Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Try going over to the Archdruid and read his post on what he sees as the necessary technologies for the future.  Now as usual he writes well and his points are well taken.  But in a rare moment of conflict, I find myself in disagreement with the laundry list of technologies that he espouses.

His first wish is bioremediation.   All well and good, but it is a complete technology.  Whe really do know what we need to know.  I was the chief chemist for a bioremediation firm back in the early 90's.  We did fine work are were easily able to clean up sites contaminated with organics.  All this technology takes is time.  Even the most refractory sites can be cleaned of organics by just treating them like a big garden and plowing and fertilizing the hell out of them.  Hell, we even proved that you can get rid of organics in groundwater by injecting nutrients and amino acids into the aquifer.  All the bugs need is some thing to go with the contaminants and they will be happy to suck the stuff up.

But this is necessarily a slow process, for what you are doing is creating a system of controlled evolution that forces the bugs to eat the nasties that you have put there.  The Archdruid seems to think that the technology isn't there or there isn't a complete set of tools to do the job.  The truth is, we have everything we need to fix the organic contamination process.

No, the issue with cleaning up sites contaminated with organics is there, what is not available is the ability to make the people who made the mess clean up after themselves.  Folks who are willing to fuck up the planet are notorious for being unwilling to reverse the damage.

Nope, I think that, when the time comes, and the fossil-fuel industries start grinding down and the world begins to change, the organics will be comfortably accelerated in the cases where it is useful and will self-clean over the course of a couple of centuries in the cases where it isn't.

Now, this little post only applies to organics contamination.  Metals or radioactive contamination is another deal altogether.  I will work on a post to address the problems there.

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