Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Media mogul Ted Turner, and his money, are joining forces with the Methodists and Lutherans to help the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate malaria. So why is this so significant, other than the tragic fact that 1 million Africans, mostly children, die each year from the disease? Let’s take a quick peek behind the ‘curtains’.
Throughout human history, no single naturally occurring malady or man-made phenomena is more responsible for death than is malaria. The disease, although curable in modern times, continues to proliferate in tropical zones, and particularly in Africa. It is believed to be approximately 50,000 years old, perhaps as old as modern humanity itself. Inasmuch as the planet has experienced nearly 100 billion human births by some educated estimates, coupled with the knowledge that malaria is responsible for 10 million world-wide deaths in the last century, we can easily assigned at least one billion deaths to the disease. This makes it the daddy-long-legs of killers.
Nothing can kill so many without leaving its big fat thumb-print all over evolution, particularly pertaining to who ended up on top versus the bottom. In early human history, Africans that escaped/migrated from the continent not only slipped the clutches of deadly malaria, but exposed themselves to the bounty of better climates, animals, food, etc. In a cruel twist, the hemoglobin cells of many of those who remained mutated to a sickle shape, increasing their survival if they stayed put, but creating another deadly potential should they later choose, or be forced, to leave.
We can stop the science lesson here, but the take-away in all of this is that humanity, including who we are today, was and still is greatly influenced by the filtering and distributive nature of evolution. Forces such as malaria and such, which occurred in certain geographies, exert tremendous pressure on the results and disparities we continue to grapple with, to this day, and they deserve our attention. Go Ted.
James C. Collier
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