For germs to thrive they need help – ours. We’re what biologists call ‘hosts’: “the larger participant in a relationship … often providing a home and food source ….”
A new 3-part series on NPR examines our relationship with germs. Part 1 began with man’s early encounters with microbes and concluded with this observation:
Luckily, humans were so few and far between back then that this virus [or bacterium] can’t find any more humans to infect. That first mutant virus [or bacterium] doesn’t get very far. But after many thousands of years something big starts to change: humans discovered agriculture. This means we started to settle down …. We started having large families, more neighbors; there’s more food.
Part 2 of the NPR series will be aired Thursday. If you watch it, keep in mind that in the ensuing decades the U.N. estimates that:
(1) The world population will increase by 2.3 billion people by 2050, reaching almost 10 billion in all.
(2) We will have a lot more close neighbors: In 2014 there were 28 “mega-cities,” defined as having 10 million inhabitants or more; by 2030 the world is projected to have 41 mega-cities.
(3) The number of persons aged 60 or above – people with weaker immune systems – is expected to more than double by 2050.
In other words, there will be a lot more good hosts out there, all ready – willing or not – and able, to provide food and shelter to the germs mentioned in the broadcast as well as to these guys.
Here’s the series opener. It runs less than 3 minutes: