Karl Benz, Henry Ford and other inventors of cars in the late XIX and early XX century made a huge contribution to the life of mankind. They invented, perfected and mass-produced an internal combustion engine, a machine that allows us to go to work, carry huge loads, go on vacation, explore the world, etc. The very existence of man has changed: we have become more interconnected, we can wage war at a greater distance or meet people from different peoples and cultures.
We already know that the engine has created many new problems and aggravated the existing ones: air pollution, car accidents, traffic jams. Perhaps Ford had foreseen them; such problems, of course, no one specifically plans, but at least they can be imagined. In cities with horse-drawn carriages, too, were traffic jams and the smell of feces, allocated to this traffic, was one more. So many of the problems created by this invention were just new versions of the old ones.
But imagine someone saying to Henry Ford a hundred years ago, “Every time a motorist starts a motor, the glaciers in Greenland melt a little.” It seemed unthinkable, Ford would have just chased you out of sight. What if someone had told you or your parents the same thing thirty years ago? You’d think it was ridiculous, too. What does one have to do with the other? We know how the unbound can become bound. This is just one example of how successful inventions transform “macroecology”, the state of our entire planet.
My story is about changing “microecology” through measures that are good in themselves and even save lives. The fact that the microbes that live in us are changing, and this leads to disastrous results, seems as alien as global warming – Ford. But now, forty years after the emergence of the environmental movement, I think we are finally ready to address climate change and begin to fight it.
The negative effects of this story are perhaps no less grandiose than those associated with global warming, and perhaps even operate in shorter time frames. I do not propose to prohibit the use of antibiotics or caesarean section – in the same way as no one wants to ban cars. I only ask that they be used wisely and that an antidote be found for their worst side effects. We are always strong with hindsight. How could people think that the Sun revolves around the Earth and the Earth is flat? Nevertheless, dogmas are very strong, and for those who follow them, they are infallible.
Should just ask the question: “do antibiotics biological costs, not only the obvious benefit?”and the horizons will change immediately. Of course, powerful antibiotics act on our friendly bacteria. Yes, the modern method of childbirth, which passed from a third to half of women, can not but have an impact. If you purposefully destroy the microbes that naturally inhabit us, it can not lead to complex consequences.
There’s no escaping logic. Our ancient bacteria exist for a reason: we evolved with them. Anything that changes them can hit us. We have changed them considerably. We are already paying the price, but only now we are beginning to understand it. It gets worse.
The time is ripe for significant change. But it takes time for them. As with global warming, there is a risk that the current state of Affairs will not “win” back. But I’m optimistic. Changes in human microecology occur only about a century, especially in the last 60-70 years. For human history, this is a moment. Changes that happen quickly can also end.
We’re at a crossroads. We have medicines and medicine in General, which served us well, but led to unforeseen consequences. This is always the case, do not be surprised. But the alarming signal is that we are not talking about rare events. Practices that endanger our children are the very Foundation of modern health care.
We have made real progress in combating and eradicating terrible diseases. But now, it seems, our efforts have reached peak, and fruit of knowledge have left seeds, indigestible and toxic. It’s time to act, because the consequences begin to overwhelm, and ahead are waiting for new thunderstorms.
However, there are many solutions available. Some approaches may be able to be combined into synergy: for example, to reduce the number of caesarean sections and prescribed antibiotics, and then gradually restore the endangered organisms. For the sake of our future generations, we need to take measures now.