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[ontology-summit] Ex of Addressing Climate Change – Bioengineering and d

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From: gbergcross@xxxxxxxxx
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2012 20:07:17 +0000
Message-id: <707186315-1327003638-cardhu_decombobulator_blackberry.rim.net-989609118-@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Here is a snippet on bioengeering solutions to climate change by, in part, 
designing a life form to help as part of an engineered solution.    (01)

An article in the September 28th issue of the New Yorker entitled “A Life of 
Its Own” by Michael Specter got me thinking about how genetic research may play 
an important role in addressing the issue of human-induced climate change. 
Climate change is the consequence of a global industrial system that doesn’t 
behave in the same way the natural world does. Microbiology may provide clues 
to addressing this misalignment. But within the field two distinct camps are 
forming on how to do this - on the one hand you have the bioengineers and on 
the other the biomimics. The bioengineers say we need to learn from biological 
systems in order to adapt and align those systems to human aims. The biomimics 
say we need to learn from biological systems in order to adapt and align human 
aims to those systems. Two very different points of view, yet whose work often 
overlaps.     (02)

The fields of microbiology and genetics were built on shoulders of evolutionary 
theory. Darwin's theory changed the scientific view of the biosphere from one 
distinctly anthropocentric - man in the image of the creator having dominion 
over all living things – to one of an appreciation for a system - the biosphere 
as a complex, interdependent and evolving system of which mankind is a 
component. Darwin’s theory became a fundamental tool in bringing forth new 
knowledge about every aspect of the earth’s biosphere, from paleontology to 
botany to genetics. Darwin’s theory of evolution represented a great leap 
forward in systems thinking.     (03)

Over the last 50 years a new theory regarding the biosphere - perhaps as 
powerful as Darwin’s Theory of Evolution - has been emerging. It is the theory 
of anthropogenic climate change. Darwin’s theory showed that the biosphere was 
a system, and now climate change theory points to the central role of 
industrialization in dominating and changing that system.     (04)

Microbiology and genetics are being applied to address this problem. The 
bioengineers are looking to genetically engineer microbes that can absorb CO2 
or excrete biofuels. The biomimics are looking for ways to recreate natural 
processes like photosynthesis but on a scale and with an efficiency that will 
transform current human activities.    (05)

The bioengineers believe, as reported in the New Yorker article, that synthetic 
biology can dispense with nature entirely by dismantling different organisms 
and using disparate genetic components to create custom-built packages of DNA. 
“We have gotten to the point in history where we simply do not have to accept 
what nature has given us,” Jay Keasling a professor of biochemical engineering 
at UC Berkeley is quoted as saying. Bioengineers believe humanity need no 
longer rely on the whims of nature to address the world’s pressing crises. “You 
need this drug: O.K. we pull this piece, this part, and this one off the shelf. 
You put them into a microbe, and two weeks later out comes your product.    (06)

http://carbonrational.blogspot.com/2009/10/addressing-climate-change.html    (07)

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry    (08)

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