Saturday, December 04, 2010

Don't Worry About Peak Cheese: Microbes Multiply Exponentially

Environmental writer Ariel Schwartz worries in a Fast Company article that we may be in for "Peak Cheese." She is worried that if lactococcus lactis bacteria are modified to produce biofuels, that a shortage of cheese may be forthcoming.
Lactococcus lactis is a hard-working bug. Designated as the state microbe of Wisconsin, Lactococcus is used in the production of buttermilk, cheese, and yogurt. And according to researchers from Concordia University, the microbe could help turn plant matter into biofuels.

So should we gear up for a cheese shortage, considering how ethanol subsidies diverted corn crops and raised global food prices? _FastCompany
Later Ariel hastens to assure us that we don't need to worry about a cheese shortage, because "other bacteria could be used for the same fuel producing purpose." What Ariel should know -- but clearly doesn't -- when writing this type of piece, is that bacteria multiply exponentially. As long as these bacteria have milk, they will multiply fast enough to make any amount of cheese one may want. Ask a beer-maker about a shortage of yeast, due to ethanol biofuels. Prepare to be laughed at.

Environmentalists are "concerned" about any sort of energy which may be reliable, safe, and abundant. Faux environmentalists protest against biomass gasification and pyrolysis, against all forms of nuclear energy, against hydroelectric power, against biofuels, and naturally they protest against all forms of hydrocarbons, such as shale gas, crude oil, coal, and oil sands.

Ariel Schwartz, like all good environmentalists and Luddites, believes that if more of one product is made using a resource (lactococcus), that there will necessarily be less of other products which are made using the same resource. Zero sum thinking. The dangers of just a little knowledge, but no perspective. You see the same thing in religions of peak oil, carbon hysteria, dieoff.orgies, and the rest of faux environmentalism.

Microbial energy and fuels change the traditional rules of the game, but that is not what this is all about. Lefty-Luddite greens are determined that there be shortages, regardless of the underlying reality. If necessary, they will contrive shortages out of whole cloth, and declare them inevitable and beyond correction.

More on how the lactococcus may eventually be able to construct biofuels:
New research from Concordia University shows that bacterium can be engineered to transform plant material into biofuels or other chemicals.

Concordia biology professor Vincent Martin and student Andrew Wieczorek demonstrated how structural or scaffolding proteins on the surface of the bacteria can be engineered in Lactococcus lactis towards the breakdown of plant material.

"This is the first study to show how the scaffolding proteins, can be secreted and localized to the cell surface of Lactococcus," said Martin.

"Exporting these proteins and localizing them to the outside of the cell is a huge milestone. This can enhance the efficiency of any bioprocesses or the breakdown of organic materials."

What's promising about this research, he stresses, is how the scaffolding proteins of Lactococcus lactis appear to bond with multiple compounds.

"Our next step will be to engineer larger more complex scaffolds that can encourage other bio-processes that can eventually enhance the yield of fuels in a manner that is commercially viable."

The study appears in the journal Microbial Cell Factories. (ANI) _Sify



Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

Maybe she thought her readers would think of the question but were not intelligent enough to understand the answer so she threw out this fake "solution". Or maybe she really does envision masses of little bacteria being given draft notices and being marched out of the cheese factory and into the biofuel reactors. Either way it speaks poorly of the current state of environmental "journalism".

2:36 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

Perhaps, Baron. I suspect she lacks the scientific sophistication to comprehend what microbes can do, when motivated.

2:51 PM  

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