Full Speed Ahead?

On We Beasties, Kevin Bonham reports that scientists have genetically enabled E. coli to digest a sugar found in algae. Bonham writes, "Scientists have been picking this bug's locks for decades, and it's already been engineered to make not just ethanol, but many other useful products as well." With the ability to metabolize sugar from a source as prolific, low-maintenance, and renewable as algae, E. coli could become a much bigger player in biofuel production. Meanwhile, Greg Laden considers the State of the Union address from an environmental perspective. Laden gives President Obama a pass for his pragmatic approach to an incendiary political issue, but admits that some of us might have preferred "a fire and brimstone demand to step up our national efforts to address Global Warming and the other issues related to the high rate of release of fossil Carbon into the atmosphere." Laden says we must first elect a more unified Congress willing to enact science-based policy. In the meantime, the USDA's revised plant hardiness map shows that "all the climate zones have moved north permanently." And in 2012, that's just the tip of the melting iceberg.

More like this

Information exchange defines us as humans, and perhaps even as living things. In 2012, we're approaching a whole new level. Greg Laden introduces us to Apple's iBook, which handles images better than a generic eBook. Greg says "An iBook can be a product that has almost no writing in it at all, or…
Recipients of the 2011 Nobel Prizes were announced the week of October 3. The winners in medicine were honored for their work in immunology, as reported on Tomorrow's Table. Steinman "discovered a new class of cell, known as dendritic cells, which are key activators of the adaptive immune system…
Science publishing is at a crossroads. On We Beasties, Kevin Bonham says that early scientists "communicated amongst themselves in person or in letters or in books. They shared discoveries freely and it was possible for an individual human to be aware of almost the entire sum of human knowledge…
In Uganda, the fourth outbreak of Ebola in twelve years has killed sixteen people. On We Beasties, Kevin Bonham says the virus is "readily transmissible," kills quickly and assuredly, "and the way it kills is gruesome - causing massive bleeding from all orifices." These may seem like dominant…