Note (10FEB2020): The essay below presents a tale of aftermath of a highly lethal, global plague. Could it happen? Yes. Will it happen? Yes. Is it happening now? Apparently not.
Whereas the current Chinese β-coronaviruse is highly contagious, it is not viciously lethal except to the elderly and immuno-compromised. Could it mutate? Being a RNA-virus, it is prone to do so; however, most mutations are deleterious to the virus itself not its hosts but can result in less virulence or more.
Currently, there are no vaccines or specific treatments for any coronavirus. Could be one available soon for the Chinese variant? Unlikely, given that after almost twenty years there still is no vaccine for its cousin, SARS. Even so, one can hope.
What will be the primary damage from the virus? Probably more economic than medical.
The basic point of the essay is to alert you that microbiologists tell us that a more serious plague will occur and very likely soon. Two questions arise therefrom:
1) What measures are powers-that-be taking to plan for dealing with such a devastating contagion?
2) What measures are the powers-that-be here in these United States of America and elsewhere taking to plan for the resulting aftermath?
Paradoxically, contrary to the misinformation from the talking heads on television, the aftermaths of mass-extinctions by plagues can be salutary for the survivors, biologically and economically. After the Black Plague of the 14th-century, for example, the standard of living rose for the survivors.
As described in Retribution Fever, the course of the aftermath of our next mass-extinction will depend upon on prior planning. Who will direct it? Shall we trust that planning to the current political establishment? What will be the plans? Specific or abstract? How will it be employed? With accountability or excuses?
“The single biggest threat to man’s continued dominance on the planet is the virus.” -Joshua Lederberg, PhD (1925-2008)
The white man lay on a filthy cot in a tattered tent on red men’s land. The red men had given him permission, regarding him as merely a curiosity. Most of his curious hosts, however, had passed on to their “happy hunting ground”, wherever that ethereal region might be.
Plague! A great plague called Retribution Fever had covered humanity like a dark shroud of death. Most humans died — humans only. Other forms of life would have celebrated had they sentience.
A small minority of humanity had survived the lethal virus. Among them, this white man on red men’s territory.
The dead among the red men had received dignified, traditional, individual funerals. The dead among white men received undignified, expedient, collective disposals; swept in groups by bulldozers into large, open pits, covered with lime, then covered with dirt. No prayers. No memorials. Abandoned to rest in whatever peace might exist in such a place until the Sun, expanded into a red giant, engulfed Earth, then itself withered into a white dwarf.
Nothing lasts forever, not even the Cosmos. Who in that aftermath of a vast, cold, dark expanse would be left to know or care? God?
There had been prior warnings from scientists of a great plague with mass-extinction of humans. They pointed to prior pandemics — Black Plague, “Spanish Flu”, SARS, MERS. Compared to self-serving politicians and greedy profiteers, scientists possessed no power. Decrease the human population? Never! Return the air, land, and water to Nature? Never!
Those with power consistently ignored the warnings. Short-term gain trounced long-term survival. When Retribution finally struck, most of those titans of power died, often while focused on failing financial markets and toppling governments. Retribution Fever hit the elderly particularly hard; thereby, solving the economic problem posed by the aged with their vocal greed robbing the unborn in their silent absence. A grim silver lining to the coal-black cloud of deadly disease.
Now, in the aftermath amid the resulting ruin, this solitary white man, lost in thought, could not find a particle of reason for hope in the future or faith in his fellow survivors. Rumor claimed that the American military had declared temporary martial law and was forming a new government prior to supposedly resurrecting the kind of democratic republic envisioned by the Founding Fathers. It promised a new dawn economically, politically, and socially under a revised Constitution* adhering to the traditional ideals and values that had died long before the population did; drowned in a cesspool of debt, defeat, and depravity.
“A truly democratic republic? Fat chance!” the white man muttered to himself in his solitude.
Given human history, his pessimism seemed justified both to him and to his hosts, most of whom dealt with their own pessimism philosophically by converting copious amounts of white men’s alcohol into red men’s urine. Lost in the mists of their mental fogs, they silently reminisced how their forefathers had predicted that their gods would inflict retribution upon the white man for his cruel depredations and broken promises — for his destruction of their people together with the animals, land, and water. They themselves now predicted that surviving white men would plod the same, previous Path to Perdition, having learned nothing from their folly. The self-invited, white guest longed to disagree but could not except when . . . .
Every once in a while, he experienced momentarily on nights like this one a surge of optimistic elation. It was fleeting, never lasting more than a minute or two; but, during those too few seconds, he would opine, “One day, maybe . . . just maybe . . . .”
*A description of the Constitution modified along the principles of the Science of Human Behavior appears in the recent, call-to-action novel, Retribution Fever (2018).
“Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched.”-Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
© Gene Richard Moss (2020)