MRSA – the hospital super-bug – is well-and-truly out of the hospitals (and getting more super by the day – it kills between 25 and 43% of its victims). Species-level ecological trends like this really sort out the optimists from the pessimists. If you’re a classical anti-growth green or an eco-warrior there’s really only one possible response to MRSA: lots of apocalyptic “woe is me” hand wringing and misery. We’re doomed. We’re on the wrong path and the only option is a giant developmental U-turn, some kind of low intensity economics, low tech medicine, population caps, reduction in consumption. Blah blah.
If you’re an optimistic pseudo-green (that’s me), MRSA is an opportunity (a grim one, I’ll admit) for us to think about our relationship to micro-organisms, to infection and pathogens in general and to innovate our way out of this crisis. We’re almost certainly coming to the end of the ‘antibiotic era’. The question is, what comes next – the revenge of the microbes or a new era of smart, adaptive anti-infection medicines? Thankfully, as this article from Business Week shows, there are plenty of optimistic pseudo-greens in the research community busy developing ecologically clever, unconventional responses to MRSA and its nasty cousins.