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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Jun 16, 2008
Not sure how crazy I am about messing around with a bacteria to poop oil, but do agree that having oil prices hit record highs will motivate us to get more bang for our buck (in fuel efficiency) while exploring alternatives so that gets a big fat, "yay!" Just hope whoever ends up holding the keys to the clean energy kingdom isn't going to make us bend over like OPEC or Exxon/Mobile too.

As for Chavez, I have a feeling someone will take away his control of Venezuela's oil before the bacteria crap does. We're not the only country susceptible to puppet masters you know. ;)

Jun 16, 2008
I like to compare it to how salt was once a valuable commodity that people even used as payment. Now a dollar will buy you several months worth of salt. Someday people will look back on energy the same way.
-13 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2008
Finally a joke that shows that Americans are arrogant and full of bigotry.
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2008
There's another angle to this story:
Suppose this bacteria really exists in the wild, we just haven't found it yet.
Say it lives deep underground, in certain places.
We have found some of the places, like under Saudi Arabia and Alaska.
But we haven't found all of them.
And the little critters are down there making more oil right now...
Jun 16, 2008
I was very skeptical when I first started reading the article, but the more I read the more I was convinced that it could actually be a solution. I have become very jaded towards fixes to life's problems, considering we are usually given very loose, "in the foreseeable future" forecasts. These bugs seem more real, given there is a concrete date of 2010 for the opening of the first production plant.

+9 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2008
I'm rounding out my thirties, and I believe that in my lifetime the U.S. will no longer be reliant on crude oil products for energy or fuel of any kind. There will be multiple alternatives, since technology is improving exponentially now (i.e., there will be more technology break-thru's in the next 20 years than in the last 200 years).

And though I strongly disagree that we humans are the main cause of (snort snort) 'global warming', the point will soon be moot. Advancing technology will make each individual's carbon footprint negligible whether we care or not.

I'm looking forward to purchasing my car that runs on compressed air (and a slight amount of gasoline) for a mere $18,000-ish in just a couple of years!
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2008
I think it is a good thing if it pushes us to utilize alternatives to oil. These alternatives will tend to be "green" and that is also a good thing. I don't believe that global warming is an issue that we can do anything about. The earth has been warming and cooling for longer than humans have had any ability to have significant impact on the environment. many of those shrieking that global warming will kill us all were singing a different tune in the 70's; talking about heading toward an ice age. those morons wanted to spread soot on the ice caps.
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2008
Nice post!
Even if it doesn't work I still think theres a place for you in foreign policy or as an ambassador! You made it through an entire conversation with a foreign country without mentioning some disaster, terrorism or war! That can only be an improvement over current leaders!

Also, I foresee a similar conversation with Saudi-Arabia, only with more

Scott: "Thanks for sitting on your ass while we dealt with your looser neighbors"

Saudi:"Your welcome godless scum, your lucky we allow you to give us money!"

Scott: "About that....Turns out deserts are a little overrated, see we got this bacteria that turns garbage into oil..."

Saudi:"pshhh, bacteria are nothing, you are nothing without our oil"

Scott: "Ha! Save it for China till they finish negotiating for our patented bacteria! Oh, and I'd keep an eye on your soon to be at civil war neighbor-Iraq , were pulling out of there and it turns out they never liked you guys either!
Jun 16, 2008
That sounds exciting and promising, but I can't help but tremble in fear at this prospect.

Normally, I don't care much about genetically engineered plants and animals. Glow-in-the-dark fish and hypoallergenic cats sound just fine to me. But a bacteria that eats garbage (or say... anything) and poops out petroleum (which is fairly toxic) sounds like a bad idea.

I mean... what if one microscopic bacterium (out of 150 million barrels of crude per year, multiplied by our entire future) finds its way into the sewer and reproduces into a viable population? Wouldn't that potentially taint the world's water supply, and/or destroy arable land?
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2008
Geez!! You got to show some respect for that poor Chavez!!!
Jun 16, 2008
I believe it is not wise to believe that these new inventions will totally replace crude oil products. The law of supply and demand only means that one day the cost of oil will come down to as low as the cost of renewable energy sources. (That is if all the proposed breakthrough technologies take off in the first place.)

Therefore, I think the OPEC nations will continue to rake in considerable amounts of oil money in the foreseeable future.

As a believer that human activities caused global warming though, I have to agree that $140 a barrel oil is the best thing to happen to the world. I just hope the price stays high long enough for the geeks to ready their new technologie for mass production. The last time people were so keen on developing sustainable energy technologies, the price of crude oil went so low it didn't make sense for them to continue...
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