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Solution to climate change?


Shijune
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So I've been thinking a lot about how we can help fix and stop climate change and one thing came to mind... I remember watching a documentary about the history of earth from the start and hearing that a bacteria is what produced the air we breathed today and it is estimated that it contributes to 50-80% of that.

After realizing this is a huge amount i was wondering... is it possible to genetically modify the Phytoplankton to be exact to produce more oxygen or do make them reproduce faster? if we can get them to produce faster... would this be able to stop global warming? (This would also need more trees and less carbon emissions as well). Let me know I've been super interested in this subject recently.

please no hate just an idea.

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14 minutes ago, Shijune said:

So I've been thinking a lot about how we can help fix and stop climate change and one thing came to mind... I remember watching a documentary about the history of earth from the start and hearing that a bacteria is what produced the air we breathed today and it is estimated that it contributes to 50-80% of that.

After realizing this is a huge amount i was wondering... is it possible to genetically modify the Phytoplankton to be exact to produce more oxygen or do make them reproduce faster? if we can get them to produce faster... would this be able to stop global warming? (This would also need more trees and less carbon emissions as well). Let me know I've been super interested in this subject recently.

please no hate just an idea.

I suppose what you are suggesting, in effect, is to develop cyanobacteria with a higher photosynthetic efficiency.  From this Wiki article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthetic_efficiency there does appear to be scope for that, at least from the thermodynamic point of view. Interestingly, I see from the same article that cyanobacteria, today, are still thought to be responsible for 20-30% of the oxygen generation on the planet, in spite of all plants that now also contribute.  So they can make a difference, certainly.

I'll let the biologists comment on whether such a thing could be feasible. I imagine one issue would be that we would get a "bloom" of these super-efficient cyanobacteria in the oceans, due to the biomass they would generate from their enhanced photosynthesis. This might - probably would - screw up the ecosystem of the oceans in various unpredictable ways. It feels risky to me. 

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12 hours ago, Shijune said:

So I've been thinking a lot about how we can help fix and stop climate change and one thing came to mind... I remember watching a documentary about the history of earth from the start and hearing that a bacteria is what produced the air we breathed today and it is estimated that it contributes to 50-80% of that .

After realizing this is a huge amount i was wondering... is it possible to genetically modify the Phytoplankton to be exact to produce more oxygen or do make them reproduce faster? if we can get them to produce faster... would this be able to stop global warming? (This would also need more trees and less carbon emissions as well). Let me know I've been super interested in this subject recently.

please no hate just an idea.

I got this...

Edited by Phi for All
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1 hour ago, Shijune said:

I got this...

Maybe, if you can create a bacteria that ingested plastic and farted oxygen, and then die in a convenient way.

Otherwise I'm with @exchemist we have to consider, whether an artificial solution is worth the risk.

Edited by dimreepr
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6 hours ago, Shijune said:

is it possible to genetically modify the Phytoplankton to be exact to produce more oxygen or do make them reproduce faster? if we can get them to produce faster... would this be able to stop global warming?

They're wonderfully versatile little things, primary food source for marine life, human food and medicine, potential fuel, and there will be more of it, anyway, as the icecaps melt, the phyloplankton blooms are already increasing - with some interesting side effects. (You might want to read that whole article.)

On the other hand, human criminality threatens the planktons, as it does all ocean life. What's the point of genetically modifying something while killing it?

 

6 hours ago, Shijune said:

(This would also need more trees and less carbon emissions as well).

As part of a comprehensive and united global application of drastic measures, yes. Side-note: a good deal of the carbon being released this year is from burning trees.

6 hours ago, Shijune said:

Let me know I've been super interested in this subject recently.

You may find this publication useful.

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6 hours ago, Shijune said:

I remember watching a documentary about the history of earth from the start and hearing that a bacteria is what produced the air we breathed today and it is estimated that it contributes to 50-80% of that.

Stromatolites.

Amongst the first living organisms on earth circa 3.5 billion years ago and still going today.

They were responsible for releasing the oxygen into a toxic (to us) atmousphere and making it breathable for oxygen breathers.

https://www.bushheritage.org.au/species/stromatolites

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stromatolite

 

You may have seen the BBC series The Power of the Planet, presented by Iain Stewart

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00gczg5

 

An interesting reverse  (geological not biological) process is the 'rusting of the rocks'

https://www.newswise.com/articles/how-rocks-rusted-on-earth-and-turned-red

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There has been quite a body of work looking into increasing photosynthesis rates in cyanobacteria, for a range of applications, perhaps most commonly biofuel generation. There are a few issues though. Cyanobacterial overgrowth (blooms) due to fertilization can severely disrupt ecosystems and quite a few cyanbacteria produce toxins. The issue here is that many marine and freshwater systems are warming and deoxygenating due to climate change. Those in which also algal blooms occur that damage the systems beyond individual actions. 

Note that algae do not necessarily counter deoxygenation. If the system is heterotrophic, i.e. the biomass is being consumed it will have high rates of respiration which can result in further net deoxygenation. That being said, there have been speculations on whether on specific conditions algae could be used as net carbon sinks. So while it cannot be entirely dismissed there is the issue that such an approach can severely disrupt ecosystems.

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Algae are one thing (eukaryotes, and they provide food to zooplankton), cyanobacteria are another (prokaryotes) and far more threat to ecosystems with toxic blooms, as @CharonY notes.  Algae are also a food source for humans now, as anyone who's ventured into a health food store may notice.  Switching from DHA (the most bioavailable form of omega-3 FAs) rich fish to DHA from algal oil would also allow us to eat less fish and still get the primary health benefit, which would ease pressure on stressed fisheries. 

The best plan for oceans is not to use them for experiments, unless the experiment is "what happens if we decrease present pollution?"  We want to save phytoplankton, which are producing 70% of oxygen, and restore them to their normal levels by decreasing pollutants and nanoparticles of plastic. 

I've heard that, in terms of planting things in the ocean and pulling carbon, one of the best approaches that wouldn't mess around with ecosystems would be establishing big underwater meadows of seagrass.  Here's a quick read on that....

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/underwater-meadows-seagrass-could-be-ideal-carbon-sinks-180970686/

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22 minutes ago, TheVat said:

Algae are one thing (eukaryotes, and they provide food to zooplankton), cyanobacteria are another (prokaryotes)

Fundamentally algae as a term refers to a rather broad range of diverse groups of organisms and while in common use algae can refer to marine plant species (e.g. seaweed), depending on the field they can refer to different things. Especially in the ecological field cyanobacteria are rolled together with algae, presumably because in their viewpoint they fulfil similar roles in the system, I guess. Likewise, when folks talk about harmful algal blooms it can be cyanobacteria, but it can also involve other photosynthetic species, such as dinoflagellates (e.g. Alexandrium sp.) which are eukaryotes, but not plants. 

 

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Part one is plant growth that takes up CO2. Part two is storing what is grown to prevent the decomposition that returns that CO2 to the atmosphere.

That will be the case whether it is trees, grass, algae or cyanobacteria. Part two looks like the intractable part.

Increased overall biomass within the carbon cycle stores carbon without it being stored in long term sinks - but making such an increase permanent looks difficult.

Biofuels can theoretically be carbon neutral - the CO2 is taken up and burned again as fuel, to be taken up again. It can displace fossil fuel burning and prevent CO2 levels rising but won't reduce the levels of CO2 already there. I don't know if cyanobacteria are candidates for biofuel production

I think shifting to low emissions/zero emissions has to be the highest priority - preventing the emissions rather than relying on taking up the CO2 after.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/16/2021 at 6:53 PM, Shijune said:

So I've been thinking a lot about how we can help fix and stop climate change and one thing came to mind... I remember watching a documentary about the history of earth from the start and hearing that a bacteria is what produced the air we breathed today and it is estimated that it contributes to 50-80% of that.

After realizing this is a huge amount i was wondering... is it possible to genetically modify the Phytoplankton to be exact to produce more oxygen or do make them reproduce faster? if we can get them to produce faster... would this be able to stop global warming? (This would also need more trees and less carbon emissions as well). Let me know I've been super interested in this subject recently.

please no hate just an idea.

Hello. I completely agree with the use of bacterium for metabolizing Co2 and methane. I found its use unavoidable and imperative at industrial scale. However any genetic modification in my consideration could get out of control and to backfires us due to the prosaic goal to find patentable versions, for charging accordingly to the governments are paying the bills. Our world is full of genetic disasters are being diseminated around for just few fake buggs, or dollars. Regards.

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