December 02, 2015

Gene drive one of many ways to prevent ocean suffocation Doomsday scenario

University of Leicester researchers reveal how Earth’s oxygen could dramatically fall due to change in ocean temperature of just several degrees. A study led by Sergei Petrovskii, Professor in Applied Mathematics from the University of Leicester’s Department of Mathematics, has shown that an increase in the water temperature of the world’s oceans of around six degrees Celsius – which some scientists predict could occur as soon as 2100 [but most do not show the temperature effect for hundreds of years later] - could stop oxygen production by phytoplankton by disrupting the process of photosynthesis.

The team developed a new model of oxygen production in the ocean that takes into account basic interactions in the plankton community, such as oxygen production in photosynthesis, oxygen consumption because of plankton breathing and zooplankton feeding on phytoplankton.

Several technological mitigations exist already - so we could let trucks hit everyone in a few hundred years or we could get out of the way

In July, geneticists showed that one gene drive system was almost 100% effective in spreading a mutated pigmentation gene through a population of lab fruit flies, fueling fears about the power of gene drive. Gene drive combined with CRISPR gene editing has being discussed as a means to eliminate malaria mosquitos. Such a plan is technologically feasible now.

An extremophile is an organism that thrives in physically or geochemically extreme conditions that are detrimental to most life on Earth.

A thermophile is an organism — a type of extremophile — that thrives at relatively high temperatures, between 41 and 122 °C (106 and 252 °F). Many thermophiles are archaea. Thermophilic eubacteria are suggested to have been among the earliest bacteria.

Some Thermophile genes could be used to make phytoplankton more heat resistant.

Adding sulfate to jet fuel could provide a cooling effect for $10 billion per year

Stratospheric sulfate aerosol geoengineering may mitigate effects of climate change. Sulfate could be mixed into jet fuel so that contrails would spread the sulfate into the stratosphere.

We would mimick a volcano. If we put 5 billion tons of sulfates a year into the atmosphere 20 kilometers high, and do that for 50 years. These sulfates don't stay suspended forever. Bit by bit they fall out of the air.

In the second model, the amount of sulfates gradually increases to around 10 billion tons per year after 50 years, to match the global economy's steadily-growing production of CO2. Both scenarios are based on a widely-used future projection of climate change in which only modest attempts at curtailing CO2 take place.

The scientists found (in their scenario where sulfate injection is doubled over time) that the incidence of Katrina-level hurricanes could be kept at roughly the rate we see today. And when these hurricanes do hit, their most devastating effect to coastal cities—storm surges—would be mitigated by 50 percent.

How much sulfate exactly is 10 billion tons per year? It is like a 1991 Pinatubo volcanic eruption every two years. It would cost about $10 billion per year.

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