bacteria, swearing, and doom

The always fascinating and provocative Howard Bloom has a column at Scientific Blogging.
Screw ‘Sustainability’ – And Cheer Up About It
is the latest, and is a unique take on where we are at.

If this were a random universe, there would be a thousand different biochemical systems competing with each other on this planet, a thousand different families of life. But there aren’t. The only biochemical family on this planet is the clan of DNA, the clan of biomass. And you and I are part of that biomass family. We are part of that biomass team.
There is 1.097 sextillion cubic meters of rock, magma, and iron beneath our feet. That’s a one-with-21-zeroes-after-it stock of raw materials we haven’t yet learned to use. We haven’t yet learned to turn that sextillion-square-meter stockpile into fuel, food, or energy. We haven’t yet recruited it into the clan of biomass, into the clan DNA.

But that’s the imperative of biomass, to take these inanimate molecules and bring them into the system of life. Does this sound like mere fantasy? It’s not! Bacteria called lithoautotrophs are already doing it. Lithoautotrophs are eating the rock two miles beneath our feet and three miles beneath the sea, turning granite into food, turning raw stone into biomass, recruiting new atoms into the imperialistic project of DNA.

There’s more, as there always is with Bloom. Well worth checking out, as of course are his books Global Brain and The Lucifer Principle, which both took my head when they came out.

Speaking of reducing things to their most quotable, try Explicit Content Only – NWA’s Straight Outta Compton, edited down to just the explicit content. Funnier than expected.

Meanwhile, of course, we’re still doomed. Food riots ‘an apocalyptic warning’

Basic access to food is slipping out of reach for many people in developing countries.

The cost of the rice has risen by more than three-quarters in two months and the price of wheat has more than doubled in the same time.

World Vision Australia head Tim Costello says the situation is desperate and chronic.

“It is an apocalyptic warning,” he said. “Until recently we had plenty of food. The question was distribution.

“The truth is because of rising oil prices, global warming and the loss of arable land, all countries that can produce food now desperately need to produce more.”(my emphasis)

[ ganked variously from disinfo and cryptogon, on my sidebar.]

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