Australian Story: Oct 2

ABC profiles a Tassie finalist in one of the world’s most prestigious environmental prizes, Earthshot.

Monday’s Australian Story profiles Sam Elsom whose seaweed product radically reduces methane emissions.

He’s a finalist in one of the world’s most prestigious environmental prizes, Earthshot, set up by Prince William and Sir David Attenborough.

Now Sam Elsom and his company Sea Forest will be mentored by billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

They’re going to need the support.

After hearing about the powerful properties of a humble seaweed strain to reduce emissions, Elsom quit his career as a fashion designer and set up a farm in eastern Tasmania.

He’s growing Asparagopsis, a seaweed which when fed to cattle and sheep, radically reduces methane emissions.

“A really simplified way to look at this is to think of a cow as a car”, says Professor Rocky de Nys, a James Cook University scientist who now works with Sam. “You take one cow and reduce its emissions completely, you’ve taken a car off the road.”

But their biggest challenge is making the product commercially viable.

“Sam has come a long way very fast. But he still has to shift a lot of mindsets and get people behind him to make it work”, says Professor Lesley Hughes, a biologist and climate scientist.

“We’ve had a little bit of a roadblock really around farmers’ propensity to pay”, says Elsom.

“It’s going to be really difficult to roll out these initiatives without government support.”

For Elsom, the stakes are high. He says the world has to act fast to fight climate change and needs to back real solutions.

“It’s really important that we have hope”, says Elsom. “And so we have to take that hope and throw everything at it.”

Producer: Jennifer Feller

8pm Monday on ABC.

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