Global warming and bacteria
As the world gets warmer everyday and we are trying to decrease the use of any substances that produce greenhouse gases (fossil fuels), the CO2 levels keep increasing. However, the statistics and numbers of CO2 levels are based in the production of it in the industry (fabrics, cars, coal, etc). We have forgotten the most abundant form of life in earth; Bacteria. So how has Bacteria been affected by global warming? And what is the role of bacteria in global warming?
Most of the carbon in the world is storage in large layers of ice in the Arctic pole; they have been there for long periods of time. However, the increasing temperatures are melting the Arctic ring. As we know by now studies of the soil in the Arctic have shown us there are microorganisms living in it. These bacteria can be classified as Psychrophile (as cold temperatures are permanent). Some of these Bacteria have lived in endospores for many years; let’s remind ourselves that endospores can protect bacteria against extreme conditions i.e. freezing temperatures. As the world gets warmer these bacteria are breaking down long-term stores of carbon; that is, they are getting carbon sources from the Arctic soil as source of energy and producing CO2 as a by-product. This increasing of CO2 emissions would increase the effects of global warming. Another aspect is that Global warming is increasing the rate in which bacteria are decomposing death matter (leafs, animals) producing CO2. This is a problem because there is no longer a balance between the production of CO2 by decomposition and the absorbance of this green house gas by plants.
So what else can we expected from global warming? Well, the melting of the Arctic layer is bringing old bacteria and viruses back to life. These new populations could potentially be infections organism we thought were gone or be new organism which could cause epidemics never seen before. The only thing left to say is that we need to keep in mind that our actions are not just affecting the human race; it is also affecting Mother Nature. Bacteria and viruses would get their sources to keep living, and they will not care going through us to succeed. Hopefully we are not too late to make a big difference to make our future better.
New Scientist; 7/9/2005, Vol. 187 Issue 2507, p45-45, 1/2p, 1c