I think it’s past time that we human animals expanded our concept of ourselves – of what constitutes a “human animal.”
For the past few millenia, we’ve changed our ideas ever so slightly. While we’ve seen religions rise, evolve, and fall (for some), civilizations the same, philosophical ideas, societies – all have come into existence and fallen out. Our recent era in history, for the past sixty years or so, has seemingly been one of increasing stability.
The societies that came up since WWII are largely the same. Some borders have changed, some names. But for the most part, we’ve had a stable go of it. While the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, and all the other battles since then have not been minor events, they’ve also not represented major shifts in civilization.
So let’s take this time of stability in civilization as an opportunity to shift things on a different level.
The one thing that has remained the same through almost all of the civilizations in the past few thousand years has been the perception of the human animal as a distinct “being,” separate from its environment. While many Eastern (and most American Indian) religions/philosophies believed in the unity of man and nature, they still largely held the two as separate. Distinct.
My previous post was about the external organ of the human body. That is – the environment-as-everything-around-us.
That’s the “macroscopic” view of the “human” part of the organism that represents Life.
Where’s the “microscopic” view?
That’s what this post is about, the planet called “You.”
There are over seven billion human planets on this planet – all supporting life.
You are an ecosystem.
The “Your Body Is A Planet” article on Discover.com says that 90% of the cells in your body are not yours, but belong to microbes that live in, on, and off of you.
1 Athlete’s foot fungus
2 Vaginal flora
3 Firmicutes and Bacteroides
4 Human papillomavirus
5 Head lice
6 Dental streptococcus
7 Demodex mites
9 Fossil viruses
The above image and list are from Discover.com – http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jun/your-body-is-a-planet
To boot, the National Institutes of Health has a Human Microbiome Project, which is attempting to understand the microbes that live on the human body.
To quote, “The HMP will address some of the most inspiring, vexing and fundamental scientific questions today. Importantly, it also has the potential to break down the artificial barriers between medical microbiology and environmental microbiology. It is hoped that the HMP will not only identify new ways to determine health and predisposition to diseases but also define the parameters needed to design, implement and monitor strategies for intentionally manipulating the human microbiota, to optimize its performance in the context of an individual’s physiology.”
While I love the concept behind the project, the stupid human’s constant desire to mess with things scares me. So, while we should get more in touch with the planet “You,” we also need to watch out for people telling us what to do with our inhabitants.
Keep your science off my microbes!