CEXS-UPF: Bioengineering could save the biosphere from the ravages of climate change

CEXS-UPF: Bioengineering could save the biosphere from the ravages of climate change

News from CEXS-UPF

The members of the scientific community predict that climate change will have serious repercussions on our societies. The global warming of the planet may have disastrous effects. Experts warn that gradual processes over time could lead to sudden collapse once a critical point is reached. In this context Ricard Solé, director of the ICREA Complex Systems Lab, of the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (CEXS) at UPF and researcher of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (UPF-CSIC) and of the Santa Fe Institute in the U.S., claims in a study published in Ecological Complexity that "there might be an alternative solution: the bioengineering of ecosystems".

One alternative put forward by Ricard Solé in his article is based on the concept of terraforming, a biological engineering process with which a planet could change its atmosphere, temperature, topography and ecology in order to achieve a stable biosphere.

This idea has been proposed for the colonization of the planet Mars. Some scholars argue that the red planet could be inhabited by bacteria capable of adapting to extreme conditions, so that these microorganisms would be the bases for the establishment of other more complex organisms. An obvious, crucial, but important difference of this type of biological engineering is that, unlike geoengineering, a live system has the ability to self-replicate and disseminate until reaching the desired scale within the recipient ecosystem. "Instead of looking to the red planet, the proposal would be to terraform our own planet", Solé stated.

More information:

Ricard Solé (2015), "Bioengineering the biosphere?",  Ecological Complexity, 22, pp. 40-49.