A Day Without Microbes

A world without bacteria may seem ideal at first. But the more we think about it, the more we realize that we cannot live without microbes.

There would be no food poisoning, no diarrhea, no coughs and colds, no sore throats, no tuberculosis, no cholera, no small pox, no polio, no sexually transmitted diseases. There would be no decay. Foods would not get spoiled and we would not need preservatives, refrigeration and wasteful packaging.

But if nothing decays, what happens to all the plants, animals and people at the end of their life-cycle? They would be preserved forever.

Microbes are essential to humans and the environment, as they participate in the Earth’s carbon and nitrogen cycles, as well as fulfilling a vital role in our digestive and immune systems.

Although each individual microbe is an almost weightless, one-celled organism, microbes account for most of the planet’s biomass – the total weight of all living things. With their collective strength, microbes control every ecological process, from the decay of dead plants and animals to the production of oxygen.

No part of Earth escapes the influence of microbes, the oldest living organism. Self-sufficient, invisible, mysterious, deadly – and absolutely essential for all life, they are the Earth’s bacteria. No form of life is more important and no form of life is more fascinating. No other living thing combines their elegant simplicity with their incredibly complex role – bacteria keep us alive, supply our food and regulate our biosphere. We cannot live a day without them, they are our partners, even though some of them, under the right conditions, will kill us.  Read more…