We're All Gonna Die

The American Ebola Story

This is the App Store ranking history for an app called Plague Inc. It's a game in which players design and deploy a disease into the world with the goal of infecting the entire planet—to win the game you must infect every country, no exceptions. The game has been around for a while—the CDC invited its creator to speak to the agency's staff last year. The pretense, according to a CDC spokesperson: "Meeting with industry leaders is a great way to learn more about reaching new audiences through mobile apps." The game's sales spiked on October 1st, immediately after the hospitalization of Thomas Duncan in Dallas. Ebola felt [...]


Ebola and You

An outbreak of Ebola is on track to become the largest in history, and it's showing no signs of slowing down. There are now over 500 recorded cases spread across Guinea and Sierra Leone; the last few appeared in Monrovia, a dense city with about half a million people (and another half a million clustered close nearby).

In the history of Ebola, this is Very Bad: It's major outbreak in an unexpected location. But coinciding with this horrifying story seems to be a sterilization of the news itself—the b-matter in these stories is soft, considering. Here's how NPR backs readers up: Ebola often kills around two-thirds of [...]


Ugh, On Top Of Everything Else The Magnetic Field Is Gonna Flip Over Or Whatever?

"What Will Happen When the Earth’s Magnetic Field Begins to Reverse?"


Oh, By The Way, Measles Is Getting Better At Ignoring Vaccines Now

"Get the measles vaccine, and you won’t get the measles—or give it to anyone else. Right? Well, not always. A person fully vaccinated against measles has contracted the disease and passed it on to others. The startling case study contradicts received wisdom about the vaccine and suggests that a recent swell of measles outbreaks in developed nations could mean more illnesses even among the vaccinated."


Doom Harbinged

"Are Chile’s 300 earthquakes this week a harbinger of doom?"


Should We Worry About What The Centers For Disease Control Is Calling "Nightmare Bacteria"?

"CDC: Better Antibiotic Practices Needed to Combat ‘Nightmare Bacteria’"


Well, Vaccination Had A Good Run

"[W]hooping cough is resurgent: just under fifty thousand people caught it in 2012. This is mainly because protection from the current shots wanes over time. But, as the bug circulates, it is also morphing. Last February, researchers identified mutant strains of the bacteria in eleven patients in Philadelphia. These mutants, it turns out, appear to be the dominant form of the bug in this country. Whooping cough has evolved in a way that vaccine-preventable diseases rarely do."


The Real Estate Agent's Preferred Way of Thinking About Climate Change

“The answer is the Pacific Northwest, and probably especially west of the Cascades.”

“Actually, the strip of coastal land running from Canada down to the Bay Area is probably the best.”

“I predict we’re going to have millions of people moving to [the country’s midsection, like Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee and Detroit]."

“Alaska is going to be the next Florida by the end of the century.”

The grim parlor game that we're playing here is "Where will people move when the now-inevitable environmental apocalypse that the human race could've averted but loved its SUVs and one-dollar hamburgers and air conditioning a little too much [...]


Global Warming Now Just Toying With Us

January 2008, New York Times. A German scientist named Thomas Wagner soothes our nerves about the planet: Thomas Wagner, a German scientist at Newcastle University in England who was among the authors, cautioned against concluding that modern ice in the Arctic or Antarctic might resist current global warming.

“It’s difficult to draw a direct relationship between our findings and the current discussion on the climate,” Mr. Wagner said.

“The results, however, show that even in a very warm world it is possible, at least temporarily, to build up larger ice caps in cooler regions,” he said.

May 2014, New York Times. An American scientist also named Thomas [...]


Maybe This Will Be The Virus That Finally Takes Us All Down

"Saudi health officials are stepping up efforts to fight the Middle East respiratory symptom coronavirus, or MERS-CoV, after a recent spike in cases. Saudi Arabia confirmed more than 50 cases of the virus in the past week, at least seven of which were fatal. The Saudi Health Ministry says 13 new cases were reported Monday alone, bringing the total to 257."


We Need A New Excuse For Ruining The Planet

"Dr Saleemul Huq, a convening lead author on one of the chapters, commented: 'Before this we thought we knew this was happening, but now we have overwhelming evidence that it is happening and it is real.' Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said that, previously, people could have damaged the Earth's climate out of 'ignorance'. 'Now, ignorance is no longer a good excuse,' he said."


It Could Have Gone Either Way But It Turns Out Climate Change Is A Net Negative

"Leaked draft report from UN panel seen by The Independent is most comprehensive investigation into impact of climate change ever undertaken — and it's not good news."


Here Is A Gallery Of Things That Might Cause The Next Pandemic!

"Over the past two decades, bats have turned out to play host to all kinds of nasty viruses. Some of these can infect people; many, including Ebola and MERS, can be deadly. Most human outbreaks have been small, but the big fear is that a bat virus will mutate in a way that allows it to spread readily between people. This is what happened with SARS, which infected 8000 in almost 40 countries before being contained." —That's the lead-in to a slideshow entitled "Beware bats: Six species to avoid like the plague," which is pictures of bats. I am hard-pressed to recall something that seems like a more [...]


This Bird Caught A Cold. You Won't Believe What Happened Next.

"Hong Kong has begun a mass cull of around 20,000 chickens after the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus was discovered in a batch of poultry imported from mainland China. Officials wearing masks and protective suits piled dead chickens into black plastic bags at a wholesale market in Hong Kong where the virus was discovered on Monday…. The discovery of the avian influenza virus came just days after Hong Kong introduced widespread testing of imported live poultry following growing public concern over the safety of imports, particularly from the mainland."


The Ebola Franchise

An Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed over 650 people, making it easily the deadliest in the disease's relatively short history. It has also brought us one of the weirdest Times op-eds you'll ever read. It scans almost like an example or a template: Just replace "Ebola" with any other bad thing, adjust proper nouns in the "do better" sections, and SEND IT TO THE PRESSES. Some of its recommendations: -Infected individuals must be isolated in health centers to prevent the virus from spreading to others and to give them the care they need.

-Bodies of victims must also be disposed of with care: The virus, present [...]


"Potential Problem" Now "Major Threat"

"Widespread antibiotic resistance is no longer a potential problem but has become a major threat, according to the World Health Organization."


Cellphones Probably Killing You But What Are You Gonna Do?

"[M]odern technology (the source of the humanmade electromagnetic fields discussed here) has fueled a remarkable degree of innovation, productivity, and improvement in the quality of life. If tomorrow the power grid went down, all cell phone networks would cease operation, millions of computers around the world wouldn’t turn on, and the night would be illuminated only by candlelight and the moon—we’d have a lot less EMF exposure, but at the cost of the complete collapse of modern society. EMF isn’t just a by-product of modern society. EMF, and our ability to harness it for technological purposes, is the cornerstone of modern society. Sanitation, food production and storage, health care—these are [...]


Cats One Step Closer To Killing Us All

Hmm: "Cats have passed TB to humans for the first time in an outbreak feared to have been caused by badgers. Two people from the same household are being treated for bovine tuberculosis after they caught the disease from their kitten. Two other cat owners have been infected with a dormant form of TB."

Oh, and recently: "Using deliberately conservative assumptions, federal researchers recently estimated that free-ranging cats killed about 2.4 billion birds annually in the Lower 48 states, a substantial bite out of [...]


Up Next: Malaria

"Warmer temperatures are causing malaria to spread to higher altitudes, a study suggests."


Move Over, H7N9, There's A New Flu In Town!

"Chinese health authorities have identified a brand-new type of bird flu that killed an elderly woman in November and infected at least one other person in January. That trend prompted the experts to call for stepped-up surveillance to track the new H10N8 influenza virus in poultry markets and in human patients. 'The pandemic potential of this novel virus should not be underestimated,' the medical team wrote in a report published Wednesday by the journal Lancet. Genetic analysis of the H10N8 influenza virus revealed that it has two mutations that make flu viruses more virulent in mammals, [...]