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The Curious Case of Corona Virus

Health pundits across the world are panicking. The panic is becoming a regular pattern, every few years there is a pandemic of some kind or the other. Most of these have a source in various food chains – birds and bats (Avian Flu, SARS) primates (EBOLA). Listeria outbreak recently was another case originating from vegetables, especially lettuce and greens as well as processed meat.

While the world needs to be cautious, we also need to put things in to perspective. WHO reports that in 2018 alone 1.5 million people died from TB. “Worldwide, TB is one of the top 10 causes of death and the leading cause from a single infectious agent”

Is Corona Virus a symptom of dwindling microbial biota – a result of the past 50 years of accelerated industrial food production, processing and movement of food around the world?  The fall out of pollutants from such aggressive food production is heavily impacting not just our soils, but all the water-ways, rivers and oceans there by contaminating sea food as well.

Complicating matters further is the current obsession with densification of urban landscapes – another typical monoculture leaking out hazardous habitat syndrome from air pollution to heavily polluting chemicals from personal use onwards plus all the Pharma-waste byproducts, all stripping the living eco-system sterile, the only solution for the microbial biota is to become increasingly aggressive.

These are questions that policy makers, politicians, citizens, academics, researchers, health specialists must ask… there has to be a serious discussion on our current unsustainable lifestyle. But the efforts are diverted to more research on developing vaccines, more research on solutions that can take many years. Prevention and seeking simple solutions seems to have conveniently disappeared from the global agenda.

This is where permaculture, not simply as a food system, but as a lifestyle promoting real diversity and resilience can become a key factor in ramping up our internal and external immune system simply through enhancing our microbial biota, increasing diversity, eating locally grown food – at least start moving away from food chains that are globally moving food around – avoiding supermarkets as much as possible is a good start.

We have forgotten that life is too complex. Life evolves and mutates in mysterious ways. Our scientists pretend to know everything from how to gene edit (Crisper technology) specially bio-engineered drought resistant cows and pigs for African farmers to studying how ammonia can be used for powering ships – despite the fact that no one really knows if these cute creatures bred in the laboratory can survive real draught scenarios in Africa, or that production of ammonia itself produces lot of carbon. Studying the wild and intricately complex world of micro-organisms or gene-editing can still attract billions of dollars, but something so simple as no-till farming, or simple permaculture farming to create a vibrant soil ecology and resilient food system is not on the radar of the global pundits and change makers.

Perhaps the new planetary cycle is finally going to awaken the people – at least those who are still able to wake up from the slumber of deep consumerism, fake news, fear psychosis and paranoia; perhaps the realisation is going to dawn that we do have a choice in how we live and die – in quarantine, and cut off.  Or embrace vibrant local living, die any way joyfully, connecting and leaving a thriving eco-system and food garden for the young to enjoy and work on.

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8 Comments

  1. There’s a reason we currently eat the animals we do. These have been sifted throughout the millennia. The wise ones have come and reminded us that everything that walks shouldn’t necessarily be eaten. The pig is forbidden throughout the Judeo, Christian and Islamic traditions. Jesus would never have broken the Kosher law which was given by God through Moses and Muhammad. The flu pandemic, which happens every year, begins in China where many peasants live in close proximity with their pigs. The fact that viruses can move back and forth from humans to pigs is enough reason not to keep pigs around. If the Christians, who’ve had a disproportionate influence on the world, had followed Jesus and not Paul, there would be far less pigs in the world. The fact that the Chinese leadership have thrown all their spiritual/wisdom traditions out the window, has put them and us in great jeopardy. Plenty more to come in this out of balance world.

    1. Hi Tony the problem is not keeping the pigs. Pigs have a role to play in a diverse permaculture setting. The real problem is animal farming in this Industrial Age. Monoculture is simply not sustainable – be it any kind of farming, or mindset of humans

  2. Yeah, good comment. We’re on Planet Cesspit at the moment. Everythings getting sicker-physically, psychologically, mentally and spiritually. Huxley/Orwell times, with a bit of Zombie movie metaphor thrown for good measure. The Black Mirror dominates. Isn’t it funny how electronic media equipment are the most toxically produced and most toxically disposed-of products,yet are gleefully embraced by’ alternative’ people? Like me. As Johnny Rotton said at Winterland 1978, “Ah haha, every get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” Memento mori

  3. When someone writes that we have to put SARS-Cov-2 into perspective, it immediately tells me that they haven’t understood the virus. That phrase immediately downplays the seriousness of the situation for a virus that only emerged about 3 months ago (but was hidden for some of that time).

    I agree with the rest of the article but please don’t downplay the Covid-19 situation; if we’d don’t more, sooner, then the curve would have been flattened and less people would have died or will die.

    1. Agreed, Tony.

      The problem with these new infectious agents is not a “weak immune system” from unnatural living – think of the indigenous peoples who, on the background of wild foods and natural farming methods, succumbed en masse to diseases brought in by explorers and invaders.

      Our immune system adapts and learns, it develops *specific* immunity once exposed to new challenges. Yes, malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies can prevent the immune system from functioning; but nutrition and clean living don’t replace the specific immunity that only comes from maternal antibodies, exposure to the infectious agent, or vaccination.

      This pandemic is serious. Permaculture helps us with resilience, makes social isolation for a couple of weeks trivial, and combined with a deep pantry makes extended quarantine more feasible if it becomes necessary.

    2. Hi Tony I am not downplaying the seriousness of the current global crisis. As I write this reply, scientists around the world and doctors on frontline are equally baffled by how the virus plays out in different settings, seasons, age groups and countries. There is as yet, no uniform pattern, nor should we hope for one. Viruses certainly don’t play out one-size-fits- all kind of symptoms. The Virus response/reaction is always varied and dependent on the nature of the host body.

  4. An interesting read: Ann Druyan’s new book, COSMOS Possible Worlds a sequel to her husband Dr. Carl Sagan’s book COSMOS A Space Time Odyssey, suggested the possibility of releasing viruses that are millions of years old and that we have no familiarity with, into the environment via the global temperature changes that are taking place.

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