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Gadfly: Domain of the gods

By Mort Malkin
September 14, 2016

At the turn of the 20th century, Albert Einstein, standing on the shoulders of Galileo and Newton, told of the enormous energy stored in the nucleus of the atom. Soon enough, inventive minds, in government employ, worked out the “how” of Einstein’s theory, and we had Atoms for Peace (and War). The door to the gods’ chamber of secrets was opened a large crack.

By the 1970s, Big Oil was facing an era of declining amounts of cheap ’n easy oil. Their geologists, looking further, found oil and gas buried deep within the bedrock of the Earth. But it was scattered in small crevices and fissures and could be mined only by the cupful. So, the mile-deep drill bores were abandoned and left for nature to scar over. The engineers were called in and were told to produce results without regard for any silliness like the Precautionary Principle. Thus, the era of “fracking” was born. No matter that aquifers had to be penetrated to get to the much deeper shale layer, sometimes one mile deeper. No matter that small explosions were necessary to fracture the bedrock to open the small fissures into larger spaces where the oil or gas could collect. No matter that two million gallons of toxic soup was injected into each gas well at pressures of 10,000 psi to further open the cracks in the bedrock.

After splitting the atom and fracking the bedrock, some loose-cannon scientists were bold enough to fool with the foundation of life itself, the double helix of DNA. The big chemical companies used gene guns to insert foreign proteins into the twisted strands of the DNA of cotton, corn, soy and canola to make the crops resistant to different herbicides and pesticides. SuperWeeds? Resistant insects? Just spray with extra herbicides and pesticides, at extra profit for Monsanto and friends. Birds, butterflies, and earthworms? Oh, well.