How can we respond to a world of cascading disasters?
Over the past past few years we’ve had to deal with all sorts of new or resurgent evils, including climate catastrophe, Covid and the global assault on democracy. That’s been made harder by the fact that our political leaders (and plenty of their supporters) have either failed to respond effectively, or have actively promoted these evils. Yet there’s nothing positive about giving in to despair, either politically or personally.
In trying to respond, I’ve started thinking about the idea of ‘mitigated disaster’. Despite our collective failures on all of these issues, there’s still a good chance that the worst of the catastrophe will be staved off. And individually, we need to find ways to act responsibly and to resist the call of despair.
I’ll start with climate, because it’s the issue I have been engaged with longest and understand best. Global heating is having disastrous effects, from bushfires to heatwaves to extremes of drought and floods. And our political leaders, making judgements about what we, as citizens want, have failed to do what is clearly necessary.
But, despite all that, we’ve done far better than seemed likely 10 or 15 years ago. Nearly all major countries have committed to net zero emissions by 2050, and many have adopted policies that require the end of coal-fired electricity and petrol-driven vehicles.
Those policies aren’t adequate, but they are a long way from the ‘Business as Usual’ scenarios we were looking at not long ago. On current policies, the best estimate is that we will ultimately see 2-3 degrees of warming. That would be disastrous in all sorts of ways. But it’s not that long ago that we were thinking about 4 degrees of warming https://findanexpert.unimelb.edu.au/scholarlywork/738066-australia%E2%80%99s-climate-in-a-four-degree-world, which would be catastrophic.
No matter how bad the prospects are, we still have the chance to mitigate the disaster. Every coal mine that doesn’t go ahead, every solar farm that’s installed, every waste of energy that is eliminated is a step towards a more livable future. That’s true if we are looking at 1.5 or 2 degrees of warming, and even more so if we are looking at 4 degrees.
What can we do, as individuals, to save the planet and ourselves. In a world of national targets, individual action may or not be effective in itself – it may simply allow others to do less. Even so, by modelling the kind of life we need to adopt, we may help the process along. That means things like avoiding unnecessary car and plane travel, putting free time for our family and personal goals ahead of maximising money income and making our homes as energy efficient as possible. The point is both to reduce carbon emissions and to show that we can still have a good life as most people see it – at this point, trying to persuade billions of people to forgo the benefits of modern life is a non-starter.
Things aren’t nearly so encouraging in relation to the Covid pandemic. For quite a while, it seemed as if we could manage the collective action needed to beat the pandemic. We endured lockdowns while we waited for the vaccines that would allow us to return to a normal life. But the initial vaccines were beaten by Omicron, and the effort to develop new ones seems to have flagged. Meanwhile, the combination of anti-vaxerism and general weariness have led to the abandonment of nearly all the interventions that might prevent the spread of the pandemic. With better treatment and the (now waning) benefits of vaccination, the death rate is lower than at its peak, but repeated infections are generating all sorts of adverse consequences that may be lumped under the heading of Long Covid.
The best we can say about our collective response to the pandemic is that most places avoided the worst-case consequences, such as those seen in Republican-dominated parts of the United States, where vaccination was rejected along with other interventions. And, while we’ve lost years of progress in reducing mortality rates from disease, those rates are still lower than they were, ten or twenty years ago.
Looking to the future, it is possible to see some signs of a renewed demand for political action, as the consequences of doing nothing become more and more evident, particularly in the form of collapsing health systems. But it will be a long struggle.
So, it largely comes down to individual mitigation, protecting ourselves as best we reasonably can and making it clear to others we are doing so. In my own case, I’ve got myself vaccinated as much as possible (I’m hoping to get a 5th shot through an experimental program), minimised indoor contact with others (for example, refusing in-person speaking invitations) and stuck to masks, even though I know they mostly protect the non-wearers I engage with. That’s manageable for me, but of course things are much worse for immuno-compromised and other vulnerable people
The other aspect of surviving the pandemic is mental health. The challenges are different for all of us, but I hope some of what I’ve written will be helfpul in resisting general despair about the situation. At an individual level, the most important thing for me is putting in the work to maintain contact with people, now that I can’t rely as much on meeting them in person. Skype and Zoom chats are more difficult than in-person, but we need to keep going.
Then there’s social media. What matters here is to avoid the kind of negative-obsessive behavior advertisers want, and commercial networks promote in order to keep our attention. I’ve made a conscious effort to avoid any kind of negative engagement with others. A recent step has been dumping Twitter for the friendlier climes Mastodon (though I still cross-post and occasionally succumb to the temptation of a sharp response on Twitter).
I’ve gone on for too long, so I won’t say anything more about the attack on democracy than needed to point out that we are winning more rounds than we are losing. Trump, Bolsonaro and Johnson are all gone, at least for now, and most of the dictators who seemed irresistible a few years ago (Xi, Putin and Erdogan for example) look much weaker today.
I’ll end with a couplet I cited a few years ago one of my favourite poets, Arthur Hugh Clough, in his poem “Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth,” which ends with these lines:
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,But westward, look, the land is bright.
13 thoughts on “Mitigated disaster”
Davos is “westward, look, the land is bright” JQ, as Lord Stern et al have provided a study to go with “the idea of ‘mitigated disaster’”(JQ) … “as a counterbalance to Guterres’s pessimism”.(1.)
Now we just need to sort out MMT / economic dogma / rich-poor, vs Carbon Price vs secure funding of Lord Stern’s “transformation doesn’t come cheap; an estimated $5-7tn (£4-5.6tn) of investment a year will be needed until 2030”.(1.)
Mark Diesendorf and Steven Hail see funding via MMT – “Modern monetary theory explains how … create the necessary funding without financial constraints,”(2.)
And Lord Stern et al say “The aggregate world macro position makes this increase in investment possible; there is no global savings constraint.”(1.Paper.)
MMT as Diesendorf and Hail use it, and Lord Stern alludes to, sounds like a money tree. Is it?
Lord Stern et al have also hopped on the AI bandwagon as one of the 3 legs toward carbon neutrality – “It contends that the world has in its hands a new growth and development story driven by investment and innovation in green technology, boosted by artificial intelligence (AI)”. I find this statement glib and grasping at a perceived technology solutions. A breath away from CCS. AI?! Where is the functional agreed able to be voted on contractual geopolitical and financal policy?
If I had to choose a route given (1.) & (2.) I wouldn’t. I’d ask Stern et al and Diesendorf & Hail to come back to me when they agree on the path to the future. They don’t. And how are ‘we’ to decide.
JQ, we would love to see your specific route for funding AU $10Trillion a year. Humanity will appreciate a monetary road map to manage Stern’s optimism & price.
We need an agreed method and budget asap. Or like The Voice, we may reject “the idea of ‘mitigated disaster’.
“What we learned at Davos: signs of hope emerge from the pessimism
“Lord Stern is an expert in the economics of climate change, and the paper acted as a counterbalance to Guterres’s pessimism. It makes the case that in the next five years – a crucial period if net zero targets are to be achieved – more than half the tipping points for key green technologies will have been met.
“The transformation doesn’t come cheap; an estimated $5-7tn (£4-5.6tn) of investment a year will be needed until 2030. But if a bit of optimism is what you are after, Stern and Romani provide it. They say the green transition represents the biggest investment opportunity since the Industrial Revolution. And they are right.
“The global growth story of the 21st century: driven by investment and innovation in green technologies and artificial intelligence”
Policy publication on 20 January, 2023
“Major investment is needed for the transition to rapid, sustainable growth: some $5–7 trillion a year globally in gross investment for clean energy and digital transformation. Part of this investment will be additional; the necessary global increase in investment will be around 2–3% of GDP, less in richer countries, more in EMDEs. The aggregate world macro position makes this increase in investment possible; there is no global savings constraint. This investment can give impetus to a strong and durable recovery from the current crises and pre-empt a lost decade for development.”
“The global growth story of the 21st century-driven by investment in green technologies and AI (PDF)
Click to access The-global-growth-story-of-the-21st-century-driven-by-investment-in-green-technologies-and-AI.pdf
Still plenty of work for you though JQ. Such as contacting Mark Diesendorf and Steven Hail with an alternative funding paradigm to MMT.
Any comment in Mark Diesendorf and Steven Hail quote from;
“Energies: Special Issue “New Insights into Energy and Environment Economics: Decarbonization Goals”, which has other worthy papers.
“Funding of the Energy Transition by Monetary Sovereign Countries”
by Mark Diesendorf and Steven Hail
Energies 2022, 15(16), 5908;https://doi.org/10.3390/en15165908 – 15 Aug 2022
“… Modern monetary theory explains how monetary sovereign governments, with their own fiat currencies, can create the necessary funding without financial constraints, although constraints do result from the productive capacities of their economies. The energy transition could be part-funded by a significant transfer of resources from monetary sovereign countries of the global North to the global South, financed by currency issuance.”
When a connate optimist canvasses “mitigated disaster” we know we really are in trouble. All of us who are realists knew it already but this sort of leading post brings it home. How we react depends on our remaining options, our perceptions of the multiple crises and our internal disposition. Anyone like me, a lifetime sufferer of borderline personality disorder and persistent depressive disorder, might indeed find it a particular struggle.
Nevertheless, J.Q. is perfectly right on all scores, including on mental health. We have to keep trying to do what we can at all levels. To do nothing and/or to give in to total despair only makes things worse. Believe me, I have a lifetime’s experience in that and in battling against it. The slough of despond only gets worse and worse. The deepest pits are horrendous. YMMV, but the basics are a big part of the answer. Get adequate physical exercise, preferably a lot of it outdoors with proper sun protection. Get adequate sleep. Cut down on drinks other than water. (I take less caffeine now and I haven’t touched alcohol, drugs, or even psycho-active medications for 40 years, for very good reasons.) Don’t doom-scroll too much. Avoid social media if you can’t really handle it. I can’t and so I avoid it now. Blog sparingly where it gets too ideological or too personal. I am still working on that but I have cut down a lot in volume and shrillness, believe it or not.
And yes, we should all keep doing what we can to save resources, cut CO2 emissions and so on. My wife and I haven’t flown since 2018. It helps one avoid C-19 too. The three legacy ICE vehicles in our garage (for three people!) are almost relics now (two in superb condition with ridiculously low readings on the odomoters). It’s getting to the point for the third car, which has little resale value) that the battery breaks down relatively regularly from lack of use. My rough calculations show that deliberately putting kilometers on it to prolong battery life would probably cost more in petrol than one would save in batteries. My son keeps this car to preserve his feeling of independence and then borrows his mother’s car when it never starts. Everyone’s dignity and equanimity is maintained.
All I can add to JQ’s points is that we will have to start viewing these endless crises (as they certainly will be) as existential and survival adventures. We older middle-class types of Australia are both materially comfortable and yet in continually brittle or precarious statea at other levels. We are all only one health crisis away from disaster. I have two health-brittle immuno-compromised people in my immediate family. And my own mental health is at times brittle. The iron grip I have kept on inner parts of myself for 40 years (I kid you not) and without medications or treatments is getting harder and grimmer to maintain in old age. At the same time, those who know me have said more than once just when you look like exploding or disintegrating you seem to make some extra effort and pull yourself back from the brink. I just hope I can keep doing it.
We are all going to find ourselves needing these sorts of consistent or intensified efforts from now on. It’s not going to be easy for anyone and many whom we envy, thinking they sailed effortlessly through life, and got all the prizes and goodies without the travail, probably didn’t, and are probably paddling furiously below the surface, just like us.
Two cheerful observations (I know, I know. But why do i get more optimistic with age?)
One is accidental. Social media depend on advertising. Platform operators therefore maximise engagement. Engagement comes from emotional responses, not reason. These can be negative (Who is this racist idiot?) or positive (Gee, this kitten is cute!). But advertisers don’t like association with conflict and much prefer saccharine cuteness. So the kittens win in the long run, and Musk’s libertarian Twitter heads for bankruptcy.
The other, as somebody pointed out recently, that nonlinear tipping points can be on the plus as well as the minus side. More than half of new car sales in Germany and the Netherlands in December were for PHEVs. The mood music on green shipping, aviation, and steel has changed quite markedly – actual investment is slower, but is starting to happen.
ATAGI can stay irrational longer than you can maintain antibodies. That’s the bottom line. Antibodies from COVID-19 vaccination begin to wane significantly after 3 months. After 6 months you likely have little remaining antibody protection. The memory or T-Cell induced protection response (for ramping up new anti-bodies) may still be there more than 6 months after vaccination, if the new variant’s spike is not too different from your vaccine’s 2P-stabilised spike.
If you have had vaccines and a COVID-19 infection or two, this does not necessarily confer greater protection. It might do so for another 3 to 12 months but likely no longer. And it all depends on how different the endless new variants are from the previous variant you caught. In addition, any COVID-19 infection will have reduced your naive T-Cell count (naive memory cells are needed for imprinting against each new variant) and also reduced your immune system DC (dendritic cells) count and thus your immune system’s anti-tumor responses; thus increasing your chances of getting cancer in future. You never get new naive memory cells (after your thymus atrophied normally at about age 20) and your DC counts may never come back either, especially if you are old.
Catching COVID-19 is bad deal for anyone, with significant chances of leaving one with long Covid or reduced immune capabilities going forward, plus increased chances of chronic auto-immunity and systemic inflammation. ATAGI and the government either know all this and are ignoring the science or else they are totally ignorant of the science. Neither possibility instills any confidence in their management of the pandemic.
We are 1/12 of the way into 2023 and ATAGI have not yet decided on the plan for 2023. I would have thought in a pandemic with lead-time requirements of many kinds, including antibody half-life calculations for cohorts and vaccine logistics, the plan for 2023 would have been ready and announced well before 2023. Clearly, I was wrong.
I know a very small circle of people, yet I already know people who have had COVID-19 twice in the last 12 months. And they get it in the summer holiday season. The notion that Australia has winter waves larger than its summer waves is not borne out by the data. It’s rather the reverse in fact for Australia. Here I refer to the population waves data, not my anecdata. So why are ATAGI waiting and planning only for winter vaccination? Are their minds so ossified they are no longer able to learn anything new? Can they read the data at all? Or is there some other explanation? The explanation, that incompetence alone explains the world’s and our poor response to COVID-19, is beginning to wear thin. It begins to look like calculated indifference… or something worse.
Why won’t we mitigate the COVID-19 disaster?
“In Australia last year, COVID-19 killed more people than lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, car accidents and drowning combined. And in addition to the 15,000 deaths directly attributed to COVID, the Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that there were 20,000 more deaths (excess deaths) last year than would usually be expected, largely due to the fact that people who have had COVID tend to die more quickly of the other diseases they have. Last year was the first time that average life expectancy has fallen in Australia since World War Two.”
Other recent national experiences have shown we are also uninterested in preventing or mitigating climate change, bushfires and floods in any serious or meaningful way. How bad do things have to get before we act? The only conclusion I can arrive at is that personal tragedy and/or major property loss / wealth loss is going to have impact hard on every family in the nation before there is any real action. How much ruin is there in a nation before a people act? There may indeed be a great deal of ruin in a nation as Adam Smith dismissively said. But there is not open-ended or infinite ruin in a nation. Sooner or later we are going to find this out. It would be better if we acted preemptively.
Just a word on vaccination. “… only around 44 per cent of those eligible for the fourth booster jab have had one, there is no sign of urgency from the Albanese government,…”
The position is far worse than this. Anyone who has had the fourth booster over 6 months ago is hardly protected at all due to antibody decline. Anyone who has had vaccination less times or none is protected even less or not all. The idea that we currently have a protected population is a complete illusion. I would doubt that even 10% of the population are adequately protected by the stringent standard necessary in reality: namely boosting with the last 6 months. And new, even more dangerous variants are arising and taking hold.
So expect 2023 to be a bigger disaster in Australia than 2022 re COVID-19, climate change, other unmitigated disasters and all the knock-on dangers they bring in their train. When will humans ever learn? My maternal uncle used to warn of 4WDs, “They are just good enough to get you into a lot of trouble.” This applies to all of our technology now. It is just good enough to get us into a lot of trouble… unless it is very wisely used. And we are showing no signs of wisdom at all, yet.
Not yet mitigated.
Small Modular Nuclear Reactor goes missing.
Iko: – “Why won’t we mitigate the COVID-19 disaster?”
I’d suggest many people are either ignorant or are in denial, on many issues.
I still don’t see anything from the Coalition or Labor adequately dealing with these issues:
1) Climate change – an existential threat to human civilisation – if we/humanity cannot solve the climate crisis then nothing else will matter;
2) Worsening energy security, particularly liquid fuel security – disrupted energy supplies and increasing unaffordability means disrupted food, clean water & medical supplies – we then starve, get weak, sick & die;
3) Ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – increasing numbers of severe ‘long-COVID’ sufferers will in future likely overwhelm medical systems and be an increasing drag on economic capacity, and will likely ultimately erode human lifespan.
Global diesel/gasoil fuel production has already declined from the peak in 2015-18 of circa 26 Mb/d to below 23 Mb/d in mid-2021.
Global oil production is not like it used to be: https://twitter.com/aeberman12/status/1615692186682814467
The quality of oil is declining.
That means there’s less energy content per volume of oil produced.
That means less net energy from petroleum products available for economic activities.
I agree about education over ignorance. I am suggesting that in a system that doesn’t properly educate people to see, avoid, preempt and mitigate our modern risks for the future, then disaster becoming close, personal and dire is the only way they are going to get educated. At least the survivors will be educated. And this will have to happen en masse since the proper education is not happening en masse and the mainstream media are in full denial.
Leaving people to mass disaster to teach them, by default, about mass disaster is not wise or ethical, as we would both agree. But I see nothing substantive happening even at this late juncture. So mass disaster it is to be. Perhaps a single salutary and undeniable mass disaster with mass death in a metropolis will be required to sensitize the world of humans to the real, existential dangers we face. That likely would be the least worst feasible outcome at this point. I am not hoping for it but I am reduced to hoping it doesn’t happen to my city and environs. (While doing what I can to isolate safely and reduce my footprint, profile and presence in all ways possible.)
The four stage blocking strategy.
“We’re at the “Yes Minister” 4th stage of denial with energy as well as Covid. The deliberate blockers of essential public infrastructure and administration now use the results of that blocking to argue against fixing the damage, saying it’s too hard, and too late. That was their trick with Covid too, to allow it to spread so far and so fast, that it was then possible to say ‘you can’t put that genie back in the bottle, we’re all going to have to be infected.’ With energy they say the massive changes needed to electrify the economy … (after their decades of blocking all of those changes) are now a reason to say it can’t be done, it’s too hard, and too late.” – Henry Madison.
You can look up “Yes Minister the four stage strategy” on the internet for a quick video clip on the strategy.
The four stage blocking strategy was used to block effective action on climate change too, plus the usual FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). This is the way capitalism operates. It operates to move all the wealth to the top and leave the rest of society with the over-priced scraps. Have no doubt that we are moving to collapse on all fronts, on climate change, on Covid-19 and on inequality. All indicators are rapidly worsening. A runaway crisis and collapse on all fronts is our future unless capitalism and even conventional economics itself are radically repudiated and replaced with scientifically rational and sustainable economy.
Conventional economics is a failed or “degenerate” research program to use Lakatos’s terminology. Economics needs a renovation or “instauration” as profound as Bacon’s “Great Instauration and Novum Organum” against the scholastic syllogism and for the empirical investigation. Bacon’s cry for the great instauration must now be applied to economics, a still alchemical as well as a chrematistic discipline, by abandoning it and junking it. We cannot mitigate disasters when the system creating them is running at full speed.
All of Bacon’s aphorisms are well worth reading and these below are especially applicable to conventional economics:
“xii – The logic now in use serves to fix and give stability to the errors which have their foundations in commonly received notions, than to help the search after truth. So it does more harm than good.
xiii – The syllogism is not applied to the first principles of the sciences, and is applied in vain to intermediate axioms; being no match for the subtlety of nature. It commands assent to the proposition but does not take hold of the thing (the real natural phenomenon).
xiv – The syllogism consists of propositions, propositions consist of words, words are symbols of notions. Therefore if the notions themselves (the root of the matter) are confused and over hastily abstracted from the facts, there can be no firmness in the superstructure. Our only hope therefore lies in a true induction.” – Bacon – Aphorisms from Novum Organum.
Bacon then goes on to mention “experiment”.
Of course, none of this (abandoning conventional economics for something both more ethical and scientific) will happen while the current hegemony applies. Capitalism now completely dominates the world system. Capitalism has achieved its apotheosis. All the great economies now obey and compete within late capitalism’s system prescriptions, which are mainly but not wholly dictated by the USA. Even Russia and China are fully subsumed into the global mega-machine of capitalism.
Wherever capitalisation is the dominant principle, along with financialism in general, this is true. Capitalist dictatorships like Russia and China and capitalist oligopolies like the USA still compete (economically and militarily via economic wars, proxy wars, cyber wars, grey wars and bio-wars at least) but they compete in one system not as different system. China’s final and utter capitulation to capitalism dates precisely from its capitulation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Controlling the spread of the BSL 3 pathogen, SARS2, was the last substantial, objective thing China was doing differently from late stage global capitalism elsewhere.
SARS2 probably was engineered at Wuhan Institute of Virology with significant US money and research assistance, bizarre as that seems, and then escaped. The circumstantial evidence is extensive and compelling but it usually takes decades to find smoking guns when states and deep states are hiding them. See Professor Raina MacIntyre’s book “Dark Winter” which maybe should have been called “Dark Genetics”. Prof. MacIntyre is a global authority in forensic epidemiology. This signals a final watershed, on the biosecurity and epidemiological front, in that China has abandoned its people to the unstoppable pandemic, just as the people of the West and third world have been abandoned by the leading Western governments.
To reiterate, we cannot mitigate disasters, of ecological or epidemiological nature, when the destructive and maladaptive system creating them is still running at full speed. And the system, as appears to date, is so hegemonic and the public so addicted to consumerism, beguiled with manufactured consent and deluded with cornucopian techno-optimism, that the system cannot be changed from within. “Within” is now the whole human world. In that case, it will be changed from without. The natural forces and Holocene cycles of the biosphere and ecosphere will collapse and are collapsing our system rapidly right now. When will people wake up from their all-enveloping false consciousness? That is the only serious question at this stage.
JQ said “That’s true if we are looking at 1.5 or 2 degrees of warming, and even more so if we are looking at 4 degrees.”
What is a superlative for “even more so” in the context of 4 deg C relative to effects at 1.5?
[Ikon, you may – or not – like this study! A comment? Re “It commands assent to the proposition but does not take hold of the thing (the real natural phenomenon).”]
“1.5 Degrees Was Never the End of the World
“The most famous climate goal is woefully misunderstood.
By Emma Marris
“But here’s the thing: 1.5 degrees, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, isn’t based on any scientific calculation. It doesn’t represent a specific planetary threshold or ecological tipping point. It was first proposed during international climate negotiations as a moral statement, a rebuke of the idea that the world could accept some disruption and suffering in order to burn fossil fuels just a bit longer. That’s the takeaway of a new study on the history of the target from two French academics, Béatrice Cointe from the Centre for the Sociology of Innovation and Hélène Guillemot from the Centre Alexandre Koyré, both funded by the French National Centre for Scientific Research.
“From the perspective of the present, it’s a relief that 1.5 degrees doesn’t represent a scientific threshold, because we are almost certainly going to blow past it. As a rebuke, however, it may live on.”
“A history of the 1.5°C target
Béatrice Cointe, Hélène Guillemot
First published: 18 January 2023
“… This article retraces the emergence of the 1.5°C in diplomatic negotiations, the preparation of the IPCC Special report on 1.5°C, and the new kinds of debates they provoked among climate scientists and experts. To explain how an unreachable target became the reference for climate action, we analyze the “political calibration” of climate science and politics, which can also be described as a codependency between climate science and politics.”
IPCC SPECIAL REPORT
“Global Warming of 1.5 ºC”
Ahh, “Wiley capitalism”.
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Ikonoclast (FEBRUARY 7, 2023 AT 9:30 AM): – “That was their trick with Covid too, to allow it to spread so far and so fast, that it was then possible to say ‘you can’t put that genie back in the bottle, we’re all going to have to be infected.’”
Per Nature reviews microbiology review article titled Long COVID: major findings, mechanisms and recommendations, published Jan 13, the Introduction included:
This is “a conservative estimated incidence of 10% of infected people” for EACH episode of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Each time re-infection occurs the infected person is rolling the dice again, with an increasing chance each time they will likely acquire ‘long-COVID’.
That means as more people are re-infected with SARS-CoV-2 the number of cases with ‘long-COVID’ will continue to grow.
A healthy economy requires a healthy population.
The only way to guarantee avoiding acquiring ‘long-COVID’ is to not get infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Ikonoclast: – “When will people wake up from their all-enveloping false consciousness?”
I’d suggest it’s the usual story: When enough people “that matter” are dying, or at high risk of dying. That’s when the ‘narrative’ will change.
What Ikon & Geoff have been banging on about. If we are not planning for the next pandemic, we are planning to fail.
“An Even Deadlier Pandemic Could Soon Be Here
Feb. 3, 2023
“The public, of course, doesn’t want to hear about another virus, and Congress isn’t even willing to keep funding efforts against the current one.
“We could get lucky — we’ve had bird flu outbreaks before without human spread. But it seems foolish to count on that. A pandemic strain may have a much lower fatality rate than the 56 percent of known human cases so far, but it still could be much more deadly than the coronavirus, which is estimated to have killed 1 percent to 2 percent of those infected before vaccines or treatments were available. Deadly influenza pandemics occur regularly in human history, and they don’t wait until people recover from an earlier outbreak, no matter how weary we may all feel.
“This time, we have not just the warning, but also many of the tools we need to fend a pandemic off. We should not wait until it’s too late.
Who is ZEYNEP TUFEKCI?
“She is a professor at Columbia University’s Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security and a faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
“She has been described as “having a habit of being right on the big things” by The New York Times and as one of the most prominent academic voices on social media and the new public sphere by The Chronicle of Higher Education. In 2022, Tufekci was a Pulitzer finalist for her “insightful, often prescient, columns on the pandemic and American culture”, which the committee said “brought clarity to the shifting official guidance and compelled us towards greater compassion and informed response.”
We could get a pandemic deadlier than the C-19 pandemic has been thus far. That is true. An avian influenza is a candidate if it can evolve very efficient human to human transmission and is deadlier than the latest C-19 Omicron variant. Just in passing, let us ask ourselves what we would do if that happened. On current form we would refuse to implement adequate controls, insist on business as usual and fail to contain the pandemic. We can’t even beat pandemic A and some people are running on about being ready for pandemic B, implicitly with our current failed and inadequate controls model. Sorry, that is just not going to work.
There are many deniers of the continuing dangers we face from Covid-19. They think the pandemic is over or is adequately controlled. They are wrong, dead wrong. Covid-19 continues to evolve and evade vaccine immunity and natural immunity. Covid-19 continues to kill old, vulnerable and very young people consistently and at higher rates than should ever be acceptable in a modern society; thus adding a new cause of death to our mix that is the number 3 cause of death in many advanced countries. We currently require a minimum of two vaccinations and probably three vaccinations per annum indefinitely, to stay merely safe-ish. This is unless some new circuit breaker event occurs. Socially active, work active vaccinated adults appear to be catching Covid-19, on average, about twice a year and school children more often than that.
This is a serious concern because COVID-19 is a serious percentage of cases damages the immune system and the damage is then persistent, if not permanent. The damage is certainly persistent enough in that a next infection can hit while the immune response is still compromised from the previous infection. This relates not to antibody immunity, which lasts only for about 4 to 6 months, but to immune memory, inflammatory and autoimmune damage which can persist.
With endless infections in the global “herd”, Covid-19 could at any time evolve into a serious new variant with a higher infection fatality ratio. This is a non-trivial risk. In the meantime it is damaging many organ systems and/or the immune system in a significant minority of people with each infection and the dangers are likely additive, if not multiplicative. We are still in dire trouble from COVID-19. The only certain safe number of infections is zero.