The Ecosystem Fights
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[*]Part One

With more than half the world's people living within 100 kilometers of a coast, coastal habitat loss has become a huge problem for fish, E Magazine reports. Many cities have degraded their coastal habitats through development; San Francisco Bay, for example, has shrunk 60 percent in 140 years because of land reclamation; it is now overrun by alien species and can no longer support commercial fishing. Chesapeake Bay, once one of the most productive fishing grounds, saw its annual oyster catch fall from 20,000 tons in the late '50s to 3,000 tons in the late '80s, largely because of pollution. Meanwhile, 5 to 10 percent of the world's coral reefs have been reduced by pollution and destruction; 60 percent of what's left is threatened in the next 20 to 40 years.

[*]Part Two

In the last two decades Americans have been hit by a wave of new or at least newly recognized microbial assailants. There's Lyme disease and Legionnaires disease, toxic shock syndrome and Hantavirus. There's a chilling variation of the common gut bacterium E. coli, known as 0157:H7, that has acquired the ability to hemorrhage the bowel and kidney and kill its weaker victims. And, of course, there is AIDS. Because so little progress is being reported, the 10th International Conference on AIDS, held in Yokohama, Japan, last month, was the last to convene annually; scientists will now meet every two years.

[*]Part Three

Long-distance runner Merrill Bahe was on his way to his girlfriend's funeral on May 14, 1993, when he found himself gasping for air. Suddenly, and quite dramatically, Bahe was overcome with fever, headache, and respiratory distress. In the presence of his grief-stricken relatives, Bahe gulped desperately for air in their car, en route south to Gallup, New Mexico.

His twenty-four-year-old girlfriend had died in a small Indian Health Service clinic located sixty miles away from Gallup a few days earlier after an identical bout of sudden respiratory illness. And within the week her brother and his girlfriend, also young, athletic Navajos, who lived in trailers near Bahe's, fell mysteriously ill; the young woman died.

[*]Ebola...The Slate Wiper

Ebola kills a great deal of tissue while the host is still alive. It triggers a creeping, spotty necrosis that spreads through all the internal organs. The liver bulges up and turns yellow, begins to liquefy, and then it cracks apart. The cracks run across the liver and deep inside it, and the liver completely dies and goes putrid. The kidneys become jammed with blood clots and dead cells, and cease functioning. As the kidneys fail, the blood becomes toxic with urine. The spleen turns into a huge, hard blood clot the size of a baseball. The intestines may fill up completely with blood. The lining of the gut dies and sloughs off into the bowels and is defecated along with large amounts of blood. In men, the testicles bloat up and turn black-and-blue, the semen goes hot with Ebola, and the nipples may bleed. In women, the labia turn blue, livid, and protrusive, and there may be massive vaginal bleeding. The virus is catastrophe for a pregnant woman: the child is aborted spontaneously and is usually infected with Ebola virus, born with red eyes, and a bloody nose.

[*]Dark Response...or Evolution

He has filled graves with our bones. His horses, his cattle, his sheep, his men, his women have a rot. Does not his breath, his gums stink? His jaws lose their teeth and he stamps them with false ones; yet he is not ashamed. No, no; his course is destruction; he spoils what the spirit who gave us this country made beautiful and clean...

First Nations/First Peoples Cumulative Index

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