Friday, October 17, 2014

The Crazies

After weeks of assuring Americans that there is no long-term, wide-scale threat to the United States from Ebola, CDC director Tom Frieden told Congress there could be a long-term, wide-scale threat to the United States from Ebola.
“I will tell you, as the director of CDC, one of the things I fear about Ebola is that it could spread more widely in Africa,” he told a House committee on Thursday. “If this were to happen, it could become a threat to our health system, and the health care we give, for a long time to come.”
The World Health Organization recently increased expected Ebola cases in west Africa from 1,000 per week to 10,000. And the United Nations warned Tuesday that the world has less than 60 days before the outbreak in the region becomes uncontrollable.
It's sobering to consider how something like this could destroy civilization. If too many people become infected, it becomes unstoppable. Then what?

It's like the black plague, which decimated Europe. But, actually, modern civilization is far more fragile than the middle ages.

Even 100 years ago, many people were far more self-sufficient. They lived on family farms. Even cities were largely supplied by local farms. Food was close by. Likewise, people in the middle ages didn't rely on electricity or refrigeration. 

Now we have huge metropolitan centers entirely dependent on food trucked in from other states. We have food production dependent on agribusiness. 

We also depend on telecommunications and electronic financial transactions. We depend on fiat money, which requires gov't enforcement.

What if all that collapses because there are no longer enough people to run things–like oil and gas production? What about medications that require refrigeration? 

If the power grid goes down, nuclear generators go critical. 

Also, as we've seen, the very people treating the sick are also vulnerable to infection. It's a vicious cycle.

What about ravenous feral dog packs roaming the streets and countryside? 

You can imagine a scenario like 28 Weeks Later or The Crazies where authorities firebomb or neutron bomb cities. They kill everyone in hopes of killing the carriers.

I'm not making a prediction. I'm just discussing how quickly and easily the situation could escalate to a worst-case scenario. All those apocalyptic films we've been raised on suddenly come true.

Or, to take a more reliable comparison, those catastrophic judgment scenes in Revelation.


  1. "What about medications that require refrigeration?"

    1. This would, of course, include blood. But given drugs like ZMapp are still very much "experimental," blood transfusions are the currently (at least to my knowledge) the best hope we have to cure people of Ebola. Specifically, blood transfusions from people who survived Ebola (e.g. Brantly). That's because their blood would be rich in antibodies against Ebola - i.e. convalescent serum. Convalescent serum needs to be kept refrigerated.

    2. Plus, if there's no reliable electricity, or other relevant technology in operation, we couldn't clean blood. Not in significant enough quantities to deal with an epidemic or pandemic. However, we'd need to clean blood before transfusing blood. That's in part because donor blood could have diseases like Hep C or HIV for example.

    3. There would be other problems with convalescent serum as a treatment for Ebola. Like the numbers of survivors able to donate blood in proportion to numbers who are infected. Like whether there's a blood match between donor and recipient (e.g. it seems entirely coincidental that Brantly's blood matched the nurse's; Writebol's blood didn't match Duncan's blood and of course he later died). And so on.

    Also, the truth is we don't actually know for certain what about their antibodies is necessarily curative of Ebola in all people.

    4. All this is just the tip of the iceberg too. Much more could be said. Maybe I'll put up a post, time-permitting.

  2. "Who run Bartertown?"