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Climate Change biotech

Published on September 19th, 2009 | by Zachary Shahan

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Biotechnology Can Cut CO2 Emissions & Help Build Green Economy

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September 19th, 2009 by Zachary Shahan
 

A new report released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that biotechnology is one possible solution to our climate change and our economic problems.

It could have a dramatic effect on CO2 emissions, and it could also be part of the new green economy. How much can it help? The report says it can reduce global emissions by as much as some leading countries emit in a year.

What is biotechnology? How can it cool our climate and give a boost to our economy? Is it an appropriate and safe solution to these problems?

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What is Biotechnology?

Biotechnology Institute states: “The definition of biotechnology varies, but a simple definition is the use of organisms by man.”

Further on, the institute goes into more depth on what biotechnology is today. “Biotechnology is utilizing the sciences of biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, computers, and information technology to develop tools and products that hold great promise and concern. Humans have always been ‘manipulating’ organisms to their advantage, but now we are able to manipulate life and materials at the atomic level through nanotechnology.”

Biotechnology to Help Stop Climate Change

By 2030, the WWF estimates that biotechnology “has the potential to save the planet up to 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions per year.” That is more than what Germany emitted in 1990.

For example, “harvesting of biogas from waste digesters and wastewater streams” and using those in the creation of other “biobased” materials is one example of biotechnology. Basically, using the trash to create a new, needed product. This could reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 633 million tons, according to the technical report.

Biotechnology Needs Support

Biotechnology can help reduce carbon emissions and can fuel the economy with countless new jobs. The report says that industrial biotechnology “could help create a true 21st century green economy.” However, this cannot be done without political support. John Kornerup Bang, Head of Globalization Program at WWF Denmark and coauthor of the report, says: “Politicians need to set the path toward a green economy. This will not be easy, and we must look for new solutions, which can help us reduce emissions very quickly. It is clear that there is no alternative to explore these inno­vative pathways.” Politicians need to help lead the way on this matter.

Is Biotechnology Safe?

Biotechnology covers all types of actions and processes. As quoted above, we are now even “able to manipulate life and materials at the atomic level.” Some processes are less manipulative than others, less manipulative of nature as it is today. But others are quite a new level of man manipulating nature. Are all of these biotechnology solutions safe? Or are they planting new problems that may haunt us in the future?

Image Credit 1: wellcome images via flickr under a Creative Commons license

Images Credit 2: IRRI Images via flickr under a Creative Commons license

Image Credit 3: _ Krystian PHOTOSynthesis (wild-thriving) _ via flickr under a Creative Commons license

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • Sina Kajopaiye Esq

    Please can you link me with any energy conservation technology company interested in doing business in Nigeria.I am an environmental law solicitor/consultant with a small energy advisory services firm called Power-On Global Enterprises (POGE)currently involve in a pilot conservation advocacy and education for eletric power consumers in my community. I will appreciate whatever assistance you can render in this regards.

    Thanks

  • krissy

    Yay! Mutations for everybody. I think I’ll survive global warming when that third pseudo arm develops in the womb.

  • krissy

    Yay! Mutations for everybody. I think I’ll survive global warming when that third pseudo arm develops in the womb.

  • http://whybiotech.com CBI

    Great post. We linked this posting on our blog.

  • http://whybiotech.com CBI

    Great post. We linked this posting on our blog.

  • http://www.greenlifeanswers.com Dave Kay

    I think a gross measure of overall environmental safety is probably how far the biotechnology departs from naturally evolved organisms, their supporting minerals, and their natural ecosystems.

    My reasoning is that nature “tries” many new configurations all the time, so the advantage of using configurations identical or close to those found in nature is that there is more likely to be a co-evolved system to deconstruct or control the technology.

    That said, even naturally-occurring substances can become dangerous to life if moved to a new environment or produced in unnatural quantities. (Crude oil, for instance, is natural, but rarely found naturally in our aerobic, surface ecosystem in any great quantity.)

  • http://www.greenlifeanswers.com Dave Kay

    I think a gross measure of overall environmental safety is probably how far the biotechnology departs from naturally evolved organisms, their supporting minerals, and their natural ecosystems.

    My reasoning is that nature “tries” many new configurations all the time, so the advantage of using configurations identical or close to those found in nature is that there is more likely to be a co-evolved system to deconstruct or control the technology.

    That said, even naturally-occurring substances can become dangerous to life if moved to a new environment or produced in unnatural quantities. (Crude oil, for instance, is natural, but rarely found naturally in our aerobic, surface ecosystem in any great quantity.)

  • J. BALLA

    Please provide a “print link”. I’d like to share/discuss topics with my Science students without the margin stuff.

    Thanks.

  • J. BALLA

    Please provide a “print link”. I’d like to share/discuss topics with my Science students without the margin stuff.

    Thanks.

  • http://resourcebasedliving.blogspot.com Stuart

    Would like to have read more about HOW it can save the environment and the economy.

    Bit of a disappointing post.

  • http://resourcebasedliving.blogspot.com Stuart

    Would like to have read more about HOW it can save the environment and the economy.

    Bit of a disappointing post.

  • Steve Savage

    I agree whole heartedly with this post. Biotechnology is one of our best hopes for dealing with climate change. As for the risks, this has been applied on a huge scale for more than 10 years and billions of acres (in the case of agricultural biotechnology). I don’t think there has ever been a new technology introduced on such a large scale with so few issues.

    I’m glad that WWF is behind this. They are one of the most credible voices in the sustainability conversation today

  • Steve Savage

    I agree whole heartedly with this post. Biotechnology is one of our best hopes for dealing with climate change. As for the risks, this has been applied on a huge scale for more than 10 years and billions of acres (in the case of agricultural biotechnology). I don’t think there has ever been a new technology introduced on such a large scale with so few issues.

    I’m glad that WWF is behind this. They are one of the most credible voices in the sustainability conversation today

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