Why we need worst-case thinking to prevent pandemics
This is a professional note extracted from an online article.
Read more efficiently
Save what inspires you
IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:
For all our advances in medicine, we remain more vulnerable to pandemics than we would like to believe.
To understand our vulnerability and to establish what steps we need to take to end it, we should ask what the very worst-case scenario is.
In 1347, the Black Death came to Europe, first brought by the Mongol army, then spreading through Europe.
In six years, tens of millions fell gravely ill. Nearly half of all Europeans succumb to the Black Death, one-third of Egyptians and Syrians were killed, and it also laid waste to parts of central Asia, India, and China.
However, even the Spanish flu pandemic had a minimal apparent effect on the world's development. It was less significant than the first world war, which had a smaller death toll but a more substantial impact on the course of history.
Our understanding and control of pathogens are very recent. Previously a leading theory in the west claimed that a kind of gas produced diseases.
The past ten years have seen major progress in biotechnology and are likely to continue developing. But we should not assume that this terrain holds only familiar dangers.
Scientific and medical research poses a small risk of harm, but it can threaten global harm.
The democratization promises to fuel a boom of entrepreneurial biotechnology. But since biotechnology can be misused to lethal effect, making it accessible to everyone also means increasing the chance someone with malign intent may wreak destruction.
The main candidate for existential biological risk stems from the misuse of technology. The scientific community has tried to regulate its dangerous research, but with limited success.
There has been a robust trend towards increases in the power of humanity, reaching a point where we pose a serious risk to our own existence.
The problem is not an excess of technology but a lack of wisdom. We cannot wait until a threat strikes before acting. We must be proactive and rise to the challenges. The fact that these risks stem from human action shows us that human action can address them with rigorous thinking, guided by a positive vision of the future.
SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:
Near the end of World War One, the Spanish flu infected over a quarter of the world's population and claimed between 50 and 100 million lives.
During this pandemic, cities around the US ...
One of the goals of social distancing is to delay the spread of the virus, so it reaches people more slowly.
The idea is to lengthen the time period over which the virus travels through a population and push the peak number of cases back so it appears later. With a lower rate of spreading, less infected people will need urgent care and resources at any given time.
2 more ideas
Growth evangelists are right when they state that severe lockdowns produce a parallel human misery of unemployment, looming bankruptcies, and extreme financial anguish. Yet, opening the economy too...
“Save the economy or save lives” is a false choice.
A group of economists published a paper on the 1918 flu outbreak. Their findings revealed:
The hope is for a deep, short recession, to show that people have shut the economy down to limit the spread of disease.
Asking millions of able-bodied workers to stop working creates a crisis of unemployment.
During this time, the U.S. is expanding unemployment benefits and are also delaying tax filing. In northern-European countries, the government is directly paying businesses to maintain their payrolls to avoid mass layoffs and furloughs.
2 more ideas