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"A society built on green design, sustainable energy and closed loop systems, a civilization afloat on a cloud of efficient, non-toxic, recyclable technology." ~~Alex Nikolai Steffan

1.26.2008

Science that Makes Me Go Hmmm. . .

It all started with the NPR story about Orange County, California, which I was sorry I heard over my breakfast of yogurt, granola and coffee (no, not all mixed together.) Californians can now drink water from the tap that is recycled from toilet water in it's "toilet to tap" program. The NY Times provided details about the program and as much as I believe in recycling, it gave me pause. It was one of those things that make you go hmmm...

Last month, the Orange County Water District began using the world's largest plant to purify sewer water to increase drinking water supplies and serve as a model for water systems around the world who are
experiencing drought, water shortages and large growth.

The second thing to make me go hmmm. . .
This past week's testimony of the EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson about why the EPA denied California the ability to set its own carbon emissions standards higher than the US. During Mr. Johnson's appearance before the US Senate (yes, things are going on outside the horserace political poll speculations of the major media channels), he tried to explain why California's petition to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks was denied in direct contradiction to his own staff's recommendations that California's request be approved.

It seems the EPA staff staff stated that if the request was granted, it would
be generally consistent with the federal greenhouse gas rule. Mr. Johnson testified that it was denied because it was inconsistent with federal standards. Confused? Yes, so was the Senate who had to go over to the EPA offices and retrieve documents when the EPA refused to provide them. More details on this and a tip of the hat to Senator Barbara Boxer for holding her position throughout the entire testimony.

It really makes me glad that Governor Crist has returned Florida to the sanity of government in the sunshine through his Commission on Open Government.

But the biggest made me go hmmm. . .

The announcement in Science by Craig Venter and his team this week that they had created the first-ever synthetic chromosome, meaning that they are now far down the road to creating artificial life.

Venter says his hope is that he will be able to create designer bugs that can be used to produce hydrogen and biofuels. Synthetic bugs could also be created to do nothing but absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. If all goes to plan, Venter's breakthrough could be the silver bullet in our battle against climate change.

Here's the link to the research article abstract that was accepted by Science magazine on 1/11/08 for our science friends.

The full article is covered in Science Now, "Scientists Synthesize a Genome from Scratch" for the rest of us.


I go on record as very, very skeptical. In addition, it is the ETC Group, that first exposed the Venter Institute's patent applications for the world's first human-made living organism built entirely from synthetic DNA.

Hasn't anyone been watching movies like I Am Legend?

And because it's rainy and it's Saturday and because I've now planted that tune in your head, here's C + C Music Factory's original 1991 video. Sorry, they won't let me embed it here. Go to: Things That Make You Go Hmmmm


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