By Eric McLamb
Ecology Prime News

“The world gives us our reality,” says Dr. James de Jarnette, veteran psychoanalyst of 40-plus years and human ecology specialist for Ecology Prime™. “We cannot completely shut ourselves from the rest of the world and go merrily along because the environment doesn’t work that way.”

Like a sudden splash of freezing water cast upon us, the entire human species was dealt its harshest reality ever in its brief existence on Earth… all at one time, practically anywhere and everywhere people live. The provocateur was a natural, unassuming mutation from an existing family of viruses known to cause relatively mild respiratory irritations in animals and humans.

A Nanometer-Size Organism

But this one is very different. Health officials call it SARS-CoV-2 which causes the deadly COVID-19 disease that swarmed to virtually every human habitation in a matter of weeks.  It’s a human-targeted invasion by a living organism approximately 50-200 nanometers in size (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter) that spread to humans from a yet undetermined living animal source.

No one was immune to this disease. It was not until over a year after its dawning in 2019 that vaccines would be developed and administered to the global population amidst considerable skepticism about their safety and efficacy. Yet, the virus mutated causing some concerns that the vaccines may be rendered ineffective. This environmental health roller coaster will continue indefinitely.

SARS-CoV-2, the 50-200 nanometer size coronavirus strain that led to the COVID-19 disease and subsequent global pandemic. (Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control)

Like humans and any other living organism, the virus’ sole objective has been and continues to be to live and multiply. It’s a natural life form in our global environment, and it latches onto human beings to ensure its growth and survival. It grew and multiplied unabated and was largely disregarded until it was too late to thwart or at least blunt the pandemic.

This microscopic living organism turned our human global geopolitical borders into empty facades as it spread with fierce virulence from human to human, indiscriminate of culture, age, ethnicity, location, climate or politics.

Not knowing how to live the lives modern humans had created for themselves over the last 300,000 years, people worldwide had to hide indoors and separate themselves from each other – lest the virus invades our bodies – until the virus can die out or we beat it… if we can.

Ultimately, we will… and we are. We already know being infected with this virus is not necessarily a death sentence, but it can cause death if we are not extremely careful. The effects its presence leaves with human society will be felt for many, many, many years to come.

This is the Way the World Works

“Everything is hung on our ecology, our personal thoughts as well as what the environment dictates as reality, and that changes from time to time,” Dr. de Jarnette said. “And if we are not adaptable enough to embrace, not fight with, but embrace the changes that are happening, we’re in serious trouble.”

This virus brought the human race to its knees in more ways than one, if only temporarily. But at what costs? Perhaps more important is what it should teach us.

All human activity and economies were essentially neutralized… not by a foreign invader but by a simple evolution in nature that humans must deal with in order to survive. Our ability to deal with it and how we deal with it are what will determine how we survive and live moving forward.

This is the way the world works. Humans have met head on with and adapted to pretty much everything nature has conjured, from diseases like the Black Death (the Plague), Swine Flu, polio, yellow fever, modern Ebola, SARS and the 1918 Flu Pandemic to climate and geologic upheavals: hurricanes, typhoons, severe droughts, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and so much more.  We survived because of our ability to adapt.

Just ask any scientist… Humans are part of nature and all of its natural occurrences. Like all living species of the past, flora and fauna, humans must adapt to survive.

Today, because of this, people are the planet’s most prominent residents.

The Sixth Mass Extinction?

“The dinosaurs were the prominent residents of the world at one time. And you know what, they’re no longer here,” said Dr. de Jarnette. “That can happen to us.”

Human preparedness for the COVID-19 virus slapped everyone with the reality that humankind could fall victim to Earth’s sixth mass extinction where people are both culprit and its only victim. It’s not going to happen this time, but the security of the human race and its place in life on Earth have been shaken to the foundation.

That should be a good thing. If there is one thing humans can do better than most other life that has existed on this planet is adapt. If we don’t, other life will take our place, the Earth will continue to spin, the seasons will continue to change, and the Sun will continue to shine day after day. So, naturally, we must adapt.

Dramatic environmental changes were beyond the adaptability of most life on the planet, reasoned Dr. de Jarnette. “I am sure the dinosaurs had something to do with their own extinction. They were not adaptable,” he said.

“There was a great global adaptation from which new life evolved, but the dinosaurs and most other life on Earth could not adapt.”

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Humans today face an environmental challenge not unlike the devastation created by the asteroid some 65 million years ago that wiped out about 75 percent of Earth’s animal and plant life, including the dinosaurs.

Fact: Humans can face extinction. An important lesson our population can take away from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dr. de Jarnette, is to understand this, embrace the environment, and not simply say, “This is going to go away soon, and things will be back to normal.”

“It’s like the dinosaurs saying that won’t ever happen in our life-time, so who cares,” said Dr. de Jarnette.

“What the environment does is going to affect what we think and what we do, and if that is not in balance somebody is getting the short end of the stick. That somebody is us.”

Art Credits: ClipArt Queen, Clipart Library, Realistic Dinosaur Cliparts, Clipartix, Vecteezy, Clipart Email. Cartoon by: Ecology Prime Publications.

The Era of the Great Adaptation

For the first time in human history, the global reset button was pushed on all human activity… no one has been untouched. People in every culture, region, city, rural area, wilderness and neighborhood are affected by the virus and global universal lock-down of human activity and interaction because that’s the only thing we know to do while we figure it out.

It has even reached isolated Amazonian tribes where a 15-year old Yanomami boy tested positive for COVID-19 and subsequently died from it. This is just another exacting reminder of how humans everywhere on our planet are indelibly and perpetually connected… along with nature’s all-inclusive sphere of life.

Society adapted by locking down just about everything humans do. Economies, food production and supply, education, all sports and other public events, travel and even religion and politics have been drastically adjusted to ensure human survival in the presence of this new natural life form. After more than two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is still grappling with it and dealing with its aftermath.

It is only a virus that we saw coming. We gave it little credence as it traveled from human to human until we had to shut down normal society and contain ourselves within our homes to protect ourselves from it… and subsequently from each other. It has already reorientied our relationship with the outside world, with government and even with each other.

Thanks to human technology, we have found ways to isolate ourselves from each other in ways that will forever shape interpersonal and business relationships everywhere… and with our environment.

This is the beginning of the Era of The Great Adaptation.

The cure for Covid-19 ushered in a new normal, and that is still evolving today. It is a dramatic global adaptation with people working together through the human technological infrastructures that are replacing much of our human interconnections. And we are learning to do so together, alone.

The frightening reality to all this is that human society is latching onto diminishing human interaction to cope with nature. As Katherine Mangu-Ward, editor-in-chief of Reason Magazine, stated in a March 2020 Politico Magazine survey: the current pandemic “will sweep away many of the artificial barriers to moving more of our lives online,” noting that “everything cannot become virtual, of course”. This is how we are trying to adapt.

Alas, as humans, we are starting to live, work and play alone… together.

(Updated August 1, 2022 – Originally published on April 22, 2020.)

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READ… Puerto Rico’s Model for Human Adaptation

A jewel of the Caribbean Hispanic culture that includes Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica and The Bahamas, Puerto Rico is no stranger to environmental challenges, including numerous pandemic outbreaks such as typhoid, yellow fever, polio, tuberculosis, cholera and the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919. But their model for survival and adaptability has always been and still remains, their humanity and natural understanding of their relationship with the environment.

Marilyn Luciano of Utuado, Puerto Rico, hugs a government relief officer Brian Grayson after he let her call her son from his satellite phone to tell him she was okay in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in October 2017. Puerto Rico continues to recover from the lethal Category 5 storm as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down human activity. (Wikimedia Commons, USDA, 10-17-2017)

Gisela De Jesus, a Puerto Rico native and current resident of San Juan, explained her culture’s centuries of such adaptations through the spirit of their humanity and natural reliance on inter-connectivity. Just as if her ancestors spoke through her voice, she said:

“La voluntad y el tesón de nuestra gente, su bondad y su perseverancia fue lo que nos salvó.

“The will of our people, their good nature and their resiliency were what saved us.”

Now on Ecología Prime™!

Read, see and feel how Puerto Rico faces the current pandemic as it recovers from Hurricane Maria and recent earthquakes, carrying forth its rich history of environmental sustainability. It is one person’s story from the depths and adaptability of the Hispanic people and culture:
Puerto Rico:The Ageless Ecological Adaptation of an Hispanic People

Dr. James E. de Jarnette, Ph.D., M.A., Ph.D, is the senior human inner ecology specialist for Ecology Prime™. He has been combining his 40-plus years expertise in human behavior as it co-operates with and through the natural environmental surround. For Dr. Jim, harmony is necessary for all to survive and prosper. He is a co-founder of Ecology Prime™.

Feature Image Photo Credit: Bangladesh Oceanside, Wikimedia Commons, by Ashif Anam Siddique.

Did You Know…?

  • A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter in size. It is used to measure the smallest things, like atoms or molecules. The size of the coronavirus at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic is about 50-200 nanometers in size.
  • Earth has seen five major global mass extinctions since life first appeared some 3.9 billion years ago. The first occurred about 440 million years ago during the Paleozoic Era when 85% of all life died off, likely due to climate change. The last mass extinction, which wiped out 75% of all life including the dinosaurs, occurred some 65 million years ago in the Mesozoic Era.
  • The first human, Homo habilis, first appeared about 2.2 million years ago (mya) and existed until 1.5 mya, giving way to the evolution of Homo erectus. Today’s modern human, Homo sapiens, appeared between 200-300,00 years ago and is the only human species today that is not extinct.
  • Earth’s total human population today is nearly 8 billion people. It took 200-300,000 years for the modern human population to reach 1 billion people in the year 1800 A.D. (C.E.), yet just over 200 more years to grow by another 6.8 billion. In 1970, the global population was about half the size it is today (Source: United Nations DESA – Population.)

Related Articles….

~ The Human Revolution
~ Letter from the Virus, by Darinka Montico
The Ecological Impact of the Industrial Revolution
Rachel Carson: Giving Nature a Voice
~ Puerto Rico:The Ageless Ecological Adaptation of an Hispanic People
~ The Story of Puerto Rico, Its Adaptations & Culture: Gisela De Jesús

© Copyright 2020. Eric McLamb for Ecology Prime Media Inc. All rights reserved.

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Eric McLamb is the Founder of Ecology Prime Inc. and a 40-year veteran of educational, environmental and entertainment media. He has extensive experience in environmental journalism, multimedia and public relations – including myriad articles published online and in textbooks. He has served as a senior executive for the television empires of Turner Broadcasting System and Discovery Inc. and has closely worked with such pioneers as The Cousteau Society, National Geographic Television, World Wildlife Fund, National Audubon Society and National Wildlife Federation, among numerous others. He credits his "lived in the city, raised in the country" roots to his unique perspective on human ecology.