DNA Driven World

Posted on Thursday, December 20th, 02007 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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This BBC lecture was posted by Edge.org and I thought it would be a good preparation for our upcoming February 25th talk by Craig Venter. Some excerpts:

To begin the process of change we need to start with our children by teaching them in place of memorization, to explore, challenge, and problem solve in an attempt to understand the world around them, and most especially the world they cannot “see” or feel directly. Perhaps, we can also start by changing the way we teach science in our schools.

So over a short period of time genome projects, which 10 years ago required several years to complete, now take only days. Within 5 years it will be commonplace to have your own genome sequenced. Something that just a decade ago required billions of pounds and was considered a monumental achievement. Our ability to read the genetic code is changing even faster than changes predicted by Moore’s Law.

At my company Synthetic Genomics, we have a major program underway in collaboration with BP to see if we can use naturally occurring microbes to metabolize coal into methane which can then be harvested as natural gas. While not a renewable source of carbon, it could provide as much as a 10 fold improvement over mining and burning coal. We also have organisms that can convert CO2 into methane thereby providing a renewable source of fuel.

  • http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/ Steve Salmony

    Please understand that I am concerned my generation of elders could be “selling a bill of goods” to our young people today; but we have no intention of fulfilling our promises and will fail to deliver the goods. In part, these unfortunate circumstances result from my generation’s unbridled over-consumption of Earth’s finite capacity to sustain life as well as from our reckless and unrestrained dissipation of limited natural resources bound up in the huge scale and growth rate of economic globalization.

    My not-so-great generation appears to be mortgaging and threatening the future of its children by remaining religiously focused upon the endless accumulation of material wealth, the unchecked increase in per capita consumption of scarce resources, and the continuous consolidation of political/military power. Despite all our high-minded rhetoric to the contrary, you need not look far to see that money, power and privilege for ourselves, for our bought-and-paid-for politicians, and for our newly-made rich minions in the mass media are the primary objects of our desire. Regardless of the human-driven calamities that might befall coming generations, the leadership in my generation advises all of us to live long, and live large, in a patently unsustainable world of idle comforts, effortless ease, conspicuous consumption, secret handshakes, exclusive clubs, exotic hideaways and thousands of McMansions and private jets, having abandoned our regard for the less fortunate among us, for the maintenance of life as we know it, and for the preservation of the integrity of Earth. Please, now, recognize the single-minded pursuit of dollars, political power and privileges to profligately consume, and to magnificently ignore the practical requirements of biophysical reality, as our raison d’etre, come what may for the children.

    When my not-so-great generation completes its unsavory ‘mission’ on Earth, I fear young people will look back in anger and utter disbelief at the things we have done and failed to do…..all things we proclaim loudly now as evidence of our many virtues.

    Yes, of course, there is an ecological debt……. but, please, let us get real for a moment and understand what my generation does not want its children to know: your elders are determined to let the ecological debt and threats of human and environmental health, for which we are clearly responsible, fall into your lap, come what may.

    Sincerely,

    Steve

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population


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