Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Are bacteria the solution to global warming?

Alright it's no mystery that humanity is effecting the global climate. Every year we pump more and more CO2 into the atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect. Unless we want our planet to end up like the hothouse Venus we are going to need to find a lasting solution. Well, it just so happens that a group of geneticists think they might have a solution. Researchers believe tat capturing CO2 and trapping it in buried rocks could lower the risk heavy climate change. The only problem is that we can only do this process so well. However a certain bacteria has been shown to accelerate this process significantly.
A team at Berkeley labs have genetically modified a strain of bacteria to speed up the process of transforming CO2 the gas into CaC03 a mineral carbonate, which normally takes thousands of years naturally. Apparently it works! When CO2 was pumped into the environment, they found that calcium carbonate formed faster in areas where the bacteria were living than it did in sterile solutions. Could this be a step in the right direction, or just another wild goose chase? What do you guys think?

Posted by Dorian Pillari ( C)


  1. It is fascinating how these bacteria can convert such a gas into a compound like Calcium Carbonate. A major question remains however. How could a sufficient amount of these bacteria be produced to reverse or halt the build up of CO2? Even if they were somehow able to produce a sufficient amount, there would be massive CaCO3 deposits due to the fact that it is indeed a solid mineral. With the amount of excess CO2 we have in the atmosphere, the deposits of CaCO3 would, (presumably), be massive!

    - Jeff Keating (2)

  2. This is quite encouraging news. Cutting back our output of CO2 is only one part of the solution, and with the number of people on this planet increasing more than exponentially, I've often thought that cutting back is simply not enough to produce a real difference. The fact that they have potentially found a way to extract CO2 back out of the atmosphere is definitely a step in the right direction and I will be eager to hear more. I've always though bacteria were amazing in their diversity and abilities, and this proves it even more.

    Posted by Laura Moro (2)

  3. Anything can help; it may not completely solve our problem but it’s a step in the right direction. Since these bacteria are not found naturally, they would just have to be very carefully monitored so that they did not grow out of control. With the massive amounts of CO2 found in our atmosphere, they would have virtually unlimited growth. Although it sounds far-fetched, they could potentially consume all of the CO2, killing all plant life, and therefore removing our oxygen source.

    Posted by Erica Fitzpatrick

  4. I definitely agree with the above post. So far, from the sounds of it on paper, it sounds like a great idea. But exactly how is this bacteria going to be controlled? I feel like once the bacteria is to be released on its own, that will be that. Who is to stop it if it starts growing rampant? Either way, that is a bit of a stretch. It is exciting to see scientists creating a solution to a problem that normally takes thousands of years on its own.

    Taylor Pirog

  5. It seems to me that this could be a step in the right direction. However, I do agree with the above post. This bacteria could turn into an invasive species and be very harmful to plants, animals, and organisms living in the newly introduced areas. It could be very harmful to the local ecosystem if this bacteria killed some of the keystone species in the areas.

    Posted by Nicco Ciccolini

    1. you guys all make a good point, while research of any type is a step in the right direction, this particular method might not be the best. But hey who knows for sure.

      posted by Doiran pillari

  6. We will need to address this problem on many fronts, including this one:

    "As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease." Worldwatch Institute, "Is Meat Sustainable?"

    "The livestock sector emerges as one of the top contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency." From the UN Food and Agricultural Organization's report "Livestock's Long Shadow"

    Why would someone choose to be vegan? To slow global warming for one! Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE and http://www.veganvideo.org

  7. I'm always encouraged and fascinated by research that tries to come up with solutions to help the climate, and this is no exception. I feel that microorganisms such as this strain of bacteria will help us in the fight to slow down climate change, because our actions alone of cutting down on our greenhouse gas emissions aren't doing enough.

    -Hermann Kam

  8. Brilliant! Reversing the effects of global warming by reducing carbon into a less harmful byproduct. It's ingenious but will scientists be able to product enough bacteria to have a large enough effect without harming the environment? In the end though, I believe this with other combined efforts to reverse global warming will yield positive results.

    Posted By Andy Zou