1st Edition

What Is Life and How Might It Be Sustained? Reflections in a Pandemic

By Jim Lynch Copyright 2022
    114 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    114 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    How did the universe and life begin and what are the threats to people and the environment in a pandemic? This book is for anybody with interest in protecting life on the planet. Studies on the origin of life and scientific contributions to safeguarding the planet are examined in light of current thinking on climate change. A major focus is the spread of microbes, put in the context of environmental assessment and management, including descriptions of microbiomes and a consideration of the risks of genetic modifications. Professor Lynch shows how failure to control disease can lead to the collapse of any biotic population. To avoid this, the ethics of management of disease by biological control and by vaccination are discussed, at the practical level and in a moral theological context.

    1. Introduction 2. Cosmology and Quantum Biology 3. Origins of Life 4. Science and Health of the Planet 5. Spread and Control of Microbes 6. Bioethics and Governance. 7. The Path Ahead


    Jim  Lynch  graduated  with  BTech in  Industrial  Chemistry   from   Loughborough   University,   and   then completed his PhD and DSc in Microbiology at  Kings  College  London.  He  is  a  Fellow  of  the  Royal  Society  of  Chemistry,  the  Royal  Society  of  Biology,  the  Royal  Geographical  Society,  the  Royal Society of Arts, and is a Chartered Chemist, Biologist,  Scientist,  and  Environmentalist.  He  has  worked  at  BBSRC  research  institutes,  universities  as  visiting  professor  (Oxford,  Reading,  Kings  College  London,  Imperial  College,  Washington  State,  Oregon  State  and  Helsinki),  and  companies  as  non-executive  director  or  advisor.  Prof. Lynch was Dean of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University   of   Surrey,   Chief   Executive   of   the   Forestry Commission Research Agency, Chairman of the Biology Division of the International Union of  Soil  Sciences,  Coordinator  of  the  OECD  Research  Programme  on  Biological  Resource  Management,  Board  Member  of  the  European  Forest  Institute,  Chair  of  Governors University of Chichester, and is Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences Emeritus at the Centre for Environment and Sustainability, University of Surrey. He has travelled extensively giving more than 60 keynote international lectures and published or edited 15 books previously and 300 papers and patents, as well as serving on many international boards. He was awarded the UNESCO Prize in Microbiology and  Einstein  Medal,  Distinguished  Scientist  of  the  US  Department  of  Agriculture,  and  the  Japanese  Government  Research  Award  for  Foreign  Specialists.  He  is  an  Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), a Knight of the Equestrian Order of  the  Holy  Sepulchre  of  Jerusalem  (KHS),  and  a  Freeman  of  the  City  of  London.  Prof. Lynch is a keen sportsman and is married to Mary; they have four children and seven grandchildren.

    Lynch is not afraid of asking the big philosophical and scientific questions of our time, and, in this wide-ranging and fascinating book, he deploys an enormous armoury of multidisciplinary knowledge and personal experience to address them. Anyone reading this challenging, authoritative work cannot fail to learn a lot, be inspired to value asking questions and to admire those striving to answer them.

    -- Dame Glynis M. Breakwell, DBE DL FRSA FAcSS, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath, social psychologist and public policy adviser and researcher, UK


    With grace and candor, Jim Lynch provides sensitive and thoughtful discourse on the most meaningful of questions. The origin of life and the nature of goodness and evil are amongst the many topics probed in this book and each is crafted in keen scientific thought. The issues are presented in a cosmic framework: food security, human health, deforestation, climate change, and pandemics. COVID-19, the contemporary global pandemic afflicting all nations, is addressed scientifically but also as a philosophical and ethical challenge. Jim Lynch brings to each of these issues a solid background in chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, soil science, agricultural science, philosophy, and ethics.

    -- Rita R. Colwell, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA


    This is a book for everyone interested in modern science, from the curious to the professional scientist. Professor Jim Lynch reflects on the advances in science during his long and distinguished career in microbiology, soil and forestry health and sustainability and governmental control measures for the environment. This includes a detailed analysis of the recent COVID epidemic and virology, and also the political aspects where certain factors remain opaque. There is considerable fascinating scientific detail throughout. Permeating the book there is the theme of trying to discover what is going on in the deepest levels of matter, as elucidated by physics, chemistry, mathematics and ultimately philosophy and religion. There is a sweeping examination of these subjects from the Greeks onwards and many of the leading thinkers in these fields are discussed.

    -- Peter Williams, BSc PhD MB BS, retired Physician, UK


    Jim Lynch takes his readers on an educational journey that begins with the origin of life in the context of cosmology and quantum physics, then continues through the present time of scientific and technological advancements and industrial revolution and ends with vivid pictures of possible future scenarios that will depend on the collective choices that we make today. As we navigate through the pages, we are engrossed by the interwoven world of science, technology, theology, philosophy, economics and politics, which define the socio-economic-and-biotic framework of the anthropogenic world today. Lynch explores the crises faced by the anthropogenic world like food insecurity, climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty, unemployment and human health, amongst others. In the context of COVID-19, a pandemic caused by a microbe, he emphasizes the role of microbes in the world, reminding us of their enormous power, and envisions sustainable practices for a better future.Lynch reiterates the immense possibilities held by microbes both as the source of sustainable energy, antibiotics and probiotics, and the dreadful potential of infectious bacteria and viruses to cause the next pandemic. The eloquent and meticulous presentation of world events combined with the solution-centric visions will intrigue the readers to think deeply about the lessons that can be learnt from the past and used to address real-life issues. Dr Lynch ends his book reminding us of bioethics, as he rightly says "…this should be extended to cover an analysis of all processes in the biosphere which affect life...". Overall, this book is a fascinating compilation of the ancient- and modern day contributions, not only by scientists, philosophers, theologists, educators and environmentalists, but also administrators, politicians and entertainers, all of whom have impacted the socio-political-and-biotic life of the anthropogenic world, thus shaping the quality of human lives.

    Sudeshna Saha, University of California San Diego Health, USA