Headline Muse, 8/30

Some may say I am lax in my morals
Though I’m not one to advertise quarrels
I’m a bad, selfish man,
And because of my tan
We’re both mining and killing the corals

Headline: Coral could hold key to sunscreen pill

Ok, I can’t wrap my head around two stories recently in the news. First…. Human effluent (sewage, or shit, to you and me), pumped into the ocean, is killing corals. That’s about a week old. Literally, we are shitting on the ocean and killing it.

And now this week. The beeb tells us that “Scientists hope to harness coral’s natural defence…” against what? really, it doesn’t matter why, but in this case it is to make sunscreens. Fucking sunscreens. “By studying a few samples of the endangered Acropora coral…” Oh, it’s ok, “they will copy the genetic code the coral uses to make the compounds and put it into bacteria in the lab that can rapidly replicate to produce large quantities of it.”

“Dr Long said: ‘We couldn’t and wouldn’t want to use the coral itself as it is an endangered species.'”

So they’ll strip the information from the coral genes, then test it on scraps of skin left over from tummy tucks… seriously, check the link, I am not making this up. A product designed to enhance future vanity, tested on the byproducts of current vanity.

We are sooooooo fucked.


  1. says

    To be fair, sunscreen is far from “A product designed to enhance future vanity…”. Especially for those with a family history of melanoma, sunscreen is critical to protecting us from the damaging effects of UV radiation. If science can make it more effective instead of just pushing higher and higher bogus SPF numbers, I’m all for it.

  2. binjabreel says

    I’m torn between fascination at the idea of a sunscreen pill (Hey, my family has a history of skin melanomas) and the ridiculous image my brain conjured up about horrible half-human coral DNA hybrid monsters.

    Though I guess they’d just sit around, filter water and bud off. I think I might know some people like that already.

  3. Robert B. says

    What CyberLizard said. When I wear sunscreen, it’s to prevent the injury of sunburn and reduce the risk of cancer. (To be honest, the sunburn is more motivating, though I know the cancer is more important.) I think this application of coral biology demonstrates an important reason to protect Earth’s biodiversity: each time an organism goes extinct, it’s like a page lost out of nature’s encyclopedia, a mind-boggling resource for knowledge and technology.

  4. Cuttlefish says

    Y’know, I think I am going to have to issue an apology on this one. I suspect that my view is distorted because I have lived in coastal locations for so long–East coast now, and prior to that, North coast. In both locations, tourist trade was/is huge, and there’s nothing that keeps people off the beach like thinking of sunscreen as a cancer preventative. So for most of my life, I have had this distorted view that sunscreen is something used by people looking to achieve a perfect bronze while doing nothing.

    I thank my readers for correcting me!

  5. says

    Sunscreen is a mandatory safety item for working outside in many parts of the world.

    Even when I was drilling for uranium, we told the kids on the rig that if they didn’t lather up, the sun would get them long before the radon…

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