by Eric Greening

Like many of us who are “sheltering in place,” I spend too much time in front of a computer screen these days, much of it, when not in correspondence with people I can’t see face to face, digging around for information that can help us make sense of the current pandemic, understand whether present responses are more helpful or more harmful on balance, and try to see a way forward as we hopefully emerge from the most acute phase medically (although the most acute phase economically may take longer to emerge from).  In earlier weeks, I shared the thought that we are faced with a choice of either returning to right relations with our fellow animals or watching our health and civil liberties be constantly threatened–that not only the trafficking in wildlife and “wet markets” (pursued mostly in other countries), but confined animal facilities (extremely common in the US–subsidized by US taxpayers in every farm bill) need to be stopped, internationally and enforceably outlawed.  We can have health, prosperity, and liberty, or we can have cheap meat.  We can’t have both.  I don’t remember if I referenced specific studies when I wrote that particular message, because I have had a hard time finding recent ones that cover the global picture, but here are some “oldies but goodies” that can buttress these arguments: from Public Health Reports, May-June, 2008: “The Animal-Human Interface and Infectious Disease in Industrial Food Animal Production: Rethinking Biosecurity and Biocontainment” by a number of authors.  Some of the same authors and an assortment of others wrote, in Ecohealth, May 13th, 2009, the paper: “Industrial Food Animal Production and Global Health Risks: Exploring the Ecosystems and Economics of Avian Influenzal.” A little more recent, and more focused on the wildlife trade than on confined animal facilities, although it implicates the latter as well: in The Lancet, December 1st, 2012: “Prediction and Prevention of the Next Pandemic Zoonosis.”

I think I also shared information correlating air quality with severity of response to the Covid-19 virus, and urged that caucusites join me in urging Dr. Borenstein and the Supervisors to close the La Grande Tract to vehicles as an emergency response to a potentially deadly disease whose degree of lethality correlates with exposure to air pollution, including fine particulates.  I think I referenced the study from Harvard, from its Department of Biostatistics and its T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Exposure to Air Pollution and Covid-19 Mortality in the United States.” 

Now I’d like to call your attention to a couple of other brief papers, one of which can help us advocate for keeping open spaces open, and the other of which can shed light on why some people are susceptible to lethal or near-lethal impacts from a virus that gives many other people a rather ordinary discomfort and inconvenience–and points at an environmental cause not being talked about in the media that could explain patterns of lethality.
I have been distressed at the punitive approach many local and state governments have been taking in closing off trails, beaches, and open spaces on the grounds of observations of people using them while not keeping proper social distance, as if forcing people into fewer and fewer spaces were an answer to crowding.  Much of this overactive zeal is based on the assumption that the disease can be easily spread by brief outdoor proximity–that somehow the virus can hang around viably in outdoor air, as opposed to the known methods of transmission from droplets expelled by infected people onto other people and onto surfaces touched by other people.  Given that this particular disease is so new that there are truly NO experts on it, only people who have come to understand particular pieces of the puzzle fairly well, but not yet a pattern that puts all the pieces together, it is important, at a time when our lives are being micromanaged in the name of health protection, that there be evidence behind incursions on our movements.  
I would, then, refer to the World Health Organization Scientific Brief from March 29th, 2020, entitled: “Modes of Transmission of Virus Causing Covid-19: Implications for IPC Precaution Recommendations.” A summary quote: “In an analysis of 75,465 Covid-19 cases in China, airborne transmission was not supported.” Although media often dredge the most sensational, fear-inducing messages taken out of context from medical literature, this brief refutes the notion that the virus can simply hang around, viably, in the air for up to three hours.  The study that had seemed to so indicate involved the generation of aerosols using something called a “three-jet Collision nebulizer” spraying into something called a “Goldberg drum.” Such a laboratory setup had no relevance even to normal indoor situations, much less outdoor.  Happening to momentarily pass another hiker on a trail at less than six feet is not dangerous–there is no evidence that it can lead to transmission.
The whole notion of collective consequences for the misdoing of the few is the reaction of the small-minded and those in the grip of mindless panic, not sound policy.  We don’t close a highway because some people speed on it, even though speeding is dangerous and can be lethal not only to the speeders but to those hit by the speeders.  Why should we close a beach or park or trail because a few people violate a very recently established and hopefully temporary norm of distancing?  It might make sense if the beach, park, or trail were a hotbed of contagion, but these are, instead, places where transmission has not been documented, and where users build up their immune systems by exercising, being in fresh air, and recovering a few moments of seeming normality in the midst of lives dominated by a sense of genuine abnormality.  
Woman with a mask.

All right, I’m almost done with this posting, but here is one more eye-opener.  Look up Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D. and, in particular, her piece in “Cutting-Edge Science” called “Connecting the Dots: Glyphosate and Covid-19.” (https://www.amazon.com/s?i=digital-text&rh=p_27%3AStephanie+Seneff+PhD&s=relevancerank&text=Stephanie+Seneff+PhD&ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1) and (https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/connecting-dots-glyphosate-covid-19)

She presents evidence that it is exposure to pollutants in general, and this pollutant in particular, that correlates with the deaths and grave symptoms experienced by some.  In other words, the base experience of a person with a minimal pollutant load (alas, in 2020, there is no-one who escapes carrying SOME burden of pollution) is of an ordinary inconvenience not that different from a garden variety flu or cold.  Without the synergistic effect of the pollutant burden, this virus would not justify locking people down, closing vast numbers of family businesses, and torpedoing the economy.  Rather than become accustomed to the lockdown mentality, a crashing economy, vanished constitutional rights, the overwhelming of our medical system, and constant terror of a lethal disease, perhaps we need to halt the routine use of the poisons that have made us so vulnerable.  Cheap meat and routine spraying may have to go if we want to recover health, prosperity liberty, conviviality, and culture, but aren’t they a price worth paying?  Before we allow ourselves to be force-marched into a surveillance state in which “certificates of immunity” are necessary to gain access to public places and private businesses, in which jobs not connected with a dystopian definition of “essential” vanish and those who held them become dependent on grudgingly yielded crumbs from an emptying table, in which gatherings are lastingly prohibited and the right of the people to peaceably assemble is as fading a constitutional relic as its “well-regulated militia,” and in which people can be herded into “shelter in place” orders at a moment’s notice for unpredictable durations: before we allow that to become the “new normal,” maybe we should ask ourselves if there are other habits we could give up in order to recover a society worth living in!!

STAY WELL!!
Eric Greening
[email protected]
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Connecting the Dots: Glyphosate and COVID-19

By Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D.
can also be viewed HERE