Soil Microbes May Hold the Key to Getting Carbon Out of the Atmosphere


Did you know that there’s an
International Soil Day? What, you guys aren’t as excited about dirt as I am?
Dirt does a heck of a lot for us, and gets very little credit.
In fact, dirt—and what lives inside it— may be one of the key players to help us
with our changing climate. *Upbeat Intro Music* Humans produce carbon dioxide, or CO2. And
a lot of it. CO2 is one of the primary greenhouse gases that insulates our
planet and contributes to changing climate. Now, there are lots of brilliant
minds all over the world focused on how we can reduce the amount of carbon
dioxide in our atmosphere. See, once it’s released into the air, CO2 can chill out
there, making everything a little crazy. And this may come as a surprise, but it
also gets absorbed by our oceans. Which causes a whole another set of issues. And
it can also get absorbed by dirt. Or if we’re being technical here: soil. Dirt is
the brown dust that’s on your shoes after you go for a walk, but soil is what
scientists call living dirt. It contains bugs and worms and decaying plants and
animals…and microbes. That’s right, the soil in your backyard is teeming with
life…just not usually the kind you can see with your naked eye. It’s full of
bacteria and even viruses…not all of which want to hurt you. Although, some of
them do. Like this guy, for sure. Most of the time they are friendly, soil-specific
microbes that are just there to chow down on that decaying matter like leaves,
so you’re good to play around in the mud. But another really important thing that
some soil microbes do is absorb carbon dioxide as part of their natural energy
cycle. This sounds like it could be helpful, yes? To learn more, Lawrence
Livermore researchers, in partnership with a team from West Virginia
University, will be conducting research for the next three years to improve our
understanding of exactly how all this works.
They’ll be studying how changing the composition of the soil may change the
bacteria’s ability to absorb CO2. Like what happens if you add more nitrogen to
the soil? Could we optimize the soil’s makeup to absorb as much CO2 as possible?
Designer soil? One of my favorite parts of this research is that it’s got a
couple other super cool things going on. It’s not just the awesome bacteria in
the soil under our feet that absorb carbon. We all know dirt also grows stuff,
like trees for instance. And what do trees breathe? That’s right,
you guessed it, carbon dioxide. So exploring soil chemistry
and how it makes a nice cozy home for these helpful bacteria could also help
us optimize soil for growing more trees so they can help reduce atmospheric
carbon dioxide levels. Apparently the dirt under some kinds of trees absorbs
more carbon than the soil under other kinds of trees…why? This research project
hopes to start finding answers to all of those exciting questions. Do you have any
questions for the dirt experts? Leave them in the comments down below, and make
sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook so you can see if we post
their answers. Make sure you subscribe to this channel to stay up to date with
groundbreaking research like this as it’s conducted, and for more videos like
this briefing you on the front line of science you can find some links in the
description for even more info on this microbial topic. And check out this video
here to learn more about how we’re working with algae to create biofuels.
Thanks for watching! Speaking of dirt…blegh

8 thoughts on “Soil Microbes May Hold the Key to Getting Carbon Out of the Atmosphere

  1. CO2 ain't the problem, do your homework…….
    Man made, yes but not how most people think.
    Not to mention that the sun is going through a " cycle " that allows more gama to penetrate our planet and heat it from inside creating more volcanic activity. …….homework……
    Thx.

    Have a wonderful day,a day full of wonder.

  2. I'm a physics student who has recently gotten into microbiology and botany and I have to say I am so glad that there's been a huge resurgence of interest into these fields recently. There is so much to learn and discover from these microbe and plant species, and how their symbiotic relationships that affect them also contribute to us in our natural world. Keep up the videos!

  3. Maren Hunsberger has a face that reminds me of a 1950's female. Kind of like Will Poulter looks like a kid from the late 1950's/early 1960's. It's cool. I don't know if there are recognizable facial features of certain decades of American culture, or if I am projecting my own bias into the mix. I know there are styles affixed to cultural eras, like facial hair or a certain way the hair is worn, or style of glasses, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about straight up bone structure, complexion, and feature symmetry. Anyways, if you don't know who Will Poulter is, go IMDB him and you'll know what I mean about looking like a young guy from 60 or 70 years ago. In fact, I think he was cast in Detroit for that reason.
    Anywyas, Maren has that look to me. It's a good thing. It's a very unique, cool retro look to her face.

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