Thursday, August 29, 2013

The bacterial threat to civilisation

Archdruid Report writer John Michael Greer highlights another major threat to our way of life - the evolution of bacteria (emphases and paragraphing mine):

"In the case of the spread of antibiotic resistance among microbes, there are at least three patterns at work.

"First, microbes are being selected for their resistance to individual antibiotics.

"Second, as new antibiotics are brought out to replace old ones, microbes are being selected for their ability to develop resistance to one antibiotic after another as quickly as possible.

"Finally, the pressure exerted on the entire microbial biosphere by the pervasive presence of antibiotics in the modern environment is giving a huge selective advantage to species that have the ability to exchange genes for resistance with other species."

This fits in with Greer's long-running theme, which is that when "Man" sets himself against Nature, Nature will win. Whether we consider antibiotics or fossil fuels, quick fixes are not permanent fixes. All we have done is multiplied our numbers and developed a style of living in a way that is unsustainable.

We need to balance the principle of efficiency with that of ability to survive. Crowding into cities and depending on resource distribution grids overseen by computers makes us increasingly vulnerable to natural and man-made catastrophe.

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