What are the greater threats to humans?

Watching the news these days can seem like an apocalypse is about to occur. Between ISIL, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups, EBOLA, the festering conflict in the Ukraine, the ever-present threat of North Korea, and various levels of corruption in far too many countries, it could seem the end is near. Yet, while all of the above are scary, the one that we should be most fearful of is the level of corruption, as it gets in the way of addressing the greater apocalyptic threats to humans. The greater threats to humans are: too many people with too few resources, chemically enhanced food products that are leaving us less able to fight off anti-bacterial resistant strains of bacteria, global poverty and health concerns and the impact of climate change on all of these issues.

I am not saying the first group of issues are not severe, especially EBOLA and those impacted by the terrorists groups, but the issues which would impact humans the most are in the second group, with corruption standing in the way of doing measurable things about problems that will be exacerbated by the overarching problem of climate change which impacts everything.

Population planners have answered the question how many people can the earth support with a carefully couched range. If the average human consumes like the average Rwandan, the earth can support over 15 billion people. If we consume like the average North American, the earth could support less than 3 billion people. We are currently between the two with roughly 7 billion of people. The two keys we must always keep in our mind are air and water. “Water is the new oil” as our dearest resource on the planet and it is showing its need to be nurtured more with the extreme droughts in California, Texas, Australia and other parts of the globe. Plus aquifers are not as robust in many areas as needed. Bad air quality is so harmful that we have only begun to scratch the surface on the impact of toxic air particulates that come from fracking, pesticides and other chemicals that are blown or escape into the air.

The chemicals we use to grow more and better foods to feed our growing population, not only are harmful due to the pesticides that need to be ever stronger (we are spraying Agent Orange on some crops), but there is a nastier and more deadly problem that we are seeing surface in hospitals. Chemically enhanced foods are hindering our ability to fight bacteria that gets in our system, sometimes from these same foods. The super-bacteria is increasingly resistant to current anti-bacterial medicines and more people are dying from formerly highly preventable infections. “PBS Frontline” did a documentary earlier this week on this issue and “60 Minutes” did a similar report in the past year.

EBOLA has exposed the global health and poverty concerns in West Africa which impede our ability to fight disease, any disease. EBOLA will be very hard to harness and may result in a million deaths before it is reined in, which is truly a catastrophe. But what happens if one of these anti-bacterial resistant strains gets into people? What it also shows that people in poverty do not have access to healthcare, clean water and sewage to process waste away from where they live. The inability to separate drinking water from sewage water is a key to reducing exposure to disease. Plus, there is a high correlation between family size and poverty, so it is incumbent upon us to distribute birth control materials and education resources.

However, each of these problems will be made worse by climate change on top of the problems climate change will cause by itself. Dr. Sandra Steingraber, biologist, ecologist and author (“Living Downstream” and “Raising Elijah”), notes that we do not talk enough about the impact of climate change on the chemicals in the ground. She notes it is like a chemical crock pot, as the climate gets hotter, the chemicals will become even more detrimental. Author Steven Solomon notes in his book “Water: the Epic Struggle of Wealth, Power and Civilization,” that climate change will impact our water in a huge way through more severe droughts, fighting more forest fires, more unpredictable weather patterns (providing way too much precipitation in some places, with very little in others) and impacting crop irrigation on top of its other concerns.

Plus, those in poverty and without good healthcare tend to get impacted by natural events more than others, so climate change will be more harmful to those who can least afford it. I have written before about the Carteret Islanders whose island is being consumed by the ocean. It has already destroyed their ability to grow crops through the salt water encroachment. The islanders have had to travel to petition leaders of larger islands to move their people there. Ironically, these less educated people have more open dialogue about climate change than we do in our US Congress.

Yet, standing against doing more things to address these issues is corruption and influence, including in the US. We must address these issues now and not wait until they happen. The price tag to fix the impact of climate change or research new drugs, is far cheaper to do it now than after the impact. In the US, we have too many funders of politicians that have a financial stake in perpetuating their interests, which run afoul of planning ahead. It is far worse elsewhere with corrupt politicians keeping money meant for others. For example, Hosni Mubarak has over $80 billion in wealth, yet Egyptians were getting by on $2 a day. Brazil shined up nicely for the World Cup, but not much of the money fell to people in need. The Ukraine president was ousted last fall as he was corrupted by the Russian government, while others suffered in the country.

These are the bigger concerns that could endanger all humans. We need to do our best to address these issues now and plan accordingly than wait until it is too late or too costly.

 

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15 thoughts on “What are the greater threats to humans?

  1. i pondered many of these same thoughts yesterday while riding the 5 or so hours from the airport to home sweet home. i wondered, ‘what if children could be conceived only every five years, and my mind tried to do the math of the people who died during that five year time vs the absence of births, but i was too tired to follow that thought very far.. then i wondered what the world leaders were pondering as solutions to the escalating crisis/ food/water/health/ and it seemed like a ‘mass kill-off’ would seem like the only solution, and that scared me a bit. i thought of the ebola crisis and the odds it jumps borders and metastacizes globally, and that scares me a lot — and i am not easily scared.

    we have been poor stewards of our planet, and we are leaving a legacy of problems for our descendants. what will they say about us, if our species does indeed survive on this runaway roller coaster?

    • Z, I agree with your concerns and the reference to stewardship, one of my favorite words. Here in the US, we have a party that focuses on how can we dare leave debt for our children and grandchildren, while at the same time they deny climate change is man-influenced and feel it is OK to destroy the planet for those same children and grandchildren. There seems to some inconsistencies. We have to beat our drums even louder and ask others to do the same. The bad part so few are paying attention. I am glad you made it home. BTG

  2. wow….another well written piece. so much to think about….I might have to come back and reread as I kept getting interrupted(even making this comment I got interrupted, grrrrr….). may write more of a comment later too….I hope!! I’ve been a bad blogger of late due to demanding work schedules but that is starting to ease up now so hoping to rectify that, especially for my favorite blogger friends!

      • you are quite right. we need the right elected officials, the ones who think and can reason and solve problems instead of power hungry fools who are controlling things now. just heard a report on the news that more than expected numbers of African Americans are going to vote this fall and if they do, they’ll likely vote with the Dems. should be interesting to see what actually transpires.

      • Toby, I hope you are right. One way to get people to vote is to tell them cannot via this Jim Crow-like Voter Laws that have been passed around the country. BTG

  3. I share your concerns about the future of humanity. I see humanity eventually destroying itself through our bad practices. If we continue to do what we are doing, we will continue to wear out and destroy the earth and eventually it will not be livable for humans. That will take a very long time; but if we value the survival of the earth, we must think more seriously about the way we live and exploit the earth.
    Secondly, you raise very important social and moral issues like corruption and lack of social injustice, unfair distribution of the resources of the world. What I think is we need a new kind of education that places emphasis on the positive. The world is the way it is because of the education which has prevailed in the world and instilled in us more of evil thoughts and ideas than good ones. These, of course, lead to evil actions. We are what our education (formal and informal) makes us to be. On my blog I have launched ‘Operation 1 billion people for an excellent world’; positive-minded people who will champion the re-education of the world in order to create a new world – an excellent world.
    Your brilliant post falls in line with what I think if more people were doing a lot would be achieved for the world.

    • Many thanks for your thoughtful comments and kind remarks. I look forward to checking out your blog. There is a good blog written by George Dowdle who is a missionary in Africa. He notes the impact of corruption on trying to help people. I did not mention this, but I also believe that the education and advancement of women and girls will aid communities, countries and the planet. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s excellent book “Half the Sky” speaks to this as does Jimmy Carter’s book “A Call to Action.”

  4. I think part of the problem of being less able to fight off infections is due to this incessant need to be clean and to have everything around us clean and disinfected. If we don’t provide our immune systems with access to little bugs, then when a big bug comes along, we can’t fight it. I remember playing in the dirt, the mud, the dirty water flowing along the street curb when it rained, eating bugs, eating paste, eating crayons, eating asbestos…………… The list is endless. I’m still here! And the last time I was sick was about a decade ago. Seems I get sick about once a decade but am always able to fight it off.

    • You are so very right on the pristine environment. We overuse anti-biotic hand wash and don’t let our personal bacteria fight off the evil kind. So, we are more prone to illness. The other factor which we are seeing is drug companies make more money in selling maintenance meds. So, this is one area where we need public/ private partnership to invest in drugs to fight EBOLA and the new strains of super bacteria. Thanks for writing. BTG

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