Elias Hakalehto, PhD, Adj. Prof.
CEO and inventor, Finnoflag Oy, Kuopio, Finland(1993-)
Founder of the Environmental Section (1983) of the Student Union of Helsinki University
An Alumnus of the University College London,U.K. (Biochemical Engineering)
Vice President (Europe and Africa),International Society of Environmental Indicators
Lifetime Fellow Member, International Society of Development and Sustainability (Japan)
(Published on the 17th of November 2023)
When discussing human cultures, existentialism is often understood as someone's agenda linked to his rights as a citizen of Earth. It is often seen as the opposite of monoculture or totalitarianism in our societies. In other words, it could be the freedom to pursue our constructive ideas or those of a specific group. As such, existentialism comes close to democracy, or our efforts to understand reality by ourselves or others.
In any case, human reasoning is, at best, very limited. It is based on our limited senses, experiences, restricted societal life and individual communication. The society has to have law and order to protect its citizens. But most of the time, we rely on our reason, which most think works excellently. We depend on it like Robinson Crusoe was dependent on his island.
In the research of the microbial world, the concepts of staying alive, finding a place or getting a room for an organism are naturally well-recognized virtues or life processes. We have studied microbial strains and communities for 25 years using the undersigned's invention, the Portable Microbial Enrichment Unit (PMEU). The versions of this device have been developed for sampling, enhanced enrichment and sensitive detection of practically any cellular micro-organisms. I've included a few publications about the PMEU technologies in the References.
However, there are some notable aberrations between microbial and human individualism. On the cellular level, one is size; the other is the multiplication mode. Although we should not call microbes"simple" cells or structures erroneously, they are much smaller than human cells. They have partially identical metabolic reactivities, but many differences do occur, ultimately defining the cells' traits and functions. And most importantly, human cells are members of a multicellular physical being,whereas microbes form communities as single cells.
In the case of bacteria, a spoonful of yoghurt contains as many individual cells as humans on Earth. Moreover, in the yoghurt, all these cells may be genetically identical. However, what needs to be remembered is that microbes can also make interspecies communities on the cellular level.They are essential for life on this planet and for other living forms,including Mankind.
If the ecological niches are broader and more spaced, it is typical that versatile microbial communities are formed. They also strive to maintain a high degree of diversity since the survival or maintenance of the entire community is often dependent on the variable skills that different individual strains possess. These capabilities are at stake in rapidly changeable circumstances, and they provide shea endurance not for the single species only but for the entire community. In fact, in the microcosm, different strains have different tasks, and, at best, they smoothly change their roles in various conditions. This flexibility and interaction support the"microbial society" as a whole. Therefore, such concepts as"survival of the fittest" are outdated, or at least they give a minimal view of the microcosm.
In human societies, however, the concept of the common good is usually combined with abstract ideas, opinions, dogmas, philosophies,traditions, political attitudes, rules and laws. They all have their place but could easily distort our views and perceptions. To put it simply, microbes do not need those for their survival.
Yes, you are right; we are higher or more sophisticated organisms. But it is also important to remember that a deviant prevailing strategy or organization exists in the microbial world. In real life, we need and could primarily benefit from understanding and exploiting, or why not cooperating with, the microbes. We often see microbes as harmful or dangerous organisms to be battled against. They keep the wheels of the ecosystems turningaround, and we could integrate our society with Nature by understanding the potential of cooperation with microbes.
In some Finnish schools, there are groups of elementary level, where the children spend most of their school hours in the forests with their teachers. In these "forest schools", pupils grow healthy and learn the importance of clean air, water and soil. Moreover, they have natural contact with healthy microflora of their surroundings, which supports the development of their immunity to a great extent. Correspondingly, they have established "micro forests" in the big cities in Japan. They serve the same purposes. Moreover, in numerous big cities, such as Paris of Singapore, there is extensive "city food" production on the roofs orin the multi-storey greenhouses, for instance.
In human endeavours, the levels of various technologies or sophistication of the tools for essential functions, such as health maintenance or food production, give new platforms for developing the higher values of the societies the civilization. For example, in the Arava desert in Israel, organic food production occurs in some of the world's hottest and most arid environments. The agricultural activities flourish in ingenious and inventive"tents" most suitable for producing ecological and healthy foods.
Like all living forms, our human cultures have always been highly dependent on pure water, and very often, the water is needed for irrigation, too. The most sustainable water circulation could occur in cooperation with the soil microbiomes. In various geographic areas, the climate and other natural conditions are different. But for our benefit, we should understand the microcosm supporting life in all corners of Earth.
The way forward is sometimes to be found or invented anew in a positive sense. To some significant extent, our human cultures and their mental capacities, in particular, obey similar rules as the microbial communities or microbiomes. As humans, we have our "histories".Fortunately, these teachings could be taken into use for good purposes. And notto overlook them or the effects of the microbial kingdom on our fate.
Then we come across the most miraculous treasures provided for our Humankind on this planet. As long as the clean waters flow, it is possible to refresh the community's memories and understand the message of the old matriarch of the elephants in Serengeti or in Kalahari leading her group to the water sources.