Sunday, 22 March 2015

Philistines Guide to Nature (2)

The Philistines Guide are a series of occasional postings giving my sometimes jaundiced view on the many different issues of the day. Usually humorous, retold with the candour of a type that is typical of a 'Lad from Yorkshire'

Continued from the Philistines Guide to Nature (1)

Things have changed once again. Man is now messing with mother nature on a global scale. He has been doing this for the last 10,000 years, certainly since the last ice age. When he turned away from a nomadic life as a hunter gatherer. (which would have made him inclusive with nature) Now he started to compete with nature as a farmer. The rest as they say is in our recent history.

The growth of populations around the world is putting increasing amounts of pressure on ever dwindling resources. However, nature has a way of dealing with such things. Mother nature started making the changes to control populations hundreds of years ago.  And once again, we then and are still now unwittingly helping mother nature to find herself a solution.

Pandemics are nothing new and some species have disappeared completely from the earth,  believed to be as a result of a specific disease. Pandemics have already targeted the human species. The Black Death pathogen was one such human pandemic. Culminating in the deaths of an estimated 200 million people from an estimated population of 450 million. Recent research is pointing to a figure of half the European population dying during a four-year period. The plague is believed to be as a result of early trade around the world. The black death is thought to have originated in Asia. Where is was possibly carried along the silk road. Later the pathogen evolved and was hosted by fleas living on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships. Whole towns and villages were decimated in Britain and the ghost outlines are well documented. Sometime we see the odd church building stood in the middle of nowhere in the countryside. Often the church is the marker for such places. It took well over a hundred years for the population numbers to recover.

There have been other large pandemics which have swept through whole countries and continents. In some cases the pandemics have reduced the world population significantly. A more recent one was the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic, which occurred in three distinct waves. Which spread quickly due to modern for the time transport. Killing in total an estimated 100 million people around the world. However, Influenza was nothing new - it was a well known condition - one that recovery from was the normal outcome. Relatively few people died from the small outbreaks of what was called seasonal influenza. However, mother nature had been at work This new and much deadlier flu strain acted very strangely. It seemed to target the young and healthy proving to be particularly deadly in the twenty to thirty five age group. This deadly strain of influenza spread quickly around the world. Infecting hundreds of millions of people and killing upwards of 5 percent of the world's population. The number of bodies from the victims of the Spanish flu quickly out paced available resources to deal with them. Morgues were forced to stack bodies, there weren't enough coffins for all the bodies. Neither were there enough people to dig individual graves. In many places, mass graves were dug to free the towns and cities of the masses of rotting corpses.

But even the nature of pandemics is changing - HIV has a long incubation period before becoming - full blown aids, which is a global pandemic. Approximately 35 million people are living with HIV globally. Of these, approximately 17 million are men, 16 million are women and 3 million are less than 15 years old. There were about 1.8 million deaths from AIDS in 2010, down from 2.2 million in 2005. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region most affected. In 2010, an estimated 68% or 22 million of all HIV cases and 66% of all deaths exceeding 1 million occurred in Africa. This means that about 5% of the adult population in this area is infected. Here, in contrast to other regions, women compose nearly 60% of cases. South Africa has the largest population of people with HIV of any country in the world, at 6 million. Now mother nature is preparing a new pandemic with a much shorted incubation period - Ebola is hitting the news. Extreme measures have to be taken to stop infection and the mortality rate is huge by comparison with many other pandemics.

 Continued in the Philistines Guide to Nature (3)

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