J.G. Ballard’s ‘The Subliminal Man’, written in 1963, outlines a future 1960-ish world where the state ‘encourages’ the population to buy more useless things so that they work more hours to pay for them and therefore consume more… in a never-ending circle of supply and demand.
In ‘The Subliminal Man’, the population is locked into this endless cycle via subliminal messaging from huge electronic billboards next to the motorways…How far we have come since 1963!
Today one is struck by governments all over the world exhorting the public to go out and spend, go on holidays etc, once COVID 19 lockdowns are over, ostensibly to ensure that we have full employment and therefore more money in the system….
But the reality is that we are all locked into a crazy system that relies on ever increasing demand for ever increasingly useless items that need to be ‘sold’ to us as essential, as ‘must-haves’, or the ‘bucket-list’, so that we can afford to live the life we ‘choose’….
We are no longer consumers; we are the consumed.
The barrage of advertisements on our cellphones delivered via social media and the apps we use; the ever more strident advertisements on TV for another ‘latest product’; even the billboards on our highways, are all testament to the fact that those advertised things are really non-essential- otherwise they would not need to be ‘sold’ to us. We would simply purchase them when our old product stops working, when we really need them, or not purchase them at all.
The ongoing process to ensure ‘essential items’ are designed to be non-repairable, only replaceable, and that commodities are constructed with plastics and other materials that deteriorate rapidly, also ensures that we must continue to buy and consume.
Everything that humans now require to live becomes a commodity, a consumable, packaged and labelled and sold; from the food we eat to the water we drink, the sentient animals we depend on for food; perhaps soon too, the air we breathe. Only money now provides us with meaning …’we know the price of everything and the value of nothing’.
Given that societies’ globally almost all rely on this psychotic fragile consumer cycle – we are in deep sh*t.
A U.K. February 2021 report by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, entitled ‘The Economics of Biodiversity’ outlines the ‘extreme risk’ the ‘world’, is being put by not taking into account the ‘rapid depletion of the natural world’.
While the overarching intent of the paper is to be applauded in attempting to reduce species loss, the underlying assumptions outlined in the paper about humans’ relationships to the rest of this living world are, to put it mildly, grotesque.
Prof. Dasgupta’s comment that ‘Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognising that our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of nature’s goods and services with its capacity to supply them’, is truly bizarre.
The natural world (including the human species) does not exist to provide ‘goods and services’. This arrogant and ignorant perspective of the living world around us is the root cause of why the living planet around us, is dying. All living things on this planet exist in their own right and to construct a web of interdependent life around themselves; a web that humans have been unravelling at ever-increasing speed for the past 3000 years.
To view other living organisms as ‘good and services’ for humans, is not only to debase the sanctity of life, but also confirms our fundamental lack of understanding of how life on this planet life continues to maintain itself, and once thrived. The more humans choose some organisms as being ‘worthwhile’ ( for humans), and others not- the more we destroy the web that holds all life on this planet together.
There are many humans on this planet who have never known what it is to be connected with the living world around them – who look out their windows in the morning at the dead concrete jungle surrounding them and think this life. Who truly do think of the living world as a commodity solely for humanities’ use, and who never once consider that the view from their window would have once been a joyous riot of life- of birds, trees insects and many other animals. What humans have not known, we do not miss. The more humans become immersed in an inanimate world of concrete and tar, the more it becomes ‘normal’.
We do not comprehend what we have done to our world, and what awaits us at the end of this journey of ‘commodification’.
With the U.S. presidential election ( as of 6th November 2020) , hanging in the balance, we are reminded of the extraordinary and bizarre process this purportedly ‘exceptional nation’ has to find its new exceptional ‘president of the free world’.
Not only does the U.S. Electoral College process mean that the majority of voters may or may not have the president of their very limited choice ( No Green candidates, no left-wing candidates – only the candidates of the monied), but each state’s electoral process for counting and accepting votes is different and open to manipulation from both major party supporters (and legal challenge). It is extraordinary that the federal election of the U.S. president and Congress does not have one national federal electoral process that everyone can understand.
Democrat Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota tweets (11/06/20) ‘South Dakota requires voter ID (even for early voting.) Ballots must be received on or by Election Day. All paper ballots, which are easy to verify. Counting is bipartisan and open to the public. We have an EXCELLENT system. Every Democrat-run state should imitate it’
What is truly bizarre from this tweet, is not only that its seems to be surprising to Americans to have ballot papers being ‘easy to verify’; that votes are counted by ‘bi-partisan’ vote -counters-(not independent vote counters), that each state clearly has its own system for verifying the validity of voters, and that the type of electoral processing system will depend on which party is in control of the state legislature.
Even more amazingly, the process by which each state has a declared winner for president is determined, not by a federal national election office, but by private national media outlets like Fox News, or AP. Hence, as of 6th November, we have different national figures reported of Electoral Office delegate totals for Trump or Biden depending on which media outlet is making the call. IN addition the complexities of the Electoral College process mean more opportunities for confusion and leverage.
Jo Biden however can assure us though (6th November 2020) that the American voting system is ‘the envy of the world’. ‘Democracy is sometimes messy. It sometimes requires a little patience as well. But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that has been the envy of the world.’ !!!
As a country which purports to be the model of democracy for the rest of the world, and which continually makes calls about other countries ‘lack of democracy’, it is time to consider whether future US presidential elections require independent foreign observers to ensure their fairness and accuracy.
Combine this bizarre electoral process with extraordinary levels of ignorance and a consequent monochrome view of their own U.S. world, let alone the outside world; by both candidates and electors, and you have a recipe for disaster.
The level of systemic incompetence demonstrated by this electoral system to elect the “leader of the free world” is a salutary lesson to us all.
And lastly; a sobering outline of America’s future, from Jonathan Cook.
My definition of of ‘baseless’ in this instance, is that there is no basis for claim election fraud took place- and yet media outlets across the Western world are using this word to describe Trump and the Republicans’ allegations of voter fraud. Now unless the media has got total access to all the votes and each state’s practices on election night- which seems a little unlikely- they have no means of knowing whether the allegations are ‘baseless” or not, till courts make a ruling.
As noted in my post above- there is certainly plenty of opportunity for fraud and errors in polling practice in the U.S. Whether the fraud and errors this time are sufficient to overturn the current presumed Biden presidency, is currently unknown.
So why would mainstream media , with one voice, be saying the allegations are “baseless” at this point? I’ll leave you to figure that one out….
The decision by regional delegates of the New Zealand Green Party to endorse a coalition with the New Zealand Labour Party after the recent New Zealand elections, has resulted in the two co-leaders of the Green Party once again acquiring ministerial portfolios outside of Cabinet. Co-leader James Shaw is now ‘Minister of Climate’ and ‘Associate Minister for the Environment’, while Marama Davidson is now Minister for the ‘Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence’ and ‘Homelessness’.
In exchange for these small shiny baubles of power in a Labour dominated Parliament, the NZ Greens have sadly irrefutably demonstrated that they are more interested in holding on to ‘power’ rather than having a mission to save our environment.
The Greens would have been able to play a far stronger advocacy role for the natural world and a future for humanity if they had stayed out of Labour’s centrist and growth oriented government.
Labour’s election byline says it all- “Let’s Keep Moving”. One might be tempted to ask ‘what for?’ and ‘where to?” : and what happens when we , in the not so distant future, run out of those natural resources we have been so relentlessly exploiting in New Zealand for the past 200 years to ‘keep us moving’?
A Greens/Labour coalition is therefore an abomination for the natural world and for our futures in New Zealand. The coalition agreement puts a green-wash over the strategies and actions of this new government to ‘expand’ the economy, which will inevitably destroy more of our living world- more roads, more concrete, more houses, more agro-business …
It is not too late to construct a New Zealand political party that truly upholds sustainable environmental principles: a no-growth steady-state party. A party that acknowledges the realities of the limits to growth and the importance of restoring much of our living world.
It is simply not possible for N.Z. to continue to pursue a “growth” strategy for the human economy- for money. We urgently need a government that places a priority on protecting and expanding the living world, and which acknowledges the reality that humans are an intrinsic part of Nature- not something separate. Without a vibrant living world around us, we humans will inevitably perish.
I am a New Zealander- a ‘kiwi’ , a pakeha, a white male.
In 1200 AD these island lands had never seen a human, the land was almost completely covered in dense forest (what we call ‘the bush”) . Only one mammal lived here- the bat- perhaps blown by storms from Australia over 4000 kilometres away: – a few lizards, the seas teemed with fish and the remainder teeming wildlife were birds. When the white man (pakeha) came in the 1800s they reported that the sound of those birds’ dawn chorus was deafening- but no more.
We now live in a land where we have a few refuges of remainder bush where tourists can walk and believe they are once more in a primeval forest, but where the sounds of the dawn chorus is no longer deafening; where the pigs, possums and rats we introduced have played their part in the destruction of the bush , but where man has been the ultimate destroyer. Where the living world is silent, but the sound of man and his inanimate machines is everywhere.
We live in a land where introduced grassland ( where once was dense bush) feeds countless sheep and cows whose effluent pollutes our streams and rivers and the farmers’ fertilizers and pesticides destroy the living soil. We live in a land where humans do not care to notice the ongoing destruction of our natural world in the name of ‘progress’ or even more benightedly, “growth”. It is a tragedy that we use the word ‘growth” which talks to the living world , to greenery, and to life, to describe the destruction of our living world into a world of concrete and tar , electronics, steel and dead trees.
NZ Labour’s “Lets Get Moving” slogan for our upcoming general election, and the National Party’s slogans that everything depends on the economy, all represent a foolish, immoral and an intellectually bankrupt view that we can continue to destroy our natural world with human ‘progress’ and ‘growth’ without any repercussions.
However it is the New Zealand Green Party’s openly stated policy that more jobs and ‘growth’ are compatible with a sustainable future for the planet and New Zealand that really takes the cake. Those are more jobs that result in more of our once-living land sealed over, more trees and other vegetation destroyed, more insect species gone forever , more birds and other species irretrievably lost to the planet . Those more jobs and infrastructure are many more nails in the coffin of a world that sustains us humans and the rest of our precariously living world.
We have to change; right now, to a policy of no-growth; of a steady state economy which values and reveres all the life in our world. We desperately need political and economic polices which understand that the human ‘growth’ we have experienced over the past 100 years has been on the back of environmental destruction. We can no longer afford that trade-off; we have already traded away too much of our living world for cheap baubles.
We need to understand that all life is sacred. Not simply because it is a morally and humanly good thing to do- but because our future lives depend on it.
COVID-19 has demonstrated the remarkable limitations of rational decision-making in a number of Western countries; particularly in Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S; as well as the unlimited capacity for crazed behaviours of some leaders like President Bolsinaro in Brazil.
It would appear that western countries are not generally particularly good at keeping their populations safe.
We see countries desperately trying to ‘re-start’ their economies with subsidies and other mechanisms – attempting to create a return to the old world of constant growth.
We see the United States now calling in its allies and mainstream media across the world; ramping up the anti-Chinese hysteria to try and ensure China does not come out of this pandemic as a stronger super-power and world leader.
And here in New Zealand we see a government which has very capably managed the pandemic with evidence based practice, now pretending that we can return to old ‘normal” . A world of constant growth in a finite world: returning to the constant destruction of our ever more precarious living world for more human ‘progress’. –more tourism, more roads, more building construction more air-flights. …
No government money towards a few ‘greening’ projects can alter the fact that our ‘progress’ is rapidly destroying the living branch we humans are clinging to.
We need ano growth economy now! An economy which understands that if we continue to expand our human boot-print year upon year- we hasten not only all other species’ destruction , but also our own.
That point of no return may have already passed, but we need to act urgently to restore the natural world we are rely upon for our existence- more trees, more sustainable agriculture, and above all, total respect for all living things.
If we thought COVID-19 was big; the environmental crisis the world faces right now will eclipse everything we have ever faced. It’s time to try and reduce the risks to us all-now!
No wonder then, that there is a desperate need for the United States to try and re-assert itself as ‘world leader’ and master of the universe in the face of governments who share proved demonstrably more agile, smarter and more compassionate to the needs of their populations. The bully-boy of the globe is under threat: from within and without. Secretary of State Pompeo therefore exemplifies perfectly what America stands for- and what it has always stood for: greed, violence and lies. The new trade alliance with the U.K. one of the desperate last gasp attempts to maintain some hegemony in the world .
In places like New Zealand and other countries high on the ‘bucket list’ for wealthy people to visit , overseas tourism has slumped dramatically since the pandemic. Tourism operators and regulators are now calling for big media campaigns to artificially promote local tourism. It does beg the question as to why our society has to rely on manipulated media -driven purposeless consumption to survive.
Tourism is one of the primary human activities which are rapidly degrading our planet till it is no longer live-able for us or any other known species. Its reliance on massive air traffic flows and consequent very high CO2 production through long-haul jet plane engines, its reliance on building non-organic infrastructure like roads, hotels, tracks through nature and many other acts of ‘progress’, in natural environments and consequent human traffic, which rapidly degrade the lives of other species we are so desperate to see, are just two of the massively environmentally destructive activities of tourism that global human populations has been sold as a ‘must-have’ over the past 30 years.
It has to stop. It will stop, but surely better it is that we plan now for job transfers to essential and non-environmentally destructive activities, before we face a new inevitable likely larger shock to our crazy economic system, and consequently even more massive human dislocation, trauma and death . Unemployment deals a savage blow to people’s sense of hope and a bright future; let alone the impact it can have on access to food and health services . We know that global environmental collapse, and consequent complete economic collapse, is going to happen unless we shift our focus to providing just the essentials for human beings and stop destroying our world for nothing.
Our bizarre and psychotic magical belief in the ‘invisible hand ‘ of capitalism over the past 100 years to create wealth and happiness for all humans ( but not other species we rely on in this world for our survival)has created this appallingly stupid and callous human centric world system we live in; where other species become ‘products’ for our consumption; where the living and beautiful natural environment that surrounds us is simply there for us to make ‘productive’ by poisoning it with pesticides and fertilizers, or sealing it over with concrete and tar; where we do not think for a moment about the massive destruction of the lives of other species we destroy every day in our quest for ‘progress’- all those animals who we now know for certain have fears and thoughts and emotions and who we so callously and cruelly inflict pain and loss on every day.
We do not need this ‘progress’ that the media and business have propagandized into our hearts and minds for so long : we can in fact live more productive and contented lives being more attuned to the living world of which we are inextricably part of- but we have to change now!
Can the COVID-19 pandemic create a change of heart in humanity, and create a more just and sustainable world?
As we have seen in the past few weeks of the Coronavirus (or COVID19) outbreak, mankind continues to seek to eliminate all risk to itself.
Craig Murray elicits a lucid outline of the contradictions in such an approach. All living things are mortal. If we were immortal, the consequences for the planet would be even more horrendous than they are now.
Man’s current predilection for moving him or herself rapidly around the globe has allowed what would have been a very localised outbreak in Wuhan city, Yunan province, China, to become a global epidemic in a few short weeks. The response therefore in most countries in the world has been to eliminate movement to reduce transmission . Airline passenger numbers globally have dropped precipitously and factory production has stalled, resulting in a remarkably fast transition to an (at least temporarily) cleaner world and where other animals and vegetation retake their rightful place on the planet .
Other strategies however like those used to contain tourists in their cruise ships when a COVID19 infection occurs on-board by circulating air in the closed-system air conditioning units of the ships to every passenger, or the U.K.s initial strategy of ‘herd immunity’, or simply blind ignorance as in Sweden or the United States, where lockdowns have largely failed to occur because of economic slowdown fears, and have instead vastly increased the risk of contagion and thus increased long-term economic risks considerably.
However we also know that that the more transmission human to human that occurs, the more likely humans will adapt to the new virus, as will the virus itself adapt to humans and thereby reduce its impact on the body once infected. An acknowledgement that all humans (as do most other species) have large amounts of “foreign” living entities in their bodies which are constantly adapting to the changing human bioome, permits us to be more cognizant (even welcoming) of new bacteria and viruses that invade our bodies.
But we also need to acknowledge that those humans whose bodies are already compromised by other health issues are much more at risk from this new virus in our bodies. To save as many lives as possible, we need to slow the onslaught on our medical systems to a manageable level and thus help reduce the death rates..
The response to COVID19 has exemplified the frailties of humans. Our insistence that economic activity and ‘taming’ (destroying) our living world take precedence over all other matters, has been shattered by our new global understanding that the interconnected world we have created in the past few decades puts us all at immediate risk when new biological threats occur.
COVID19 has also presented in stark terms the childishness and stupidity of many of our leaders: from the U.K prime minister Boris Johnson happily shaking hands with COVID19 victims on a hospital visit and now recovering himself after being in Intensive Care, to the pathetic tantrums of Donald Trump petulantly threatening to de-fund the vital role of the World Health Organisation because they clearly demonstrate the bizarre inadequacies of the for-profit U.S. ‘public’ health system.
Perhaps though it is the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro who epitomises all that is wrong with such politicised state leadership; where decisions are made not in the interest of the country and its human population (let along other living entities there) but in the interests and petty ignorance of the leader alone- so he can cling to power regardless of the devastation and death mounting around him, But we also see some other bizarre enactments of the frailties of the democratic process; in Belarus, or in Nicaragua where the Sandinista government appears to basically deny they have a problem, or Sweden, relying on a rogue epidemiologist to undertake an experiment in ‘herd immunity’ on its older people and other vulnerable populations. Sadly Hercule Poirot’s ‘little grey cells’ are not in evidence in any of these so-called ‘leaders’.
Politicians and mainstream media have continued their ongoing scaremongering about Russian threats to “our way of life”; and/or the Chinese apparently ( according to many Western politicians and MSM) for some obscure reason choosing to hide the fact that they had a pandemic for more than two weeks from their local population and the world, and have been covering up the data ever since . Why?- well because they are ‘evil people’ basically and not like us!- and because ultimately, if the United States is to retain its rapidly diminishing status as the ‘exceptional nation’, it is going to have to bomb the hell out of any up-and-coming nation that threatens its imperial hegemony in the world..
As had been noted by the World Health Organisation and many other epidemiologists, the Chinese government response to the Wuhan pandemic has been rapid and responsive and effective. More effective than other country’s response to date. However the mainstream media and other Western commentators like to spin it, the reality is that the amazing reduction in deaths and infections in Wuhan and across China has not been because “China is an authoritarian state’, but because it has mobilized all aspects of society; businesses, state organisations and community organisations in a very systematic way, and not because, as one U.S. epidemiologist has said: ‘ the most important( reason) is that the impact of physical distancing achieved in China has been hard to accomplish elsewhere, mostly because of the freedoms we correctly value in liberal democracies’.That commentary is simply a sad reflection of many Western countries’ lack of will, leadership and a cultural awareness of community and society rather than pure individuality and how the short term imperatives of the business economy ‘trumps’ everything else, including people’s well-being in our individualist neo-liberal world.
Knowing when a series of similar cases is in fact an epidemic is extremely difficult for any health agency; and given that COVID-19 is a totally new virus, the response to the epidemic in Wuhan was surprisingly fast. The work done in Wuhan is described in detail here. Western media continue to belittle that response and cast doubt on the accuracy of the data while all the time providing misleading death figures by often excluding non hospital deaths, and particularly people in aged care facilities, or people with other morbidities like cardiovascular disease who would not have died at that time without COVID-19 complications .
In a few years once the politics of all this faded on to something else, we will find that the death rate in Europe and the U.S. was substantially higher than has been reported to date. The equation is simple- what is a ‘normal’ death rate for a particular time period and location , and what was the rate under COVID-19?
Some writers have subsequently that the world must and will change because of COVID19: that we will become more caring and connected communities, that neo-liberalism has demonstrated its complete indifference, callousness and incapacity to respond to such global crises and the human suffering it causes, and will go down the plug-hole of history, or even that greed and selfishness will be inexorably replaced by caring and just communities. Sadly , it is very unlikely that any of those hoped for responses will occur in the sort to medium term.
For as long as this economic system can continue to exploit our living world and our less fortunate human populations, and a few people can make a huge amount of money; then the depredation of this planet will continue and the planet will continue its path to destruction.
It is not by the goodness in people’s hearts, or lecturing by this or that environmental group or the Extinction Rebellion, that much of the world’s populations will begin to interact in sustainable ways with our living world; it will be because they are forced to make pragmatic changes that allow they and their families and communities to survive in a rapidly changing climate and green world.
However there is hope. As we plunge headlong ever faster to environmental global disaster, global shocks to our fragile and senseless economic system will begin to multiply. Insurance companies will go bankrupt, debt-ridden incompetent governments will increasingly become unable to prop up existing exploitative companies, world tourism and air-traffic will decline precipitously, and people’s livelihoods will steadily become re-oriented towards sustainable activities and “essential’ service.
Then, and only then, will we begin the journey back to a sustainable world where we can live in harmony with our fellow living beings.
As the tongue in cheek image from Facebook demonstrates, we are indeed seeing animals and birds and presumably other more invisible species, reclaiming their birthright in our human oriented environments as human busi-ness recedes. So many humans are now rejoicing in being able to once again interact with our fellow species …
15 ways to stop destroying our world won’t be easy changes to make – but they have to be made.
We need to immediately stop the race to the edge of ecological abyss. There are indeed practical and viable alternatives to the way we live our lives as humans. The transition wont be easy, and most of the rich bastards are going to go to the wall- c’est la vie!
But we need to start now before large scale catastrophe forces us to stop this crazy way of interacting with the world we live in.
In order to reach the Paris Accord goals according to the Intergovernmental Panel, the world would need to see:
rapid and far-reaching” changes in energy systems (immediate end of fossil fuels),
land use (agricultural land replanted with trees),
city layouts and transportation (to reduce car use),
buildings (all retrofitted to renewable energy),
vast reduction or elimination of road and air travel, and
However much more is needed to save our world; including….
Education of the young (and older humans) about the vital importance of respecting and protecting all living things-an understanding that other species are not commodities for human use and are essential for our mutual survivability.
An understanding and agreement that technology will not save the world from the climate emergency or catastrophic species loss- natural living solutions are the only solution
The planting of indigenous trees and shrubs in every available green space
The banning of artificial pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers
The planting of billions of indigenous trees -replacing areas used for monoculture farming; particularly meat and dairy production
The pulling up of vast areas of concrete and tar and replacing it with perennial vegetation trees and shrubs
The end of all ‘growth’ economies- a return to no-growth- (an end to consumption for its own sake)
The encouragement of wildlife into urban areas
The banning of killing of all wildlife
The re-enlivening of buried urban rivers and streams
The end of non repairable goods
The compulsory education of all children in permaculture gardening
The banning of all non essential air traffic
The construction of efficient light-rail rail networks
The building of food and energy self-sufficiency in all communities
Even then, the cumulative impacts of 2000 years of global species loss, and 200 years of CO2 and other gas emissions into our atmosphere will not be ‘put right’ in a few hundred years…
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’
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 ), 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 …..(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 [110, 111].
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 . 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)
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!