Bryan Lawrence : Old Media - Antibiotics and GE go green

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Old Media - Antibiotics and GE go green

Sometime over the Christmas holidays I contemplated a world without (print) newspapers. I get newspapers delivered on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and my weekend days usually begin by digesting the sports pages followed by the other pages. However, because the Christmas break was essentially a week of weekend days, most of which didn't have newspapers with them, I found myself on the net most mornings, just reading for the hell of it. As I say, I found myself thinking: I can live without a print newspaper ...

... but yesterday and today, The Guardian and The Observer delivered papers with articles that reminded me exactly why print newspapers are so interesting. Essentially, one turns the pages, and things catch your eye that simply wouldn't show up if you were parsing a website ... (either computationally or visually). I think I'll keep my newspapers for a few years yet ...

The two (completely unrelated) articles that caught my eye were:

  1. An article on antibiotics where it was pointed out that the last fifty or sixty years may well have been the golden age of medicine while we had efficient antibiotics, but it may be as few as five years before hospitals become too dangerous to use as there may be no effective antibiotics for new "superbugs". Quite clearly the bloke who the story was about was pushing a fearful state1 because he rightly points out that the search to replace antibiotics with completely different forms of therapy has desultory funding. While there was nothing particularly new in the article to that point, I did find absolutely fascinating

    • the discussion of plasmids and how they are involved in antibiotic drug resistance, and

    • the concept of bacteriocin - a chemical produced by bacteria to kill competitors (something I'd never heard of) - and the idea that his research group might be onto a new way of killing bacteria

  2. A story about GE launching an ecomagination campaign. It turns out that GE launched this drive in May 2005, although the Observer only picked up on it today. Nontheless, as Caulkin says, the fact is that a major company is setting targets that managers will have to meet. We can but hope others follow suit. The targets include by 2010 achieving

    • real greenhouse gas emission savings

    • delivering $20 billion per annum sales on green products, and

    • doubling investment to $1.5 billion per annum on research and development for their green technologies (which range from cleaner coal and power plants to fuel cells and wind turbines).

1: In one small way, I agree with Michael Crichton - politically to get things happen, it appears one needs to create a state of fear for folk/governments to open their purse strings. Where I disagree with Crichton is that he implies that it's in the interests of national states to ensure the public are always in a state of fear ... hence my choice of words: a fearful state. (ret).

Categories: environment

This page last modified Sunday 08 January, 2006
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