This article is from 2012, but illustrates how we currently find ourselves in lock down in our homes. Our carelessness with the environment has repercussions. If the extreme storms and wildfires aren’t going to get our attention and force us to change, then the Earth will shake society to its core by spreading dangerous, highly infectious diseases.
“If we fail to understand and take care of the natural world, it can cause a breakdown of these systems and come back to haunt us in ways we know little about. A critical example is a developing model of infectious disease that shows that most epidemics — AIDS, Ebola, West Nile, SARS, Lyme disease and hundreds more that have occurred over the last several decades — don’t just happen. They are a result of things people do to nature.
Disease, it turns out, is largely an environmental issue. Sixty percent of emerging infectious diseases that affect humans are zoonotic — they originate in animals. And more than two-thirds of those originate in wildlife.
Teams of veterinarians and conservation biologists are in the midst of a global effort with medical doctors and epidemiologists to understand the “ecology of disease.” It is part of a project called Predict, which is financed by the United States Agency for International Development. Experts are trying to figure out, based on how people alter the landscape — with a new farm or road, for example — where the next diseases are likely to spill over into humans and how to spot them when they do emerge, before they can spread. They are gathering blood, saliva and other samples from high-risk wildlife species to create a library of viruses so that if one does infect humans, it can be more quickly identified. And they are studying ways of managing forests, wildlife and livestock to prevent diseases from leaving the woods and becoming the next pandemic.
It isn’t only a public health issue, but an economic one. The World Bank has estimated that a severe influenza pandemic, for example, could cost the world economy $3 trillion.
The problem is exacerbated by how livestock are kept in poor countries, which can magnify diseases borne by wild animals. A study released earlier this month by the International Livestock Research Institute found that more than two million people a year are killed by diseases that spread to humans from wild and domestic animals.
That’s why experts say it’s critical to understand underlying causes. “Any emerging disease in the last 30 or 40 years has come about as a result of encroachment into wild lands and changes in demography,” says Peter Daszak, a disease ecologist and the president of EcoHealth.
Emerging infectious diseases are either new types of pathogens or old ones that have mutated to become novel, as the flu does every year. AIDS, for example, crossed into humans from chimpanzees in the 1920s when bush-meat hunters in Africa killed and butchered them.
IT’S not just the invasion of intact tropical landscapes that can cause disease. The West Nile virus came to the United States from Africa but spread here because one of its favored hosts is the American robin, which thrives in a world of lawns and agricultural fields. And mosquitoes, which spread the disease, find robins especially appealing. “The virus has had an important impact on human health in the United States because it took advantage of species that do well around people,” says Marm Kilpatrick, a biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The pivotal role of the robin in West Nile has earned it the title “super spreader.”
And Lyme disease, the East Coast scourge, is very much a product of human changes to the environment: the reduction and fragmentation of large contiguous forests. Development chased off predators — wolves, foxes, owls and hawks. That has resulted in a fivefold increase in white-footed mice, which are great “reservoirs” for the Lyme bacteria, probably because they have poor immune systems. And they are terrible groomers. When possums or gray squirrels groom, they remove 90 percent of the larval ticks that spread the disease, while mice kill just half. “So mice are producing huge numbers of infected nymphs,” says the Lyme disease researcher Richard Ostfeld.
“When we do things in an ecosystem that erode biodiversity — we chop forests into bits or replace habitat with agricultural fields — we tend to get rid of species that serve a protective role,” Dr. Ostfeld told me. “There are a few species that are reservoirs and a lot of species that are not. The ones we encourage are the ones that play reservoir roles.”
Dr. Ostfeld has seen two emerging diseases — babesiosis and anaplasmosis — that affect humans in the ticks he studies, and he has raised the alarm about the possibility of their spread.
The best way to prevent the next outbreak in humans, specialists say, is with what they call the One Health Initiative — a worldwide program, involving more than 600 scientists and other professionals, that advances the idea that human, animal and ecological health are inextricably linked and need to be studied and managed holistically.
“It’s not about keeping pristine forest pristine and free of people,” says Simon Anthony, a molecular virologist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “It’s learning how to do things sustainably. If you can get a handle on what it is that drives the emergence of a disease, then you can learn to modify environments sustainably.”
The scope of the problem is huge and complex. Just an estimated 1 percent of wildlife viruses are known. Another major factor is the immunology of wildlife, a science in its infancy. Raina K. Plowright, a biologist at Pennsylvania State University who studies the ecology of disease, found that outbreaks of the Hendra virus in flying foxes in rural areas were rare but were much higher in urban and suburban animals. She hypothesizes that urbanized bats are sedentary and miss the frequent exposure to the virus they used to get in the wild, which kept the infection at low levels. That means more bats — whether from poor nutrition, loss of habitat or other factors — become infected and shed more of the virus into backyards.
It might mean talking to people about how they butcher and eat bush meat or to those who are building a feed lot in bat habitat. In Bangladesh, where Nipah broke out several times, the disease was traced to bats that were raiding containers that collected date palm sap, which people drank. The disease source was eliminated by placing bamboo screens (which cost 8 cents each) over the collectors.
EcoHealth also scans luggage and packages at airports, looking for imported wildlife likely to be carrying deadly viruses. And they have a program called PetWatch to warn consumers about exotic pets that are pulled out of the forest in disease hot spots and shipped to market.
All in all, the knowledge gained in the last couple of years about emerging diseases should allow us to sleep a little easier, says Dr. Epstein, the EcoHealth veterinarian. “For the first time,” he said, “there is a coordinated effort in 20 countries to develop an early warning system for emerging zoonotic outbreaks.”
…because it allows us to live our lives virtually. That’s what I’ve decided this morning. Our phones keep us plugged into social media, and divide us from real, human connection at the same time. It’s coming out that screen time is yet another addiction… instead of alcohol or drugs it’s cell phones and computers. Americans spend 10 hours a day in front of a screen! When you think of how our ancestors lived, in small villages of about 30 people, with no technology, the change in our world is overwhelming. Our brains and bodies are the same as they where hundreds of years ago.
Technology also complicates our lives. It contributes to us comparing ourselves to others and feeling like we are not enough. It adds to the urgency of getting things done. I’ve found if I stay on my computer too long, the laundry doesn’t get done and important, creative projects don’t receive my attention. True work, conquers all things 🙂
I just turned my TV off, put my cell phone in the other room, and now I’m enjoying the sounds of kids playing across the street. I like it 🙂
I came across a great article this morning on simplifying life, and I LOVE it!! I want to share it in case it helps someone else out there. Then I’m putting my computer down for the day lol.
Move On And Grow Stronger
7 Signs You Need To Simplify Your Life
Steve Jobs put it well:
“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
“When our lives become too complicated, we enjoy life less. We consume too much. We have too little time and too much stress. What are other signs that it’s time to simplify?
1. Clutter clutter everywhere.
And none of it is particularly useful. Every drawer is full, every closet stuffed, every hanger in use, and ever tabletop is covered in clutter clutter clutter.
When you feel like you’ve gotten to this point, it’s time to take some time and go through everything. Pick it up, look at it, and ask yourself, “Do I need this?” Once you’ve finished, your life will be simpler.
2. You have a hole in your pocket.
Figuratively. You find yourself spending so much on food, fun, and everything in between. At the end of the month, the purse strings are pretty tight, right?
If this is the case, it’s time to set a budget. Ask yourself if an expenditure is something you want or need.
3. You’re buying too much stuff.
Stuff on top of stuff on top of stuff. The garage is full, every shelf covered, but do you really need all of it? Consider what your money is worth to you.
It may be time to put a lid on extra purchasing and maybe throw some things up on Craigslist.
4. You’ve lost your spirituality.
Let me guess, you were more religious or spiritual when you were younger and now it’s fading away, right? Maybe it’s time to rekindle that spirituality.
Spend 10-15 minutes of the morning in meditation or reading scripture. Reconnect with your beliefs.
5. You use technology too much.
In times like these, it might be time to restrict yourself. Or myself. It’s good to be connected, but maybe it’s time to shut down for a few hours every day and at night.
6. You feel like you’re rushing.
Always rushing! Rushing through the day, the week, the year, and in the end, your life. We need to make the conscious decision to slow down and prioritize what we do! When we do that, we become more productive.
7. Your multitasking is out of control.
When you multitask, the effectiveness of your work is more limited than it would be if you focused in on one thing at a time.
If you simply can’t sit down and give one thing your full attention, it’s probably time to re-evaluate what it is that you’re doing and simplify your day.”
Loneliness is a worthy foe, and with the rise of social media, most of us are suffering from it in some form – especially this time of year. It’s easy to feel isolated in tense family situations or even parties.
“Striving for connection along with a healthy dose of self-care will get you through the season.”
So how do we cope? I’m glad I ran across this article today. It has some fantastic actions we can take to combat loneliness, especially this time of year. Along with the list from the article, I would add these things:
Having a social life and human connection is important for us to thrive in our lives. A lot of people are shy about reaching out, or inviting people to do things. Do It!! Same sex friendships are particularly important in my opinion. If you have trouble meeting people then volunteer for something you care about…. and/or get a pet.
Animals are awesome. If you don’t, or can’t, have one, volunteering at the local shelter is a great way to interact cats and dogs, and to be of service at the same time!
Go to a Gym
It took me awhile to build up to it, but now I go three times a week. Working out keeps my blood moving and my endorphins running. I think more clearly, and I’m able to make better decisions. And I have more energy. Exercise is the best thing for everyone.
I’m personally sober since 2005, but if I wasn’t I would severely limit alcohol and stay away from drugs. In my experience these things end up making loneliness much worse.
This time of year is next-to-impossible to eat right, but I SO stay away from eating sugar. It keeps my blood sugar steady throughout that day so there’s less moodiness.
Good Night’s Sleep
I strive to get a good night’s sleep every night – which means eight solid hours in a dark, cool room.
List ten things you’re grateful for when you feel low and it will completely change your thinking and mood.
Walk in Nature
I take a walk in nature everyday with my dog. Looking at trees, grass, and feeling the warmth of the sun brings me lots of joy.
It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it. You’ll probably improve as you go along anyway. I’ve taken multiple creative paths and it feels so good to create something. Write something or pick up and instrument… or a pen!
Be of Service
Get out and be of service to people. Being of service in some way is crucial.
Get a New Job
I know from experience, if you’re unhappy with your job, you HAVE to make a change. Life is too short and we spend too much time there. Anyone can do it. Make a plan, get some training or education, and DO WHAT YOU LOVE.
Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it. ~Plato
We stand in the balance of seasons – the change from Summer to Fall and the shift of the Sun to the Southern Hemisphere. The earth, weather and our psyches are primitively linked, and we can feel this change in our bones. This is a time of year when we take stock of our lives as we enter the Fall. The Sun is currently in Virgo, which brings up issues around our habits and health, and I’m looking at this right now in my life.
I’ve started working out harder, and while it’s nice being stronger and having more energy, I like the change in my mind. Suddenly I can think more clearly and I have much more focus than I’ve had over the summer months. I like change. I’m always striving to live the most satisfying life I possible. I try to be aware of what I eat, what I watch on TV and how I spend my time. I love the eight-fold path in Buddhism; particularly finding the right type of work that fits your nature.
It takes a lot of self acceptance and discipline to make long term changes, but it is SO worth it. It comes down to envisioning the best life for yourself, and then taking steps to create it in your free time. That’s what I did. I worked a hard job as a senior Executive Assistant for 10 years, and in my spare time, after work, I studied and learned as much as I could about subjects that interested me. I spent hours training at a meditation/psychic school, learning how to hold my boundaries and be neutral when performing readings.
You can change your life if you really want to, you just need discipline and focus. You really can have whatever you want and do whatever you want as long as you are ready to transform yourself and work for it. At the beginning, you need to give yourself the latitude to make mistakes too, or to have set backs. You just need to keep going and ignore the challenges of time and other people’s motives.
If you are WILLING to commit being a better person, and having a better life, anything is possible. If you can be Open with others, Honest about yourself and intentions, and WILLING to create change, you can do anything. Find the right support and willingness, and you will find a better version of yourself. Practice the art of self-awareness and mindfulness, because being a better person comes from discipline in our habits, not submitting perpetually to our animal natures (valid as they may be).
Many people say they want something, but very few are WILLING to do whatever it takes to change. I always ask myself what are you WILLING to do, what are you WILLING to give up? How bad do you want it?
It’s Fall on Saturday! Time to get organized for the season change. I came across this flow chart today and I LOVE it! I think it can help anyone organize their closet, house and life lol. It’s about getting real and clearing space, which are two important actions for being a human on the planet, AND for walking a spiritual path.
I think this could be helpful in many different ways. What do you think?
Here’s the article:
“When was the last time you were able to close your closet door? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Nor should you be: The task of cleaning out your closet solo is near impossible. When you look into your wardrobe, you see all the memories that give life to your clothes; you’re aware of the money you spent on them, and each time you consider extracting a piece, a chorus of “what ifs” sings in your head: What if miniskirts come back? What if I take a trip to Morocco? What if Jake Gyllenhaal asks me out on a date? What if Kristen Stewart invites me to play catch on the beach? It isn’t easy to limit your options, or find an advisor you trust who has the patience to take on the task with you.”
Here’s another piece that’s more brutal:
“Put anything that doesn’t fit, you haven’t worn in one year, or that is worn out into the ‘no’ pile.
No excuses. If you haven’t worn it, it goes. And why are you still keeping pilled sweaters around anyway? Those shoes that, though pretty, pinch your feet? No. Continue working your way through each category of clothing.”
“Fasting is the greatest remedy — the physician within.”
Apparently, intermittent fasting is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. One of the more popular versions is to simply not eat from 7:00pm every night to 11:00am the following morning. I’ve tried it because I’m always looking for new ways to better my health and resolve. For me, it’s hard to sleep when I’m hungry, so I’m still working it out.
I’m not surprised by the studies saying fasting is good for you. I mean we’re all monkeys. If we were in the wild we wouldn’t be eating fettucine alfredo all day, as much as I would like to!
When you fast, even briefly, it switches on all kinds of positive changes in your body. It raises your metabolism, increases human growth hormone, lowers insulin, clears the mind and reduces inflammation.
“Although previous work has shown how intermittent fasting can slow aging, we are only beginning to understand the underlying biology,” said William Mair, associate professor at Harvard Chan School.
By Karen Feldscher
Harvard Chan School Communications
November 3, 2017
“Manipulating mitochondrial networks inside cells — either by dietary restriction or by genetic manipulation that mimics it — may increase lifespan and promote health, according to new research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The study, published Oct. 26 online in Cell Metabolism, sheds light on the basic biology involved in cells’ declining ability to process energy over time, which leads to aging and age-related disease, and how interventions such as periods of fasting might promote healthy aging.
Mitochondria — the energy-producing structures in cells — exist in networks that dynamically change shape according to energy demand. Their capacity to do so declines with age, but the impact this has on metabolism and cellular function was previously unclear. In this study, the researchers showed a causal link between dynamic changes in the shapes of mitochondrial networks and longevity.
This site has a lot of good information if you want to try it. Let me know your experiences and thought’s in the comments below ❤
Excellent insight about self care. I often advise people in my practice to abide by H.A.L.T.S.: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, Sick. If you have any one of these needs, address it immediately before making big decisions.
But there’s more to it!
Check out this article by Brianna Wiest:
This Is What ‘Self-Care’ REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Salt Baths And Chocolate Cake
By Brianna Wiest,
“True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to escape from!
…and that often takes doing the thing you don’t want to do.”
“Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing.
It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.
It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do: like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore, or get a second job so you can have a savings account, or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time…
It often means looking your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is not satiating your immediate desires, it is letting go. It is choosing NEW. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t.
It is letting yourself be normal. Regular. Unexceptional. It is sometimes having a dirty kitchen and deciding your ultimate goal in life isn’t going to be having abs and keeping up with your fake friends. It is deciding how much of your anxiety comes from not actualizing your latent potential, and how much comes from the way you were being trained to think before you even knew what was happening.”