global warming and yeast

The title of this post is actually referring to my post yesterday. If you put yeast in a mild sugar solution, say grape juice, they'll use that sugar to create their waste product, ethanol. You see, many organisms that live in liquids have evolved with the assumption that their wastes will dilute out to the point where they won't hurt them. Yeast and ethanol is one example, certain types of bacteria and acetic acid is another example.

In the "wild" these organisms have no difficulty doing their thing--but pesky humans enclose the yeast or bacteria in limited spaces and those waste products build up. We do this because we don't have any interest in the bacteria or yeast--it's the waste products that we really want. Sounds kinda gross, huh?

Wine and vinegar are created when the microorganisms create so much waste that they kill themselves--at which point humans bottle the resulting liquids and then sell them.

Now you might see how I'm making an analogy here to global warming. Humans produce plenty of waste products and excess CO2 is just one of them. There's plenty of other which affect our long term health. Acid rain, CFCs, CO, dioxins, agricultural runoff and hundreds of other potential problems. Hell, even methane from cow farts ultimately rests on our collective shoulders. If it wasn't for us humans, not even 1% of the existing ruminants (cows and other multi-stomached critters) would be alive. You and I are responsible for most cow farts, and that's slightly comical in a weird way.

But to take this one step further, most people talk about global warming as being an ecological crisis. Au contraire! Global warming is a human problem. Sure, it'll impact plenty of other critters--just like any other change in the environment-- so it'll hurt some and help others but it will devastate human society.

Forget rising water levels--I think the biggest problem will be sociological as it will pit the needs of rising economic powerhouses India and China against the more established First World nations. There's going to be Hell to pay when push comes to shove--and moving to a nice high hill in Canada or New Zealand might not be such a bad idea.

Anyway, we're like the yeast in that we're growing by leaps and bounds on all that lovely grape juice--but just now we're starting to notice that the ethanol is starting to be a problem. I often wonder if the last handful of generations of yeast are really really happy. You know, they've got a nice buzz going from the low levels of alcohol and don't see the crisis that's forming...

Comments

Bob-kat said…
Good analogy! actually, it annoys me when the media presnet this as a new problem when we've actually known about it for some time, but just as you say, like the yeast on the alcohol buzz, no-one was listening!

Here from Michele's. Not the cheeriest of posts she could send me to first thing in the morning but we are where we are as society! I think you get the point over in a really good way.
utenzi said…
Even less cheery is my attitude of us getting what we deserve. Time to step aside and stop screwing up the planet. Maybe if I had kids I'd have more of an interest in keeping humanity on top of the heap--but I don't.
panthergirl said…
Unlike you, I do have kids and would like to see them and their progeny have a planet to live on.

Interestingly, in the book Jurassic Park the scientist makes the statement that humans won't destroy the Earth, they will just make it unihabitable for humans. Sounds like he was right.

Here via michele, 'cause you got skipped!
utenzi said…
That's kinda my point, Marian. The planet is in no danger. Earth doesn't give a flip if the temp goes up or down a few degrees. Lots of plants and animals will have a great time either way.
craziequeen said…
I SO blame humanity for the state of the earth.....and humanity will be the ones to suffer.

Instead of evolving for the environment, humanity has forced the environment to evolve for us....

cq
Michele sent me, Dave
kenju said…
But what if it goes up more than a few?



I guess it's a "what you don't know won't hurt you" thing at the end, huh?
MissMeliss said…
Excellent, if scary, analogy. Guess "don't feed the yeast" is more than just slogan for people battling candida.
Bob-kat said…
Wow - what a debate you've started! I must admit that I do what I can to recycle adn save energy. Yes I could probably do more but I can't afford solar panels. However, that isn'y my point. The point is that I was talking at worl about this and one chap piped up that it was disgusting adn someone should do something about it. I asked him if he recycled and he said no that it was a pain, so I politely pointed out that someone was doing something and there were multiple recycling points and they even come by the house and take it away - all you have to do is wash and sort it. To which he replied, oh, I can't be bothered with that! This man has kids too. So with this in mind I guess apathy and laziness will be the destroyer of mankind.

Michele sent me back.
utenzi said…
I do believe you hit it on the nose, B-K. Apathy and laziness are the true horsemen of the coming apocalypse.
Jean-Luc Picard said…
Well written, with good points.

Michele sent me here.
Bob-kat said…
Y'know I've been thinking about this topic since reading your blog. I was wondering whcih creatures would benefit from global warming and which would perish with us. Obviously those that adapt quickly would do well. It then got me to thinking that as a result mankind gets to play God afterall.

Michele insisted that I come back adn see you again which is no hardship!
carli said…
thanks for the explanation. So I'm yeast, but happy yeast? I think I can deal with that.
Mr. Althouse said…
That's a good analogy. George Carlin used to give the Save the Earth people hell. Paraphrasing:

The planet was here long before we got here and it will be here long after we're gone. It doesn't need us, we need it. The Earth doesn't need us to save it. Don't save the Earth, save yourselves, the Earth doesn't care what we do.

Or words to that effect.

Michele sent me,

Mike
~Cathy~ said…
Interesting post... I don't think I'll ever look at yeast the same way... :)

Michele sent me.
srp said…
To do anything about it, technology will have to take a giant step backwards..... people will have to give up their love of the big car.... go back to spinning their own wool and cotton and weaving the fabric, then sewing it together with the pump sewing machines. Oh and all that silicone and plastic and such for the plastic surgery.... that has to go. The problem comes as you can't change ONLY ONE THING!

Off topic, but I found it really hypocritical to see the Hollywood celebrities that are so politically vocal, especially with "Blood Diamond" nominated; but there they were sporting millions of dollars worth of diamonds...
Bob-kat said…
Hi - just popped by to answer your queries on my blog.

The film is indeed feature length (95 mins) and is low budget as it was privately funded by teh directors. This of course means that the money was used wisely and that just about everyone worked on the film gave their time. This meant that the actors were not well known (and therefore sometimes not on a par with Helen Mirren & Co.) and that effects etc. all had to be done as cheaply as possible. Travel is expensive so everything was shot locally in South Wales. The problem with being a small independent film company is getting funding (not as easy as you'd suppose) and the issue afterwards is that everyone compares the finished product to Hollywood Blockbusters rather than in a genre of it's own (i.e. low budget feature films). I was mostly involved with PR for this film as I joined the team after shooting the piece but I am heavily involved with their future projects.

Popular posts from this blog

ankles: the sequel

Bread is Dangerous

Shallow Ford Natural Area