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View Diary: On Mars: A River Ran Through It (47 comments)

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  •  If there is life on Mars (1+ / 0-)
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    Gorette

    Then it has survived a far harsher environment than any on Earth. A few specimens from Mars that escaped into the wild would undoubtedly outcompete with all other life forms. The mind reels at the damage invasive species from Mars would inflict here on Earth.

    We must needs take great care with travelling there & back, & be certain not to carry home any hitch-hikers.

    •  Really? Can you give me a little example (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ColoTim, llywrch

      of the kind of damage you imagine?

      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

      by Gorette on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:42:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, for example (3+ / 0-)

        All plants & animals depend on the existence of countless microrganisms to live. These micro-organisms consume resources in the environment &, in turn, provide chemicals & proteins higher forms of life depend on.

        Now there are a family of bacteria (Rhizobium) which fixes nitrogen in the soil -- turns it into ammonia -- an important chemical compound for many plants. This family obviously depends on a number of other conditions, but let's suppose a Martian bacteria is introduced to Earth which thrives in the same conditions as the Rhizobium, but instead of fixing nitrogen as ammonia, fixes it in nitrous oxide -- which is not as useful. And this invasive Martian bacteria would likely be very aggressive, due to its origins in an environment starved of nutrients. The result is that not only are valuable Rhizobium are pushed out of existence, but the natural incidence of ammonia decreases. Untold amounts of plants which depend on Rhizobium bacteria (such as the legumes & clover) start dying off, as well as plants which need ammonia in the soil.

        Not all life on Earth would be extinct were this to happen, but few surviving species would be multicellular, let alone edible by any surviving humans.

        I actually had a better example: I remember Thom Hartmann, many years ago, one explaining on his talk show that all plant species depend on one microorganism to convert minerals in the soil into usable compounds. Although this organism is ubiquitous on earth, if this species were to be threatened or made extinct, all plant life would be effected. (He was specifically talking about a genetically engineered variant of this microorganism being introduced into a test field, & how much effort it took from wiser heads to keep the mutant in a controlled laboratory environment.) I wish I could remember the name of the species -- Wikipedia & Google can be worthless when it comes to finding an answer to identifying an organism like this one -- but I hope I've included enough information that someone can identify the species, & not dismiss me as a nut.

        Does that give you a sense of the possible danger I'm alluding to?

        •  Wow. Thank you! That's fascinating and yes, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          llywrch

          it gives me a great sense of the dangers. I appreciate your time in telling me, llywrch.

          "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

          by Gorette on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:33:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  like this... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gorette, JayBat

        NOW SHOWING
        Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
        Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

        by The Dead Man on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:59:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Funny, dead man, from sublime to ridiculous. (0+ / 0-)

          Oh, my, that looks like house I grew up in!

          "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

          by Gorette on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:35:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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