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Hive Mind
Thursday, September 30, 2004
 

Scientists propose using microbes to clean the Earth's atmosphere



Earth's microbial lungs may be encouraged to take deeper breaths to rid the atmosphere of pollution, writes Roger Highfield from London.

The Earth's atmosphere is so polluted that the planet is dying. But scientists around the world have a plan; they want to enlist some of the smallest creatures to renew the atmosphere and save all of humanity.

The US has already spent about $US100 million dollars to curb climate change by giving the Earth a new set of "lungs".

The lungs would consist of vast colonies of bacteria and other microbes that are able to scrub the atmosphere of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. As a bonus, they may even convert the pollutants to ethanol, which can be used as a fuel.

Last year, Spencer Abraham, the US Secretary of Energy, said he envisaged "a colony of specially designed microbes living within the emission-control system of a coal-fired plant, consuming its pollution and its carbon dioxide".

This is a really, really interesting idea. The part about converting pollutants into ethanol reminds me of Bucky Fuller referring to pollution as an "untapped resource," a very forward thinking and pleasantly optimistic view indeed.

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