Nature, Science, Man, and the Coronavirus

My Nature Science and Man notebook

All life on planet earth exist in a bubble called the biosphere. In simple terms, the biosphere is defined as the regions below and above the surface of the earth that are inhabited by the various lifeforms. In this biosphere the life that is dominant is human life. Humans have dominion over all other lifeforms and the knowledge to manipulate the dynamic forces that influence the ecosystem.

According to the Holy Bible, man was given dominion over all things on earth. An intricate part of that dominion was the knowledge and will for man to do as he so desires. That knowledge seems to have come with a price though as alluded to in the biblical Adam and Eve story. Since those biblical days man has used his knowledge of nature and science to create technologies that have provided a progressive life and some that has contributed to the degradation of the ecosystem.

…enabled him to develop a mélange of technology that has facilitated both positive and negative outcomes.

Some four decades ago as an engineering student at Queens University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada, I did an elective course called Nature Science and Man. This course was oriented towards environmental, energy, and socio-political topics. The lecturers were mostly guest lecturers from around Canada and the US. Most were prominent men on the revolutionary frontline of progressive ideas in their field. One such lecturer that I remember was the Americans William Irwin Thompson. He was the author of several books including my favorite Passages About Earth. Thompson was well known for establishing an intellectual community in Colorado called Lindisfarne to promote his ideas.

Although I have some form of amnesia on the engineering lessons I learned at Queen’s, I have not forgotten the lessons I learned from Nature Science and Man. What I learned can be summarized in this thought: man’s interaction with nature and science has enabled him to develop a mélange of technology that has facilitated both positive and negative outcomes. It is the latter, however, that tells us that man’s pursuit and use of dangerous technologies has imperiled life on this beautiful planet we inhabit.

From the beginning of the industrial age, which began around 1760 in Great Britain, man has used his knowledge of nature and science to make technological advances that have dramatically altered the landscape and our lives. Man has come a long way from the dawn of the industrial revolution as technology has evolved to provide an apparent “better quality” of life and economic prosperity.

While technology as we know it today has provided a better quality of life it has come with a price. That price is that some technologies have hazards that pose a threat to our fragile existence on earth. What is disturbing about these technologies is that we don’t have any definitive knowledge as to the scope of their hazard. Over the years we have seen the rapid emergence of several technologies that have raised questions about their safety.

Three technologies that we are familiar with are the energy technology that uses fossil fuels and nuclear energy; genome technology (which includes research on viruses, and biological toxins); and electromagnetic wave technology that we see in a host of wireless applications like cell phones. The first two have their inherent hazards that are established while the third has not being as well established.

…it is not outside the realm of possibility that the virus could have been deliberately released in the environment.

The gnome technology warrants special attention because of its current relevancy to the coronavirus and the danger it poses to human life. Specifically, it is the branch that involves the research of viruses and the weaponizing of germs that seems to be a serious threat to life. We have seen the results of chemical warfare in countries like Iraq and Syria.

It is no secret that scientists have been tinkering with viruses and biological toxins in the laboratory. Countries like China, the US, and Russia have been researching viruses in their labs for decades. The coronavirus for example has been reported to have been researched in a Wuhan lab a few years before the outbreak occurred. While this is a fact, there is no proof that it was inadvertently or deliberately released in the field.  

Although the idea that the coronavirus was released from a lab seems to be nothing more than a conspiracy theory. Still, it is not outside the realm of possibility that the virus could have been deliberately released in the environment. Why? The logical answer is that if scientists are doing research on viruses in the lab then at some point, they may want to test them in the field to see if they are achieving the desired objectives for the virus.

The coronavirus pandemic has created an upheaval across the globe that not even natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, or hurricanes could have done since they are regional. Here in the US this upheaval has forced us to not only change our physical behavior but no doubt has caused us to reflect on things we normally would give little thought to. I have been doing my own reflection which include writing the following two blog articles: The Coronavirus Forewarns us of Man’s Vulnerability to Extinction, and Time for Right Wing Religious Leaders to Wear Sackcloth and Ashes.

The sheer loss of life from the coronavirus warrants that research on viruses and biological toxins needs to be restricted, transparent and controlled in a similar manner like nuclear radioactive materials are controlled. Achieving this is itself a major challenge as China, Russia, the USA, and others are not likely to provide the information that would demonstrate transparency. Both China and Russia are too secretive and authoritarian to do this. The US under the Trump administration has also become less transparent.

For scientists to be pursuing the research of viruses and biological toxins in the lab means there must be some strong incentive to do this. An incentive that is backed by money and political power. This incentive is the quest for world dominance and is fueled by power, greed, and wealth − the manifestations of the lack of spirituality. Spirituality is like a compass that gives man guidance in avoiding destructive behavior. In that regard it can be considered as the fourth entity to the triad of nature, science, and man.

Because we have become dependent on the technologies that have given…we tend to ignore or not worry about any potential danger they pose.

Factories operated by large industrial corporations have created byproducts (pollutants and contaminants) that are detrimental to the biosphere. For example, the noxious fumes (greenhouse gases) that are discharged from chimneys into the atmosphere; nuclear energy (used in nuclear power plants, weapons, and other things); microwave and radio waves. The controversy (founded or unfounded) surrounding these things are well known.

Because we have become dependent on the technologies that have given us what is perceived to be a “better quality of life,” we tend to ignore or not worry about any potential danger they pose. Our landscape is adorned with cell towers and factory chimneys. And satellite dishes, which use radio waves can be found on the roof of many houses. another controversial technology. Radio waves have allowed us to use wireless technology to run various household products. We really have no absolute assurance that that wireless technology used by cell phones and other devices is a harmful in any way – either to humans or other lifeforms.

Environmental concerns like climate change, pollution of the air, radioactive contamination, and contamination of our water provide opportunities for conspiracy theories to thrive. A current example of this the conspiracy theory linking the 5G technology to COVID-19. The ‘G’ stands for generation so 5G is the fifth upgrade that allows cell phone provider to provide more bandwidth for improved transmission and content. 

Source: FDA.gov

The first generation of cell phones became controversial because they were linked to causing brain tumors. That concern does not seems exist with the later generation of phones. However, we don’t know if there is some threshold, say ‘7G’ that could be harmful.  

Cell phones use radio waves which science informs us is a type of electromagnetic radiation which involves two types of radiation – non-ionizing and ionizing. Ionizing radiation like x-rays and gamma rays (produced in the fission products of radioactive materials) can cause direct damage to cells or change its structure (i.e., the cell dies, the cell repairs itself, or the cell mutates incorrectly and can become cancerous). On the other hand, non-ionizing radiation like radio waves used by cell phones have not been shown to cause any harm to human. The figure below shows the electromagnetic spectrum for some common devices we use.

Man holds the key to his survival or extinction. He can use this key to pursue technology that is safe and does not threaten the survival of life on earth or he can use it to pursue dangerous technologies that can extinct life. We have heard that some animals who are attuned to nature picks up warning of natural disasters and flee to safer grounds. Perhaps the coronavirus is telling us it is time to stop pursuing dangerous technologies.

  

2 thoughts on “Nature, Science, Man, and the Coronavirus

  1. Vivian Edmond

    I, again, really enjoyed your blog. The reading is very interesting and covers all aspects of the challenges that are facing mankind that are generated from man’s own quest for power and greed which leaves him lacking in compassion.

    Thank you again for your insightful blog.

    1. Jermel Shim

      Hi Vivian, glad you enjoyed reading the article and found it interesting. Thanks for taking the time to read it and provide a response.