This was written by a friend in my book club who is a pediatrician. She makes many valid points. Definitely something to think about. Vote in November 2020!
I often get asked about novel illness and diseases that make a huge splash in the news. Fear surges and our world begins to feel a bit smaller. And we should be worried about it. Novel viruses such as Spanish Influenza infected as many as 500 million people worldwide and killed between 20-50 million people! Viruses like these can be very deadly! As the world’s population continues to rise and people live closer to animals we will continue to see these deadly viruses. And yes we are seeing them more often! We are destroying habitat that these animals live in and forcing them closer to us and these animals become our food sources as traditional American food sources are very energy and labor intense.
What can you do?
1. Support the CDC. President Trump’s budget for 2019 cut the CDCs budget by 20%. This is causing the CDC to cut 39 out of 49 programs in other countries that support epidemic prevention. Remember Ebola virus? This was effectively fought in Africa by these funds! We don’t want to wait until a virus shows up at our children’s school to try and stop it! We need to limit its spread as quickly as possible.
2. Support science. Trump once again is trying to cut NIH funding by 13%. This is where medical technology and medications are developed and tested. I know you think it’s capitalism that develops these but it’s not. Many medical advancements are funded by taxpayers before being bought or given to large companies for large scale development. It means we pay for many of these developments twice! But I digress as this is a different topic you should educate yourself on! But that new vaccine you want for Ebola, Coronavirus, or new antibiotic for the superbug we can’t kill will start out in the NIH if it has the needed funding!
3. Climate plays a big role in this! As our planet gets warmer new viruses are hitting our continent. Think of Zika virus. Its movement to the US via mosquitoes has to do with animal and pest migration that need to head towards areas with less heat and better food resources. We have other emerging viruses as well. Consider dengue, chikungunya, Nile virus, and extensively resistant TB that have begun to emerge in the US. Many physicians, including myself, have never seen these and will be woefully unprepared to diagnose or treat these. As the planet warms and animals migrate, these new and old diseases will reach our shores regardless of immigration policies. We need to actively work on limiting carbon emissions and limiting waste on a bigger scale than just in our houses. This is a world problem that the US needs to lead or at least participate in!
4. Finally destruction. We need to carefully consider what type of community, country and planet destruction we take a part in and make changes! A year or more ago I posted information about how these essential oils companies are harvesting limited precious resources in other countries causing deforestation and significant environmental changes for their magical beliefs. This is not much different than searching for the elusive rhino horn. I posted an article in November about limiting the junk we put in stockings which I did this year. I carefully thought about presents and whether they would be used long enough to make their waste in landfills worthwhile. And boy did it limit gifts! Though I was mad when phone companies stopped giving away free cellphones, I realized that this means we are holding on to those phones longer and decreasing both resource use and child labor in other countries instead of just getting the newest model!
We need to make changes as humans or the planet will do it for us! Our voting shows us where we want to devote resources. Our purchasing shows us how we will be trashing our planet over time.
Things you can do?
1. Buy local. Hoping to buy into a farm share this spring and eat local! Less food transit.
2. Think twice before buying. My husband says measure twice, cut once. Apply this to purchases.
3. Push your neighbors, friends and businesses to turn down the heat, use products multiple times before throwing out, and consider how their profit model effects more than just them.
4. Look into how your elected leaders’ actions affect not only our country but also the world. Diseases make us a small world and if we aren’t actively working with our fellow humans, we won’t get very far at protecting our children. Isolationism has never been very effective.
5. Finally, learn about science and epidemiology. You will be surprised about how scary these diseases can become. There are really smart scientists out there working on and fixing these problems but we have to help by becoming educated. This is not a Goggle search or Facebook read but ask a scientist. Subscribe to Nature or Science magazine. Read a science journal. Go to the university and ask to sit in on a lecture or join a class. Perseverating on fear won’t get you anywhere! There is a reason we didn’t shut down travel to Africa during the Ebola virus like Trump yelled for. Find out why!