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?
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
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.