I Love This Place

You have admire the creative innovations of life on Earth–its ingenuity and initiative whenever a new energy and nutrient source appears.

Chances are, it will become food sooner rather than later.

Until recently, there has not been so much evidence that our signature mark in the geological strata of time–plastic–would ever find its way onto the dinner table. Until now.

The “plastisphere” is now being served in an ocean near you. But don’t get too excited.

Even as the feeding frenzy begins, the oceans are becoming an unfriendly feeding place for many ancient creatures (as these plastic-eating bacteria surely are, plastic only the latest craze as a new carbon-fuel source for their metabolic needs.)

This bacterial action would qualify as an “environmental service”–a large-scale biological or physical earth process that provides vast benefits far beyond our ability to produce or to pay for if the same service was done by our technology and human hands.

So bacteria of the plastisphere, thank you very much. And we apologize that we have made it so much harder for you and the corals and the phytoplankton to do what you have done for the quality of life on the planet.

That apology and gratitude may seem thin, given the fact that we are turning more and more of our topsoil from corn to CO2 that ultimately gets to you. We shouldn’t even mention the nitrogen and phosphorus from those same formerly-prairie acres of corn that create dead zones at the mouth of major rivers.

Sorry about that too. I know the absence of oxygen there is an inconvenience for some, and regret there are fewer and fewer unspoiled neighborhoods for you to live in, bait fish and zooplankton.

So there’s very little on the menu off the mouth of the Mississippi for them to eat.

Big deal. Let them eat plastic.

New life discovered growing on plastic waste dubbed the ‘plastisphere’ — News — ABC Environment (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Prairies vanish in the US push for green energy – SFGate

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I wonder if these bacteria are any kin to the flesh eating bacteria that have become a plague off the coast here in Texas. Every summer brings a whole ream of news stories of swimmers hospitalized with their flesh being devoured by these little beasties after swimming at the beach… It’s gotten so bad that I haven’t gone into the water in years.