This is disturbing news. What if eating undercooked meat, gardening, or having a cat could give you an infection which stayed with you for life, nested in cysts in your brain? Worse, those cysts somehow affected your personality, possibly putting you at increased risk of suicide, schizophrenia, or car accident? And here’s the stop-you-in-your-tracks point: up to one third of humanity may harbor this protozoan. That is one very successful parasite.
Infection rates are frighteningly high: as much as 10-20% of the population in the US, 30-40% of Czechs, and 55% in France.
Sounds like a plot for a bad sci-fi but we know that Toxoplasma gondii makes small mammals take life threatening risks – an infected rat finds cat-urine “attractive” and runs about more, being fearless, but getting eaten: good for the parasite, not so good for the rat. Our brains may be larger but they are made with much the same building blocks and tools. Rabies is known to stir larger mammals into a rage, and there are “a truckload” of examples from the insect and fish world of parasitic mind control. Hmmm.
Toxoplasmosis is thought to be a nasty parasite that affects pregnant women and immune-compromised people, [...]
Here’s a topic close to my heart. Before I became involved in climate change and currencies, my hot topic-of-choice for years was medical research and health. In my honours degree I worked to get a tiny step closer to treating Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. When I saw that The Australian Government was threatening to cut medical research, I wanted to put a razor fine point on just what muddy thinking costs us. This article I wrote is published in The Weekend Australian today. We can’t afford to get the decision wrong on climate change. We must fight the battles that matter, not build fortresses against imaginary foes.
Wasting money on climate change betrays sick Joanne Nova From: The Australian May 07, 2011 12:00AM
Fabíola and Julio Licinio in 1964. She died of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma a few weeks later.
LOST opportunities are invisible but deadly. On climate change, the call to buy insurance by pricing carbon is a cop-out. Where is the cost-benefit analysis? We’re thinking of axing Australian medical research yet we’re supporting solar panel manufacturers in China. It doesn’t have to be this way.
All the money spent employing green police, subsidizing solar or researching how to [...]
Tomb of Hong Quan Fu. Photo Iflwlou拍攝
It seems a warmer climate might be bad, but a colder one is deadly.
Once upon a time, people thought that overpopulation triggered crashes, but in this study by Lee and Zhang the hard numbers suggest instead that it was climate, and of course, it’s not the warmer kind of climate that causes the problems but the colder kind.
Malthusian cycles of population boom and bust aren’t the drivers here (though presumably having a large population means there is little buffer when the deadly cold spells hit).
From NIPCC: Cold Periods caused population crashes in China over the last millenium
…there were 5 major population contractions in China between 1000 CE and 1911, and all of them occurred in periods with a cold climate, when mortality crises triggered population collapses. [Abstract]
How much fun can you have in a long frost? Almost every kind of uprising, pain or plague.
In one population crash, the losses were as high as 49% of the peak. In the face of a 50:50 death rate, “perspective” doesn’t seem like quite the right word.