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A new plastic eating bacteria teaches us that life will find a way

Technology can do and has done some amazing things. Just a few days ago we talked about some kids to created a way to turn Styrofoam into activated carbon. We have discovered bacteria that consume oil. There are also bacteria that consume plastics.

“In a report published in the journal Science, a team of Japanese researchers described a species of bacteria that can break the molecular bonds of one of the world’s most-used plastics”

The article states something that I think the author just meant rhetorically but is interesting perhaps factually nonetheless, “Nature has begun to fight back against the vast piles of filth dumped into its soils, rivers and oceans…” It’s something I’ve often thought about when science discovered a new species – what if it really is new and not just discovered? If evolution is a thing then it is still working and at some point new things will evolve. Maybe that new species of insect discovered isn’t just one we’ve overlooked in the past but one that is actually new in the sense that it exists in a newly evolved form?

I’m not a believer in Gaia, but if I were, I would agree that nature really is fighting back. If I wanted to live in the mystical then I could say that the reason the earth has made it through all the cataclysms, and the reason life has survived and thrived here and seemingly nowhere else, is because nature can fight back. Or, if we want to be really scientific we could say, in the words of Ian Malcolm – life, finds a way.

I leave out God from this because if we bring Him into this we simply don’t have to worry about any of this. I often wonder why anyone who actually believes in God ever worries about things like global warming. At least the Christian God anyway. He has a plan and it’s going to be carried out. Nothing humans can do can thwart that. This is also one of the reasons I don’t get too excited about some supposed conflict between evolution and God. If I were a god with a plan that included life remaining on a planet, creating that life so it could adapt is a pretty good way to go about it. But for those who don’t want to involve God in anything then most certainly the way things are seems to be working.

I would be a lot more on board with some of these environmental things if they would frame it all in an anthropomorphic way. Meaning, save the humans. But what they always do is talk about saving the planet, or saving the plants and animals. They, I think, will be just fine. They made it through global events much worse than anything we are doing. A massive comet or meteor has more potential to destroy than we do. Even if we nuked the planet, it would survive. We wouldn’t even alter the tilt of its axis. But a comet could do that. That incredible tilt that makes the seasons, not too hot, not too cold.

I am a conservationist. I believe that humans should be good stewards of the Earth. When I say I don’t believe humans are going to destroy it, when I say I do not believe that we are causing it to warm up, I do not mean to say I don’t care about the planet I live on, or the wonderful things that live there with us. I do care and I want them to be around – for my enjoyment – and because their existence is part of an almost unbelievable balance that exists. By all means, be kind to the planet, take care of the animals, plant a bloody tree, but don’t run around being afraid that we’re ending it all. I don’t believe for a moment that we are.

Pile of Plastic Garbage

Karl Mathiesen: Scientists have discovered a species of bacteria capable of breaking down commonly used PET plastic but remain unsure of its potential applications

Source: Could a new plastic-eating bacteria help combat this pollution scourge?

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