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Microbes Hold the Balance in Climate Crisis

You need powerful microscopes to see microbes.  Few microbiologists claim to know much about most of them.  But they are vital in the climate crisis.

The green and blue swirls of a phytoplankton bloom off the coast of Alaska as seen by a NASA satellite. These microorganisms help pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. (Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Norman Kuring; USGS) Click to Enlarge.

Thirty scientists from nine nations have issued a challenge to the rest of climate science:  don’t forget the microbes.

They argue that research is ignoring the silent, unseen majority that makes up the microbial world.  Lifeforms that add up to a huge proportion of living matter on the planet are being largely left out of climate calculations.

Microbes have been around for 3.8 billion years, manipulating sunlight and turning carbon dioxide into carbon-based living tissue, and the mass of all the microbes on the planet probably contains 70 billion tonnes of carbon alone.

They are biodiversity’s bottom line.  They are the arbiters of the planet’s resources.  They were the first living things on the planet, and will almost certainly be the last survivors.

They are the only living things at vast depths and colossal pressures.  Far below the planetary surface, many survive at temperatures beyond boiling point, in lakes composed of alkali, and some can even digest radioactive material.

Read more at Microbes Hold the Balance in Climate Crisis