Thursday, March 24, 2011

Part 2: Allergy and our Changing Environment (20 Scenarios)

Abe V Rotor

Let me present twenty (20) scenarios of our changing environment.

1. As the growth of industrialization increases, so with the amount of pollution. Pollution is the by-product of industrialization. Industrialization is key to modern living; pollution is its scourge. Pollution has no boundaries; it rides on water and wind, it moves on land. It contributes to global warming, stirs climatic change and severe weather disturbances, not to mention the thinning of the ozone layer, worsening effect of acid rain and many others.

Pollution allergy cases arise directly from garbage, smoke from factories and vehicles, acid rain contact, sudden changes in temperature and humidity, ultraviolet rays below and near ozone hole.

2. Modernization brought about affluence, first in industrialized countries, now in countries, which followed the path of development of Western economic formula. People want goods and services beyond what they actually need.

Living above and beyond necessity has tremendous impact on the environment in the form of depletion of natural resources and pollution. Affluence is wasteful living.

3. Population increases geometrically, it is now 6.8 billion. At its present trend, another billion people will be added in the next 25 years. New settlements, crowded cities, increasing population density predispose people to various forms of allergy.

4. As exodus to cities continues, the ratio of city dwellers to rural dwellers will soon reach equal proportion, and will favor the former thereafter. Already there are metropolises and megapolises, each containing as many as 20 million people ensconced under crowded condition. Meantime villages grow into towns and towns into cities.

People crowd subdivisions, condominiums, malls, schools, churches, parks, in great numbers sharing common lifestyles and socio-economic conditions. Thus predisposing them to common health problems and vulnerability to disruptions (brownout, water interruptions, force majeure).

5. Destruction of the environment as a consequence of increasing population and affluence, leads to loss of not only the productivity of farms, but loss of farmlands to industry and settlements, ultimately resulting in the irreversible destruction of ecosystems like lakes, rivers, forest, and coral reefs.

Loss of health of environment is loss of health of living things. Loss of environment is loss of life itself.

6. The ecosystems bear the brunt of development and progress. Wildlife is reduced in size and in biodiversity. Species are threatened to extinction as they are driven out of their natural habitats. The worse is when their habitats are lost forever.

Our existence and quality of our life depends on a complex interrelationship of the living world. Disturbing the balance of this interrelationship also disturbs the balance of biotic and abiotic components of the biosphere, thus affecting not only humans, but all members of the living world.

7. As wildlife shrinks, species are threatened or endangered. They need shelter, a new home. We are adopting wildlife species, sharing with our homes, backyards and farms. Unaware they are transmitting deadly diseases like SARS, HIV-AIDS, Mad-Cow, FMDE, Ebola, and Bird Flu which can now infect humans, allergies notwithstanding.

8. “Good Life” has spawned obesity and other overweight conditions to millions of people around the world with USA the most hit. The spawning ground of obesity is the city.

Victims suffer of complications in their health and difficulty in adjusting to a different life style. Because of their conditions they are merely spectators, rather than being participants, in games and other physical activities. Many are virtually immobilized by their condition.

9. Global warming is changing the face of the earth. As sea level rises shorelines are pushed inland, islands sink, lowlands turn to swamps, icecaps disappear, polar ice melts. In fact, there is need to re-draw local maps, and the map of the world as sea level continues to increase, and glaciers are disappearing. More importantly there will be need to review and modify land use policy, settlement plans and relocation.

Adaptation is key to allergy resistance and immunity. Displacement of settlements and change in living conditions predispose people to ailments and allergies.

10. Globalization is the name of the game in practically all aspects of human activity – trade, commerce and industry, agriculture, the arts, education, politics, religion and the like.

The world travels on two feet- communications and transportation. The world has shrunk, so to speak. Traveling from one place to another across latitudes and longitudes predispose one to unimaginable kinds of ailments, allergies, and discomforts.

11. Homogenization involves pooling of genes through inter-racial and inter-cultural marriages resulting in various “mestizos” like Eurasian, Afro-Asian, Afro-American, Amerasian, and the like. Mélange of races is fast increasing in complexity as East and West continue to weld genetically.

Native genes provide resistance to pest diseases, adverse conditions of the environment. Native genes through intermarriage is beneficial, but the benefit they carry may be thinned out in the gene pool. Mestizos of subsequent generations are likely affected.

12. Science and Technology as the prime mover of progress and development has also brought doubt and fear to human’s future. The first breakthrough created the nuclear bomb, the second brought the globe to the size of a village with the microchip, and the third, Genetic Engineering now enables man to tinker with life itself.

A. Splitting of the atom - nuclear energy and nuclear bomb
B. Microchip - modern communication and transportation
C. Genetic Engineering – Genetically Modified Organisms, cloning, Gene Therapy, biological warfare.

Human conditions too, have vastly changed. Radiation related death still occurs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, more time is spent by our children with the computer than with nature, Gene Therapy – curing gene-link diseases before they are expressed – will revolutionized medicine. Naturally all these have repercussions on human health and welfare.

13. Pioneer industries are born out of these breakthroughs and related discoveries linking them with the business world and society, giving rise to in vitro fertilization or test tube babies, surrogate motherhood, Human Genome Project (HGP or gene mapping), multiple childbirth, DNA mapping, etc.

The prototype human robot is born, and he is not defect-free. In fact he is more dependent on medicine and could not possibly withstand the conditions of the natural environment as we do to the extent of pampering him. Indeed he will lead a very dependent life.

14. Globalization is changing the concept of nationalism dissolving rigid walls to give way to regional and international cooperation such as European Union, ASEAN, APEC, CGIAR with seven members such as ICRISAT, CYMMIT, IRRI and the expansion of the United Nations to include WTO, ILO, and others.

Fighting global diseases – so with asthma and allergy - needs cooperation on all levels. In the same way a community fights Dengue, so with whole continents arresting the spread of HIV-AIDS, SARS, Bird’s Flu.

15. Green Revolution opened up non-conventional frontiers intruding the seas, deserts, watersheds, highlands, swamps. GR pioneered in Genetic Engineering, the splicing of genetic materials between and among organisms that may not be at all related, pooling desired traits. Thus the growth of GMOs and Frankenfood, and cloning experiments.

Aerophonics (farming rooftops), hydroponics, urban greening, reforestation, organic farming, are among the measures to bring nature nearer to settlements, and insuring people the bounty of nature.

16. Agriculture today depends heavily on Post Harvest Technology. To bridge the production source with the consumption end, the farm and the market, is no easy task, especially with perishable goods. Thus the proliferation of processed goods, supermarket, fast food chains, ready-to-eat packs, sophisticated culinary art.

Many food additives and adjuncts are allergenic, from salitre in longganiza to pesticide residue in vegetables, MSG in noodles to Aspartame in fruit juice, formalin in fish to dioxin in plastics.

17. Modern medical science is responsible in reducing mortality and in increasing longevity. But it is also responsible for many ills today, from genetically linked abnormalities to senility related ailments. It made possible the exchange of organs and tissues through transplantation, and soon tissue cloning.

Evolution culls out the unfit in any stage of life. This is true to all organisms. Only man, or his influence on other living things, can modify Darwinism.

18. Sweeping reform in the Arab world, from North Africa to the Middle East, which is likely to spread to other regions of the world is changing world politics. While reform means liberatimg people to exercise their rights, subsequent results, as history tells us (reference to 1848 revolutions in Europe)
to gear toward a new social order that is akin either to socialism or reverting to authoritarian rule.

19. A series of major disasters
apparently due to global warming and man-induced calamities - including the earth's normal cycle - has caused untold deaths, sufferings, and loss of properties worldwide. Japan was recently devastated by 9.0 earthquake, the estimated loss runs to no less tha $300 billion. Radiation fallout from its destroyed nuclear reactor has promped many countries to ban Japan food products.

20. Meantime, man has been toying at the idea to seek ultimate shelter - or to escape his planet the Earth as the solar system gets closer to its demise. Exploration has brought man into the fringes of our world – the depth of the sea and expanse of our Solar System, ushering the birth of inner and outer space science, and preparation of man for interplanetary travel.

We are learning to live outside of the confines of our planet earth. We have succeeded in probing the bottom of the ocean. We have put up a city in space - the Skylab. Now we are aiming at conquering another planet – a long distant goal of assuring the continuity of mankind after the demise of the earth. ~


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