Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
SPOTLIGHT: Humans make things safe, clean, and healthy.
BIG PICTURE: The rescue of 13 young people from a cave in northern Thailand has transfixed much of the world this past week. On June 23rd, 12 soccer/football players, aged 11 to 16, along with their 25-year-old assistant coach, did a bit of exploring in what has been described as a popular tourist attraction.
Trapped inside the cave by heavy rain and flooding, they weren’t located until July 2 (nine days later). Search and rescue personnel were hampered by more rain and, because this is the beginning of the monsoon season, the fate of the youths remained uncertain for several days.
Saman Kunan, a 38-year-old former Thai Navy Seal who volunteered to help, died on July 6 while ferrying oxygen tanks inside. Yesterday, 17 days after the incident began, the final group of young people were rescued.
This is a story about courage, strength, skill, and determination. It’s a story about good men putting their own lives on the line so that total strangers might have a bright future.
It is also, incidentally, a story about the less than nurturing side of Mother Nature. Here in Canada, journalist Katie Dangerfield has penned a sobering article titled “‘No hugging, no touching’: Rescued Thai boys put in isolation, at risk of cave disease.”
Health concerns extend well beyond the fact that they endured nine days without food and drink, and are therefore likely to be malnourished and dehydrated. Dangerfield tells us the risk is so serious that physical contact with their families can’t be permitted until X-rays are taken, and the results of blood and urine tests are available. She quotes a medic who told Reuters journalists:
what we’re most concerned with is infections. There are all kinds of diseases in the cave, from bats, from dirty water. Everything in there is very dirty.
Here in the affluent, Western world we are bombarded by marketing that equates ‘natural’ with purity and good health. But that’s a con.
TOP TAKEAWAY: Nature is not pristine. It is often filthy – and full of pathogens.
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