Dynamist Blog


At PopTech, one of those "angry liberals" Arnold Kling wrote about was terribly shocked to discover that I had voted for George Bush in 2000 and that, given the same choice, I'd do so again. He proposed a thought experiment: How many persistent toxins, such as PCBs, would be in the environment a century hence if Bush were president vs. Gore? He didn't like my answer--that on that question, the election results made no difference. The time scales are off. Technological innovation, not environmental regulation, will determine the state of the earth in 100 years.

Along those lines, this article in The Scientist caught my eye:

Microorganisms that can degrade environmental pollutants have significant biotechnological potential, but until now, the identification of such useful bacteria has mainly relied on attempts to culture contaminated sediment in the laboratory. In the October 27 PNAS, Che Ok Jeon and colleagues at Cornell University report on the use of field-based techniques that have led to the discovery of a previously unknown bacterium capable of biodegradation of naphthalene. The researchers also report that the technique has the potential for use in the discovery of yet more organisms that can biodegrade a wider variety of environmental pollutants....

"This investigative strategy may have general application for elucidating the bases of many biogeochemical processes, hence for advancing knowledge and management of ecological and industrial systems that rely on microorganisms," conclude the authors.

The article has links to primary sources, as well as technical detail I've omitted from the excerpt above.

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