The Balance of Nature
In our quest to eradicate disease, especially those that have caused so much human suffering such as polio, tuberculosis and cancer, mankind may have done itself the greatest disservice of all by providing the means for its own demise from the overuse of antibiotics and the persistent reductionist view of nature.
Stephen Harrod Buhner creates a pretty strong argument against the view of the earth as machine. After reading the book, it becomes difficult to blithely continue to contribute to the destruction of the ecosystem. But at the same time we have to admit that we want to give loved ones the best chance of surviving disease. A good friend’s sister just days ago got a diagnosis of triple negative cancer and has opted to go ahead with radiation even though the prognosis is terminal. That the radiation will contribute to the hospital’s toxic output is without question, but who are we to say that she should not give it a try? The conversation would be to have her think of the planet (since she will be dead within months anyway). And what about the free flu shot that ASU will provide to its faculty next week? By getting the shot, I protect myself against who knows what strain of the disease will circulate this winter but by getting the shot, I will perhaps contribute to a more resistant flu next year. What is the right way to go in situations like these?
Buhner doesn’t give us anything more than to try harder to find global solutions while perhaps ignoring real human cases. If we are no more entitled than bacteria then don’t we have to concede that bacteria defend themselves by becoming more virulent and humans defend themselves by creating more science? Science has eradicated polio. Genome sequencing helps patients find the origins of rare illnesses. Not all of these illnesses are caused by what we have done to the planet, though many of them are. Perhaps, as he argues, humans started this war, but thoughtful interspecies...
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