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The Critical Nature of Water - Essay Example

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In an article “The Critical Nature of Water” author describes a situation that is taking place around the globe that sounds like it is out of a futuristic science fiction film. Deep sea fishermen are breaking out in boils as they contact the ocean water…
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The Critical Nature of Water
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Life on Earth: The Critical Nature of Water In an article that appeared in the January-February 2007 issue of New International, Kenneth Weissdescribes a situation that is taking place around the globe that sounds like it is out of a futuristic science fiction film. Deep sea fishermen are breaking out in boils as they contact the ocean water. Their lips peel and their bodies are covered with an irritable rash. They cant touch their nets and the air stings their lungs as their eyes swell shut. They have not contacted a toxic waste accident at sea. They have come in contact with the dreaded Fireweed, a rapidly spreading bacteria that can grow rapidly enough to cover 2 acres per hour.
The fireweed has only recently been observed and has been analyzed at the University of Queenslands marine botany lab by scientist Judith ONeil. Fireweed is a hairy strain of ancient bacteria that flourished on earth 2.7 billion years ago. The poisonous weed, cyanobacteria, has appeared in at least a dozen locations around the globe. According to Weiss, the bacteria has devolved in response to the pollution of the worlds oceans. In an evolutionary sense, bacteria are very adaptable and can quickly mutate to adapt to new conditions (Campbell & Reese 2002 p.340). It is a result of "...overdosing the oceans with basic nutrients--the nitrogen, carbon, iron and phosphorous compounds that... wash into the sea from fertilized lawns and cropland, seep out of septic tanks and gush from sewer pipes". These are not the deadly carcinogens such as dioxin or PCBs. These are the basics of life and demonstrates the critical balance of the quality of our water supply. According to Goudie (1994), this will eventually lead to severe oxygen depletion and result in massive fish kills (p.214).
Further destruction is evident in the coral beds of the Caribbean where as much as 80% have been lost in recent years. Weiss says that this "quiet creep of environmental decay" has gone unchecked and largely unnoticed for decades. Scientist Jeremy Jackson stated that, "Were pushing the oceans back to the dawn of evolution, to a half-billion years ago when the oceans were ruled by jellyfish and bacteria". Biology has discovered the problem and biology can prescribe the remedy.
The article was a factual account of the destruction of the oceans water. It drew from first hand experiences and quoted biology experts that had researched the problem. The author pointed out the fireweed was not an isolated incident and the origins and causes of the poisonous bacteria had been thoroughly researched by a major university. The devolution to a strain that lived 2.7 billion years ago is possible because all life carries the same DNA that has been handed down for billions of years from a common ancestor (Audesirk, Audesirk, & Byers 2006 p.10). The article, though alarming, offered the symptoms of the problem and the cause, but not the cure.
Every living thing contains between 60 % and 80% water (Audesirk, Audesirk, & Byers 2006 p.22). An abundant clean water supply is critical to life as we know it. Biology can be the early warning system to ecological disaster. It is the biologists job to study the ever-changing life on earth; it can find the symptoms, causes, and sources of change (Audesirk, Audesirk, & Byers 2006 p.2). Our dependence on the water supply is made even more important by our rapidly increasing use of it in recent decades (Goudie 1994 p.177). Biology is faced with some of the greatest challenges ever to face mankind.
References
Audesirk, T., Audesirk, G., & Byers, B. E. (2006). Life on earth (4th ed.).San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.
Campbell, N. A., & Reese, J. B. (2002). Biology (6th ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.
Goudie, A. (1994). The human impact on the natural environment (4th ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Weiss, K. R. (2007, January). The rise of slime: the run-off from modern life is feeding an explosion of primitive organisms. New Internationalist, 6-8. Retrieved June 1, 2007, from Thomson Gale. Read More
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