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APPLICATION OF BIOTECHNOLOGY TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE

by | Jan 30, 2022 | Biotechnology, Climate Change

Human history has not always been kind to the environment, especially since fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, and livestock farming have started contributing to climate change. Refrigerators and air conditioners contribute significantly to the ozone layer hole. Plastic is choking the oceans, and pesticides have destroyed the ecology. In this article, we are going to learn about the application of biotechnology to combat climate change.

CLIMATE CHANGES DUE TO THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT

Let us begin by understanding what a greenhouse is. A Greenhouse can basically be understood as a glass structure with everything, including the walls and roof made of glass. These greenhouses are used to cultivate plants, particularly in the cold climate. As the greenhouse remains warm inside, even in winters. In the daytime, sunlight penetrates into the greenhouse and warms both the plants and the air inside. At night time, it’s comparatively colder outside, but the greenhouse still stays warm inside. That’s because the glass walls trap the Sun’s heat.

Similarly, the earth’s atmosphere also absorbs solar heat. The planet’s atmosphere works as a blanket around it; the gases present in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons absorb the heat generated by the earth, keeping it warm. These trapping gases are known as “Greenhouse gases”.

Greenhouse Effect

Greenhouse gases contribute to the earth’s optimal temperature by keeping it warm. Without this effect, the earth’s average surface temperature would have been -18°C. However, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide, has risen dramatically in recent years. As a result, the greenhouse effect has been amplified. Global warming is the progressive increase in the average temperature of the earth’s lower atmosphere.

Globally, human activity increased net greenhouse gas emissions by 43% between 1990 and 2015, while in the United States, human activity increased greenhouse gas emissions by 2% between 1990 and 2019.

 

Global Warming Potential

BIOTECHNOLOGY INVENTIONS TO COMBAT THE CLIMATE CHANGE

  1. Plastic eating enzyme: In Japan, a team of biotechnologists has developed an enzyme that can break down the plastic in a few days, which is much faster than the hundred years that it usually takes to decompose.
  2. Solar panels: Solar panels help convert solar energy into electric energy that helps in reducing the dependency on coal and fossil fuels for electricity.
  3. Solar geoengineering: At Harvard, biotechnologists produced sun-blocking particles to reduce and minimize global warming.

BIOTECHNOLOGY APPLICATION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

  • The use of biofuels has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent to 86 percent and the concentration of carbon dioxide.
  • Biobased fertilizer and pesticides are more environmentally friendly and suitable for human health.
  • Bio-based plastics are biodegradable and may reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional plastic.
  • Mycotechnology or Fungal biotechnology deals with fungus, and fungus helps in degrading heavy metals from the polluted site and agriculture waste, including pesticides and herbicides.
  • In the core of environmental biotechnology, the biosensor helps monitor and reduce harmful elements in the environment.

CHALLENGES WITH BIOTECHNOLOGY TECHNIQUES

The massive use of technology in the environment has misused and harmed nature. Reducing the use of conventional resources leads to a negative impact on the environment and consumption of resources.

As much as biotechnology benefits the environment, it also has certain detrimental consequences.

  • Genetic modification in the crop may lead to many genetic diseases which will spread fast in the plant gene diversity.
  • The genetically modified crops may cause an imbalance in the ecosystem and may cause a decrease in biodiversity.
  • It has been reported that genetically engineered crops already threaten the monarch’s butterfly.
  • Although renewable resources have reduced greenhouse gas emissions, they also produce some photovoltaics (PV) cells that contaminate water resources.
  • Excessive use of renewable resources that produce no greenhouse emissions may cause air pollution.

CONCLUSION

Biotechnology techniques help humans combat climate changes and positively impact the environment. The inventions may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate changes, but they may also cause an imbalance in the ecosystem. The excessive use of anything has also caused harm to humanity and nature.

 

Author

  • The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.

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