Thursday, April 30, 2009
Aporkalypse Now: What happens when we're at Phase 6?
"You would have to put the entire population in quarantine. And you can't do that, can you?"
It's a dilemma. You have to quarantine everyone, but you can't. You have to keep people in one place because where people go this virus is going to go. The problem is, if everyone goes home, how are ordinary things that we take for granted going to happen - news gathering, food in shops and restaurants, fuel for transport. All of that stuff freezes too. Make no mistake, if there is a lock down, everything will shutdown (everything will run out) within a period of time so short most people will be horrified at how just-in-time are lives actually are. Capacity is threadbare as it is. There will be shortages of food and fuel, so if you hear a PHASE 6 announcement you'll want to stock up (if there is anything left by the time you do this) on brown rice, bottled water, and a few hundred tins of canned beans. Fruit that takes a while to rot is also worth getting a-hold of: apples, oranges (whichever is in season) and perhaps avocados and pineapples. Buy pasta instead of bread. Stay away from refined foods and especially foods high in sugar. Get plenty or rest and enough sun (vitamin D) on your skin.
If you get sick, isolate yourself but seek medical help either by phone or on the internet. Blog or twitter about the experience.
If we can count on people to keep their cool, it is possible to defeat this virus this time around by essentially waiting it out. That means, no one goes to work or school and while we may become uncomfortable and even hungry (living on rice and water a la survivor) the virus won't really go anywhere it isn't already and will burn itself out. These type of viruses mutate very quickly and in a few weeks they disappear. The next year they come back entirely different (which may or may not be a good thing).
So it's a possible strategy, but it's not much.
I predict things will get a lot worse, whether this pandemic manifests as a shit storm nightmare or not. Here's why:
- There's a Pandemic after this one that may be much worse. It's going to come back worse and worse because the ingredients for the pandemic [unhygienic farming and environmental setups that enhance their virulence (warming temperatures)] are increasing; the trend is worsening, far from improving. So if we survive this pandemic there are certain to be successive waves that become more and more lethal. Probably we will develop a better and better capability to wipe them out, but a virus has the edge on humanity. It can change faster than we can track it, and it can render vaccines and medicines useless pretty quickly (a trend that has been happening for some time in medicine).
- Climate Change. No one believes in probably the most potent force happening out there. Climate Change on its own is going to spread and changes diseases. Thanks to Climate Change new diseases are being born and are spreading into entirely new areas. Things like malaria and West Nile Disease and Ebola. If you follow the news you hear about some killer sicknesses coming out, like Dengue Fever.
- Population Growth. The implications of our industrialised society are many. Pollution is one (impacting on Climate Change) but there are many others. Habitat destruction, genetically engineered plants and to some extent animals (it has already been theorised that experiments on human diabetics and animal tissue samples in a Mexican hospital could have stimulated this genetic recombination.
One of the most basic is that a huge population requires huge resources of energy. Food and fuel. Both of these are under tremendous strain at present. Food stocks (in terms of staple crops) are at very low levels. Oil is depleting at an alarming rate - especially in Mexico and Iraq which are supposed to have some of the world's super giant fields. But in terms of H1N1, large human populations have led to huge industrialised death camps for chickens, pigs and cows. These animals are kept in unnatural conditions, warehouses, heavily overcrowded to the extent that the animals go mad and get sick. They are kept alive on growth hormones and anti-biotics until they have grown big enough to be slaughtered. This Clockwork system artificial feeding - turning cows essentially into fish pellet eating carnivores, chickens into cannibals and pigs into bottom feeders.
Both of the above - population growth and climate change - aren't likely to even slow down any time soon. So the trends we're seeing (killer diseases that smart bomb the human immune system) are going to get better at wiping us out. This is the planet's safety defence mechanism. Because the real pandemic is us.