Unveiling the Role of Microbes in Climate Change at COP28

by Sinead Huang
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As the 28th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) unfolds in Dubai, a new voice emerges in the climate change dialogue — that of microbiologists. Despite their vital role in the world’s food chains and their significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions, these tiny organisms have been largely overlooked in climate models and policy discussions.

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Shaping the Future of Climate Science and Policy

Microorganisms form the foundation of global food chains, and their responses to climate change hold profound implications for biodiversity, fisheries, and agriculture. From methane production to carbon dioxide absorption, microbes wield tremendous influence over global emissions, positioning them as both friends and foes in the battle against climate change.

Traditionally absent from climate science and policy events like COP28, microbiologists are now making strides to ensure their voices are heard. Organizations such as the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) are actively engaging policymakers to highlight the critical role microbes play in climate dynamics. This shift aims to bridge the gap between microbiologists and other climate science disciplines.

Microbial Solutions for a Sustainable Future

While physicists, chemists, and atmospheric scientists have dominated climate discussions, microbiologists are stepping up to advocate for their inclusion. At COP28, marine microbiologist Shady Amin emphasizes the essential role of marine microbes in maintaining the ocean’s carbon cycle and biodiversity. The overarching message from microbiologists is clear — collaboration with these invisible yet powerful organisms is imperative for effective climate change mitigation.

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