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Pasteurising Humans

by Budsy Huggys 11 months ago in fact or fiction

On Sinus Rinses and World Wide Holidays

Peat Moss Burning Through The Winter After A Summer Forest Fire

I was visiting a good friend today. A person who in another age was called a ‘shut in’. She has dark hair, belying her age, this despite an absence of dye. The usual calm, warm shape to her face was distended: “Its on every channel!”

I looked at the TV. A splash of yellow became a woman announcing some nuance about the latest pandemic.

“Oh,… the virus stuff?”

“Ya.” “Everything is shutting.”

“Um hum. But, you know, it won’t make a difference?”

“What.”

“It won’t make a difference to the virus. Its like an idea. Once this one was born, it was here to stay. That’s ok. There are simple ways to minimize its effects on people.”

The speaker inside me continued, “Use a metaphor to view the idea. Look for something that seems different but is the same. D-Day, June 6, 1944 did not substantially cause the defeat of Germany. The USSR had already pushed the German army back to near what is now Lviv, Ukraine, some 1600 kilometres west of Stalingrad, USSR, the furthest eastward advance of Germany. By comparison, on June 5, 1944, there were no Allied troops in France and, once landed, they had 1200 kilometres to go to reach Berlin. It didn’t matter to the defeat of Germany. That outcome was already assured, no matter how many movies Hollywood has made to the contrary. It did matter for other reasons. Now, British, US, French, Polish and Canadian soldiers became the west bookend to Red Army troops in the east and, knowingly or not, the western Allies were dying for the re-establishment of post-war democracies in western Europe, not for the defeat of Germany. It was not the outcome they were aiming toward but it was, nonetheless, a very good outcome. D-day, can serve as a metaphor for social distancing or quarantines ostensibly caused by Covid-19: they won’t completely prevent Covid-19 from spreading and changing but they will cause some other very good, if very different, things to happen.

“Covid-19 is here to stay in some fashion or another for some time. It will change the flu season. In the past, during the flu season people sometimes got two or three colds in a row. Children, who already average 6 to 8 colds per year, have 6-8 times the initial risk of death from cold. But the risk of death from Covid-19 doesn’t have to stay at 1,7% per incidence in the U.S. (at the time of writing). Just like the common cold doesn’t have to have a its death rate. These fatality rates reflect our determination to keep going to work, to avoid masks, to keep not washing our hands.” What if we amended our society and rewarded mask wearing, staying home and hand washing. What then would the death rate be for the common cold? We don’t know, because prior to Covid-19 we didn’t try to know.”

She sat on her bed, stepping into the sometimes shutting eyes of her lot. Listening comes in many forms.

“What if we pasteurised ourselves? Not at the temperatures they pasteurize milk, about 73 degrees centigrade. We don’t need the burns, which begin to be felt at 43 degrees centigrade. Nevertheless, near 43 degrees, pasteurisation will kill many of the viruses which replicate in the relatively cool confines of the sinus. In fact, one theory of the purpose of fever is that the higher body temperature restricts pathogen manufacture within the body. This idea underlies the use of sinus rinses. Together, warm - salt - water, sprayed up a nostril will remove the ideal replicant environment, kill live viruses and flush them from our systems. The water should be pure - not from the tap unless boiled and cooled - and repeated applications will slow the viral infection, giving the body’s defences time to fight back. What is the death rate from Covid-19 if we wear masks, stay home, wash our hands and pasteurise our sinuses? Likely notably less than 1.7%. We haven’t learned the answer. We will. So far, we know that “social distancing” measures are aimed not at preventing the epidemic, but to balaztatu or, in Basque, to slow it, so cascading cases don’t overwhelm medical facilities.

Her eyes, dark like her hair, were now focused on mine. Out of the corner of my right, a blur of blue plastic crossed the window’s breadth upon a gust.

“We used to panic over weather conditions. Was a storm coming? How long would we be wet? These questions have mutated into the calm faces of societies that better handle changing weather conditions. Except that we are warming our planet: re-introducing panic over weather. Why is that connected to Covid-19? The world economy is, in our panic, sliding to a stop. We are producing dramatically less climate change gas while we try to escape one new virus and its variants. And we are finding out exactly how to control climate change, if by accident. What if we took three or four weeks off every year? Worldwide. Or four weeks worldwide twice a year. What if we did it during the coming virus ‘season’?” What if we just factored that change into our lives, world wide by treaty. We talk about the leisure society, but here is another reason to find some couch time. Certainly, adding worldwide production holidays together with other measures, we would have reduced viral pandemic risks. The very practical bonus is a much, much cooler earth.”

She was smiling. As if I was slow to come to these conclusions. I muddled on.

“I fear that most people just don’t know how warm it is going to get if we don’t force ourselves into home based leisure time. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calculates that we need to keep average worldwide temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees celsius above average temperatures prior to the industrial revolution. But we have already raised mean global temperatures by 1 degree, leaving wiggle room of only .5 of a degree. The ‘realists’ don’t see how we are going to keep within .5 of a degree of extra warming, so in the 2016 Paris Accord, they arbitrarily added another .5 of a degree as ‘leeway’, bringing targeted increases in temperature since the beginning of the industrial revolution to 2 degrees. But the actual numbers are starkly bigger, with predictions about average temperature by the end of this century falling in a range between 2-4 degrees. Those numbers are extrapolations of our pre-Covid-19 behaviour. Those are extinction numbers. And they are averages. Seaside communities that are not submerged by the melting ice caps will feel almost no temperature change. Continental interior lands need to multiply by four. Thus, an end of century average increase of 4 degrees (plan on it until we get real) will translate to a Winnipeg, Canada increase of plus 16 degrees celsius. That will melt the permafrost, releasing more carbon by fire and methane (CH4) production (which is 21 times more efficient at inducing warming than CO2). Huge quantities of carbon will be released from the many, many billions of tonnes of peat moss currently stored in ice in Russia, Canada, Alaska, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Many people have died to create a reprieve in the Climate Change numbers. Perhaps we can honour them and ourselves by making use of an option which the Covid-19 pandemic has made obvious.”

Brian Pannell is a former environmental lawyer and former Executive Director of Pollution Probe in Toronto Canada.

fact or fiction

Budsy Huggys

A lawyer planning to return to practicing status, a writer of literature and peotry, A housing facilitator, planner and developer, an advocate and support person to the homeless and the best love I can be to my beloveds.

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