When bacteria are grown in a petri dish their numbers change in a predictable way. To begin with, nothing much seems to be happening. In this phase (the lag phase) the bugs are sniffing around, starting up their engines and getting ready to multiply.
Then comes the log phase when the numbers of bacteria grow explosively (exponentially), until they fill their plastic-encircled ecological niche. Next is the static phase, when resources and room become scarcer and bacterial counts butt up against the limits to growth. Finally the bacteria, starving and drowning in their own effluent, die off increasingly rapidly until all unicellular life is gone. This is the death phase.
If you compare bacteria in a petri dish with humans on the planet (a para-Nietzschean comparison many have made), where would we be on this road map? Which phase – if the bacterial metaphor has any relevance at all – best describes where we are today?
The metaphor, like all metaphors, is highly suspect. A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing. Our petri dish is not sealed but in constant receipt of solar energy, which cascades down through the trophic layers and brings the memory of light into the darkest places. And we have some intelligence, at least, though this seems to be waning (1, 2).
But if we were bacteria …
What we should do is to promote fitness, create bulkheads, encourage diversity and eschew the monoculture. As any biologist, systems analyst or gardener knows, this is the way to create a system capable of absorbing insults. This was how the world was up until the 19th century; but it is not the world we live in today. We strive neurotically to maintain a system in which the population is poisoned and sickened, increasing numbers of the old and sick are kept chemically alive, and mass rapid transit of people and goods is promoted. In doing all these things, we have created a world primed for death phase.
The frequency of emergent diseases has increased steadily for the last half century. More and more zoonotic viruses are making the jump from their animal hosts to into immunologically naïve and hence vulnerable human populations and are spreading fast, due to increasing urbanization, rapid mass transport, and our declining public health. All of this can be seen in the Covid-19 pandemic, which is not in itself particularly serious but is a likely harbinger of something worse; Disease X, the W.H.O.’s nightmarish and so far theoretical virus that combines high transmission with high virulence, and ends our age.
The industrial, ultra-processed foods which take an increasing share of our diet cause obesity, chronic inflammation and dysnutrition, an unholy trinity which in turn creates chronic degenerative disease and an ageing population dependent on pharmaceutical life support. In a development which should surprise nobody, the largest study to date of US hospital admissions for COVID-19 reveals that obesity and age (and by direct implication chronic inflammation, dysnutrition and polypharmaceutical dependence) are the largest factors in whether a person had to be admitted to a hospital (3). A Chinese study produced very similar findings (4).
Writing in the Lancet, virologist Gregory Poland summed-up the conditions aggravating the COVID-19 situation globally: ‘We have an increasingly older age demographic across virtually all countries, as well as unprecedented rates of obesity, smoking, diabetes, and heart and lung disease, and an ever-growing population of people who are immunocompromised—all comorbidities that lead to significantly higher risks of severe disease and death from COVID-19’ (5).
We get fatter and sicker, we huddle ever more wearily in our Petri dish cities, and we still allow unvetted intercontinental travel. To add to these systematic injuries, there is extensive evidence that today’s industrial diet is damaging our immune systems directly. This leaves us even more vulnerable to bacterial and viral diseases (5-9) and actually encourages viruses to become more virulent (10-12). In all these ways we make plague more likely. We are sleep-walking into the valley of the shadow of death and Disease X, if not Planet X, is past due.
It may be that the USA will be the first to be forced to concede the case. Drs. David Ludwig and Richard Malley of Boston Children’s Hospital wrote in The New York Times on March 30th (13) that Americans’ risk from the virus is compounded by the fact that they are generally too diseased.
‘The huge burden of obesity and other chronic conditions among Americans puts most of us at direct risk, they wrote. ‘In fact, with obesity rates in the United States much higher than affected countries like South Korea and China, our outcomes — economic- and health-wise — could be much worse.’
There is plenty of evidence to support Ludwig and Malley’s argument. Within the USA, Covid-19 death rates in Louisiana are particularly high, reflecting the fact that their rates of obesity, diabetes and hypertension are significantly higher than the American average.
What we should do is improve our herd immunity, reduce levels of inflammation and degenerative disease by improving the food space, and improve our failing public health. The multinational food giants should be brought to heel, and forced to assume responsibility for their currently toxic offerings. The regulatory system should be updated, making it possible for responsible companies to speak openly about the health benefits of nutritionally enhanced foods and supplements.
But what do our political masters actually do? They do not even attempt to guide Big Pharma and Big Phood into the paths of righteousness. Why would they, when those companies are their paymasters? Instead, they fiddle while Rome burns; and have most recently sanctioned the use of high-tech and very expensive apheretic devices to filter off the ‘cytokine storm’ proteins that cause the dissolution of lung tissue in serious Covid-19 cases. Then they command us to shelter in place, imposing soft martial law in our streets, churches and parks, reducing little by little our degrees of freedom.
And all of this for a disease which has not made any substantial impact on overall death rates. In fact, let us compare the death rates from Covid-19, basically flu with state-backed PR, to long-standing death rates from flu in several countries (14, 15).
COVID-19 mortality 23,604, compared to annual flu mortality of 42,000 = 56% (16)
COVID-19 mortality 5, compared to annual flu mortality of 606 = 0.8% (17)
COVID-19 mortality 61, compared to annual flu mortality of 1,255 = 4.9% (18)
COVID-19 mortality , compared to annual flu mortality of 504 = 182% (19)
COVID-19 mortality, 119,666 compared to annual flu mortality of 389,000 = 31% (20)
It could be argued that lock-down in most countries has kept Covid-19 deaths low, and I would concede that. But consider Sweden, where the draconian social measures used elsewhere have not been implemented. There, Covid-19 deaths are 80% in excess of an average flu year, but still less than in a bad year.
Keep in mind that the WHO diagnostic codes for Covid-19 are so vague that many deaths listed as Covid-19 are in fact due to other causes, and there is massive under-diagnosis of Covid-19 infection because 50% or more of those infected have NO symptoms. Keep in mind also the definition of fascism (the merger of corporations and the state); and that techno-fascists like Gates and traditional ones like Soros propose mandatory tracking and vaccination, both of which technologies they are heavily invested in. These sociopaths offer us a future of ever more repressive social control, micro-serfdom and neo-feudalism.
There is an alternative. We could choose to take responsibility for our own nutrition and health, improving both to the point where our risks of both degenerative and infectious disease subside. This has the potential to save us individually and collectively, and help bring about a brighter and more autonomous future.
I hat-tipped Friedrich Nietzsce above, and I’ll end with him. He said, among many other things, ‘All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.’
- Woodley MA, te Nijenhuis J, Murphy R. (2013). Were the Victorians cleverer than us? The decline in general intelligence estimated from a meta-analysis of the slowing of simple reaction time. Intelligence 41, 843–850.
- Menie MA, Fernandes HB, José Figueredo A, Meisenberg G. By their words ye shall know them: Evidence of genetic selection against general intelligence and concurrent environmental enrichment in vocabulary usage since the mid 19th century. Front Psychol. 2015 Apr 21;6:361.
- Petrilli CM, Jones SA, Yang J, Rajagopalan H, O’Donnell LF, Chernyak Y, Tobin K, Cerfolio RJ, Francois F, Horwitz LI. Factors associated with hospitalization and critical illness among 4,103 patients with COVID-19 disease in New York City medRxiv 2020.04.08.20057794; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.08.20057794
- Lu J, Hu S, Fan R, Liu Z, Yin X, Wang Q, L, Zhifang Cai, Haijun Li, Yuhai Hu, Ying Han, Hongping Hu, Wenyong Gao, Shibo Feng, Liu Q, Li H, Sun J, Peng J, Yi X, Zhou Z, Guo Y, Hou J. ACP risk grade: a simple mortality index for patients with confirmed or suspected severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 disease (COVID-19) during the early stage of outbreak in Wuhan, China. medRxiv preprint doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.20.20025510.
- Poland GA. SARS-CoV-2: a time for clear and immediate action. Lancet Infect Dis. Publ. March 31-2020 DOI:https:doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30250-4
- de Felippe J J, da Rocha-Silva F M, Maciel FM, Soares A de M, Mendes NF: Infection prevention in patients with severe multiple trauma with the immunomodulator beta 1-3 polyglucose (glucan). Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics 1993; 177(4): 383-388.
- Babineau TJ, Hackford A, Kenler A, Bistrian B, Forse RA, Fairchild PG, Heard S, Keroack M, Caushaj P, Benotti P. A phase II multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of three dosages of an immunomodulator (PGG-glucan) in high-risk surgical patients. Arch Surg. 1994 Nov;129(11):1204-10.
- Babineau TJ, Marcello P, Swails W, Kenler A, Bistrian B, Forse RA. Randomized phase I/II trial of a macrophage-specific immunomodulator (PGG-glucan) in high-risk surgical patients. Ann Surg. 1994 Nov;220(5):601-9.
- Dellinger EP, Babineau TJ, Bleicher P, Kaiser AB, Seibert GB, Postier RG, Vogel SB, Norman J, Kaufman D, Galandiuk S, Condon RE. Effect of PGG-glucan on the rate of serious postoperative infection or death observed after high-risk gastrointestinal operations. Betafectin Gastrointestinal Study Group. Arch Surg. 1999 Sep;134(9):977-83.
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