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Bacteria to Destroy Greenhouse Gases 207

twivel writes "According to ABC News and this article, scientists are working on creating a bacteria that destroys CO2 and other greenhouse gasses. I wonder what happens if the bacteria works too good?" I thought green slime was vulnerable to fire and crushing weapons, just not edged weapons.
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Bacteria to Destroy Greenhouse Gases

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    "if the energy we have to put in (in the form of Sunlight) equals the energy we got out of the coal then why not start with a solar plant and forget about the whole roundabout way with the coal? " Because our method of collecting solar energy is less effecient than what the bacteria uses. Photosynthetic ocean bacteria can survive pretty deep; it goes down until there is almost no light at all. Put this stuff in a reasonably dark room (not totally dark obviously) and it will still have enough light to do it's thing; put a solar cell in the same room and you get jack.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I find this all pretty amusing. Essentially what they are proposing is a coal-burning energy plant, which is made zero-emission by using solar-powered algae. And as the point has been made, why not just burn the algae biomass instead of coal, thereby making it a very complex solar powered plant? What's the advantage over photovoltaic technology?

    But it's not such a bad idea really. Consider the pros and cons -

    • Con: Plants can at best absorb 34% of incident sunlight, and can at best store only about 1% of that solar energy, thus giving them an overall efficiency of less than 1%, compared to photovoltaics at 10-30. Cyanobacteria could probably do better than that, however, under controlled and optimized conditions, particularly in such a CO2 rich environment.
    • Pro: photovoltaic cells are generally quite expensive and difficult to produce. Their production also requires energy, may have heavy metal waste products, and they do degrade over time necessitating replacement. Burning plants last a long period of time, many are in operation and could be converted, and are well established technologies.
    • Con: Adding and maintaining the algae scrubbers will be high cost and is an unestablished technology. Collecting the necessary sunlight in particular will be difficult.
    • Pro: Cyanobacteria themselves are decidedly low-tech. Extensive genetic engineering is actually not really necessary.
    • Con: Re-burning algae would further reduce efficiency since some energy would be lost as heat, as opposed to the direct conversion of photovoltaics.
    • Pro: Algae biomass is much easier to store than electrical energy, which is especially important for nighttime and winter operation. Also the plants can be run in a zero, positive, and maybe even negative emission mode as necessary, unlike photovoltaic plants which are slaves to the fickle sun. As a bonus, cyanobacteria (if not contaminated by heavy metals) can be used in animal feed. In fact this is already being done with swine, except the cyanobacteria being used is grown on their own nutrient-rich feces!
    • Con: Algae require other nutrients, principally nitrogen and phosphorous, to grow. Theoretically these could be partially recouped by burning biomass, or as mentioned above using additional animal waste.

    Overall: Photovoltaics are probably better in the long run, but using existing coal burning plants on algae biomass, or using this scrubbing technology to at least reduce emissions, could ease the transition and avoid the vexing obstacle of year round 24/7 power production and storage.

  • Burning a fossil fuel generates heat energy and CO2. Photosynthesis consumes solar energy and CO2 and creates sugars and oxygen. The amount of CO2 that the green slime can turn back into oxygen is limited by the amount of solar energy that the designers can funnel into that smokestack. To eliminate most or all of the CO2, the energy they bring in has to be equal to the energy generated by the fossil fuel burning. At that point, they've come up with some sort of brilliant solar power scheme and can just chuck the incinerator and the green slime in favor of using the solar power directly.

    That is to say, the idea is flawed. Even if they get green slime to survive at high temperatures, they bring sunlight into the smoke stacks, and they think of something clever to do with the carbon generated, they still can't bring in anywhere near enough sunlight to photosynthesize away all the CO2.

    Back to the drawing board. Burning coal is still evil.

  • We've all seen the movies...we _know_ that the bacteria will evolve. Seriously, though, what happens when it starts eating oxygen in quantities? What kind of biological safe guards can protect from this happening?

    Never did too well in biology class, otherwise I'd probably know...

  • You think Republicans don't drink?

  • Easy answer. Create another Bacteria to eat the first bacteria .. then another bacteria to eat the bacteria eating bacteria, then a bacteria eating bacteria bacteria ... and so on :-)

  • Yeah, I think they blew that one... I mean, sheesh, batteries? When we have these big, overactive brains? I was thinking more along the lines of a parallel processing matrix.

    In other words... "Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of those things?"

  • I totally agree. IIRC, volcanoes send out so much CO, CO2 and SO2 (possibly more or maybe not all those gases, I can't remember, but most of them what we consider 'pollution'). These gas emitions totally dwarf what the human race has put into the air, making it register not as much of a 'blip' on things. Anyone with a bit more insight into that care to elucidate?

  • by Cheeze ( 12756 )
    if C02 is removed from the atmosphere, an abundance of 02 will remain. this will kill the plants. but we won't care, because 02 gets you high. so we'll all be happy as can be until someone sparks up a cigarette and catches the atmosphere on fire.

    ok ok ok, never mind
  • Wouldn't reducing industrial emissions be "artificial"? Isn't it only natural to keep doing just what we're doing? Surely any conscious decision to change the situation is artificial. Blah blah blah! All nonsense.
  • I'm fully aware that the bacteria in question are unlikely to start the next plague. I was making a play on the previous poster's words. In fact, it sounds like these bacteria are specifically adapted for the hot insides of smoke stacks, so living in a human would probably be too cold for them :)

  • I think the question is whether nature has already been screwed around with once by humanity. If we are causing global warming, then it's our responsibility to do something about that, even if it's just out of a selfish need to retain a global environment that we're well-adapted to.

    I don't think anyone is interested in affecting the global climate just to be doing it; the focus is on counterbalancing or rolling back global climatic changes that we have already made or that are under way which we realize in hindsight were undesirable.

  • That's ridiculous. We don't have accurate temperature data from earlier than the 1800s, and even then the data wasn't collected from a diverse set of locations. So, then, how could we know that "the current Global warming trend is 10 to 100 faster than any previous naturally occurring trend."? The simple answer is, we can't.

    We can know about CO2 trends through antarctic ice cores, but we don't really know how closely CO2 correllates with global temperatures. What those CO2 trends do reveal, though, is that a great deal of the carbon dioxide is due to natural causes, such as volcanos.

    The usual environmentalist response at this point is to start raving about sulfur dioxiode, CFCs, and water vapor and how they matter more than CO2. If that's the case, then why rant about CO2 in the first place? Speaks volumes to me about how well thought out the environmentalist argument is.

  • The oil-eating bacteria that were used on the Exxon Valdez spill are naturally occuring - not the product of some scary scientist with bad hair.

    Native oil-consuming bacteria occur all over the world. It's just that there usually isn't enough oil around to keep local populations very high.

    Like most bacteria, each type requires highly specific conditions (look up the etemology of "specific" and "species") to thrive. Most live in a narrow band of temperatures and require oxygen and light - so they can't live in an oil well.

    That being said, it's only a matter of time before someone breeds a "super-bug" that _can_ live in oil wells, and then we can solve this oil addiction once and for all ;^).

  • The doctrine of Microbial Infallibility states that microbes can do anything that humans can, and that they do it faster-better-cheaper.

    ...man, think I could get some 'blue-green algae' to do my taxes?

  • It was a reference to Dungeons and Dragons. A good one, too. :)
  • Now this looks promising something that works but dosn't try to make people slaves to environmentalists.
  • If it fails, some scientists believe the only alternative is to figure out some way to pump all that carbon dioxide into the ocean, a significant problem since about 70 percent of the nation's power plants are inland.

    No, the answer, of course, is to NOT burn coal. Go nuclear :-)

  • These aren't bioengineered bugs they are Yellowstone bugs. Already out there in the environment.
  • On the contrary, it is even worse than the original poster suggested. Where do you think the oil comes from? If is a result of the anaerobic decay of plant matter (a.k.a. sugar). Therefore, it must be a lower free energy state than the original plant matter.

    So it would seem that we'd be taking one step forward and two steps backward...
  • This was a rather entertainingly naive view of the problem (it at all CO2 is a problem...).

    The issue is of cource that you will need as much energy to split CO2 into C and O2 as you got from greating CO@ from C and O2 in the first place.

    The suggested coal powerplant with solar collectors would, if they can make it work, be just a solar powerplant as the burning of carbon nets zero energy surplus.

    This begs the question of if this really is an efficient solar plant?

    And what about nighttime? Does your turbines really enjoy beeing cooled and reheated every day, or are you planning to spend energy on storing the CO2 until morning...
  • "The CO2 is not being transformed back into pure carbon (coal) and oxygen. If the bacteria assembled the carbon atoms from the carbon dioxide back into coal, you'd have a point, but instead they do something entirely different (photosynthesis) with the carbon dioxide."

    Sure. They crate sugar of it. That'ts even worse, as the energy contained in that molecule is even higher than for pure carbon.

    And when you run out of sunlight (i.e. nighttime) what do these bacteria do? Why, they do the same any photosynthesizing organism do. They burn sugar and creates CO2...

    Sorry folks. You can't fight entropy.
  • Hmmm something about pots and kettles.

    Its a basic engineering problem. Yes, total solar influx is many many times greater than total human power usage. So why use coal? Well, how do you actually turn solar energy into something we can use? Solar panels are very expensive, since they are essentially huge LEDs that work in reverse. Also, have you ever tried to use solar powered lights? Seems ill advised, at best. Photosynthesis is much more efficient than steam plants. But nobody has figured out how to make that work to power a server. If you have a suggestion, by all means, let someone know.

    On a side note, this is also the idea behind 'biomass fuels.' basically, you use plants to create hydrocarbons and sugars that you then convert to fuel. This produces CO2 and H2O, just like regular combustion (because it IS regular combustion) but since the fuel was created by plants using atmospheric CO2 and H2O, it doesn't raise greenhouse gas levels.

    Really what we need to do is get the asteroid mining in gear, so that we can cheaply mass-produce platinum catalysts and other rare-metal products, so that we can build big fusion powered cracking chambers that convert excess CO2 to useful chemicals. Of course, that does kind of require cheap, clean fusion power, too, but hey, whats a little boondoggle among friends, eh? :P
  • >I'd just be exceptionally concerned about accidently wiping out too much of the greenhouse. Without it, we'd be Mars.

    Oh come on. How long do you really think it would take the human race to deliberately pollute the atmosphere?

  • YUM! Nuclear waste!

    I guess that's pretty clean. Yeah.
    If I had a couple barrels of radioactive sludge, heck, I could spread it on my vegetable garden.

  • Or do they just post their immediate knee-jerk response to whatever they THINK the article is about? DUH, people!
  • OlympicSponsor wrote:
    >The problem is where to put it

    That one's easy. Just burn it. It all just goes away then...

  • But if we get plankton to kill the bacteria...

    Then we get rid of the plankton by bringing in...




    And finally we bring in monkeys to kill them.

    And the monkeys will die in the antarctic winter!


    ---homer simpson
  • That's what I hate most about slashdot. In the rush to get an opinion out (and thus acquire more karma), people see the headline, make some comment, be it 'the precautionary principle', 'zero-sum game', or 'Microsoft sucks', or whatever.

    I'm tired of this. The above post obviously didn't read the article - I quote:

    Any such artificial attempt to restore equilibrium in a natural system runs the risk of overcorrecting

    and then:

    The proper course of action with regards to greenhouse gas is to lower our emissions

    For everyone who read the article, its clear that the system, which I should add, is still on the drawing board, is about reducing current emissions out of smokestacks... Exactly what the above comment laments our failure to do.

    So, to all of slashdot: read the fucking article before you fucking post!

    Oh yeah, and read the fucking article before you fucking moderate!

  • Bravo (or should I say 'well job'),

    I was wondering if someone would be me to it.
  • Couldn't they use something like that in a catalytic converter for a car?
  • It's called a plant

    it does photosynthesis, invented some years ago

  • Now if they could get the carbon to come out as diamond, they'd have people interested in cleaning up the environment!

    Not really. Diamond is popular because Debeer's has a monopoly on it, and so they have a vested interest in keeping the prices artificially high. they make sure hollywood can get plenty of diamonds cheaply, so that it looks like the rich love diamonds. They lock most diamonds up in their vaults so that supply goes down.

    Open up their vaults and sell all those diamonds, and poor people would find diamons cheaper then a coat at the local good will.

  • You are right insofar as you say that we live in a self-regulating system. We do.

    But consider this - we also act on that system, and our interferences can and will be regulated by the system.

    Since Gaia isn't real merciful or discriminate when it comes time to do a little regulating, perhaps we should reduce the need for self-regulation, rather than crying 'Damn the torpedoes' and getting our energy via the cheapest means available.

    I'd rather not be indiscriminately killed off during a self-regulation incident.

    Thanks anyway.

    Don Negro

  • No need to stack the barrels of dead bacteria. It can be used to make cattle feed, fertilizer, a myriad of things. You could even simply burn it as fuel for the powerplant. The plant would thus become a neat partial solar plant, light from the sun (at least I assume) is used to make new fuel.
  • The CO2 has to be dissolved in water for the bacteria to metabolise it. A normal smoke stack ejects the CO2 into the atmosphere, where it contributes to global warming, before it dissolves in the oceans and is eaten by algae.

    By bubbling it through a large artificial lake, a part of the CO2 might, at least by day be converted back into useful biomass.

    But you are right, the USA could contribute a lot more by reducing energy consumption. American industry (and other parts of society) use so much more energy per productivity than other industrialised nations because political pressure has always managed to keep energy prices low. In Europe and Japan, where energy was expensive, the industry had no choice but to invest heavily in increasing energy efficiency.
  • The majority of our oxygen is NOT made by plants. Especially not by forests on land (they are in equilibrium, and produce as much CO2 as they break down)

    Most of our oxygen is already produced by bacteria and other single celled algae in the top 10 meters of our oceans.

    The reason why we have such an incredibly low CO2 concentration in our atmosphere (a fraction of a percent) is because these algae have optimised this process (called photosynthesis) to perfection over the estimated 3 billion years that they have existed.

    The only difference is that if you run the emission of a smoke stack through a bubble bath of cyano bacteria, the CO2 gets fixed before it enters the atmosphere, and not after, which is good, because CO2 emissions apparently cause their 'harm' by changing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Change is evil and scary after all.
  • Other factors are the changing energy emission from the sun. Two Danish scientists demonstrated that a change in solar activity had caused most (but not all) of the temperature rise over the last century (I cba to find a link).

    The theory of CO2-caused global warming is not just disputed by hardline-creationists (who assume the earth must have been created as it is now and cannot change) and other crackpots.

    The radiation band which is absorbed by atmospheric CO2 is already absorbed for just about 100%. It is dwarved by the absorbtion by for instance water (oceans, clouds). It is therefor not by default undisputable that more CO2 will lead to more absorbtion. Covering your umbrella with plastic does not nessessarily help keep you dryer.

    I'm no longer as convinced as I used to be that CO2 is unjustly blamed, but I still have strong doubts.
  • and it's esentially FREE!
    Well, at least until the govt. finds some way to tax it :)
  • "...I wonder what happens if the bacteria works too good?"

    I thought this sounded too well to be true.

  • ...instead of fixing all the pollutants that are causing an increase in greenhouse gases, we're gonna unbalance things more by introducing this into the environment...
  • People need to read that little phrase. The idea is to clean up the emissions from the stacks, not to remove it from the high atmosphere. They make the point that it can survive in the high temp conditions of the stack. This is just another bubble through style filter for cleaning up unnatural emissions. The carbon can be precipitated and the oxygen released.

    Now if they could get the carbon to come out as diamond, they'd have people interested in cleaning up the environment!
  • You could do better than solar cells, even if bacteria don't match the %30 efficiency (I think that's the record) of the very best cells availabile in laboratories. Solar cells are expensive, and they require replacement every few years.

    Bacteria are cheap, and they replicate themselves. This is the same old story. The less efficient solution is usually the cheaper one to implement. The good part is that the inefficiency doesn't waste a particularly scarce fuel like gasoline, and the inefficiency doesn't cause more pollutants to be produced. We've moved that inefficiency to the sweet spot where we can afford it - sunlight is free.
  • I've got news for you; the first time Og solved a problem by hitting it with a rock, that was technology.

    It was also the first "kinetic adjustment", known by some as "percussive maintainance".

  • You still have a very viable, and mroe efficient anyway coal plant working, and now, you add some bacteria and mirrors, and you get some raw material back, as well as cleaner emissions. There is no efficiency loss, you are just adding free sunlight.

    The "loss" is the effort, resources, and sheer space required to build and maintain the several *square kilometres* of mirrors that this would require. My argument is that if you're going to this much trouble and expense, you might as well build a photoelectric or photothermal power plant instead of a coal-and-mirrors plant (less effort for the same amount of power).

    This is *not* a "free addition" to an existing plant. The cost of the addition will be comparable to the cost of the plant itself.
  • Coal is not carbon. It is a hydrocarbon. Those carbon-hydrogen bonds contain a lot of energy. The bacteria use light and the CO2 to create carbon (not a hydrocarbon). So basically you're converting CO2 gas and light via bacteria to C (soot) and O2 and keeping the carbon out of the atmosphere.

    Actually, coal is largely carbon, if I recall correctly. Natural gas, oil and tar are hydrocarbons.

    Either way, a fossil fuel plant burns its fuel fairly completely. A hydrocarbon will give you CO2 and water out. There are no CH bonds for the bacteria to draw energy from (which would still require oxidation).

    Fossil fuel plants will produce soot, but not very much of it compared to the amount of fuel that they process. Soot is, after all, fuel that can still be burned.
  • They're using SUNLIGHT! You know, the BIG BALL OF INCANDESCENT GAS THAT BURNS BRIGHTLY! It ain't goin' anywhere for awhile, and it's esentially FREE!

    Sunlight doesn't magically route itself to the smokestack. The proposed project would use mirrors to divert it.

    Enough sunlight has to come into the stack to convert all of the plant's oxidized carbon back into non-oxidized carbon. This represents about a third of the energy throughput of a fossil fuel plant, even if it's burning something rich in hydrogen.

    Because bacteria have pretty lousy energy conversion efficiency, you'd probably be better off just building an equivalent area of solar panels instead of your mirrors and coal plant to produce power. You'll need to use at least this much area in mirrors already. This is what the original poster was talking about.
  • Does the recent trend in science of "playing God" frighten anyone else?

    Humanity has been "Playing God®" since the day it decided to pick up some innocent, natural rocks and force them into unnatural shapes, and later into unnatural unions with sticks and vines.

    There is no such thing as "playing god" (well, except maybe in this context [lightoftheworld.com]). What you are really objecting to here is scientists "playing Human", because they have some extremely effective tools for doing so.

    Certainly, any intentional, major environmental change needs to be very carefully considered. What I think is "kinda scary" is the way a chorus of panicked "AIIIEEE!!! Playing God®!" rises up in response to people merely thinking about things like this.

    Thinking is always good, even if Doing may not be.

    "They have strategic air commands, nuclear submarines, and John Wayne. We have this"
  • Famous last words:

    Even if the did get out, bacteria don't survive well in the atmosphere, they need a warm wet environment.

    Like people? :)

  • As far as I can see, all this story does is point out that Federal bureaucrats fund programs completely without technical review.

    Nah, they just put a picture of a Playmate on the cover of the proposal and run it by a Congressman. Maybe it's not a technical review, but it's a review of sorts.

  • Is there a way to moderate a post as "stupid" or "ignorant"?
  • See this [amsci.org] article in Scientific American (from 1996). Yes, there is such a thing as Ice-9 (actually Ice-IX), but it doesn't have the properties of the substance in the Vonnegut book.
  • Perhaps we need a "+1 Simpsons" moderation type... :)
  • Let's remember the complaints about sea levels rising that have been coming from South Pacific islands. If you look at Scientific American, March 2001, pg 47, note the comment about Bond/Lighgow-Bertelloni studing the sinking of the Indonesian area. Gee, if you're on an island which is sinking...of course the water level gets higher. Oddly, the IPCC estimates of "sea level rising" think that this area will have less sea level rise than the geology indicates.
  • ...is that it tends to be promoted by lunatics and thereby lose its credibility.

    Global warming makes sense in very simple terms: more CO_2 in greenhouse means a hotter greenhouse, so at first glance it should work that way on a planet. Of course, in the real world then you have to consider natural climate drift, the plants that absorb CO_2, and all sorts of other factors. We don't know all those other factors, so of course we don't know for sure what releasing CO_2 at the current rate will do. It's a big, tricky problem and "scientists" who act as if it's solved are impostors.

    To put that in short form: I agree about the doubts expressed (though I'm skeptical about the conspiracy; "scientists" have been confidently wrong too often in the past for me to just assume a conspiracy is needed).

    However, I imagine a lot of people skimmed this message (that I am replying to) and thought "Hmm, a creationist thinks that global warming is a leftist conspiracy. What a crackpot!" and moved on, disregarding any evidence presented, and subconsciously blacklisting future suggestions that global warming is less than scientific fact.

    Whether you are a creationist, or just found the creationist site interesting or amusing, it hurts the case for skepticism about global warming to link to a site which criticizes evolution while criticizing the science behind global warming.

    This isn't meant as criticism or a suggestion, just an observation. I wonder how many reasonable ideas get dismissed because they're promoted by people primarily identified by the unreasonable ideas they hold.

    (incidentally, the linked creationist website was full of really bad logic; I'm not 100% percent convinced that evolution is correct (for that matter, I occasionally wonder if I'm a brain in a jar living a simulation... I'm 100% certain of no physical fact), but if it's not then our world was certainly created by a trickster god because there is no rational explanation for such things as ancient fossils without an alien intelligence playing a huge prank on us. Arguments that He did such a sloppy job that we can catch him at it are contrived and unconvincing.)
    Karma casino, place your bets!
  • Of course, there's no real objective and credible evidence that global warming even exists. The "science" backing this is nonexistent and the entire IPCC report is a political, rather than a scientific, initiative strongly tainted with radical politics.

    Check out http://www.globalwarming.org [globalwarming.org] to at least understand what's going on before you fall for the global warming catastrophists' "the sky is falling" line...
  • Let's see: you take carbon (coal) and oxygen (air) and run a chemical reaction to give you carbon dioxide and energy. Then you add a bacterium and light and get back (Ta Da!) carbon and oxygen.

    Either this takes more power for the light than you get from the power plant, or you have a perpetual motion machine. And if your light source (sunlight?) actually does provide more power than the plant produces, why bother with coal?

    As far as I can see, all this story does is point out that Federal bureaucrats fund programs completely without technical review.
  • Great!

    I'd just be exceptionally concerned about accidently wiping out too much of the greenhouse. Without it, we'd be Mars.

    "What's the temperature outside, bobby?"
    "Um... according to our kelva-meter, 200K... so -73C? If I wear my enviro-suit, can I go out and play? It's above -100!"

    Shaun Thomas: INN Programmer
  • I asked myself the exact same question (without the perpetuum mobile part though, to get that you have to use the electricity for the light and also extract the coal from the Bacteria to burn again) but: the aim is to produce energy. To do this we use an inefficient Thermodynamic process (burn coal, create steam with the heat that in turn drives a generator) every physicist can tell you, that what you get in the end is only a small percentage of the energy stored in the coal (and the oxygen) at the beginning. Now we use bacteria to split up the CO2 again.
    There are two obvious questions: what is the other final product of the process (what do the bacteria do with the C?) and what is done to it? And: where do the bacteria get the energy from to split up the CO2 again?
    The second question is very interesting because if the energy we have to put in (in the form of Sunlight) equals the energy we got out of the coal then why not start with a solar plant and forget about the whole roundabout way with the coal?
    The third question is: what will they do at night, when their bioreactor is in the dark (and probably even producing a little CO2).

  • Use it for pig-slop, or sell it as a special additive to smooties from Jamba Juice, or scatter it onto tundra, or use it as a fertilizer component, or whatever.

    All of these uses amount to burning them (metabolism is the same reaction, but slower), which will release exactly the same amount of CO2 to the atmosphere that were taken out.

    It all boils down to that those carbon atoms have to end up somewhere.
  • It's gonna keep piling up, you know.

    And if anyone eats it, it goes back to CO2 + stuff.
  • According to you photosynthesis cannot remove CO2 without using sugar, or something.

    When a plant splits up the CO2, it gets rid of the O2, which it has no use for, and uses the C to build plant material, such as wood, leafs etc. The plant does not remove any more CO2 from the air than what is accounted for by the carbon atoms in the plant itself.

    When the plant dies and gets eaten, the C recombines with O2 and is back in the atmosphere as CO2.

    why don't we have an atmosphere full of CO2?

    Because over the billions of years, large amounts of CO2 have been turned into plants, who instead of being eaten for different reasons ended up underground, and turned into oil.

    Also, a huge part of it is bound in the existing set of living plants. If all plants were to die and get eaten or burned, a huge one time addition of CO2 to the atmosphere would occur.
  • The other useful byproduct is TREE.

    In this case, the other product pretty much has to be more green slime.

    So the question then becomes what to do with all the green slime that's filling up your power station. If you just throw it out, it'll die, rot and convert back to CO2.

    Pretty clueless scheme...
  • Plus manufacture and disposal of solar cells has a really nasty effect on the environment. Bacteria are much more environmentally friendly.

    Have you even thought about the numbers? Photsynthesis is what, 5% efficient? Certainly less than 10%. The powerplant/grid system is at most 30% efficient (probably less than 20%, but let's let that one slide). Producing sugar requires MORE energy than is release when the coal is burnt (lb for lb of cardon). So for every Watt of power that is actually consumed, you need in excess of 30 Watts of solar energy. Probably 50-100 in reality. Yikes, that's a LOT of ground that has to be covered with mirrors. Anyone know the energy density of sunlight?. Remeber, you have to double the requirement to allow for nightime (on avarage, 50% of the time). Those mirrors will degrade and require maintainance/replacement. This is also environmentally damaging. Not as much on an acre-for-acre comparison, but there will be many times the acres required (which will ultimately cover grass or other flora, hence degrading the environment). Then what do you do with all the bacterial sludge produced? I doubt if it can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner, as this will release the cardon back into the atmosphere. It will require transportation an disposal which will both require additional energy, upping the entire bill.

    I can't prove which approach is more environmentally sound, but there are serious reasons to doubt this one a priori.

    Growing a biologically oil-rich bacterium and then using it as a fuel source might well be a much saner approach. Of course, it all comes down to actual experience and measurement, but being "natural" because it uses "bacteria" doesn't in any way automatically make a method "better".
  • Your knee-jerk, anti-innovation, unfounded fears are the reason millions of children each year go blind, even though it could be prevented by the widespread adoption of golden rice.

    Caution is not free. Caution would say that we should never have built cars, because they harm the environment. Caution would say that we should not have built the internet, because we may become reliant on something that is unreliable. Caution will damn us to whatever technology is tried and true, destroy innovation, and plunge us back into the dark ages.

    This message is not intended to be funny.
  • I'm sure some of you have read the book "Zodiac", by Neil Stephenson. In it, a scientist creates a wonder bacteria, that lives on waste and produces harmless material. However, they, shall we say, messed up, and ended up creating a killer bacteria that does just the opposite. Before releasing this wonder microbe into the atmosphere we should really make sure that it works, and in a nice BIG, yet controlled environment, not something the size of a household fishtank. I for one would prefer to be able to breath the air without wearing a detoxifying filter.
  • But there are better ways to use up CO2. All plants take in CO2 and exhale oxygen. Just plant a few trees next to the power plant and direct the exhaust at the trees.

    Besides, there's no evidence that current CO2 levels are much higher than prehistorical levels. And besides, global warming is probably a good thing, since it increases arable land area, providing a place for more plants to be grown, thus reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    And furthermore, Gaia is adaptable. If Gaia's temperature increases, more clouds form, reflecting more of the sun's heat away from Gaia, thus reducing the temperature. This is a self-healing system, folks, and no amount of human intervention or hubris has, or can, change the system more drastically than it already has been changed many times before humans had anything to do with it.

  • by EdA ( 105889 )
    reminds me of ice 9 from that vonnegut book...
  • Good point. Sorry about the tone of the initial reply.

    In this case, given that the bacteria thrives best in high temperatures (130 F), and they're going to some lengths to create a growing environment for it, I don't think escape is a serious threat. It doesn't sound like THIS STRAIN of the bacteria could survive in the environment outside the plant.

    Of coursem there are other strains. And admittedly, overproliferation of algae is a problem in some ecosystems ('algae bloom'). However, my understanding is that this general type of bacteria is one of the most common in the world - it probably exists in one form or another in just about every body of fresh water. You find green algae EVERYWHERE. There's very little risk of introducing it into a new environment that's not prepared for it. Anywhere it /can/ live, it's /already/ living.

  • "Let's see: you take carbon (coal) and oxygen (air) and run a chemical reaction to give you carbon dioxide and energy. Then you add a bacterium and light and get back (Ta Da!) carbon and oxygen."

    First of all, there's nothing wrong with this equation - except that you left out the concept of losing mass to energy creation. Since so much energy is contained in mass - it makes sense that you would be able to keep converting your material back and forth and getting energy; it's just that the material shrinks a la everything else in the world, ie: not free energy.

    Secondly, in any chemical reaction - there are always other compounds produced from reactions in some amount, some are completely unstable and break down into something else, some aren't... ie: you would also get, Carbon monoxide, Cyanide... and a slew of other carbon-something compounds; just in smaller amounts, so mass is lost that way.

    I agree with you 100%, why not just use the solar power and not the plant - well because the solar power can not at this time be converted well into direct useable energy. In a very real way, this will utilize solar power if the recombinant carbon could be used again.

    unfortunately your entire argument is flawed in that carbon in fact does not combust. To combine stable C2 with oxygen you need to actually add energy to break it apart and have it recombine with oxygen. I do believe the energy required is more than the energy gained by the fusion of C and O2. As these guys [psu.edu] note, "the basis for most coals, is a large, carbon-based molecule that makes up 30 percent of vascular plants such as trees.". Coal is made up of carbon based molecules and not carbon itself.

    This is why when you have a fire, you are left with black ash that does not burn; Carbon [myhometechie.com].
  • The problem with CO2 isn't how to get it out of the air. The problem is where to put it (especially the carbon, since we'd like to keep the oxygen around) once it IS out of the air. All that carbon used to be locked up inside plants/animals (some living, some dead--like coal and oil).

    Agreed. However, remember Earth Science 101? The earth's original atmosphere had no O2, only CO2. Where did all the C go over millions of years? Not petroleum, but into rocks. Limestone (CaCO3) is a fantastic sink for CO2. If we could find an efficient way to convert the CO2 into limestone or another inert mineral, we could prevent further accumulations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

  • Any CO2 uptake by the bacteria will be balanced by respiration of the living bacteria and decomposition of the bacteria when they die. The only way to truly remove this carbon from the carbon cycle (and by extension the atmosphere) is to put the carbon in a location where it will not be able to enter the atmosphere. The use of bacteria as a storage device for carbon emissions does not even begin to be a reasonable solution. Carbon remains in soda cans longer than it remains in a cyanobacteria cell.

    If we were really out to get rid of CO2 in the atmosphere, we would grow millions of tons of vegetation and plankton in shallow inland seas and then bury the material under sediment before it could decompose. Then we would just have to remember not to dig it up a couple of million years later and set it all on fire... Doh.

  • Quoted from article:

    "I wonder what happens if the bacteria works too good?"

    Well, that's pretty simple to answer.

    1. Bacteria consumes CO2 to turn it into oxygen and sugars.

    2. CO2 not available for plants anymore. Plants die.

    3. Government scraps all emissions testing programs, forces automakers to put carburetors and Kettering points back into cars, and then encourages everyone to buy SUVs.

    4. Excess oxygen in air means that simply yawning can create drug-like euphoria. Yawning is banned, probably by the Republicans of such open-minded and fun-loving states as Mississippi and Alabama, and punishable by long jail terms. A criminal element springs up, which allows people to yawn - for a price. Starbucks shares skyrocket due to growth from law-abiding non-yawning citizens. Employers hire only people who are blood-tested to show high caffeine, because they're obviously not yawners; civil rights groups outraged.

    5. With no grass and trees and stuff for the PETA-people to eat, they starve; while McDonalds takes over the market selling burgers made from genetically engineered cattle which chow down on the bacteria.

    6. Lighting a cigarette becomes significantly more hazardous than it already is. Driving your Kettering-point-equipped Lincoln Navigator while smoking is now impossible, due to incandescence of the glowing ember being reflected off the inside of the windshield.

    In short, probably not as much as you would expect.


  • We sure could use some of this stuff in the office bathroom. Woooweee.

    The Linux Pimp [thelinuxpimp.com]

  • If we took all the corn grown today in the US and converted it to ethanol to power engines, it would only be enough energy for our tractors and fertilizer.

    Except we're not talking about taking corn (of which only a tiny part can be used) then putting it through another process (fermentation) then putting it through another process (distillation) to make the fuel.

    The pond-scum powered diesel ran on the pond scum itself, not on a distillate thereof. It required minimal processing. It might not be any good for powering automobiles, but it might work for small-scale power plants. It's certainly going to do better than photovoltaic cells.

    I agree in the long term that we HAVE to reduce our use of fossil fuels rather than trying to cure the symptoms.

  • When they run out of CO2, they die. Photosynthesis isn't anything new. Plants (and this bacteria) use light as an energy source, and carbon - obtained from carbon dioxide in the air - as a carbon source. The CO2 to a photosynthesising plant or bacteria is like food to us. The food we eat is our carbon source. If we are denied this carbon source, we starve too - just like tbe bacteria would.

  • "Limestone (CaCO3) is a fantastic sink for CO2. If we could find an efficient way to convert the CO2 into limestone or another inert mineral..."

    CaCO3 is aka calcium carbonate. So here's what we do:

    1) Drink a glass of milk to get a good deposit of calcium on your upper lip ("got calcium?")
    2) Breathe normally

    CO2 in the air on the way out of your mouth/nose combines with the Ca on your lip to create CaCO2. The extra O is left as an exercise for the student.
  • First, they use it on smokestacks, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Well, that went fine they say.

    Second, they decide to let it loose in low-income apartment buildings and prisons (since the latter comprise 40 percent of US housing by this time) in the smokestacks of the coal furnaces.

    But, they ruled out the other materials in the smokestack. We get biogenetic adaptation of a living organism and ... poof!

    Now we've got furnaces breeding little fire devils. And once they see those BSD commercials, they create their own little mobile fireballs to explore outside the smokestacks and find Open Source (which is what they call Heaven (or H.ll if you'd rather)).

    Naturally, they take great glee in poking their little pitchforks into Windows 2010 boxen and frying out the OS, replacing it with their own.

    Now look what you've done!

  • If it fails, some scientists believe the only alternative is to figure out some way to pump all that carbon dioxide into the ocean, a significant problem since about 70 percent of the nation's power plants are inland.

    "I don't think that will work, and I don't think it's something we should do," says Cooksey. "We have no idea what the consequences of injecting CO2 into the ocean would be. Many scientists are violently opposed to it."

    Does the recent trend in science of "playing God" frighten anyone else? This is seriously large scale, with a possible catastrophic outcome. This might sound trollish, but haven't they though of eliminating the source of the excess CO2, as opposed to dealing with the byproducts?

  • scientists are working on creating a bacteria that destroys CO2 and other greenhouse gasses.

    I see no mention of any "other greenhouse gases" in the article. The article states that the cyanobacteria feasts solely on carbon dioxide.

  • The problem with CO2 isn't how to get it out of the air. The problem is where to put it (especially the carbon, since we'd like to keep the oxygen around) once it IS out of the air.

    This is a non-problem, of all the worries human society on this planet has, "what to do with cyanobacteria or cyanoalgae" is not one of them. Use it for pig-slop, or sell it as a special additive to smooties from Jamba Juice, or scatter it onto tundra, or use it as a fertilizer component, or whatever.
    My point is, that the bacteria/algae are not a pollutant, at worst they are a non-toxic waste-product, at best it's a marketable product. Digging Carbon out of the ground isn't problematic for the atmosphere unless you pulverize and oxidize it.
    as far as re-release of their carbon goes, that would mean that the sugars in the bacteria had been consumed by some animal (or, technically, the bacteria itself) and I don't think of that as a "bad thing". I don't think the world is suffering from an excess of food products...
  • We dug up the carbon from the ground, why not just put it back there! It didn't seem to hurt anything for the million years it was down there forming coal, why should it harm anything if we put it back?
  • The CO2 is not being transformed back into pure carbon (coal) and oxygen. If the bacteria assembled the carbon atoms from the carbon dioxide back into coal, you'd have a point, but instead they do something entirely different (photosynthesis) with the carbon dioxide. I tend to agree that finding a bacterium that can do photosynthesis on such a large scale sounds difficult, but it wouldn't violate any conservation principles (Energy or "Matter").
  • According the article, it doesn't sound like they are trying to create a new form of bateria per se. But rather looking for existing strains that already coexist in the natural environment. Hence the search for bateria living in the super-hot, CO2 spewing gysers of Yellowstone.

    So provided they aren't looking to change the genetic structure of this creature, and attempt to provide it an environment it is used to living in, hopefully the chances of rapid mutation/evolution should be small. After all, if they are already feeding off of CO2 and thriving by the billions out in nature, there doesn't seem to any detrimental effects upon the environment currently due to them.

    Of course, if exposure to radically new chemicals and waste allows for a increased chance of mutation (since they've most likely never been exposed to the crap they potentially might be), we could have a problem. Especially if the bateria adapts to survive and proliferate at normal temperatures. I suspect it still needs some medium to grow in, but if it were to become airborne, there could be the (hopefully very small) probability of them consuming CO2 right out of the atmosphere. This could lead to impacting vegetation growth...and if our vegetation cannot survive, we ourselves could have a big problem (ie: lack of O2, food sources, etc).

    Not your normal AC.

  • by rve ( 4436 ) on Friday February 16, 2001 @03:40AM (#430146)
    Basically you didnt read the article.

    Cyanobacteria already produce the majority of our oxygen. There are unbelievable, unmeasurably large quantities of them in the upper few meters of our oceans. They form a significant fraction of all bio mass on earth. I wouldn't be surprised if they formed the majority of all biomass, but I'm not sure about that. Cyano bacteria are the very reason why our atmosphere contains so little CO2 and so much oxygen.

    The 'harm' CO2 is said to cause is not through toxicity, not even because of it's infra red absorbing qualities. What people are worried about is a CHANGING CO2 concentration.

    By running the emissions of smokestacks through a bubblebath with cyano bacteria, the CO2 is fixed by these algae before it enters the atmosphere, instead of first having to enter the atmosphere, and then the ocean before it is fixed. Thus the CO2 doesn't change the concentration in the atmosphere.
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:04AM (#430147) Journal
    While there are problems and impracticalities with this plan, one of the nice features is that it's not using Mutant Pond Scum that grow at room temperature which could Escape And Take Over The Planet. It's using bacteria that thrive at high temperatures - as long as they're in a nice warm smokestack scrubber, they might try to take over, but outside where it's 100 degrees cooler they'd be much less active, either dying or at least growing much more slowly because they're not operating in the range they're bred for.

    Also, remember how we reduce water pollution by treating sewage and other point sources - it goes into variants on ponds or vats full of bacteria that eat up the nutrients and outgrow the bad bacteria. This isn't much different. Then there's all the stuff that gets eaten by bugs, big bugs, little bugs, smaller bugs that eat them, fungi, molds, and the rest of the organic gucky stuff that makes up the food chain and carbon cycles.

  • by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:24AM (#430148)
    6H2O + 6CO2 ----------> C6H12O6+ 6O2

    That's photosynthesis.
  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <glandauer@charter.net> on Thursday February 15, 2001 @06:13PM (#430149) Homepage
    All that carbon used to be locked up inside plants/animals (some living, some dead--like coal and oil). I suppose they could scrape the bacteria off every few weeks and put it in an oil barrel, but where do we stack the barrels? Put 'em underground to turn into oil next year?

    The solution is very simple. You burn the plants that you're growing in your power plant to generate electricity! Instead of digging up coal, removing carbon from the ground and putting it into the air, you use a comparatively closed cycle of taking carbon out of the air and then putting it back in. Essentially you've moved to an indirect solar power system; you're storing solar energy in the form of biomass. Biomass isn't a particuarly popular form of generation these days (except as a way of also disposing of unwanted plant matter, which is essentially the problem that you're proposing) but it does have the wonderful property of combining the energy density of fossil fuels with the non-greenhouse causing properties of other renewable energy sources. You can bet it's going to get more popular over time.

  • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:58AM (#430150) Homepage
    Great as long as it stays within the plant. Complicated systems are unpredictable and EXTREMELY difficult to contain. If you concentrate large amounts of this bacteria, and an accident occurs and some get out, the problem is difficult to fix. It's great in theory, but I don't trust anybody's ability to maintain a system like that indefinitely. (Think a certain power plant in Russia... and a mistake here wouldn't be so easy to detect) Biological systems can be worse than nuclear power - they keep reproducing. And you don't have to engineer a bacteria in order for it to cause trouble - accidently introducing a large number of natural bacteria can also cause trouble. Especially if the larger numbers means the odds for mutation go up dramatically.

    The critique is not of the theory, but the virtual impossibility of safe implimentation. Sorry, I wasn't terribly clear before. In this game, good theory and safe implimentation are both needed for an idea to be worth serious consideration. If it can be done, I'm all for it. It is a clever idea.
  • by torokun ( 148213 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:38AM (#430151) Homepage
    Algae were used to help clean up the Exxon Valdez spill, and there are a number of patents on specific organisms that will eat oil... I'm actually surprised that someone hasn't tried this yet. There are a number of organisms that live at the mouth of undersea volcanic vents, where hot sulfuric water and gas are released. These don't require light, surviving solely on heat, minerals, and CO2, etc. that are in the water...

  • by maastrictian ( 157848 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:38AM (#430152) Homepage
    If the planet wants to warm, if nature has decreed that global warming shall occur, then who are we to stop it? Sure, we might suffer if the world is a few degrees warmer, but why should we change the direction of an entire biosphere just because of our own preference? As if our own preference were the deciding factor. That's human arrogance.

    You are aware that the current Global warming trend is 10 to 100 faster than any previous naturally occurring trend. And that this trend is a result of a large increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere due to human interference. Global warming is *not* a natural event. And even if it were I think that we have a right (and as we caused it a responsibility) to stop it. Don't remember the exact statistic but something like 90% of the populuation of the earth lives with in 50 vertical meters of the sea. We have to stop global warming to avoid displacing all these people (though admitedly sea level rise is only projected at a few meters, but still enough to displace millions). If there were an asteroid heading towards earth would it be "human arrogance" to want to stop it and save the lives of millions? I certainly don't think so.

    And Bruce Willis clearly agrees with me :)

  • by Misch ( 158807 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:55AM (#430153) Homepage
    A bacterium that is really dangerous and tending to spread all over everywhere? One that monopolises the natural world?

    Oh, so it's sorta like Microsoft and Microsoft Outlook then?
  • by Corgha ( 60478 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:43AM (#430154)
    Sometimes I think we watch too much Star Trek (or, more likely, Star Trek, specifically, ST:NG reflects something that I don't like about our culture). Anyway, have you ever noticed that a ridiculously large proportion of ST:NG episodes feature some conflict that is resolved by Mr. LaForge saying something like "maybe, if we reverse the polarity on the field generator..." or Dr. Crusher saying "maybe, if we alter the microbes' DNA..."

    My point is (and this is perhaps not so directly applicable to the article, but is reminiscent, anyway): Why is it that we so often look for technology to provide a quick fix for what is really a very complex and difficult social problem? Obviously, it's the easy way out, but does it really work? Think about all the various technical schemes for locking down copyrighted content that we have been discussing lately.

    If we can come up with some technical way to reduce the CO2 output of smokestacks, then great. However, I still worry that unless we (and particularly we Americans) wake up and take up the difficult task of addressing all the causes of our massive CO2 output, this new method of scrubbing CO2 is not going to be enough.

    Anyway, go cyanobacteria, because every little bit helps.
  • by tentac1e ( 62936 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:36AM (#430155) Journal
    Just the quell the worries about bacteria, remember wise words from the past, when Springfield had a new lizard population that happened to be taking care of the pigeon overpopulation.

    Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.

    Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?

    Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.

    Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?

    Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.

    Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!

    Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

  • by mccrohan ( 147132 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:55AM (#430156)
    That would be a problem, if the bacteria were turning CO2 into C and O2.

    But it's not.

    I don't know the precise reaction, but it's something similar to CO2 + H20 + light = O2 + some form of sugar. I don't know how much energy is required to keep the photosynthesis going, but I think it's less than was produced by the burning of the coal in the first place. So, this isn't a full-circle cycle...it's two steps forward and one step back.

    Over the whole process, you're taking coal and oxygen and water and ending up with sugar and oxygen and energy released.
  • by Jonathan Byron ( 215397 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:51AM (#430157) Homepage
    If any body bothered to follow the link, the following would be obvious. It isn't a genetically engineered bug, it is a naturally occuring cyanobacter (aka 'blue-green algae' or 'green bacteria'). Now on to the meat of the article.

    The doctrine of Microbial Infallibility states that microbes can do anything that humans can, and that they do it faster-better-cheaper. But the idea that we put a bioreactor inside a smokestack or factory probably won't be practical. Sunlight is a limiting factor that they try to overcome using mirrors and light pipes. Light will still probably be a limiting factor as it will take a fairly large volume/surface area of green bacteria to slurp up the thousands of tons of CO2 that pass through a smokestack daily. Also, nutrients like N-P-K will be needed in large amounts to fix so much carbon. This will require lots of fossil fuel to fix the nitrogen, and will speed the depletion of limited phosphate resources. And what will they do with the tons of muck that are produced every day - it will probably concentrate more of the Mercury and Cadmium than Carbon.

    While the idea is thought provoking, it is an idea that may cost more than its worth. There are a lot of green plants on Earth that have dampened the build-up of CO2, but cant stop it in the face of the growing hordes of industrial humans. This idea doesn't make too much sense to ecologists - even though green bacteria can grow exponentially and soak up lots of gas, they probably need to be coddled, or they would be doing it already!!
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:52AM (#430158) Journal
    What I don't see is why the next logical step isn't being taken.

    We have bacteria here that photosynthesise. Their carbon source is the atmosphere, their energy source is sunlight.

    Why not bypass the middleman (the coal fired powerstation) altogether: grow the bacteria, and harvest them as the carbon source for your power station? You'd have solar power without the need for photovoltaic cells (which are inefficient - and photovoltaic cells take more energy to make than they will ever produce in their lifetime) and the energy source can be stored in a convenient form (the harvested bacteria could be stored in tanks).

    There has been some research a bit like this in the past - using pond-scum to power diesel engines. Apparently, you can design a diesel-cycle engine that'll run quite happily on dried pond scum. This effectively gives you a renewable source of energy for your engine.

    You'll still need quite large amounts of land to produce enough bacteria or pond-scum, but if you've ever driven through Wyoming or the desert southwest (which has plenty of sunlight, an important ingredient) the land's there.

  • by OlympicSponsor ( 236309 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:33AM (#430159)
    "[Photosynthesis] provides organisms that convert the gas through photosynthesis into useful byproducts, like oxygen."

    The other useful byproduct is TREE. CO2 is Carbon plus Oxygen (2 of them). Photosyntesis releases the O, leaving the C behind inside the tree. Since I can't imagine they want things growing inside these smokestacks, I have to wonder where the C is going to go.

    The problem with CO2 isn't how to get it out of the air. The problem is where to put it (especially the carbon, since we'd like to keep the oxygen around) once it IS out of the air. All that carbon used to be locked up inside plants/animals (some living, some dead--like coal and oil). I suppose they could scrape the bacteria off every few weeks and put it in an oil barrel, but where do we stack the barrels? Put 'em underground to turn into oil next year?

    How about a better idea: stop putting carbon INTO the air?
  • by dublin ( 31215 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @08:00PM (#430160) Homepage
    Why does everyone here start with the assumption that global warming is even real? There is *very* credible evidence that there is no such effect, and a number of scientists have stated as much, but they're not getting the big megaphone from the UN and radical "environmental" groups.

    Radical leftist "scientists" and their computer models have been known to intentionally lie to us before: witness the laughable computer predictions of the original 1970 Earth Day and the Club of Rome "Limits to Growth" fiasco which assured us with certainty that we would be completely out of oil, gas, copper, zinc, gold, and tin by now. Oh, and the pollution was supposed to be killing us off in the midst of the massive famines that have never happened. In fact, we now have more of all the resources listed above at our disposal than we had then, pollution is sharply down, and food production is at all-time record levels.

    A few links that point this out the fallacy of global warming:

    A good BBC article with coverage of some reasonable scientific dissent [bbc.co.uk]

    A good overview of this from Reason magazine [reason.com]

    Another article exposing the political as opposes to scientific basis of the IPCC report. [cnsnews.com]

    http://www.globalwarming.org [globalwarming.org] is the source of these and other links exposing the truth about global warming, which is quite simply that there's no credible evidence that it even exists, and that the global warming crowd employs some of the worst science ever seen so long as it fits their political agenda.

    It never ceases to amaze me that the numerous self-proclaimed libertarians on Slashdot are so willing to cede their liberty to a politically motivated cabal far more dangerous to our society than the RIAA or the MPAA could ever be. Wake up and pay attention to the things that really matter, and will impact your real freedoms in the future in ways that are truly Orwellian...
  • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:26AM (#430161) Homepage
    Any such artificial attempt to restore equilibrium in a natural system runs the risk of overcorrecting and causing more trouble than originally existed. In any complex system such as the atmosphere, the law of unintended consequences is pretty much guaranteed to rear it's ugly head. The proper course of action with regards to greenhouse gas is to lower our emissions and let nature clean out the excesses through natural processes. Unfortunately, that's a long term approach that requires our inconvenience, and therefore not possible until crisis occurs.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky