Infectious Diseases

Could the AIDS Virus be Viewed as a Natural way to Stabilize Population Growth – Yes

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"Could the AIDS Virus be Viewed as a Natural way to Stabilize Population Growth - Yes"
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Nature sends waves of lethal flu strains at us, keeps us pinned down in our lifespan with heart disease and Alzheimer's, and insinuates illnesses like MS and diabetes into our numbers. Nature devastates us with floods, famine, drought, and earthquakes. Could the AIDs virus be viewed as a natural way to stabilize population growth? Sure, why not. That's the way nature seems to work.

Nature has rules that transcend any meaning or view we can give to it. In nature, population control is not the cause or purpose of disease. Rather, disease is part of the ecosystem. A deadly disease is the result of a lower life form (a bacteria, rogue cell, virus, or proto-virus) getting nourishment and a domicile for its own civilization. It grows, using the host's resources, until the host dies.

Infectious diseases tend to run rampant in closely-knit or highly mobile populations. That's why the plague ravaged Europe in its population centers. Likewise, the 1918 flu epidemic killed millions... hastened by the close quarters of WW1 troops and massive troop movements. Local populations of mice and skunks have had massive die-offs due to species-specific illnesses for as long as biologists have studied such things. Disease tends to knock down the numbers of highly concentrated populations.

In the world ecology deadly diseases do indeed serve to stabilize population growth... but they can eradicate a species as well. Would we consider extinction to be a natural way to stabilize population growth? You can view it that way, but it seems a bit heavy handed.

Consider the American chestnut tree. 200 years ago there were millions of them. Now there are only a few hundred due to a blight that destroyed the species. Was this nature's way of controlling their population?

Only if "eradication" is part of your definition of control.

It seems that nature does not seek to control anything... instead, it is an interacting set of processes that sometimes controls population, sometimes causes populations to grow, and sometimes ends a species.

AIDs is a subject that BEGS to have greater meaning attached to it. It involves social issues like homosexuality, IV drug use, casual sex, and the unfortunate victims of blood transfusions. It draws in religious, economic, and governmental aspects. We want to make a bigger issue of it.

But when you're talking about disease, nature has no agenda. Disease is part of the ecosystem, and nature does not pay attention to the views and meanings mankind may have. Chestnut blight, cancer, AIDs, rabies... nature keeps its own balance and has its own agenda.

AIDs can be viewed as a natural way to stabilize population growth, but no more than any other disease.

More about this author: Eric Lannak

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