What is beautiful? That’s a question that philosophers, poets, artists, and scientists have been struggling to answer for thousands of years. After all of the research papers and poems on the topic, one thing is abundantly clear: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s particularly true for plants and other natural ecosystems here in the 21st century. The classic approach has been to carefully cultivate a garden to create a manicured landscape.
Nowadays, many people are opting for a much more natural approach. Why buy fertilizer when you can make your own compost heap? Why get dried sage from the grocery store when you can grow it in your kitchen window? Why try to control nature when you can experience the beauty of natural chaos and abundance? This new approach to plant life has been gradually growing with the green movement, and it’s been forcing people to reevaluate what they consider beautiful and what types of eco-friendly products they purchase.
Californian businessman Russ George has made a controversial move by dumping around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean. His hope is that the iron will act as a feast for plankton, which will suck up carbon dioxide and lock more carbon into the ocean. Some believe that this technique will help fight global warming, but scientists argue that there isn’t enough research yet to support that claim.
But we’re not here to get into the politics of George’s decision. We want to ask: what if he’s right? What if oceans of green, mucky algae is the next best thing for planet Earth?
Algae and aquarium lovers haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. Algae is slimy and it spreads like a virus through aquariums. But can algae be beautiful? Can green slime and mucky plant life ever become popular in aquariums?
Well, probably not. Algae obscures vision, makes the water cloudy, and it can cause problems with your fish. Ponds are another story, however, because they are often more in touch with the natural world and they are slightly less of a spectacle. In the not-so-distant future, will pond owners take pride in the fact that their backyard aquascape is sucking up harmful carbon dioxide from the air? Will there ever be a time when “eco-friendly” is synonymous with “beautiful?” Will aquarium owners or pond owners ever ask for this?