Steve McCurry, Known For His Portrait Of The “Afghan Girl,” Has A New Book About Animals

Steve McCurry’s Photos Show The Complex Relationship Between Humans And Animals, CNN, 8 November 2019

Click to enlarge.

A boy rests against a cow in Kathmandu, Nepal, 2013. Credit: © 2019 Steve McCurry, Long Island City, NY

A Mahout and his elephant at a sanctuary. Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2010. Credit: © 2019 Steve McCurry, Long Island City, NY

… McCurry hopes, too, that his images will inspire a greater respect for animals, and a desire to address the dire predictions of mass extinction caused by human activity.

“This is an unimaginable catastrophe, but one that is sadly coming to fruition. We are losing species every year; wildlife is being decimated to the point where in a few years some species will cease to exist in their natural habitats.”

Below is Sharbat Gula, the Afghan Girl, at Nasir Bagh refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan. By Steve McCurry, December 1984.

This photograph was the cover of The National Geographic magazine the following year.

Endocrine Disruptors Cause Abnormalities At “Even Infinitesimally Low Levels”

People can become overweight, develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fertility problems, immune disorders, respiratory diseases, cancers, and a host of other chronic ailments, in part, because of the chemicals to which they are exposed. That’s what the Endocrine Society, the world’s oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to hormone research has been saying for over a decade. Your diet probably would have worked better a hundred years ago.

EDC-2: The Endocrine Society’s Second Scientific Statement on Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals, Endocrine Reviews, December 2015

All those letters in red on the left side of this diagram are abbreviations for chemicals we’re exposed to every day. I’ve listed some sources for those chemicals at the bottom of this post. T2DM is type 2 diabetes.

The Endocrine Society’s first Scientific Statement in 2009 provided a wake-up call to the scientific community about how environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) affect health and disease. Five years later, a substantially larger body of literature has solidified our understanding of plausible mechanisms underlying EDC actions and how exposures in animals and humans—especially during development—may lay the foundations for disease later in life.

At this point in history, we have much stronger knowledge about how EDCs alter gene-environment interactions via physiological, cellular, molecular, and epigenetic changes, thereby producing effects in exposed individuals as well as their descendants.

Causal links between exposure and manifestation of disease are substantiated by experimental animal models and are consistent with correlative epidemiological data in humans.

In this second Scientific Statement, we reviewed the literature on a subset of topics for which the translational evidence is strongest: 1) obesity and diabetes; 2) female reproduction; 3) male reproduction; 4) hormone-sensitive cancers in females; 5) prostate; 6) thyroid; and 7) neurodevelopment and neuroendocrine systems.

The bulk of the results across the board strengthen the evidence for endocrine health-related actions of EDCs. Based on this much more complete understanding of the endocrine principles by which EDCs act, including nonmonotonic dose-responses, low-dose effects, and developmental vulnerability, these findings can be much better translated to human health. Armed with this information, researchers, physicians, and other healthcare providers can guide regulators and policymakers as they make responsible decisions.

About that “low-dose effects” highlight, from their first report:

Even infinitesimally low levels of exposure — indeed, any level of exposure at all — may cause endocrine or reproductive abnormalities, particularly if exposure occurs during a critical developmental window (10). Surprisingly, low doses may even exert more potent effects than higher doses. Second, EDCs may exert nontraditional dose-response curves, such as inverted-U or U-shaped curves (11). Both of these concepts have been known for hormone and neurotransmitter actions, but only in the past decade have they begun to be appreciated for EDCs.

We are being continually bombarded by many sources. The amount of chemicals in our bodies has never been seen in the history of humanity. We are one big experiment:

Single exposures are not representative of more common widespread persistent exposure to a broad mix of indoor and outdoor chemicals and contaminants. Industrialized areas are typically characterized by contamination from a wide range of industrial chemicals that may leach into soil and groundwater. These complex mixtures enter the food chain and accumulate in animals higher up the food chain such as humans, American bald eagles, polar bears, and other predatory animals. Exposure occurs through drinking contaminated water, breathing contaminated air, ingesting food, or contacting contaminated soil. People who work with pesticides, fungicides, and industrial chemicals are at particularly high risk for exposure and thus for developing a reproductive or endocrine abnormality.

Right? So, when it comes to endocrine disruptors, basic assumptions about dose-response goes out the window. Don’t let the government tell you that there is a certain threshold below which these chemicals won’t affect us. It’s simply not true.

Some sources for endocrine disruptors:

Bisphenol A (BPA):

  • Canned foods, because most metal cans are lined with a sealant containing BPA
  • Water and other beverage bottles
  • Baby bottles, sippy cups, baby pacifiers
  • Other hard, clear plastic food containers
  • Cash register receipts
  • Eyeglass lenses and safety glasses
  • CDs and DVDs


  • Coatings on pharmaceutical pills and nutritional supplements
  • Shampoo, soap, perfumes, nail polish, hair spray, aftershave lotions, moisterizers
  • Pesticides
  • Toys
  • Vinyl flooring and wall coverings
  • Siding and roofing materials
  • Food packaging
  • Detergents and lubricating oils
  • Medical devices, e.g. blood bags and tubing
  • Wire and cable
  • Coated fabrics
  • Rain boots and other footwear
  • Garden hoses and outdoor furniture

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). This is a group of pollutants including DDT, PCBs, dioxins, furans, hexachlorobenzene. They are used as pesticides, solvents, pharmaceuticals, and industrial chemicals. They are called persistent because they don’t break down easily in the environment.

  • Consumption of animal foods considered greatest contributor (as POPs move up the food chain, they increase in concentration = bioaccumulation)
  • Pesticides, insecticides
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Paints
  • Indoor and outdoor dust and air

By the way, Roundup is an endocrine disruptor.

Dr. Zach Bush On Glyphosate, And Why We Should Stop Spraying It Right Now

I transcribed some parts of this interview that just blew me away.

Beginning around 19:25 Bush says that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, was originally designed as an antibiotic, not a weed killer. It was not originally patented as a weed killer, it was repatented later.

So, glyphosate is an antibiotic. It works by blocking the shikamate pathway in bacteria that, if functioning, produces folates and some amino acids. Without those, bacteria die. Plants also use this pathway and are also damaged by glyphosate’s action. Humans don’t. However, we get our essential amino acids from eating plants, or animals that ate those plants. That doesn’t mean that humans aren’t injured by glyphosate, as you’ll see in the last paragraph.

In this next part, he describes why he thinks glyphosate was not put on the market when it was discovered in 1958:

23:44 “One of the reasons I think that glyphosate was not put on the market in 1958 when it was discovered is because the Japanese inventor of that chemical recognized that that was a water-soluble toxin. You do not want to introduce a water-soluble toxin into the environment because you can never get it back. Where if you have a fat-soluble toxin it’ll actually be sequestered by mycelium in the soil, if it gets into a human or another mammal, it’ll be sequestered by fat cells so it never hits the brain, it’ll be protective. A water-soluble toxin on the other hand can’t be subtracted out of the ecosystem because everything on planet Earth including your human body is water.”

Glyphosate is now everywhere – in the air we breathe, the rain, the water we drink and put on crops. And we’re spreading 4 and a half billion pounds of this antibiotic around the world every year!

24:45 “The current statistics is that less than 1/10 of 1% of the Roundup used on the planet actually hits a weed. The other 99.99% gets into the soil and into the water system and washes off. And so we are now seeing the runoff from these farms, and in the water table itself. So we have fossil aquifers in the United States here that run from Canada all the way down to historically Mexico that is now dried up. We’ve turned over a thousand square miles of Texas into desert over the last 20 years from sucking water out of the ground. That fossil aquifer is now contaminated with Roundup that’s filtered down into this ancient freshwater source for us.”

25:29 “Then in the same moment you’ve got the Mississippi River which collects over 80% of all the Roundup in the country. And then it’s evaporating the whole time so it’s going into the air that you breathe and then it goes into the clouds and then it rains down on us. Recent studies in the air and rainfall in the southern United States is showing 75% of rain, 75% of air contaminated with Roundup. So before you even take a bite of food, you’re being hit with an antibiotic when you breathe, you’re getting hit with an antibiotic when you experience rainfall. And so you may be growing organic crops but they’re getting rained on. And so we have now locked this water-soluble toxin into our environment.”

In this next part he describes a side effect of glyphosate on the human body. This, to me, was shocking.

33:25 “The side effects of glyphosate that are outside of the shikamate pathway is direct injury to the protein structure that holds your gut lining together. This would be bad news if that was it. But it turns out that every macro membrane in your body – the blood vessels that fuel your entire body with oxygen nutrients are held together with the same tight junctions, the blood-brain barrier that protects your peripheral nervous system in your brain, same tight junctions, the kidney tubules that are held together to detox your body, same tight junctions. So what’s happened as we’ve introduced a chemical that’s directly toxic to this velcro-like protein is we turn into leaky sieves on the front-end – gut leak and nasal sinus leak and so every time we breathe, every time we eat, we’re starting to leak. Our immune system gets overwhelmed and then the blood vessels that are supposed to deliver either an immune response from peripheral or get nutrients to some distant space is also leaking and so we’re getting permeability of the blood vessels. Then you get to the blood-brain barrier this is supposed to be the Holy of Holies a peripheral nerve or the brain is supposed to be protected against everything in your blood because even glucose which is the main fuel for your brain should not get into the brain in an unregulated fashion. It will damage the nerves. And so Holy of Holies of the central and peripheral nervous system is being destroyed. And so if that’s true, if glyphosate was really damaging that, then we should see a massive explosion in neurologic injury to children and adults starting in about 1996. And that’s exactly when we see this steep increase happening in autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, neurodegenerative conditions like MS, autoimmune diseases, and all the rest.”

So, glyphosate destroys the integrity of our linings … the gut lining, nasal lining, kidney tubules, blood vessels, blood-brain barrier. Tissues and organs become leaky which turns on the immune system and leaves us in a chronic state of inflammation. No wonder Monsanto just sold itself to Bayer.

There is so much more in this interview. I’m going to read up about Dr. Bush. Here’s his website:

Dr. Zach Bush

I was reading about pesticides and encountered Dr. Zach Bush. From this article:

Why Dr. Zach Bush Believes Herbicides Could End Life On Earth, Salon, 14 October 2019

I don’t know Dr. Bush and the title seemed extreme, but I pushed through and read it anyway. Some excerpts:

Some people might say “Well, I haven’t used Roundup, so maybe I’m untouched by it.” Is that true?

Unfortunately, it’s a water-soluble molecule. As it evaporates, we start breathing it in our air, which has a high-water content, and then it ends up in our clouds, and it rains down. [W]e’re at about almost four and a half billion pounds of glyphosate used in soils worldwide every year.

What do you know that this chemical does to the human body?

… this molecule is taken up into our food. So, it’s not something you can wash off. It’s actually in the flesh of the tomato, corn, soybean, whatever it hits. And so, it’s integrated in that water structure, and as it hits your gut microbiome [it] acts as an antibiotic to kill the microbial diversity in your intestines.

He says that the disruption of the gut microbiome contributes to gut permeability or “leaky gut.” This in turn activates the immune system which increases the incidence of allergies – food allergies as well as environmental allergies, such as to pollen – and creates a state of chronic inflammation.

How do we get rid of this chemical in our food system?

If we stopped spraying today, over the next 50 years, we could see the toxicity levels drop to levels that we could probably tolerate better.

He says that glyphosate is only one of the hundreds of chemicals present in our food supply: “we have completely chemicalized the human experience and the planet itself.”

The article was sloppily-written. It didn’t make sense in parts, for example: “The glyphosate antibiotic holds our whole gut and vascular lining together.” What does that even mean? How can someone with this kind of resume* make those nonsensical assertions? So I looked around more and found him speaking on this Rich Roll podcast:

I’m still watching this, but so far Dr. Zach Bush comes across as smart, knowledgeable, and credible. Humble too. I’ll post bits as I get through it. I’m glad I persisted. He definitely has something to say.

* Zach Bush, MD is a triple board certified physician specializing in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism, as well as in Hospice and Palliative care. The director of M Clinic in Virginia, Dr. Bush has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in the areas of infectious disease, endocrinology, and cancer.

Al Gore On Food And Climate Change: The Most Important Role That Individuals Can Play Is To Vote

‘We Really Need To Wake Up Quickly’: Al Gore Warns Of A Looming Food Crisis Caused By Climate Change, Washington Post, 22 October 2019

Q: What role must consumers play in the shift toward sustainable food systems and climate resilience?

A: There’s a danger in focusing on consumer behavior. There’s a danger of giving the impression that the solutions to the climate crisis have to be shouldered by women and men who care enough about it to change their personal choices. They do. But as important as it is to change a lightbulb, it is way more important to change policies. And in order to change policies, we have to have new policymakers. So the most important role that individuals can play is in taking their concern and passion for a better world into the voting booth and turning out in large numbers to overcome the dominance of our political system by big money.

You don’t vote with your dollar! It doesn’t work. It’s a feel-good ruse perpetrated by industry and the wealthy that keeps people placated, keeps them from voting … in the only place that makes a difference, the voting booth.

The Climate Is Changing. We’re Not Ready.

Melinda shared this link:

Humans Have 30 Years To Stave Off Climate Catastrophe, ‘Uninhabitable Earth’ Author Says, WBUR, 13 May 2019

It’s an interview with David Wallace-Wells, author of “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.”


The planet is already hotter than it’s ever been in all of human history, and it will surely change more, which means that everything we know about human life and human civilization grew up under conditions that no longer preside, and we’re living in a different enough environment — it may even be better to think already that we’re living on a different planet — and given where we’re headed, things are going to change even faster, even more dramatically in the decades ahead.”

On climate change’s effects on the human body:

“The most, to me, horrifying story in the book isn’t about humans at all. It’s about the saiga antelope, which is this dwarf antelope that lived in Siberia, and a few years ago — I think it was in 2015 — the entire species got wiped out because a bacteria that had lived inside their guts for millions of years was rewired by a summer that was especially hot and humid, and what had been a quite happy cohabitant of that saiga digestive tract became an enemy of the animal and killed the entire species.

“Humans are complicated. Biology is as well. We have millions and perhaps billions of bacteria living inside us and viruses living inside us. And while it’s probably the case that the overwhelming majority of those won’t be affected by temperature rises of just 2 or 3 or 4 degrees, the chance that one of them or several of them is transformed in that way is quite serious. And that doesn’t mean that humans are going to be made extinct. But there’s a relationship between schizophrenia and viruses that you’ve been exposed to. There’s a relationship between mood disorders. There’s a relationship with obesity. So many aspects of the way that we think of our relationship to the world are determined in part by these other creatures that are living inside us and every single one of them is subject to the transformations that will be brought about by climate change.”

Microorganisms live on us and in us. They likely outnumber our own cells although that debate is ongoing. Our microbiome impacts our health and can either contribute to or protect against cancers, inflammatory diseases, depression and mood disorders, metabolic diseases, and others. This was the first time I read how climate change might affect the microbiome with consequences to health.

Will you be alive in 80 years? This is what you may be facing:

That is the course we are speeding so blithely along — to more than four degrees Celsius of warming by the year 2100. According to some estimates, that would mean that whole regions of Africa and Australia and the United States, parts of South America north of Patagonia, and Asia south of Siberia would be rendered uninhabitable by direct heat, desertification, and flooding. Certainly it would make them inhospitable, and many more regions besides.

In the last Democratic debate, “not a single question about the biggest threat facing residents of the United States, and the world, was asked of the 12 candidates who qualified for the debate.” Does that trouble you? It troubles me!

Where I live on the US East Coast, there are some noticeable effects of climate change. In the last several years the weather has been hotter and wetter. We’re breaking temperature and rainfall records as each year passes. Plants are dying when the ground gets waterlogged. Mold is becoming more of a problem. We experience more days when says the local air is too polluted for vulnerable groups to go outside. There used to be a vibrant, colorful Fall. But now, since it stays hotter later into the year, the leaves remain green longer. Then a burst of cold air turns them brown, bypassing the reds and oranges and purples I remember from my youth (and see in old photographs). Swarms of migratory blackbirds are half their size. But, as Greta Thunberg says, I’m one of the lucky ones.

Have you noticed any changes where you live?

Will Most Food In The Future Be Lab-Grown?

Think Tank Foresees Major Disruption In Food, AG In Next Decade, Institute of Food Technologists, 18 September 2019

[A report by the independent think tank, RethinkX] predicts that by 2030, the dairy and cattle industries will have collapsed as animal-derived foods are replaced by modern equivalents that are higher quality and cost less than half as much to produce. The rest of the livestock industry will suffer a similar fate.

One of these modern technologies is called precision fermentation:

Precision fermentation (PF) is a process that enables the programming of micro-organisms to produce almost any complex organic molecule.

I can’t imagine that the dairy and cattle industries will be decimated in a mere 10 years. But I do think there will be a lot of lab-grown food in the future. I’ll also predict that food grown organically, in soil, outside, will become even more exclusive.