Considering the last 100 years, we now live in a world where many of the past’s problems have been resolved. But with these new times, a brand new set of problems have appeared. Yes, we live longer now than any other previous generation before us. And our lifestyles are so diverse and the possibilities seem endless in front of us. But don’t you sometimes feel that behind all the benefits of progress lurks a devilish creature that threatens our future? We have better medicine, but we ingest more chemicals. There is more food, but 90% of it is plagued by pesticides. We travel more and see the world, but our air and nature is poisoned by toxic human and industrial waste. What are the dangers that may threaten our future? Who is our real enemy? What can we do to prevent an apocalyptic destiny of humanity?
Climate change and its grim general health implications
Climate change, whether you believe it or not is already taking a toll on our good health. As stated in the Climate Change Report of 2007, because of the altered weather patterns and slow increase in temperature, numerous infectious diseases are spreading like wind. For example, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Scientific Working Group, dengue is the most rapidly spreading vectorborne disease in the world, with the average annual number of reported cases increasing by more than 7.5 times between 1970–1979 and 2000–2005.
Will life disappear on Earth in the next 100 years?
If Noah were to build another Ark in the next 50 years, he might have a passenger occupation problem. A 2006 report published in the journal Conservation Biology estimated that more than a quarter of the world’s plant and vertebrate animal species could be extinct by 2050. And a new 2016 scientific report says that we are already living in the sixth great extinction of animal species. When scientists say that recent extinction rates are up to 100 times higher than in the past, I think everyone should take a pause and reflect hard.
Not only climate change is to be blamed for our future diseases and sicknesses, but humans as well. A sick Earth, due to such factors as rapid demographic increase, deforestation, urbanization and other habitat changes is putting our own health in danger. New research shows that diseases like AIDS, West Nile, Hantavirus and Ebola could soon infect not only animals, but more and more humans as well.
Technology – another tentacle of the diseased future
As stated here in a previous editorial, nowadays, humans suffer from diseases that did not exist in the past. This trend will most likely continue in the future as well. And technology plays a major role in the health apocalypse that may come sooner than we think.
Among possible plagues such as Virtual Reality Addiction or Robophobia, a couple of predicted ailments stand out. Nanotechnology-based medicine, may in fact poison our bodies instead of curing them. At the current speed of technological progress, people may easily go into nanotoxicological shocks sooner than we may think. In a recent study published by Nature Magazine, scientists are concerned about the impact that nanotechnological materials and devices will have on the environment.
Moreover, Cybernetic Septicemia could also pose an unforeseeable threat to our well-being. As the world of implants and prosthetics is becoming more and more sophisticated, we tend to oversee the dangers it presents. Some future implants may cause sever allergic reactions or exaggerated immune responses. Infection, inflammation and pain may arise in the areas where implants and human tissue interact.
Preventing a sick future – hard, but possible.
Along my career, I’ve seen my share of bad and good. Greedy corporations that kept (and keep) our health hostile as they sometimes refuse to share a life-saving vaccine or pill. Corrupt politicians who put their own interest first, ignoring the needs of the many that entrusted them with their votes. Collective ignorance, responsible for the constant polluting and poisoning of our common home, Earth.
But I’ve seen good things, as well. In the eyes of relentless scientists and researchers who strive for the betterment of medicinal knowledge. Or in the actions of everyday people like me and you who are aware of the dangers we inflict on our planet.
Raising awareness is our responsibility. Putting pressure on our policy-makers to set in stone laws and policies meant to preserve our environment. Refusing to give in to the easy alternatives of artificial food or poisonous chemical medicine.
We will all live for the next couple of decades or more. Future will come faster than we think. We all have (or will have) children or nephews. But trust me on this one. They will judge us solely based on how they will see the planet they’ve inherited.