Will algae mitigate rising CO2?

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Offline Jems_dad

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Will algae mitigate rising CO2?
« on: 02/11/2015 19:12:26 »
A man on the radio said that increased CO2 will increase the population of CO2 consuming algae and equilibrate global warming. Will it?


Offline evan_au

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Re: Will algae mitigate rising CO2?
« Reply #1 on: 03/11/2015 10:27:41 »
Algae do consume carbon dioxide. But humans are burning a lot of carbon-based fuels. You would need a lot of algae to come anywhere near matching this.

Algae needs multiple nutrients to grow, not just carbon dioxide.
  • Some conservationists have pointed out that whales recycle nutrients from the deep ocean and polar caps into the warm surface waters. Only we have killed most of the whales over the past 2 centuries.
  • There have been proposals to dust the ocean with the necessary nutrients, to encourage algae growth. Hopefully, this could be done in a way that generates less CO2 than it consumes! 

You also need to be careful of what types of algae are encouraged. Some species run amok, generating toxic chemicals that kill fish, and may harm humans who eat fish. Some bloom and then die in large quantities, decaying and consuming all the oxygen, again with dire consequences for fish.


Offline puppypower

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Re: Will algae mitigate rising CO2?
« Reply #2 on: 04/11/2015 21:07:43 »
I hate seeing so many people scared. There is good news about CO2. Science recently indirectly mitigated the impact of CO2 by having to lower the impact of CO2 in the computer models. Back in the 1970's, the concern and fear was connected to manmade global cooling due to a cooling trend. This was attributed to man made things like aerosols, which have the impact of reflecting sun light and cooling the earth. This part of the reason smoke, smog and steam plumes were forced to decrease due to regulations. There was much research into the impact of aerosols with its global impact calculated until a consensus was formed.

When CO2 and global warming became a concern, a decade or two later, the impact of CO2 took into consideration the established aerosol numbers, since the aerosols were there and cool the earth and counter the affect of the CO2.

Recently a team of scientists in Germany revisited the 1970's aerosols, and found that the aerosol numbers needed to be adjusted. What that meant is the CO2 numbers also needed to be adjusted, because the sum of the two opposing effects equals the observed temperature rise. It turns out, the old CO2 numbers was a bit over estimated, based on the new aerosol numbers.  Now we don't need quite as much algae since CO2 is less potent than the first generation models assumed it was. This is good news.

A recent study provided new estimates for the rate at which aerosols -- tiny particles of matter suspended in the atmosphere -- deflect the sun's rays, measuring what is known as aerosol "radiative forcing." The study from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, which analyzed data from 1850 to 1950, found that the level of radiative forcing from aerosols is "less negative" than commonly believed, suggesting that aerosols do not cool the atmosphere as much as previously thought.