Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bioneers Connect With Their Inner Al Gore

Where else but in Babs Boxer's own Marin County would they descend each year, like bio-fueled Monarch butterflies? Yes, the Bioneers are back in Marin for their twelth annual alt-fest. Not the keyboard key; the scientific lifestyle.

Prius, solar, alternative sewage disposal techniques, holistic medicines; it's all there, and if we were there, we'd see the future ... or at least the tiny part of it that didn't end up on the junk heap of visionary but way, way wayward ideas. Most of what's unveiled at Bioneers stays pretty much veiled, for good reason. Today's NYT article on the alt-fest reveals:
  • A small device capable of circulating five million gallons of water, using only a light bulb’s worth of electricity. “It’s all about flow...”
  • The new buzz word, energy genocide for the "environmental exploitation of native lands for oil and gas development."
  • There's a patent now on the mold state of the Cordyceps mushroom, which reportedly can kill 100,000 to 200,000 species of insects.
Call it hippies with business sense. Or at least wild business fantasies.

No doubt, from conclaves like Bioneers will come some great inventions, large and small, that will make our world a better place. The environmental movement can't afford to remain in the hands of stop-everything litigators; it is time for it to create some value in the hands of idealistic capitalists.

But is anyone cautioning these folks? Just because the mold comes from a mushroom, for example, doesn't mean it's better than good old Spectracide? Organically grown spinach comes to mind. A lot of the complex chemicals (mushroom mold) and organisms (e coli) that nature produces are far more harmful than our chemicals, so let's have a little skepticism blended into the dreaminess.

Like skepticism (alarm?) directed at the Napa olive grower who, thanks to last year's Bioneers meeting, now has South African guinea fowl wandering his orchards, eating larvae, so he doesn't have to spray chemicals.

I don't know anything about guinea fowl from South Africa, but in my book it's a non-native species. Think kudzo and mosquito fish and bunnies in Australia. A lot of bad happens in the name of good ... but idealists are the last to see it.

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