So we put an inert tracer there that can be easily tracked. And then that water mass you simply. Go and measure the concentration of that inert tracer. And you know exactly how far it’s come from the beginning. You know how far it’s been diluted. So there’s ways to track water masses, and then you have to actually track the carbon. Now, carbon is hard to measure. And there is right now no single sensor that can measure carbon. And certainly even there is no group of sensors that can measure carbon accurately enough. That means that we need accurate measurements. We need many, many of them. And then we need models.

Speaker 3 [00:27:02] And it’s this interplay of observations with the models, it’s going to be very interesting as we move forward in the next several years and decades, because there will never be enough ocean observations all over the world, as Anya said, at the required sensitivity to make those measurements credibly. But we know how carbon is absorbed and that can be numerically modeled quite well. And so it’s this joining up of the measurements, the ocean measurements, where they’re needed and when they’re needed with the models to help create that MRV opportunity.

Speaker 2 [00:27:34] Anya I’m thinking back to the cautions you raised about doing this right. We’re also up against time, and we do have to act. What’s the risk if we don’t act fast enough or in a big enough scale?

Speaker 4 [00:27:47] I think what we have to remember is the first thing to do is decarbonize, so that we can do fast. Let’s work on decarbonizing quickly and then developing these other technologies at a time scale that’s going to be ethical. But I do think that we are at huge risk that if we go too fast and we don’t bring the public along with us, that the whole thing will get shut down, because already you can see that the proponents of certain technologies are so excited about those technologies that they forget that the public needs to understand and support what they’re doing. So that work of talking to people in communities, getting the message out about how important this is, and just informing people about what their options are, I think is really important.

Speaker 2 [00:28:32] This has been a fascinating conversation. I’ve learned so much. And yet have so many questions. You’re both academics, but you’re also entrepreneurs. You’re building something here. If all goes according to plan, where will this be in five years?

Speaker 4 [00:28:46] In five years, I hope we have a coalition of nations working together on ocean observation at a scale that has not been seen before, and that would really be transformative for all of us.

Speaker 2 [00:28:56] Eric. Anya, thank you for being on Disruptors. I love that picture of oceans as a sink and indeed that sink our oceans control climate change. They have, through the ages, done the bulk of the work of removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the deep sea. But we’ve put so much carbon in the atmosphere over the centuries that it’s going to take more than nature to restore us to a balance. As Anya said quite passionately, we have to focus first and foremost on emissions reduction. We can’t just keep doing as we’re doing, but we can be investing in the future, in that science and technology that we will need in the decades ahead. And we can do that right here in Canada. Small nation, but a very big nation in terms of our coastline and in terms of our understanding of the oceans and also our relationship with so many other ocean nations around the world. So maybe the next time you get to stand on any of our beautiful coastlines and stare out at those magnificent oceans, maybe pause for a moment and reflect on the vast potential that those waters hold, not only for the planet, but for all of us in our fight against climate change. They could be nature’s great Disruptor. I’m John Stackhouse, and this is Disruptors, an RBC podcast. Talk to you soon.

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