Monday, 2 November 2009

Cause and effect

My view on the world around me, and as a doctor, is that nothing happens haphazzardly. At present we are confronted with Global Warming, which attracts alot of reality denying comments. A recent study has shown that actions taken by us do have effects on our chances of survival. The Times reports:
The standard explanation for the Nazca’s collapse is that the region was struck by an extreme El Niño event — the intermittent climate oscillation of the southern hemisphere that brings higher temperatures and increased rainfall.
But not so. By removing the Huarango trees surrounding them they made themselves vulnerable to floods:
“This catastrophe was preceded by human-induced changes, particularly chopping down the woodland,” he added. “In time, gradual woodland clearance crossed an ecological threshold, sharply defined in such desert environments, exposing the landscape to the region’s extraordinary desert winds and the effects of the El Niño floods. The climate wasn’t enough to induce collapse on its own. The Nazca partly wrought their own demise.”
This phenomenon is not unique to their civilisation:
Deforestation is also widely acknowledged as a factor in the demise of the Easter Island civilisation, and in the fall of the Anasazi people of the southwestern United States.
Clearly we can see that our influence upon the environment does indeed have an effect on our own survival. Global warming being the most pressing contemporary example. Hence the "medicine is to do as much nothing as possible" version of primum non nocere. To those with a bit of imagination it is evident that Newton may be applicable in the sense that every action will have a reaction. Translated this becomes: everything you do has consequenses. If we take note of this we might not have to clean up the mess we make, i.e. terrorism, adipositas causing diabetes, smoking causing cancer and heart disease, et cetera.

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