To preface the purpose of this blog, I wanted to start off with a quote such as:
“They say there's microbes in a kiss, This rumour is most rife, Come, lady dear, and make of me - An invalid for life”or even (to be more continental and flowery) this memorable one by Louis Pasteur:
"Messieurs, c'est les microbes qui auront le dernier mot."
(which translates as "Gentlemen, it is the microbes who will have the last word")
but, as is often the case when talking about bacteria and other microbes, both these missives hint at our usual cultural bias towards thinking of the hidden world of microbes purely in terms of germs, of disease, of an invisible menace, dealt with properly using bleach, soap and disinfectants.
Instead, take a look at this more comprehensive view:
By any rational measure, this world belongs to microbes. They were mastering the subtleties of evolution three billion years before the first multicellular organism appeared. They continue to evolve and adapt in a tiny fraction of the time it takes us to reproduce once. They flourish in polar ice caps, in boiling water, and amid radioactive waste. We exist only because some of them find us useful. Ninety percent of the cells in our bodies are bacteria. The entirety of human evolution has taken place in an environment saturated with microbes, and humans are so firmly adapted to the routine of sheltering allies and rebuffing enemies that the removal of either can devastate our defense systems.(taken from Nathanael Johnson's, “The Revolution Will Not Be Pasteurized“)
and what a revolution awaits us! By now, the world is waking up to the threat of Peak Oil, oil upon which our industrial nitrogen based fertilizer consumption is based. Another such "peak" is peak phosphorous - a vital plant nutrient which (unlike nitrogen) cannot be synthesized. After fifty years of cheap food (in the west) and increasing yields, are we heading back towards diminishing returns, in the face of the crisis in supply of such essential resources - resources needed to feed an ever growing human population? If so, is there anything that can be done?
Thankfully, with the aid of the hidden army of nature's recyclers, the future isn't so grim.
Microbes can fix nitrogen from the air and from decaying matter.
Fungi can fix and provide phosphorous in complex synergies with plants.
In a world where water and nutrients will become more precious resources for our continued survival, the symbiotic relationship between plant roots and mycorrhizal fungi will become a partnership we should invest our time in understanding. Symbiotic relationships which increases the uptake of water and nutrients by plants helped our biosphere evolve, to provide a stable environment for our species' evolution and may yet help rescue us from our dilemma which is, as Terence Mckenna once said to "go green or die".
And so it is, in this blog, i will draw your attention to positive news stories about how microbes and scientific research is pointing towards this new revolution in the "high yield technologies" of microbes, as well as adding articles about how it all works (leaving aside the issue of whether it works) for those who are eager to learn more about this often mis-understood branch of nature and science.
Please become involved in the new revolution - one that shouldn't be pasteurized.