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Glad We Saved Mono Lake! - Sierra Daily
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Sierra Daily

Dec 02, 2010

Glad We Saved Mono Lake!

Trained eyes can detect on some ancient vehicles in California the faded remnants of bumpersticker imploring us to "Save Mono Lake!" The saltwater lake east of the Sierra Nevada was in danger of extinction in the 1970s and '80s, as water from the Owens River and other feeder streams was diverted to water the lawns of Los Angeles. Due to decades of hard work by the Mono Lake Committeeand the Sierra Club's Mono Lake Taskforce, in 1993 the California Supreme Court ruled that LA had to leave enough water in the streams to maintain downstream ecosystems--in this case, Mono Lake. LA reduced its diversions, and Mono Lake made a startling comeback.

Bacteriumx-wide-community

And why is this good news in 2010? Because today NASA and the journal Science announced the discovery of an entirely new life form in the lake--a bacterium based not on phosphorous, as is every other known living thing on Earth, but on arsenic. "We've cracked open the door for what's possible for life elsewhere in the universe," said Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon, "and that's profound to understand how life is formed and where life is going." 

And it couldn't have happened if we hadn't saved that strange, wild lake.

--Paul Rauber

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