Inoculations are a welcome development, but the public should temper its excitement. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
The first known death from a cyberattack raises the prospect that malware could be more than just a financial crime. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
Hope is beginning to fade that the world will have a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine before the predicted “second wave” arrives that will further suppress economic activity and recovery. Despite an unprecedented global effort, a deliverable vaccine might still be months away. Almost certainly it won’t be ready by October as many hoped. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said November or December would be more realistic. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
Nationalism is all the rage these days. Following decades of globalization, the pendulum has begun to swing back the other direction, triggering fears that nationalist policies will lead to a breakdown in international cooperation and a destabilization of the world order. This, in turn, has led to much hand-wringing over “vaccine nationalism,” the notion that governments will take a “me first” approach to vaccines, further exacerbating the health crisis. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
Modern society is far removed from the reality of death. That was not the case for the vast majority of human history, when parents would produce multiple offspring in the hope that a few might survive to adulthood. Well into the 20th century, infectious diseases cut lives tragically short, often in gruesome ways, radically transforming the course of human history in ways that are underappreciated in textbooks.
This is the focus of a book written by emeritus biology professor Irwin Sherman called “Twelve Diseases That Changed Our World,” which was originally published in 2007 but has taken on renewed relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sherman masterfully interweaves explanations of the biology and epidemiology of the diseases with accounts, taken from historians or eyewitnesses, that are nauseatingly descriptive. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
In 1958, the Soviet Union proposed a global effort to eradicate smallpox, a disease that kills roughly a third of those it infects, including 300 million in the 20th century alone. On Dec. 9, 1979, it was completely eradicated. This public health triumph – perhaps the greatest in the history of mankind – would not have been possible without the efforts of the U.N.’s World Health Organization, which coordinated the immunization campaign. The magnitude of this achievement – removing a microbe from existence – cannot be overstated. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
As 2020 continues its downward spiral toward the ninth circle of hell, one can only hope that something good will come out of the tragedy and chaos.
The U.S. is long overdue for meaningful police reform. It seems as if departments are recruiting the wrong sort of people to become cops. While most officers are good, civic-minded people, some appear to be little more than neighborhood bullies who relish the legal right to push people around. Read the rest at Puget Sound Business Journal.
Of all the major geopolitical players on the planet, Mother Nature may be the toughest adversary. Nature has neither imperatives nor constraints to guide its behavior. Rather, it operates off general patterns that occur under various conditions. While the patterns provide broad strokes of expected behavior, it strikes mostly randomly. Even predictable phenomena, such as the Atlantic hurricane season, tell us nothing about the magnitude and target of, or potential for, economic damage. A catastrophic Category 5 hurricane that misses major population centers is quickly forgotten; a milder Category 3 hurricane that decimates New Orleans has long-lasting consequences. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
History is biased, and not just because the victors tend to write it. The study of history is largely the study of humankind – specifically, the geopolitical events that have shaped human actions (and vice versa) over millennia. It’s true that to learn from the past, we must study ourselves. But what if we’re missing a large part of the story? What if Mother Nature plays just as large a role in shaping the course of human events as mankind? After all, any force that compels specific actions by nation-states is necessarily geopolitical. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
Seattle was ground zero for the coronavirus epidemic in America. But there is another epidemic for which it serves as ground zero: the intellectual purge of academia of conservative or even moderate worldviews and values. Read the rest at the Puget Sound Business Journal.