Did you hear about the genetically altered bacteria that can eat garbage and poop oil?


There are a lot of potential scalable sources for renewable energy, but nothing got me more excited than these bacteria. I think it is the cartoonist in me that wants all the problems of the world to be solved by critters that eat garbage and poop oil.

I fantasize that someday the United States will hold a national lottery to see who gets to tell the president of Venezuela that we no longer need his oil. I think I would approach that conversation this way:

Me: "You know that oil you sell us?"

Chavez: "Si. What about it, Yankee devil?"

Me: "It's the life blood of your economy, isn't it?"

Chavez: "Si. What is your point, demon crud?"

Me: "Oil is the most valuable thing in your entire country, isn't it?"

Chavez: "Si. Where is this conversation going?"

Me: "We invented bugs that eat garbage and poop oil."

Chavez: "It will never work!"

Me: "You better hope so because I put some in your drink."

So I figure these bacteria will create all the oil we need for automobiles and jets, while the new mirror-based solar energy plants going up in the deserts will handle all of our future household and industrial energy needs. Maybe you toss in a few nuclear sites, and problem solved. Someday we'll look back and realize that oil at $140 was the best thing that ever happened.

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Jul 2, 2008
A group of cyanobacteria have retained me to act as their spokesman. They want me to mention that:
1) They have been doing something much like this for over 3 billion years without any thanks from us allegedly higher organisms.
2) The waste they use is, in fact, carbon dioxide which we "higher" organisms are just beginning to realize may have...consequences.
3) They can produce up to 30% of their biomass as oil. Though they don't thing of this as "poo"(oxygen is their poo), they aren't really big enough to fight us for it.
4) Although they already grow quite well in the ocean, they are willing to trade us a great deal of oil for some fertilizer...rust, farm waste, stuff like that. Space to grow is no real problem as the cost of a few hundred square !$%*! of ocean is $0.00.
Jun 21, 2008
When you look at it, since it is bacteria that poops out the oil wouldn't the oil look like it was coming out of thin air? If they start mass producing this bacteria in some building wouldn't be funny if some of it got out of it's little cage and started pooping oil out of thin air on the workers!
Worker A: "Man, some of the bacteria just pooped on my clean white shirt."

Worker B: "Get all of the oil out now! We could use it for the lawn mower!"
Jun 20, 2008
For that entire entry I thought that the bacteria ate "garbage" and "poop oil".

I spent the whole entry trying to figure out what "poop oil" was.

And if I made any when I pooped.
Jun 18, 2008
I would hate to see a renewable source of the same old oil override our drive (sic) to replace the archaic technology...
Jun 18, 2008
yankee devil! ha ha ha

Im sure his snappy retoric to you would be: "you messed up with me birdy, YU AR A DONKEY MISTER ADAMS!"
Jun 17, 2008
I hope, for the sake of everyone here, that nano-scale thermoelectrics will be much more efficient at converting detritus into crude oil than human E. Coli virus. Also, this bug has the potential for being the worst bug ever, did you ever think about that!?
Jun 17, 2008
Sweet! This would be a carbon-neutral way of powering our vehicles, too. But we still have to figure out how to make our cars stop producing nitrogen compounds and carbon monoxide. Maybe some bacteria could be engineered to eat nitrogen compounds and carbon monoxide and poop out Clif bars.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
Hi Scott,

I would pay to join that lottery. However, the article states that the cost per barrel of production of poop oil is $50. That is a very high cost, roughly what it costs to pump oil out of the ground in TX. I believe that the best oil producers are around $30/barrel. Poop oil is pretty expensive.

I would still like to throw a bunch of that bacteria into my septic tank, attach a pump and see what happens.

Jun 17, 2008
It's only a shame that "poop baron" doesn't quite have the same cachet to it.
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2008
As some others have mentioned, the idea of a bacteria that digests organic matter and converts it to petroleum scares the bejeebus out of me.

Your little joke about feeding some to the president of Venezuala could only be part of the story. if those things got lose and mutated, they could be seriously dangerous.

Don't like that pesky 3rd world country? Infect them and turn the whole populace into oil slicks.

Want to clear that annoying potion of rainforest? Introduce some bugs and not only do the trees all come down, but you get enough oil to power the tractor for the next decade.

Instead of creating bugs that eat organic matter, a really useful one would be bugs that eat plastic and convert it back to oil.
Jun 16, 2008
There's also this, essentially the same kind of thing but without bacteria:
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2008
I know - I have friends who work on the commode-ities market, and the price of poop has hit the fan!
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2008
I do wish fewer people read this blog ..... the price of poop went up 45% today as poop speculators went on a buying frenzy.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2008
My car already kind of runs on poop. If I'm low on gas, I threaten to throw poop on someone unless they pay for a tank of gas for me. It's amazing what people will do under threat of poop. My car has been "running" on poop for 3 years. My next goal is taking over a small country under threat of poop. I call it a "poo coup". Watch out, Uraguay.
Jun 16, 2008
I'm wondering whether there are plans to test this bacteria out -in say NWFP or Tora Bora. I have a feeling this bacteria causes deserts as well as producing Oil, and would probably clean out tunnels really well. Also, it would give Pakistan, China and Afganistan on the map as oil producers, cause really NWFP is going to end up one big Nato territory. (Pakistan has given up de facto control of the region, and if they continue, they can be labeled as a country that supports terrorism).

Jun 16, 2008
I already think $140/barrel for oil is one of the best things to happen.

I don't mind paying $4.199/gallon for gas for two reasons:

1) With my car (2004 Kia Rio) and the way I drive, I average about 40mpg city driving. I don't use the freeway much.

2) The higher that gas prices go the sooner someone is going to make a huge change in our energy sources.
Jun 16, 2008
Guess we'll see if it scales.
Jun 16, 2008
We all know from our phd educations that oil comes only and exclusively from dinosaurs and is therefore non renewable. That's what the fossil in fossil fuel means isn't it? Non-renewable dead dinosaurs dependent on foreign oil. They say it over and over and over so it must be true musn't it? I guess Chavez in your story means "dependent on foreign oil" That mean old dictator, that must be why gasoline costs so much at the pump for us phd educated americanos. Maybe it's that evil dictator in Iraq Iran and Afganistan, those foreign oil bad boyz. Somebody should make a Plan for a New American Century to fix all this dependence on foreign non renewable fossil feul made from dead dinosaurs. Maybe Haliburton can help.
As for bacterial conversion of general waste to oil...what about the children? This could hurt the children and be bad for freedom. For security reasons the government is not at liberty to explain why it will threaten your children but trust them, they are protecting you from bad scary things. I was wondering, how many dinosaurs do we burn per day? BTW why was it that the oil companies cut down and rolled the rain forests? O yeah, to feed the poor, or was it to protect children from dependence on foreign oil made from non renewable dinosaur fossils?
Jun 16, 2008
The headline I see is:

"Cartoonist makes death threats against impoverished World Leaders with genetically engineered SUPERBUGS!"

Watch yourself Adams, It's not paranoia if you're right!

Can I buy early tickets for the lottery?
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2008
Can't wait to open MSNBC.com and read that

1) Stock market is down because oil prices increased by a record margin due to decrease in poop output

Read a resume that reads..

1) Managed a billion dollar company and was responsible for increasing the poop output of my previous company to 5 million tonnes to 10 million tons.

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