Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Patterns in nature

Aloe vera, currently in flower

While contemplating my recent series on developing healthy immunity, the pandemic was not far from my mind. Just as I had to learn what diabetes was, and why it effected me, I would cast the same discernment over the current strain of coronavirus. It's the only way to understand what exactly, we're dealing with. What I have learned, isn't really discussed in the mainstream.

Instead what dominates the digital waves, are measures for avoiding death. Which is really just the final symptom, of a system in failure. What is causing that failure though?

The key is in the name. Patients are diagnosed with COVID-19. But the strain of the virus which causes the disease (and what they actually test for) is referred to as SARS-CoV-2. The World Health Organisation has taken deliberate measures, not to use the official strain of the virus, in media releases. To avoid unnecessary fear in Asia. Where in 2003, many people died of the then novel coronavirus, SARS. Or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

Succumbing to the elements

What has research, discovered about SARS (the original coronavirus strain, SARS-CoV) that we should know about, today? Firstly, it's a zoonotic disease. Meaning, it incubates in wild animals, and then passes to humans. Either through another host animal carrier, like domestic animals, or direct contact with human settlement (ie: wild animal migration).

Lymes disease is the perfect example. Deer migrate close to human settlements, carrying ticks. Which then attach themselves to humans. Rabies, is another zoonotic disease. Do we know what the host animal for SARS was though?

Some twelve years after the initial outbreak, a collaboration of international scientists under the Australian CSIRO, confirmed the host.

The CSIRO in Australia, was able to confirm the original host for SARS, was bats. An exert from the CSIRO website:

"Horseshoe bats are found around the world, including Australia and play an important ecological role. Their role in SARS-CoV transmission highlights the importance of protecting the bat’s natural environment so they are not forced into highly populated urban areas in search of food."

Have you heard anything about that [my bold] in recent pandemic media releases, as a potential solution? The World Health Organisation, currently speculates, bats being the likely host for this new strain of coronavirus too, reporting:

"The new COVID-19 is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. The most likely ecological reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2 are bats, but it is believed that the virus jumped the species barrier to humans from another intermediate animal host. This intermediate animal host could be a domestic food animal, a wild animal, or a domesticated wild animal which has not yet been identified."

Research attempts to deliver answers

Distance between the original SARS-COV virus, and now SAR-CoV-2 novel strain, keeps the scientific analysis objective. However, the lessons of the past, are going unnoticed in the present. It's a methodical process I've seen repeated in the research of autoimmune diseases too.

The amount of new autoimmune diseases being diagnosed, and normalised for treatment today, is remarkable. Adopted as a scientific process, without evaluating the biological lessons learned from autoimmune disease, as a whole. It's a system-wide failure, within a biological host. If you wish to treat the disease, you treat the whole system. Not just the parts found to be failing.

Which is what SARS of 2003, MERS (Middle-Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) of 2012, and now COVID-19 of 2020, is signalling to the world. An ecological system wide failure, within a biological species. These different strains of coronavirus, specifically have mammals as the incubating species. Bats, cats, dogs, camels, and possibly more, which haven't made it to the speculation list. Given we are the most prolific mammal species in global terrain, and now the most migratory in any given season of the year, who is the next novel coronavirus going to target the most?

Yucca ~ unattractive, but prolific

It's been seventeen years, since promises of a vaccination for the original SARS coronavirus, were made. Still no delivery. Because it's a rapidly mutating virus, with many different biological hosts. Yet they need to tailor a vaccine, suiting human biology exclusively. This is a big ask, and a waste of energy. Because the system is just going to fail again. If we want effective solutions as a society, we need to treat why the system is failing.

At present, we're the kind of nation, that will put small businesses out of business, to stay alive. So why then, aren't we tackling the bigger elephant in the room, that is global industry? A lot of focus has been placed on Wuhan China, as the source of the current pandemic. I believe Guangdong China, was also where the original SARS outbreak occurred, in 2003.

Instead of making China and it's cultural practices (diet, traditions, etc) the culprit, how about we review what China specialises in. Industrial production, for global trade. The global economy demands cheap products, and China has the perfect overpopulation problem, to specialise in solutions. The world demands, and China supplies. Allies through beneficial trade. Pardon the pun, but our hands, really aren't clean in all this. The world demands cheap products, so China crams it's factory workers, and their food supply into the city. Which is a breeding ground for disease.

Leucaena is a weed species, but provides nitrogen to depleted soils

As the world makes this financial transaction, we continue expanding as the dominant species. With the side-effect of depleting the number of different animal species in the world too. So much so, it's now being referred to as the sixth mass extinction event, the world has known. Nature has a biological control in place to limit dominating species though. For where resources flow the most, becomes the target - good or bad.

We normally associate an abundance of resources, to good things. Receiving the best food, and materials to build houses with. Technology. Sophistication. On the other hand, coronaviruses are not welcome in our town. Associated to death, gone is the welcome mat. So we paralyse our global dominance - hiding in isolation, just long enough to starve the virus out. But once the data (ie: curve) starts trending in our favour again, we'll reignite the global economy. Expanding into more territory again.

That is the disconnect, society needs to start addressing, if we really want to save lives. Because these are patterns in nature, which don't go away. Ancient sophistication, that serves a vital purpose.

Growing like weeds

If coronavirus, is a byproduct of global industrialisation, the lesson to be learned is building fail-safe measures, into our domestic markets. Keeping our supply chain local, short and transparent, means more control over what's happening within them. Our society can then shift from worldwide consumers, to potential community producers.

Whether that be producers of knowledge, communication systems, or goods and services - we have a better chance of addressing issues, rapidly, the closer they are to home. I'm sure many of my readers, already do this, either by growing their own food, or making meals from scratch. I bet you even stake out, the local Farmer's Markets for fresh produce? But have you really explored everything with potential yet?

I stumbled on something recently, through a product I couldn't purchase any more. A skincare cream. I'll save you the full blurb. Basically it contained natural ingredients with healing properties. I started looking in my garden for anything which might duplicate it. What grew in abundance was aloe vera. It's healing benefits for skin are well known.

New acquired skill

It took time, watching countless youtube videos, to formulate how to process the aloe myself. I then turned it into the softest cream, my skin has ever felt! It sounds easy. But it wasn't. I had this new enterprise attached to a normally busy day. Yet driven by a need to use what I had, rather than outsource. I still buy oils and beeswax, but source from local suppliers as much as possible. Such as Liz from Eight Acres. But the aloe is now a substantial ingredient, I can grow at home.

Busying ourselves with local networks, utilising what's already in abundance (rather than forcing something else to be) takes the pressure off industrialised cities (like China) to manufacture absolutely everything for us. In the process, we learn to be more wise with the resources at our disposal. I can't tell you, how many times I've ignored the aloe in my garden. There's many stands of it now, they grow like weeds! In the past, I opted to buy a product, instead of utilising a resource I was drowning in.

I guess, there's knowing what you should do - then there's, actually doing it. Which takes a few more steps, and a truck load of persistence.

Processing fresh Aloe

What COVID-19 has done, is reveal our weakness as a species. We can have all the knowledge in the world, yet still possess unwillingness to use it. So laws are enacted to make criminals of people, wanting to congregate outside. Stigma attached to being healthy, as potential for disease. Subverting the language of a strain of virus, to protect people from the fear of it. Completely ignoring the roots of it's origin. Thereby ignoring the solutions too.

We wait for a cure, that will not fix the system that is failing.

I wouldn't be writing this, if I didn't believe my readers knew better. In fact, I almost didn't write this post, in fear of making too much noise. Because at present we're supposed to be capitulating to authority, instead of understanding our own. I challenge the language in the mainstream, to control fear around coronavirus. It's not a foreign concept to science, as the CSIRO research, demonstrates. We know how it incubates, also how it migrates. We just need to change how we do business as a species, to demonstrate we're serious about saving lives.

Escaping the original container, they arrived in

We can engage these initiatives as a global enterprise, or we can simply engage our communities. Ignoring what needs to fix the system however, won't make it go away. For the more species we eradicate, the more we make our own species the target for coronavirus. These different strains of virus, act like the allelopathic effect of the plant kingdom - only for the species of mammals. Allelopathy distributes plants in any given terrain, so the invasive ones do eventually have an expiry, placed upon them.

Why not the same allelopathic effect for mammal distribution? While our brains like to think they've evolved outside of nature, our biology is still very much, influenced by it.

I have every hope however, we can stop ignoring the aloe growing in our respective gardens, and start utilising them, instead. Aloe may be something different, growing in your region. It might be right out your back door. You may have even, tripped over it a few times! Do you know what drove me to process that first batch of aloe?

Work in progress

I began installing a retaining wall, around our septic tank. I won't bore you with the copious reasons why this wall was necessary, but basically the aloe was growing onto the steps required, to reach the house. Where all my tools were. No way, was I going to trip over that large specimen. So by removing it, I finally decided to utilise it. Now I'm sharing about the biological resources I can literally trip over, in my arid region - to inspire you to stumble upon solutions in your own backyard.

By utilising the resources right outside your back door (and locally) reduces the impact on the rest of the world's resources. If you ever wanted a reason to kick yourself in the butt, and get serious, long term, consider putting global industry into permanent isolation - instead of your community. That's how we reverse-engineer this problem. Not just for when coronavirus are causing yet another pandemic. But for as long as we care about another person's life, mattering.

To protect our own species, we must start repopulating the world with different species again. It starts with the number of species in our soil. Then the number of ways we produce our food. Not one way. Monoculture. Then we can expand into what we clothe ourselves in, and what industries do we employ to build our houses? What products, with minimal processing. Does it employ a local? Only once we've utilised our local industries and resources, should we consider going outside of them.

Not as exposed to the elements ~ surrounded by diversity in our gully

If you want a relevant authority, to base your decisions on though, consider the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services. This was released close to a year ago, in May 2019. Several key points to take away from that report, are:

  • Society should not fixate on economic growth
  • Base economies instead, on nature being the foundation for development
  • Restore habitats
  • Grow food on less land
  • Stop illegal logging and poaching
  • Protect marine areas
  • Stop leaching heavy metals and wastewater into the environment
  • Reduce subsidies to industries harmful to nature
  • Increase funding to environmentally beneficial programs
  • Restore sovereignty to indigenous populations 
  • Address over-consumption habits, such as meat

These points are where we can start championing domestic markets, and petition local laws from. As opposed to waving through the global economy, because it's the way we've done business, formerly. We can each choose, which path we want to go down. What we choose to invest in. Even if it's not consuming.

Propagating extra aloe pups, rescued from the steps

I know what I want to do. Now, more than I ever have in my entire life. I hope to share my process of evolution with you. Currently, it starts with processing aloe vera. When I'm confident, I'll document and share it. So you can create products at home, with beneficial qualities too. I can't believe I ignored aloe, for the sake of learning about a process.

It's not that hard, really. Change. Sometimes we just need a fire lit under our butts, to get going. Like coronavirus. Or diabetes. The question is, will we learn the lessons and change for good, once the threat is brought under control? It's possible. We're a species known for evolving in cycles. Perhaps the next one, will encourage more species interaction in the domains we occupy? It will certainly keep coronavirus from evolving on it's current trajectory.

The patterns in nature, have always sort diversity though. Our world is built upon ancient sophistication, like that. If we don't supply diversity in our systems, we become damned by our own simplicity, instead. But what do you think - is the world ready for lasting change? Are you preparing for lasting change, in a way that benefits other species?


  1. Great post, Chris. And, YES,YES,YES!!!

    1. Thanks Patricia. Lovely to see you again. Stay safe. :)

  2. Excellent post Chris; I'm glad you wrote it!

    One of my first conclusions when the pandemic started, was that globalism is a failure, and here was proof. It seemed so obvious to me, that I assumed it would be obvious to everyone else. Some have woken up to the fact that outsourcing key goods (such as pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and food sources) was a mistake, and there has been some effort to bring these back "home" in a national sense, but I wonder if we're really learning the most important lesson here. Or more to the point, will we remember it? For example, if I've learned anything about politics over the years, it's how quickly people forget. Globalism is like an irresistible aphrodisiac, with the illusion of promising great wealth and power to those who can attain it. Who amongst the aspiring elite can resist that?

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Leigh. I must admit to feeling incredibly nervous, posting this. In Australia at present, we're all about supporting your mates to get through this tough time. That good old Aussie spirit. So people are rallying the cause of everything being asked of them. On the other hand, I'm writing about the pin which is heading straight for the balloon, our politicians are saying will keep everyone afloat. I feel like the warm-up act, for the grim reaper.

      As you point out though, globalism is a failure and we're seeing the cost of that, in lives lost today. Which I feel for those families it's affected. Trade is still a wonderful thing for civilisation. Just not when it's made into a super-organism, without regard for returning the natural equity it takes to operate. I think you are right about memory, forgetting.

      This is perhaps why traditions and celebrations, for memorable events are best engaged, every year. As an Aussie, and ANZAC day is next week, we have a saying, "Lest we Forget." We remember the fallen, in the war, so we don't take our freedom for granted. But really ALL life is important. I remember that, every time I venture out into the garden, and see how many lifeforms I get to share it with. Stay safe. :)

  3. A thought provoking post, Chris. I will have to think about it a bit more. I'm glad you are using your aloe vera. It is great in handmade soap.

    1. Thanks Chel. Glad you and the CEO are still well. :)

      I will have to search your blog for aloe in your handmade soap. I recall other herbs from your garden, in your soap making adventures, but I cannot remember if I've seen aloe. I do enjoy reading about what you find to put in your soaps. Especially what you acquire from the garden. :)

  4. Hi Chris, great post about the importance of the way some of us are now trying to live.
    I have a particular Aloe plant that is the medicinal variety,let me know when you are coming in again and you are welcome to pick up a plant or we can have distance hand over meeting.

    1. Nice to see you again, MargaretP. I'm always up for a plant swap! Or seeds. Will let you know when I'm next in town. It's been several weeks for me, as I stay home with the kids. My husband often buys supplies, on his way home from work. I've got your email though. I'll let you know, when I'm next in town. Stay safe. :)

    2. Happy for your husband to pick up from front gate, just let me know what day to put out bag on front gate.

    3. Roger that, and thanks! :)

  5. In the midst of all this upheaval, there's naturally a longing for a return to "normal" and in some respects I wish too for aspects of that, such as the freedom to go and see my family, to go to the beach or for a bushwalk. There are other aspects though, of this "normal" that I think now would be a good time to examine more closely and to consider really carefully into the future. Within this crises, I think, is an opportunity for change. Meg

    1. Great thoughts there Meg. A good time for reflection, and positive change. It's challenging when we have to avoid loved ones, or the simple activities we took for granted in a day. I personally miss the routine of Monday's. It was the only day I'd drive the kids to school in town, so I could do my shopping afterwards. It was usually quiet and I could avoid crowds. Not nowadays though. The shops are always full. But that's really a small inconvenience. I do miss how Monday, set me up for the rest of the week though. Stay safe. :)

  6. Will be interested to see your Aloe Vera recipe if you post it. I have it growing but haven't used it for much, except putting the gel on ant bites.

    I have comfrey growing and made some comfrey ointment a few years ago. When my husband had his hip replacement, the metal ball thingy on the replacement used to interfere with being able to lie comfortably on that side and eventually a bedsore developed which would not heal. His doctor gave him zinc tablets which were supposed to help with the healing. I applied the comfrey ointment with a patch, to stop it being rubbed off by his clothes and eventually the skin healed over. When we went back to the doctor and I told him what I'd done he was amazed. I've used it on minor cuts with great success.

    Another one you might know about is yarrow and it's ability to stem blood flow. I have that growing too and when a cut won't stop bleeding I chew up some leaves and apply the paste with a bandaid. It works wonders.

    1. Hi Bev, you are quite the herbalist! I've tried growing both comfrey and yarrow here, but when we lost the usual wet seasons, they died off. I do have plans to have them again, but need to set up a guild of plants, which can protect them from evaporation. I love the sound of all the ointments you made though. It's great you have that knowledge to make medicine from your garden. Comfrey is an amazing all round plant - compost activator, ground aerator and wound healer. It's the one plant I really want to have, but have yet to make succeed! Stay safe. :)


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