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Earth trying to Kill us?

Ed Rybicki ED at molbiol.uct.ac.za
Wed Apr 5 03:20:44 EST 1995

> From:          LANSMAN at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
> Subject:       Re: Earth trying to Kill us?
> my mind.  The strange thing to me is that the viruses (HIV-1, EBOLA) =
> seem=20> to be emerging from the same parts of Africa that are also suffering =
> =66rom> genocidal wars, mass starvation and more routine epidemics like chole=
> ra and> dysentery.  I don't think it's any coincidence that these areas are a=
> mong=20> the most densely populated and have the highest population growth rat=
> es in> the world.  We have clearly exceded the carrying capacity of the eart=
> h for=20> our species and some thing(s) will happen to reduce our population.  =

You are confusing two things here, and you are getting some facts 
WRONG...!  One: yes, the virus outbreaks are associated with areas 
that have had the odd genocidal conflict, BUT HIV and Ebola Zaire 
popped out at times when there was NO large-scale conflict going on.  
They emerged (presumably) because of increased population MOVEMENT, 
NOT pressure; if you superimpose a map of the major truck routes of 
Africa with one showing the highest incidences of HIV infection, you 
will see an ASTOUNDING correlation.  Because sex workers follow truck 
drivers, as does roadside commerce.  NOT because of population 

Second, the areas you ar talking about (Zaire, Uganda, Central 
African Republic, Sudan) do most definitely NOT have a particularly 
high population density, although they do (generally) have a very high rate of 
population increase.  The only genocidal wars I can think of are the 
Sudan civil war (which is pretty low-intensity, but has led to 
starvation), and the Katangese secession in the '60's, apart from the 
recent Rwandan horrors - and the viruses were well out by the time of 
the Rwabdan episode.

SO: don't go ascribing anthropomorphic principles to the planet, or 
invoking the Earth Mother to explain pestilences; we are a little too 
sophisticated to need to resort to those sorts of tactics.  Rather 
blame collapsing infrastructures, lack of hygiene, movement of 
human populations into hitherto unsettled areas, and increased human 
mobility for the appearance of new human diseases.

 |     Ed Rybicki, PhD      |  ed at molbiol.uct.ac.za   |
 |    Dept Microbiology     | University of Cape Town |
 | Private Bag, Rondebosch  |   7700, South Africa    |
 |   fax: x27-21-650 4023   | phone: x27-21-650-3265  |
 ------WWW URL: http://www.uct.ac.za/microbiology------
   "And the man in the suit has just bought a new car
      From the profit he's made on your dreams..."

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