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According to some scientists, at one point in time in this planet's history cyanobacteria almost drove life to extinction by reducing it to a snowball as they captured vast quantities of carbon and locked it up.

Today we face a different challenge where we have excess carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere leading to a warmer planet which threatens its current inhabitants.

As someone who studied applied physics I have very little understanding of how cellular and molecular biology work. But is it a viable solution to build artificial sinks of cyanobacteria in controlled environments at various places on the planet to capture this excess carbon dioxide? If not then what stops us?

I could think of some challenges:

  1. As cyanobacteria need sunlight to capture carbon so the reaction will be limited to the surface where we will have most sunlight. But one can improve the efficiency by building columns which have embedded light sources (using solar/renewable energy only) at various points within.
  2. Maintenance of these pools/columns.
  3. An economic model to make this a profitable venture for companies. Can the end products produced by these bacteria be sold for money? Can they serve as an ingredient into some other (profitable) reaction?
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  • $\begingroup$ Why do you think that "cyanobacteria almost drove life to extinction by reducing it to a snowball as they captured vast quantities of carbon and locked it up"? $\endgroup$
    – user37894
    Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 16:12

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The best cyanobacterial pool is the World Ocean.

No man, no amount of venture capital investment, no board of directors, no CEO, no CFO, no CSO, etc. can ever create, on the Earth, an equivalent to the World Ocean.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that the world ocean is the best pool for cyanobacteria and other microscopic plants. But my question is what specifically stops us from engineering this process and turning the tables on greenhouse gas production? We don't have to beat the Earth --we just need to make up for the shortfall. $\endgroup$
    – user38363
    Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 1:47
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a shortfall? $\endgroup$
    – user37894
    Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ Yes. Please see sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079661114000135. $\endgroup$
    – user38363
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 0:41

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