Saturday, March 19, 2022

New Life That Eats Plastic

I am reading Otherlands: A Journey Throuth Earth's Extinct Worlds by Thmas Halliday, and this post is from the book.

Alongside Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Plastic has become has become the Public Face of our Environmental impact. We see pictures of huge rotating gyres of Plastic Waaste swirling in the Ocean, and hear Reports of fragments being increasingly found in the stomachs of Ocean dwelling Animals.

The effects go beyond Biology. Loss of Cultural Heritage for Seafaring People, collapse of Fisheries as the accumulated effect of Plastic on fish populations take hold, and a measurable impact for Mental Help from the Despoiling of beaches from washed-up Litter, all add less immediately visible costs. Leaving aside the massive biological and social Loss, the Plastic Damage in the Ocean has been estimated as causing annual Global Economic Costs of up to 2.d trillion U.S. dollars.

The All-Pervasive Nature of Plastic is more radically shown in the way that Microbes are evolving. The Fossil Record shows us time and time again that, whenever a New niche opens up, whenever there is a New Resourve to Exploit, somethinf evoles to Exploit it. Nature is nothing if nor Inventive, and the proliferation of Plastic products through the latter part of the Twentieth Century has resulted in a New, largely unexploited Resource.

In 2011, a Fungus, Pestalotiopsis Microspora, from the Ecuadorian Rainforest, was doscovered to have some ability to digest Polyurethane. In 2016, the mud near a Plastic Recycling plant in Sakai, Japan, was found to contain a Bacterium, Ideonella Sakaiensis, which has evolved to digest Polyethylene Terephthlate, breaking it down into Two products that do Not Harm the Environment.

This is the First know Life form of many known to be entirely Plastivorous, able to Safetly Decompose an entire Plastic bottle in about the same amount of time as a Hot Compost heap degrades Plant matter, which obvious potential in the World of Recycling.

Not since the Oxygen efflux over a Billion years ago has there been such a fundamental Change to the type of Resources available for Bio-Chemistry to act upon, and the Smallest, most quickly Reproducing Organisms are keeping uo with the change.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

No comments: