THE RED TIDE SYNDROME AND THE END OF THE MANKIND?
“It makes you kill yourself.Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more evil that can be invented”
-The movie “Happening” (2008)
It is stated long time ago that the books and movies predict the future of our world. The writer’s and scenarist imagination make new dimensions of the universe we share together, they build the tunnels we need, they create the feelings we have forgotten. They work on the whole new world that merges with ours. Unfortunately, many of them sail into the dark ocean of cataclysm and their fictional disasters often become the destiny of the mankind. That is the special sense that every creative soul has. Once we are united with the nature and the Earth, we are all able to instinctively feel the danger that will come to us, sooner or later. The books and movies with such a type of stories are those that are gifted to warn humanity to stop with self-destruction on time, to direct the ship into the safe waters.
When the movie “Happening” has been made,back in 2008, it was a bit shocking for the people. The idea was totally new one but very realistic, in spite of fact that the movie was labeled as a science fiction blockbuster.
The writer and director of the movie, M. Night Shyamalan based his thriller on one eco-disaster plot. There are no asteroids, dangerous viruses,mutated furious animals or nuclear attacks. There are plants that strikes back the people and make them kill themselves. Vegetative killers. Actually, the whole idea was to show that plants can launch the self-defensive program which is counteroffensive against humankind because it is a trigger of the anti-pollution mechanism that cause the death of humans. In other words, the humans are considered as pests and plants treat them just like pests, they destroy them. The death is not so plastic but more chemical because the plants release the special airborne toxins that rewire the human brains and indicates the self-destruction drives. That is known as a reverse-survival instinct so instead of protecting themselves, people have a feeling that they have to end their lives. The scientists could that partly cover and describe with the phenomena of red tide syndrome, linked with the ocean plant life. In recent years, according to accumulated ecological catastrophes, marine plants have begun releasing toxins that are reactions on the changes of the environments.
The crucial point of the mentioned movie could be directly attached to the scientific studies regarding the Marine Red Tide Syndrome. At the end of the day, Mr. Shyamalan has been pretty much realistic and not so far away from the daily invisible and still unknown threats. One expert for the red tide syndrome within the marine plant life is a professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California , Dave Caron. His main research interest is Pseudo-nitzschia, an algae bloom that cause the amnesia in humans. He was actually tried to analyze the connections between movie and the reality he is facing with in his studies and he is sure that similar aggressive behaviour is seen in algaes called HABs that produce toxins. One of the toxins is a domoic acid that has a mimic style and pretend it is a brain molecule, glutamate:“If you absorb a bunch of domoic acid in your diet, from shellfish for example, it gets into your blood, then it gets into your brain, then it gets into the hippocampus of your brain and it will fire the synapse connections and keep firing them until the nerve function burns out. While those nerves are firing, it causes all kinds of neurological disorders that range from nausea to disorientation to loss of short-term memory and seizures. If you take in too much, it will kill you.”
Professor Caron doesn’t believe that plants could really organize a counter terrorism attack on the humans in the near future, at least not the same as it is presented in the movie but there are real dangers of the eco-terror that is happening nowadays and how it will impact on the plant life. For sure, some ocean plants will not be muted and destroyed without resistance. The inter-communication among plants is not social but more chemical and organical. What does it mean? Plants have wars among themselves, that is a biological fact because they are all competitors for a land and soil’s food. What they release as their toxins is actually their own way to survive and to answer on the pressure from the reshaped and modified surroundings.
If we take a look on the red tide syndrome, we must take it seriously because this issue could be developed into the real disturbance within the ecosystem. The phytoplanktons are single-celled organisms of the class Dinophyceae and they move using their flagellum, the special designed tail-like structure. They are attributed with photosynthetic pigments and that is the biggest reason why the water have colors during the season of algae blooms. The outcome of the blooming is definitely the toxin which can hit the ocean wildlife and to indicate the disorders in the ocean balance. Every strategy of the humans against the multiplied algae blooms is also very destructive for the total ocean composition of the life.
The plants are also very sensitive living forms. They can feel the pain and they can react on the caused stress. The destruction of the nature and wildlife has a big effect on the flora too. People do not limit their own potential to demolish all what doesn’t belong to them and they have not yet learnt the lesson that this Earth belongs not only to the human race, but to the animals and plants too. Maybe the plants are not neurologically and evolutionary ready to form an army of attack on mankind and to stop this magic circle of ecological apocalypse but some of them are absolutely one step forward and they are enough mystical to produce destructive toxins for even more destructive humans. It is just a matter of time when that boomerang will come to us and deliver us the last message, that we haven’t made it. That moment will be the one when Happening actually happens in the front of our eyes, in the hidden enzymes of our brains and in the forgotten molecules of our Darwin’s souls.
46 thoughts on “BEFORE IT HAPPENS:PLANTS STRIKE BACK?”
Sarah’s intriguing and evocative article reminded me of the novel entitled The Day of the Triffids (1951), by the English Science Fiction author John Wyndham (1903-1969): it concerns the predatory botanical form the Triffids.
John Wyndham acknowledged the influence of the novel The War of the Worlds (1897), by H.G. Wells, on The Day of the Triffids. H. G. Wells was a student of Thomas Henry Huxley; a proponent of the theory of natural selection. Both these men were proponents of the treatise entitled On the Origin of Species (1859), by Professor Charles Darwin.
Carnivorous plants are plants that derive some or most of their nutrients (i.e. not energy) from trapping and consuming animals or protozoans; typically, insects and other arthropods. Carnivorous plants have adapted to grow in places where the soil is thin or poor in nutrients; especially nitrogen (e.g. acidic bogs and rock outcroppings). Professor Charles Darwin wrote the treatise Insectivorous Plants, the first well-known treatise on carnivorous plants, in 1875.
The evolution of carnivorous plants is obscured by the paucity of their fossil record. Very few fossils have been found, and then usually only as seed or pollen. Carnivorous plants are generally herbs, and their traps are produced by primary growth. Most carnivorous plants live in habitats with high light, waterlogged soils, and extremely low soil nitrogen and phosphorus; producing the ecological impetus to derive nitrogen from an alternate source.
John Wyndham was influenced by his times, also; in the context of writing a Science Fiction novel employing microbiology research as a progenitor: by 1900, the germ theory and advances in bacteriology in certain Western European technical universities brought a new level of sophistication to the techniques for possible use of bio-agents in warfare. The Geneva Protocol of 1925 would prohibit the use of chemical weapons and biological weapons, though.
By the turn of the 20th century, advances in microbiology had made thinking about germ warfare part of the zeitgeist. The North American author, journalist and social activist Jack London (1876-1916), in his short story Yah! Yah! Yah! (1909), described a punitive European expedition to a South Pacific island, deliberately exposing the Polynesian population to measles, of which many of them died. The author wrote another Science Fiction tale the following year, The Unparalleled Invasion (1910), in which the Western powers wipe out all of China with a biological attack.
With the onset of hostilities in the late-1930s, the British Ministry of Supply established a biological weapons programme at Porton Down, Wiltshire, England; headed by the microbiologist Dr Paul Fildes (1882-1971). The research was endorsed by Winston Churchill, and soon tularemia, anthrax, brucellosis and botulism toxins had been effectively weaponized.
Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) is a positive-sense single stranded RNA virus that infects a wide range of plants. TMV was the first virus ever to be discovered. Though it was known from the late-19th century that an infectious disease was damaging tobacco crops, it was not until 1930 that the infectious agent was determined to be a virus.
The film The Happening (2008) was partially influenced by the contemporaneous novel of The Day of the Triffids titled as The Body Snatchers (1954), by the North American author Jack Finney (1911-1995). The Earth is invaded by seeds that have drifted to the planet from somewhere in the known Universe. The seeds replace sleeping people with perfect physical duplicates grown from plantlike pods, while their human victims turn to dust.
As a Science Fiction writer, it is likely that Jack Finney knew of the spore theory of Dr August Arrhenius (1859-1927). He was the first to use the basic principles of physical chemistry to calculate estimates of the extent to which increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide increase the Earth’s surface temperature through the greenhouse effect; leading him to conclude that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions are large enough to cause global warming. Thus, to alter biological forms on the planet; especially, through loss of biodiversity and the intensified need of organisms to metamorphose to survive.
This is how Sarah’s excellent article concludes, as well: ‘plants are very sensitive living forms. They feel pain and can react to the stress…
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What a simultaneously enticing and enlightening topic, Sarah ! Thank you for yet another so-well written and so-well presented article !
“Human” greed has never stopped and has, hence, put “mankind” on the trajectory of self-destruction !
Yes, “humans” have been abusing planet earth, its nature, its environment, its animals, its vegetation, and yes, even its natural resources such as mines, oil, rocks, and so forth !
The result is a cataclysmic demand on our ecosystems, be they on dry land or in the oceans, which brings about such a strong response from the ecosystem in defense of its own existence!
This gives rise to the defense mechanism characterized by the red-tide syndrome whereby the algae create this chemical poison in order to ward off “evil” which is “humans” !
Sarah, it has caught my attention that you used, in your pertinent illustrations, an image of Oysters, which are part of the mollusk family ! Not only is it very interesting, but it’s also so coincidental with the fact that I published, a few days ago, a post regarding the maltreatment/killing of Oysters, Clams, and Mussels !
This article is related to so may of your prior articles such as the ones about the various new viruses that are crossing the border between the forests and the urbanized areas as a result of deforestation, destruction of natural habitat, and interference with existing ecosystems !
In closing, I would say that unless “humanity” changed its current ways, the predicament is both imminent and dire !
Thank you so much, Sarah, for elucidating this concept to us !
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A wonderful article dear Sarah. Thank you for sharing. I very much enjoyed reading it. Yes indeed, our irresponsible attitude toward nature is leading us to the destruction of nature and life. We have been failing to connect to the whole, we persist in behavior that, if continues unchecked, can only result in our own destruction.
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