Sunday, July 27, 2014

AIDS, Ebola and the Looming Pandemic... Recollections, Reflections and Predictions

None - This image is in the public domain and ...
None - This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bill Clinton says that the end of AIDS is within our grasp.

This is good news.  The mention of AIDS conjurs up memories of the eighties and early nineties, when I was involved in pro bono, AIDS discrimination litigation.

"Dallas Buyers Club"conjured some of the same memories.

But is AIDS humanity's major health concern?  Not really... we know how it spreads, it's relatively easy to take the right precautions, and there are controls if not yet cures.  Ebola may be a different story.  As of last week, there were 415 cases of ebola, 314 of them fatal, in West Africa.

This is the most severe outbreak of ebola on record.  It spreads much more readily than AIDS and it's usually fatal... not in ten or twenty years, but in as many days.

Are we witnessing the beginnings of the next Black Death?  Or will it come from somewhere else.  Many fiction and non-fiction books and many films --- ranging from zombie apocalypse fantasies to more realistic depiction --- predict such an event.

Nature has usually reset the balance when a species has become too numerous.When I was a teenager, only 50 years ago, the human population was half what it is today.  Have we reached the sustainable limit?  Have we surpassed it?  Is the reset in the offing?

I fear this may be the case.  We fancy that, because we are self-aware and rational, we can escape the fate of the dinosaurs.  But individual and small group decisions --- such as whether to have zero, one, two... or ten kids --- have cumulative effects that are not controlled by individual or collective consciousness.  And, so, we  come to where we are today: 
Seven billion, two-hundred fifty million

The species with which we share the planet, and which we are relentlessly pushing toward extinction, may be poised for revenge in a major way.

I take no pleasure in predicting it's only a matter of time...  

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