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Back to the source - a taciturn survival

LED Stories

Back to the source - a taciturn survival

Elias Hakalehto, PhD, Adj. Prof.

Microbiologist, Biotechnologist

CEO and inventor, Finnoflag Oy, Kuopio, Finland (1993-).

Founder of the Environmental Section (1983) of the Student Union of Helsinki University

An Alumnus of the University College London, U.K. (Biochemical Engineering)

Vice President (Europe and Africa), International Society of Environmental Indicators

Lifetime Fellow Member, International Society of Development and Sustainability (Japan)

(Published on the 27th of April, 2023)

We live in a world or society which has developed for millennia to cover various needs of people, nowadays called citizens. Whether the rights of the citizens have been taken into account is often controversial. Any method for producing goods or wealth could be called industry as an abstraction. Cromulent and competent industrial process springs from three fundamental factors:

1. idea

2. technology base - skills and equipment

3. raw materials, including water and energy

If these factors are prudently assigned to benefit the common good, could it be anticipated that the corresponding technological path would automatically be viable? And politically acceptable? Unfortunately not. And then the positive effects on the natural ecosystems could not realize. Unfortunately, their pursuit has often been neglected or replaced with more material aspirations and lust for money.

The obstacles may grow out of human factors. We also need excellence in leadership to pursue any new opportunity or see its emergence. High-class delivery of the project is required. That warrants ethical senses for just and balanced development for future societies and generations. But the contemplation on this platform of ideas is worth the effort since it recalls the soil tillage in agriculture. Ideas need receptive AND productive minds to flourish and benefit society.

As we have seen in human history, corruption degrades morals. Not only that of those involved in the plotting but the ethical backbone of the entire states, cities or communities. This is most obvious as we look at the swallowing environmental problems of this world. If the situation seems hopeless for the entire population, it makes some members look for their survival or gain only. But this approach is often accompanied by loud politics. Shouting in the marketplace does not make the solution salable or salient.

The understanding of basic biology or ecology is often lacking. It may be pretended to be purposeful, like the emperor's new clothes in the famous fairy tale, which was not covering anything. Everyone could see it if they only wanted to. Therefore, partially due to the transparency caused by the ultrafast and accelerated pace of events, we live in the age of revelations. Although monitoring the wheel turning around might be impossible, the eternal wisdom above us makes no mistakes.

Correspondingly, human societies need modesty and honesty in setting their values. We must see that wise ecosystem management can flourish and spring out only from "good old-time moral principles". Again, nature gives us examples. Besides plants and animals, microorganisms are the third leg of the tripod for this globe to remain stable on its pedestal.

"Our life is dependent on the environment, but there is an environment also beyond our senses. This multitude of niches marvels us in science and science fiction." Furthermore: "Less than three full centuries have passed since microbes were discovered. Until that time, Mankind lived in blissful ignorance of the essential role which microbes play in the subsistence of the human race on Earth. And it even took another 150 years after the discovery of the first microbe before this insight began to dawn, thanks to the studies of men like Ehrenburg and Pasteur. Nowadays, most scientists are vaguely aware that something would go wrong if somebody were to succeed in exterminating the microbe world. Few people, however, realize how quickly terrestrial surroundings would deteriorate, transforming our greenest pastures and our tropical forests into barren areas".

The words of Dutch microbiologist A.J.Kluyver are indicative, and their fruition is dependent on our mindset and moral standing even more than any scientific knowledge or technological skill. The other way around, no obstacle on the road is impossible to be removed as long as we have compassion for the joint effort and respect for our fellow humans unintentionally on that same route. And our scientific research and technological R&D would produce goodness for all as the diagnostic or medical companies struggle to develop, sometimes highly tedious, to create but effective molecular means.

"Tectonic plates are moving".This allegory is often used for game-changing developments in society, science, or their sublime goals to lead us to better views and prospects soundly. But, whatever our need for togetherness and swarm intelligence is, the responsibility cannot be sold away. Therefore such concepts as emission trading are morally misleading. They make things look like money would be the method for atonement.

Moreover, earthquakes may occur, as in Türkiye recently, and so could the other undesired events, such as drought, floods, pests, epidemics, accumulated ill-health and public health crises, wars, violence or famine. Therefore, any threats to our living should be prepared for starting the work on the ethical and lawful foundation. Thence, it is only possible to avoid the crisis. Metaphorically, soil microbial communities do not thrive or evolve if any human or imbalanced environmental force has instigated the circumstances.

In biological or organic livelihood, the risks are time maturing. And microbial communities in various circumstances fulfil their hidden purpose of maintaining ecological balances. Similarly, vulcanic upheavals or eruptions constantly have threatened the form of the ecosystem. As a reminder, we see the geysers in Iceland, hot springs in Yellowstone, and sulphuric ponds in New Zealand, to mention a few. Interestingly, these hot water sinks contain rare but typical microbial strains. These microbes that tolerate the utmost conditions are called extremophiles. Depending on the bacterial or other microbial strain, they can withstand heat, acidity, pressure, saltiness, toxicity and other harsh circumstances.

In the microbial world, any processing of materials, side streams or wastes is an alley to betterment and balance, not to any artificial justice. Although microbes in soil, water, seabed, swamp, deserts, forests or mountains do not have a conscience, they reflect the consequences of our doings towards the environment. No vacillating pondering is producible. As in democracies, "the will of people" is protagonistic; the vigilance of balance is the ecosystem's steering wheel. - Similarly, the water in Springtime floods its way and shapes the landscape. And this is the foundation of justice. Eventually, we meet the consequences of our acts and not acting.

This current prognosis is not a weather forecast - whether or not it will rain tomorrow. But, eventually, it will rain one day. In Serengeti, East Africa, huge flocs of animals wander through the arid landscape in the hope (or inherited expectance or instinct) of finding their way on the seemingly barren savannah. This landscape will receive rain as the season changes, relieving all creatures. In the Atacama desert, in South America, the waiting time is ten years. After that period, the water comes, making the hopeless desert look like a flower garden for a few weeks.

In the 1930ies, there were artificial dust storms in the US Midwest. Such humanized ecocatastrophes are often difficult to cope with. In India, Prime Minister Modi has declared that after 2030 no chemical or synthetic fertilizers will be used. One-third of the cultivable land there has already been devastated due to various human activities, including climate alterations. In our biorefinery project in Tampere, Finland, if it had been politically cromulent enough and free from corporate governance, the residual fraction from the biorefinery could have produced plastic-free soil improvement for over 50 square kilometres of spoiled agricultural land, bringing it into food production. With the microbiome included. Is it not too late? In Australia, academia and industries have started to wake up to the Morning of actively withstanding the risks of politically being cast to the opposition. The alternative scenario is much worse for all of us, citizens of Earth.

Ultimately, the microbial ecosystems return all matter into circulation, whether it is waste, vulcanic output, animal carcasses, plant debris, desert dust, municipal or industrial waste, or any other accumulated stuff found "under our carpet". Therefore, our industries must adapt to the need to circulate water, Carbon, Nitrogen, Sulphur, and many other elements into the transmission of biobased molecules and regulators, such as vitamins, flavonoids, antioxidants, enzymes etc. Plants, animals, and microbes then set the table for us based on the successful circulation of matter. They refine the biomolecules into food and medicine. Otherwise, we are in trouble and chaos. Why has it not been the time to act? This is not any zealousness but attempts towards taciturn survival, as the birds feed their young ones in the nest, as long as the nesting place is there.

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