July 26, 2014

Surviving Human Nature

Surving Human Nature


Aging brings some  wisdom and some acquiescence to the world of Samara – the swarming of humans in ephemeral groups, driven by needs and desires that can never be satisfied. I am convinced that human nature involves a collection of tendencies and contradictions what  have prevailed for hundreds of thousands of years and will not change in the foreseeable future. The huge increase in population and the spread of new global ideas and methods of wealth creation should moderate and sometimes overwhelm human nature but only the names and places change – the behaviors remain the same.  I am impressed by optimistic humans who work to solve the world's problems even when successes are modest. Problems recur. Success turns to failure. In this 21st century, a more realistic philosophy of human life is required as we recognize that it is impossible to permanently change human nature by social and political means - by education, persuasion, coercion and law. Technological innovation may reduce carbon emissions, for example, but the energy needs of a growing human population will be difficult to satisfy.
Leaning and Guha-Sapir summarized the threats to humans in the 21st century:” The effects of armed conflict and natural disasters on global public health are widespread. In the years ahead, the international community must address the root causes of these crises. Natural disasters, particularly floods and storms, will become more frequent and severe because of climate change. Organized deadly onslaughts against civilian populations will continue, fueled by the availability of small arms, persistent social and political inequities, and, increasingly, by a struggle for natural resources. These events affect the mortality, morbidity, and well-being of large populations. Humanitarian relief will always be required, and there is a demonstrable need, as in other areas of global health, to place greater emphasis on prevention and mitigation... armed conflicts persist, with entrenched internal violence lasting for years, in countries such as  Sudan, The eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.) Advances in small-arms technology and struggles over natural resources of international value (oil , natural gas and rare minerals) make conflict resolution challenging.
Civilians bear the burden. Families are forced to move from their homes to escape internecine violence. Refugees cross national borders and are legally entitled to assistance in United Nations (UN)–managed camps. But increasingly since the mid-1980s, people have been unable to cross international frontiers and so remain internally displaced  They are often at higher risk for malnutrition and disease than residents or refugees." 

[i] Natural Disasters, Armed Conflict, and Public HealthJennifer Leaning, M.D., and Debarati Guha-Sapir, Ph.D. N Engl J Med 2013; 369:1836-1842 November 7, 2013