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Baltic Sea studies: Cleanup would benefit region's economy; algal blooms arriving earlier

Radio SwedenEye on the Arctic
Wikimedia Commons

Sweden stands to gain nearly $4 billion per year 70,000 new jobs if the Baltic Sea is cleaned up, according to a consulting report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund.

“I think that this is a very good report, it helps me in my job as environment minister. It is exactly what I usually say too, that just by doing good for the environment we create innovation, we create new jobs and we create a better quality of life for people. Cleaner air, clean water, fewer dangerous chemicals,” Minister of the Environment Lena Ek of the government’s Center party told Swedish Radio.

It will take money to clean up the Baltic Sea, but in the long term, the investment will yield substantial profits, according to the study Boston Consulting Group did for the World Wildlife Fund.

“When they look at the entire Baltic Sea region, there will be around a half million more jobs and SEK 300 billion ($44.2 billion) more annually in 2030, if you compare a bad environment with a good environment. This year we looked at this from an entirely Swedish perspective and determined that Sweden stands to gain around 71,000 jobs and SEK 27 billion ($3.98 billion) by 2030,” Mattias Rust, sea and ocean expert at the World Wildlife Fund, told Swedish Radio news.

The projections focus on three of the Baltic Sea’s most important industries: tourism, fishing and farming. “If nothing is done the losses will be colossal,” Rust said.

“The worst case scenario is that it continues as it is, we will get a Baltic Sea where the majority of the bottom is dead and the eutrophication keeps growing and growing, what tourist would want to come here then?” said Rust.

In the fall, Sweden is going to present another report to the United Nations concerning the connection between the economy and the environment, Lena Ek said.

“The more facts we have on the table that show that the environment and economic growth solve life-problems, give improved quality of life to people, the better,” Ek said.

Study ties algal blooms to climate change

Algal blooms in the Baltic Sea are starting earlier than before, a new study shows, a result that might be due to the warming climate.

This year’s cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, blooms are coming almost three weeks earlier today, compared with 35 years ago.

Swedish Radio local channel in Sörmland reports that scientists from Stockholm University analyzed satellite images from 1979 to 2013 and believe climate change is prompting the earlier arrival.

Warm weather and calm conditions provided a perfect opportunity for algae to bloom in the sea over fertilized by runoff from farms. The cyanobacteria make the water thick and soupy. It can be poisonous if ingested.

In most of the Baltic Sea, there are two annual blooms, the spring bloom and the cyanobacterial bloom in summer

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.