The Force of Nature

tree man

As we just witnessed on a macro-level with Hurricane Harvey, nature can act with overwhelming force. But what’s often lost in the shuffle is that nature can operate just as devastatingly on a micro-level too.

The above picture is of a man’s hand overrun with human papillomavirus (HPV) that turned into “tree man” disease, so-called because the tumors can resemble wood or bark. Fortunately, according to the NPR story, surgeons at a Jerusalem hospital were able to restore his hand to near normal, though the growths will probably return necessitating more surgery.

The story serves as a vivid reminder that when we hear vague phrases such as “pathogen-infested swamp,” referring to the aftermath of Harvey floodwaters; or that “millions of pounds of toxic chemicals” are pouring from damaged Houston area petrochemical plants — that these invisible-to-the-naked-eye substances will also have real-world consequences, every bit as much as the viral-induced growth seen on the hand.

The difference, however, is that with Harvey so many more people will be affected.

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