Sunday, June 9, 2013


What is the true meaning of sequestering? You may be surprised. It's not a poisonous Republican euphemism concocted to neglect social responsibilities. It has nothing to do with ripping off the people of the United States in the guise of "fiscal responsibility." Botanists have used it for years as a scientific term.

This little beach plant, Salicornia, lives in the salty environment of marshes at the edge of the ocean. Living in salt marshes is beautiful but harsh, because salt is a toxic compound. Cells can't function in a matrix that's too salty. So plants like Salicornia, with its roots in brackish water, had to evolve ways to deal with salt.

Salicornia and many other plants sequester salt in specialized thick-walled cells where it won't do damage. Salt is shunted into these cells by various mechanisms that bypass physiologically functional cells. In plants like Salicornia sequestering is a way of putting toxins aside, "hiding" them behind a protective barrier. So when you hear or read the term "sequestering" in its political, non-botanical sense, challenge the source. Are they putting aside toxins or spreading them?

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