Fwd: [permaculture] RE: Major histocompatibility complex (MHC)

Marimike6 at cs.com Marimike6 at cs.com
Tue Mar 18 09:01:37 EST 2003


First let me mention that it was I and not Eugene F Monaco who wrote that the 
white man was a good example of a hardy weed. I may have caused some 
sensitivities to bristle here by my unthinking usage of the term. I did not 
mean to imply that there was something in our pigmentation that controlled 
whether or not we adapted readily to other environments and tended to 
displace other races due to their differing pigmentation. 

I intended to focus on the qualities that create a weed-- that is, a species 
that thrives in disturbed ground and that tends to outcompete native species 
when introduced into a new area. A more accurate definition would be "Western 
man", who by his aggressive and acquisitive spirit, as well as by his 
advanced technology, tended to exploit niches not exploited before he got 
there, and to prevail economically over local populations unable to compete 
with him. In this he is very like the common purple loosestrife.

The Chinese in the Pacific Rim and Latin America, the Indians in East Africa 
and the Greeks and Syrian-Lebanese all over the world are other examples of 
weeds that readily transplant and thrive. This is due to their cultural, not 
gross racial, characteristics. They tend to dominate economically. 

Likewise, my use of the words "man" and "he", above, should not connote 
sexism  In common usage I believe such words as "mankind" are still preferred 
over "peoplekind". I mean no disrespect toward women. My intent was simply to 
shed some light on MHC, and by extension on all genetic, cultural and 
behavioral pathways that confer superior adaptibility to environmental 
competition and limits to growth. 

In that light I would offer measles, or influenza, as good examples of weeds. 
Having existed worldwide for a long period of history, they have co-adapted 
with mankind and are impressive public health foes, difficult to dislodge, 
impossible to eradicate. By contrast hemorrhagic fevers, such as Lassa or 
Marburg, are rare exotics, that tend to die out quickly and reoccur in 
sporadic outbursts. They have not adapted to coexistence with the rest of the 
biologic web, in the world at large, but for the most part remain confined to 
small areas of the African tropical forest. 

In my area the most successful invasive is kudzu. Its adaptations include 
growing from a broken piece of rhizome, in the way violets do, and sending 
rootstocks deep underground so that no matter how deep you dig, you've left a 
little piece behind. It grows a foot a day, and can smother century-old trees 
in a decade, so that entire forests have been swallowed up. It is virtually 
impervious to herbicides, and thrives on such poisonous crap as RoundUp and 
Black Leaf. In fact, after a temporary setback it seems invigorated by them. 
It is truly a noble adversary

Mike Elvin
Fuquay-Varina, NC
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