A Life in Many Kingdoms….

For most people who live in big cities ( an ever increasing proportion of the world’s population) the issue of species loss  seems an irrelevance.

What does it matter if one more species is irretrievably  lost for ever,  when I have my house and car and my job in the city?   Their lack  of connection with  the living world -other than other humans in  their urbanised world,  does not mean  that  they   are not inextricably linked to  the other species who  live on  this planet-  they  just cant see it. Their food  is bought at  the supermarket  in  vinyl  halls – plastic packaged and often pre-prepared. They  do  not see,  nor do  they  care ,  about where those former living things came from: -what  lives they  had,  how they  interconnected,  how they  communicated, their thoughts and feelings… The food they  gather at  the supermarket is simply a dead  product-  sublimely and most ridiculously illustrated by  the little plastic stickers on  the fruit we buy there.-the  ultimate  commodification of nature.


But the reality is that  all  that  food-  animal  and vegetable arriving  at  the supermarket storehouse, was once  living, was in  fact  directly connected to  the rest  of the living world in subtle

and often invisible ways to  humans.  That  interconnection between  species is the net that  keeps us all  alive-a net  that  is steadily being undone by  humans through ignorance and greed.

As recent research over the past decade has noted,  all  species on  the planet  not only posses their own  unique DNA, but also  multiple strands (often in  much larger volume) of DNA and micro

biomes from  multiple other species,  mainly microbes.  Anything  and everything, from  the bacteria that  inhabit our guts and allow us to  digest  food that  would be otherwise indigestible to  us, to the bacteria and microbes that  come into  contact  with our skin  and  that  we inhale.  As Bordenstein  noted in  2015- Animals and plants are no longer heralded as autonomous entities but rather as biomolecular networks composed of the host plus its associated microbes, i.e., “holobionts.”- from  ‘Host Biology in Light of the Microbiome: Ten Principles of Holobionts and Hologenomes’

Skin and Microbiome linkages.)

The microbiome concept, that is, the collective communities of microorganisms, their genomes and interactions, was first used in the context of microorganisms that inhabit the human body. Since then, numerous studies have adopted this term to describe microbial communities associated with other mammals, insects, fish or plants. For humans, the microbiome significantly contributes to metabolism and provides functions that humans did not need to evolve on their own (Gill et al., 2006). Hence, the genes present in the human microbiome are considered the secondary genome….  In the human microbiome, the highest density of microbes is found in the gastrointestinal tract, where ‘they synthesize essential amino acids and vitamins, and process components of otherwise indigestible contributions to our diet…..-Cross-kingdom similarities in microbiome functions, Rodrigo Mendes & Jos M Raaijmakers (2015)

Thus,  (the) nature-relatedness (a person’s level of connectedness with the natural world [58]), biodiversity of ecosystems in which humans reside or to which they are exposed, access to greenspace and/or habitation in rural environments can have beneficial effects on physical and mental wellbeing [59]…..(However the) erosion of environmental ecosystems is affecting biodiversity and microbial ecology. Together with declining nature-relatedness this is reducing human contact with immunomodulatory organisms found in natural environments – reflected in differences in skin microbes. This is increasingly being recognised as a risk factor for chronic inflammatory diseases……..There is now consistent evidence that environmental degradation, whether by climate change, invasive species or industrial activity, is linked to diminished human physical and mental health [110111].

The very existence of this skin-environment interface raises important questions about how erosion of global biodiversity, and declining contact with the natural environments is affecting skin ecosystems and human health [5]. Examining this question in the context of the epidemic rise of allergy and other inflammatory diseases is informative because allergy is one of the earliest manifestations of inflammation often first observed in the skin as disruptions in barrier function and atopic eczema. Furthermore, the declining microbial diversity that has been long linked to the rise in allergic disease also has important implications for other organ systems across the life course.  – The skin microbiome: impact of modern environments on skin ecology, barrier integrity, and systemic immune programming: Susan L. Prescott et al (2017)

Or again….It is increasingly evident that inflammation is an important determinant of cognitive function and emotional behaviors that are dysregulated in stress-related psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and affective disorders. Inflammatory responses to physical or psychological stressors are dependent on immunoregulation, which is indicated by a balanced expansion of effector T-cell populations and regulatory T cells. This balance is in part driven by microbial signals. …. With the global trend toward urbanization, humans are progressively spending more time in built environments, thereby, experiencing limited exposures to these immunoregulatory “old friends.” Here, we evaluate the implications of the global trend toward urbanization, and how this transition may affect human microbial exposures and human behavior.-The Microbiome of the Built Environment and Human Behavior: Implications for Emotional Health and Well-Being in Postmodern Western Societies. Stamper CE1 et  al  (2016)

The Implications….

  • All  organisms are capable of genetic change in  their own lifetimes through  external  microbiome absorption and adaptation ( an adaptation of the old Lamarckian  evolution  theory, with  a Darwinian  perspective)
  • The importance of being in  regular  physical  contact  with  the rest  of the  living world has been vastly under-rated  in  its effect  on health  and mental  wellbeing. An  organism’s health  and  wellbeing depends on   having a wide variety of external  microbiomes to  incorporate into  its body and genetic structures on  an ongoing  basis.
  • Modern  human  society is dramatically reducing,  not only human’s interchange with microbiomes,  but  also through  poisonous agribusiness   practice and destruction of habitats,  is irretrievably destroying  all  species’  capacity to   genetically adapt and change and to  have optimum  wellbeing.
  • The  steadily decreasing  number of species in  the world ( largely by  human  ecocide)   markedly increases all  species’  capacity for survivability
  • Human beings’  obsession with creating cities,  with   ‘clean’  environments and  the sealing over of the living world with  concrete  and tar, are rapidly reducing microbiome diversity on  the planet.
  • For  the human species to  survive for  further millenia it has to  acknowledge its interdependence with the rest  of the living world,  and stop  creating dead spaces on  the planet. Celebrate all  life!












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