Global Syn-WHAT?

The phrase “global syndemic” immediately drew my sustained attention when it first appeared as a result of an initiative and study produced by the science journal Lancet in January of this year.

tldr: Scroll down to the 3 minute video explanation.

Most folks know PANdemic as an outbreak of illness that brings about large-scale loss of health, impacting whole continents or multiple continents.

A SYNdemic is a cluster of related pandemics–a synergistic epidemic. The bad news is that together, their impact is greater than one pandemic alone. The good news is that, if we do the right thing for long enough and effectively enough, we reduce the risk of all the clustered pandemics–not at once, but over generations.

The Global Syndemic described by Lancet focuses on the inter-related and serious health threats of malnutrition(s)–undernutrition and obesity, along with the impending physical and mental and environmental health impacts of climate change.

I have been encouraged by this broad-brush, wholistic understanding of the ecology of human failure with regard to the future of our species. It seeks to lay the axe to the root of the problems rather than merely addressing the symptoms in the near term.

On the other hand, it would be easy to just go limp and do nothing. Or rage against the machine (insert your despised government, political party or politician) and keep pressing the accelerator of Business as Usual until we run out of runway.

This video does a pretty good job of introducing the concept of global syndemic, so that when you hear about it again, you’ll have some background.

The so-what for Floyd County going forward is that we can think ahead about addressing the Food System locally and its impact on human, soil and forest health, and in so doing, mitigate the combined effect of the looming syndemic.

The wetter wets, drier drys, colder colds and hotter hots of the uncertain climate future, of course, will be a wild card in this effort.

Who Thinks Up These Beings Anyways?

Once again, I’m taking the easy way out. I’m happy to share—need to, even—lest I finally accept the  eddys are good enough and just hush. So nothing fancy. No eye candy. Just the facts, m’am.

Not surprisingly, it is the fellow creatures we live with that draw my amazement, admiration and respect—not to mention the previously-intact ecosystems that gave rise to them, many of which are now on their way off the page of history occupied so completely and with such a heavy hand by our invasive species. 

You really should call in the children to see the spider-tailed snake and the gaping maws of Finches from Outer Space. 

For those who genuinely care for the sanctity of life, these “low” creatures and so many more marvels like them matter to the whole of life, far more than we will likely every know. The pity that many will never even be discovered to be observed and written about before their populations and entire species goes extinct in the very near term, perhaps.

What’s Up With the Weird Mouths of These Finch Chicks?

The Lure of the Spider-Tailed Horned Viper 

Seeking Superpowers in the Axolotl Genome – The New York Times 

Bottled Water: The Biggest Con of All Time?

Last night at the Floyd Country Store (and more at a new venue perhaps next year) we viewed the 38th movie in six and a half years of this SustainFloyd program of information-sharing (not to mention Pot Luck Suppers).

Some of these movies have lead to direct action within the community, others to targeted discussions in other organizations about environmental or community well-being issues; and most movies have shed a different light on some aspect of life on Earth that makes the viewer see the ordinary understandings–of things like cargo shipping, gas fracking, food waste–through a different lens.

The movie last evening was released in 2009. It paints a bleak picture and sounds a warning–and things have gotten worse since a decade ago. The threat to person and planet is water. Specifically, water taken from municipal sources or stolen from community commons and put in plastic, then made sexy by the same marketing psychology and massive money resources that promoted cigarettes.

This has to stop. And it will. Nature bats last. We are going into a late inning and are at bat. What will we do–in Floyd County, in our own neighborhoods, our own homes–to become part of the solution?

The discussion following the film heard more than one person saying “we should see to it that more people, and especially school-age kids, see this, know this, and act on this information.” Lives literally could depend on it, as more plastic microbits end up in sea creatures and our diet, not to even consider the toxins leaching from the plastic and commonly contained in the unregulated water inside the “spring water” from municipal big-city sources.

Links below let you view it on Amazon Prime; watch it free (in low quality with Spanish subtitles) on YouTube; and read a review of the health issues raised in the movie.

Amazon.com: Watch Tapped | Prime Video https://www.amazon.com/Tapped-Dennis-Kucinich/dp/B079TKTPDG/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1544787544&sr=1-1&keywords=tapped

https://youtu.be/CadgGSVRZNo Watch full movie, low quality with Spanish subtitles

The Dangers in Your Drinking Water | Tapped: The Movie https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/26/why-is-water-the-next-empire.aspx

Where Does Your Water Go?

Roanoke River Drainage takes our water to Albemarle Sound–via USGS Streamer tool (see below)

There are some things about surface waters that are always true:

  1. They only flows downhill. Gravity decides the course.
  2. They cut through soft rock faster than harder rock.
  3. They carry with them what they flow through: soil, sand, pig poop, road salt
  4. They will eventually find the ocean (or impounded, find the clouds again).

But beyond that, the nation’s creeks and streams and rivers have their own unique story, told by the history of the continental masses underneath them that, along with climate, determine what forest or prairie or boulder field or swamp their course includes.

We tend to take our water for granted–even the small portion visible above ground. Many could not name the creeks and rivers into which our downspouts pour today’s rainshower, or where those confluent waters enter an ocean.

Ways of “seeing” water on which we depend may help some (I know it helps me) better appreciate the bigger picture of the water we use here in our house every day.

Ways of seeing water courses also serve the historian of travel and early migration east to west, where mountains–and rivers–determined so much of the character of the journey, and even where those travelers eventually settled. Water was a way to town; a way to power grindstones; a way to eat and trap and trade.

And with that rambling preamble, let me suggest (and hope someone resonates) that you click to open the map, then find the stream nearest you on the USGS Streamer.

You can choose to follow it UPstream or DOWNstream by clicking the appropriate setting, then your stream of choice. Make sure your kids get a chance to “play” with this one.

BTW, click on any other stream in Floyd County to show “downstream” and it will show the Little to the New to the Kanawha to the Ohio to the Mississippi to the Gulf. A whole ‘nuther watershed, just 2 miles west of us.

And another wonderful piece of Earth Through Different Eyes.

The Wraiths of Riches Who Rule the Earth

…Brazil has elected a new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who favors abolishing protected indigenous lands. He has promised to scale back enforcement of environmental laws, calling them an impediment to economic growth, and has made his intentions for the Amazon clear.

“Where there is indigenous land,” he said last year, “there is wealth underneath it.”

The elected Gods of Mammon will dig under cities, under schools, under parks and islands and mountains and rainforests–will turn Earth into profit; into temporary freedom from the certainty of death. They will do this as long and as often as we let them.

They will convert any living spaces or living creatures into money and power until there is nothing left to consume. If we let them.

…From 2006 through 2017, Brazil’s part of the Amazon lost roughly 91,890 square miles of forest cover — an area larger than New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Connecticut combined, according to an analysis of satellite images by Global Forest Watch.