Posts Tagged ‘Lake Vostok’

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A few days ago, I wrote about the eruption under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland. There was all that hot gas and so forth burping upwards from the nether regions, and also an imagined legend about the trolls who live beneath the ice. But it turns out that the subglacial world, as it is called, is a happening place further south as well: in the other Iceland, the BIG ONE. To quote, which is the cheapest way of boosting the daily word count,

Antarctica Shelters Abundant Microbial Life In Water Miles Below The Icy Surface.

A more sedate view of what is going on down down there can be found in
Science News.

I don’t want to pre-empt the reading pleasure that these links will bring you, but would nonetheless like to indulge in a bit of repeating, ahem, reporting, and of course in some punditistic commentary. We begin with this amazing quote:

They found that the source of the falls — a sunless, 23-degree pool three times saltier than the ocean, trapped under the ice for at least 2 million years — was home to at least 17 types of microbes. Similar to how other organisms use oxygen, the microbes use iron in their environment to “breathe”, and an oxidized (or rusted) version of the iron then spews out with the brine. As Priscu describes it, the microbes, in effect,” eat rocks.”

Microbe at Blood Falls, Antarctica

After this gloominous description, reminiscent of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, the author states that “studies of Lake Vostok ice core samples … report microbial life on the order of 100 to 1,000 cells per milligram of water.” Ouch! that sounds like a crowd, though the variation in the estimate indicates sloppiness. Can’t these scientists do better, even if they are working in extreme conditions? So far, so good, I suppose. But then the author oversteps:

The microbes clearly live together as a community: They need each other to survive,” said Mikucki, whose work was supported by the National Science Foundation. “Waste produced by one will be food for another. Really, there’s no reason to think that isn’t common around Antarctica.”

The agenda is now clear. This is about community, ecosystems (which right-thinking people disavow) and, dare I say, it? Well, yes I do: THINLY VEILED SOCIALISM, albeit at the microscopic level. Micro or macro, it is still bad news. Right is right, wrong is wrong.



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