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Paul Ehrlich on the pandemic and the challenge to civilisation

Paul R. Ehrlich: A pandemic, planetary reckoning, and a path forward,  Environmental Health News, Mar 20, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing environmental destruction and the deterioration of social and cultural systems into sharp focus. But we can learn from this.

Paul R Ehrlich    In addition to great concern over the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m also disappointed.

For more than half a century, scientists have been expressing concern over the deterioration of what I like to call the “epidemiological environment.” That environment consists of the constellation of circumstances that influence patterns of disease and factors related to health.

It includes such things as population sizes and densities, diets, speed and type of transportation systems, toxics, climate disruption, frequency of human-animal contacts, availability of medical isolation facilities, stockpiles of medicines, vaccines, and medical equipment.

The epidemiological environment also includes cultural norms: levels of education, equity in societies, competence of leadership. Few aspects of the human predicament do not impinge on our epidemiological environment.

My own interest in one part of that environment, transmissible diseases, started as a grad student working on the evolution of DDT resistance in fruit flies. The results of that research had obvious implications for the evolution of antibiotic resistance, a key element in the epidemiological environment.

It clearly influenced my wife Anne and my scenarios in our 1968 book, The Population Bomb and a section on the epidemiological environment in The Population Explosion, the 1990 sequel book. We were responding not just to our own fears, but the fears of colleagues much more knowledgeable in areas like virology and epidemiology.

Of course, the utter failure of global society to deal appropriately with high probability threats to civilization warned of by the scientific community is hardly limited to pandemics.

Climate disruption is the best recognized of contemporary health threats, but the decay of biodiversity, and “updating” the American nuclear triad as part of the Russian-United States’ “mutually assured imbecility” are among the most critical.

Those, at least, are not obvious to the average citizen or decision-maker, but what about others such as increased flows of plastics and toxics (especially synthetic hormone mimicking compounds) into the global environment?

Everyone knows about volumes of plastics in waste streams and oceans and has personal experience with the thermal paper receipts coated with bisphenol-A (BPA), yet little to no remedies have been undertaken.

Indeed, why are there so few effective responses to the epidemics and the maladies of industrial civilization?……….

March 21, 2020 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, health

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