Scientist Searches Yellowstone Park for Carbon Dioxide-Eating Microbe
by Annette Trinity-Stevens
1/10/01 BOZEMAN -- Wanted: Algae of the most adventurous type. Must grow in slime on scratchy plastic discs. A willingness to be periodically purged in favor of new recruits required. Above all, must have a hearty appetite for carbon dioxide and a tolerance for scalding temperatures.
This is roughly the job description Keith Cooksey, professor of microbiology at Montana State University-Bozeman, carries with him as searches the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park this winter.
Cooksey's on a mission, of sorts. Well, a subcontract, really. He's part of a three-member team looking for ways of naturally lowering carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Besides Cooksey, the threesome includes David Bayless, a mechanical engineer at Ohio University, and researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Helping Cooksey at MSU is postdoctoral researcher Igor Brown.
Together, the group has $1-million from the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Cooksey and Brown's portion of the project is about $100,00 a year for three years. Brown also has support from the MSU Thermal Biology Institute, which similarly studies unique microbes from Yellowstone.
While the coal-fueled power industry has reduced particulate and sulfur emissions, it still produces high amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, now believed to be undesirably warming the planet.
Ohio University is experimenting with ways of absorbing carbon dioxide with algae. Like other plants, algae use the gas as part of their metabolic process called photosynthesis.
Ohio University has piloted Bayless's technology using algae from the desert. But they believe there's a better organism out there, and now it's Cooksey's job to look.
"If you want thermotolerant, we're in a good place to look," Cooksey says, referring to Yellowstone National Park. The park is well known for heat-loving organisms that live in and around park hot springs.
"They must be thermotolerant because the gases from these coal-fired power plants--which are about 14 percent carbon dioxide--are hot," Cooksey said. "The gases have been through the scrubbers to get rid of the ash, but they still have lots of CO2."
to woiyo and others who deride "An Inconvenient Truth," some inconvenient news from AP:
Scientists OK Gore's movie for accuracy [..]
The former vice president's movie [..] mostly got the science right, said all 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie or read the book and answered questions from The Associated Press.
The AP contacted more than 100 top climate researchers by e-mail and phone for their opinion. Among those contacted were vocal skeptics of climate change theory. Most scientists had not seen the movie, which is in limited release, or read the book.
But those who have seen it had the same general impression: Gore conveyed the science correctly
Not to quibble, but - so - out of 100 climate scientists, only 19 had sen the movie - and they all agreed with Gore. Isnt that kind of a self-confirming sample? Wouldnt the 19 scientists who did go out to see the movie kinda by definition be the ones likely to agree with it?
I'll note that "Among those contacted were vocal skeptics" - my emphasis - but among the 19 who answered, there were apparently none. Well, of course there werent - they wouldnt be going to see it, would they?
supposing you *are* right, that vocal skeptics chose not to see it,
how do you propose forcing them to see it & comment on it?