Ecology is a branch of science concerned with the interrelationships of organisms and their environment.
An ecosystem is a community, along with its nonliving factors, that exist together. Scientifically, a community consists of a collection of creatures that live together in a particular place. The Coming Plague is a novel that outlines how each epidemic has been a direct result of human progression. The diseases covered in layman’s terms include Machupo, Marburg, Yellow Fever, Meningitis, Lassa Fever, Ebola, Swine Flu, Legionnaire’s Disease, HIV/AIDS, Toxic Shock Syndrome, Hantavirus, Malaria, Seal Plague, Tuberculosis, and Cholera.
Humans have not been exempt from the catastrophic results of disruptions in the atmosphere or food chain. By viewing themselves as masters, their methods of progression have resulted in devastation. The discovery that most epidemics were bacterial or parasitic came only after a campaign in 1955. Dr. Jonas Salk established the Polio Vaccine, and Americans felt as though nothing could go wrong in terms of health. However, by 1963, everything fell apart. Developing countries, such as India, contributed as much as one-third of their budgets towards malaria control.
During that period of Health Transition,” diverse plant life yielded effects of pesticides, and the long-term results were overwhelmed with destructive insects. Consequently, resistance among insects increased significantly. By the 1970s, society acknowledged that pollutants had a direct effect on human existence. At that point, it was recognized that environmental destruction could not be corrected within a time frame that contemporary humans would witness at their rate of progression. The analogy used for human survival was the Cretaceous period dinosaur die-off. The time had come to look at ecology beginning at the macro-level to allow nature to run its course and avoid any further destruction for the sake of progress.
Even still, the issues were even greater than global awareness and cleaning. In 1981, the emergence of the human immunodeficiency virus was seen as an indication of things to come. Humans had learned little from prior diseases. The response and reaction to new microbes that attack the defensive weapons used to protect human beings was no greater than thirty years before. The initial response was that ignoring the severity of the new microbe would make it go away. The author provided a chronological summary of the emergence of new microbes and the research methods implemented in order to isolate the source, as well as the support or lack of support from society.
The book was informative and easy to read, heightening awareness about the ecosystem and the human role. The author successfully captured attention and maintained interest through a simple accounting of events. The emotions of those involved were given as the events were presented, and the actual research was detailed and well-incorporated. Surprisingly, The Coming Plague” was enjoyable and intense. At each new search for the source of an epidemic, there was anticipation of what the cause was that particular time.
The only issue I had with the book was the paranoia I developed. The book sparked an interest in learning more about the ecosystem and made me aware that learning does not have to be agonizing.