I am very concerned about too much CO in the atmosphere, and the global warming it supposedly brings. And as many of you might know who follow my posts over the years, I to a large extend place my faith in science and technology to solve many of the world’s problems.
Then I thought a while back, why don’t we just make a plant or tree, by way of selective breeding or genetic engineering, that processes oxygen at a much higher rate than the trees and plants we have now that do that for us.
I have had this idea for several years now, so there is a small chance I may have already shared this idea on these boards, although I honestly don’t know if I have and have no record of this if I did. In any event, if I have shared this idea before, someone kindly share a link for this, so the discussion can continue from there .
I am very serious about putting forth this idea to solve this problem. So if someone knows of someone in academia, etc. that would be interested in this idea, please share this person with me.
You mean process more carbon dioxide. Oxygen is a bi-product of photosynthesis. You would want plants and trees to process more CO2 at a higher rate, which would give us more oxygen and glucose.
I think if this were to be done, you would have to increase all the other requirements (more light, more water) for it to work. If the plant processes more CO2, the energy needed to feed all these CO2 eaters with water supplies might outweigh the benefits. You would need lots of these plants all over the world that would receive the proper amount of fuel to convert all the extra CO2 (plenty of light exposure and lots of water on a consistent basis). Then again, I am not a bio-chemist, and maybe there’s something already in the works.
A somewhat more realistic approach is for everyone who can plant another tree on their property to do so. My husband owns some acreage in west Texas, and every year he plants 100 trees on this lot. Most of them are saplings he gets from the County Extension service, which are basically trees for wildlife habitat. He also puts in a few crop trees as well, such as pecan and walnut. In this way, he makes his land more attractive for his prey, but he also is improving the ecology there. We’ve already planted all the trees that our city lot can reasonably handle.
They have this, almost. If you seed certain areas of the ocean with iron you can grow an incredible amount of algea and suck up a lot of carbon. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Library/Giants/Martin/
I like the idea, though I am not knowledgable of the potential side affects of massive algea production. It sounds “just” so easy.
Is it though? I’m not an expert, so bear with me. When a plant is done using carbon dioxide, isn’t the waste product just sugar (Carbohydrates), oxygen and water? I don’t see how carbon dioxide can be released back into the atmosphere. The leftover material from the plant after it dies may be carbon based, but is any of it carbon dioxide? I don’t know.
Well, you’ve got animals which eat the plants and exhale carbon dioxide as a byproduct. And one of the major products of decaying vegetation is the carbon dioxide generated by bacteria. Ultimate, much of the carbon content will be released into the atmosphere one way or another.
By then the idea would be that they have seeded, and their place will be taken by young trees that will suck up the carbon released by their late ancestors to nourish their own burgeoning woody goodness. Planting trees isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change, to analogise.
Some of the sugar will be polymerised to cellulose, sorta. That’ll stay in the ground for longer, adding bulk and water-storage capability to the soil. Eventually that too will be broken down into carbon dioxide and water, but we’re ahead of the game if the humus content of the soil goes up over time,
Well, using the plant material as fuel would be more or less carbon-neutral, so farming huge swathes of fast-growing genetically engineered super-plants, then burning them to heat our homes might be better than burning fossil fuels.
My solution is to deliver engineering plans to a coal power plant today which will recommend with my stamp a plan of action that will reduce CO2 emissions by about 250,000 tons per year. The plant is committed to doing the work since it will also save them money with a 38-month breakeven, so I guess I can count that as likely to happen.
Last month I recommend a plan to cut CO2 emissions via biomass use by nearly 400,000 tons per year, but that’s less likely to happen all because a trucker’s Union, that much-hailed bastion of certain political parties in America, is derailing it because they want to be paid extra for hauling wood chips, sawdust, and wood scrap because it’s somehow “hazardous” waste (it’s ludicrous, of course, it’s just scrap from a board manufacturer, we did innumerable lab analyses - they just want an extra $100 per trip pocket money). But I tried.
Carbon dioxide is a gas; getting it back into a stable, solid form (not dry ice) takes lots of energy - more energy, in practice, than was released by burning the fuel that created the CO[sub]2[/sub] in the first place. Shooting it into space isn’t exactly a fuel-efficient option either - you have to burn thousands of pounds of fuel just to lift a few pounds of payload.
It’s not a solution, not a permanent one at least. The CO2 in the atmosphere is part of the Carbon Cycle. Carbon from the atmosphere is converted to plant matter via photosynthesis, the plant matter is eaten, burned or decays and the carbon goes right back to the atmosphere.
Your genetically engineered plant, that processes CO2 faster, is nothing more than a plant that grows faster. You’ll get a temporary reduction in CO2 levels, as the total plant mass of the planet increases. It doesn’t solve the problem that carbon trapped for millions of years underground is being released into the atmosphere.
The “solution” is to take the CO2 and convert it into a form that will not release the carbon back to the atmosphere. Using plant material for energy is a positive step as well, at least you’re not pumping carbon from the ground to the atmosphere.