We are the killer strain
Roger Marolt’s apocalyptic description of the approaching climate catastrophe (“Paying now or paying later — either way it’s gonna hurt,” commentary, Jan. 17, aspentimes.com) brought to mind a special experience I had in my sophomore year at Indiana University. Being in the School of Arts and Sciences, I had to take a science class.
The only one open was a senior-level genetics class. I didn’t know it when I signed up, but the professor turned out to be a Nobel laureate named Tracy Sonneborn. He won the prize for discovering the killer stain of the paramecium.
If you put paramecia in a limited culture, they will reproduce normal single-cell organisms until the food runs out. Then, they’ll start giving birth to killer strains that go around killing other paramecia until the population is under control.
I see parallels between this phenomenon and our current climate dilemma. The limited culture is planet Earth. The normal paramecia are all other life. The killer strain is mankind. We’ve been gobbling up the world’s resources as if there’ll be no end.
So, to make room, we’re causing mass extinctions of species. Soon, that won’t be enough and we’ll hafta eliminate our own kind. By that time the Earth will be so miserable, the living will envy the dead.
Does this kinda talk frighten you? It should. The time for talk and writing is over. The time for action is here.
Fred Malo Jr.