What We’re Not Being Told About the Wuhan Coronavirus

An empty airport. Deserted streets. A body left unattended on the sidewalk while figures in ghostly white hazmat suits walk by. Images from Wuhan paint a disturbing picture of plague and death at risk of spreading across the globe.

Chinese police detained a Hong Kong reporter sent to Wuhan to report on the outbreak, forcing them to delete their footage and turn in their phones. A report in the Japan Times quotes Chinese Supreme Court Justice Tang Xinghua complaining about the heavy-handedness of the government’s information crackdown.

Images and stories of the outbreak are splashed all over western media sources, but what are we not being told? Behind the breathless coverage, what’s the disturbing reality CNN won’t report? The real story of this outbreak doesn’t become apparent until mortality rates are considered. It’s the rate of death from coronavirus after it spreads beyond Wuhan that places this incident in its proper context.

Beyond Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province, mortality rates from coronavirus infection are hovering around .3%. That’s at the low end of normal annual mortality rates from seasonal flu in China (.1-.7%). Put another way, once people have access to appropriate medical treatment, especially in China’s major modern urban centers, coronavirus is pretty much just another flu variant. For a bit more perspective, the annual mortality rate from the flu in the US is a little over .1%. About 12,000-60,000 Americans die from influenza-related symptoms every year. Death rates from coronavirus in developed countries have so-far held steady at 0%. Overall, globally, including Wuhan, this virus outbreak appears to be responsible for a total of 300 deaths. As of February 2, 2020, only a single person has died outside China.

What we’re not being told is that this flu outbreak is a local phenomenon, a product of unsanitary conditions, poor access to health care, and state repression in a single city. Among the 11 million residents of Wuhan, somewhere between 14,000-75,000 have contracted the virus, resulting the current death toll of about 300. Beneath the breathless headlines hides the strange and somewhat puzzling reality that this is an ordinary, administrative public health challenge, with no meaningful implications for the wider world.

More virulent than the Black Plague is the spread of panic in our media ecosystem. A global, 24-hour media infrastructure built around the commercial demands of the entertainment industry is a cancer growing on democracy. There is no penalty for being wrong. We’re all still waiting for the global Ebola outbreak, a panic that rescued Republicans from losing the Senate in 2014.

Remember that story cited above, about a Chinese Judge? You’ll find it splayed across the pages of Murdoch’s News Corp proxies around the world. And it’s being reposted on fake news outlets like Breitbart. Run a search to find this “Supreme Court Judge” by the name of Tang Xinghua and you find no other sources.

There are no judges by that name on the website for the Chinese Supreme Court. News Corp’s source was a blog post in Chinese on WeChat by someone calling themselves “Supreme People’s Court.” The author is actually a blogger for a local court in Beijing. His statement wasn’t part of any court ruling, but a long personal post on the dangers of misinformation. Word for word, here’s how Murdoch’s fake news engine mischaracterized this blog post:

A too-harsh crackdown on online rumors during China’s deadly viral epidemic had undermined public trust, the country’s top court said Wednesday, in a highly rare rebuke of the police force.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a retraction.

Like bricks in a wall, these small distortions and misrepresentations pile up. Eyeballs on screens, attracted by images presented out of context pull in advertising dollars while the public is betrayed. On the bright side, QAnon followers are being urged by influential posters to protect themselves by drinking Mineral Miracle Solution, a concoction that amounts to home-brewed bleach. Evolution may yet race to our rescue.

Why do we love a plague? These disaster images cross the streams, combining our neurotic fears of illness with our deep-seated racism, turning everything foreign into a creepy, dirty pestilential menace. Reports of silent death delivered from exotic corners of the world confirm our cherished biases, filling us with a lustful horror. Broadcasters and advertisers understand. They spread the infection.

What’s the dark secret our mainstream news outlets aren’t telling us about this disease outbreak? Americans are being menaced by a brain-eating virus, but it isn’t coming from abroad.

40 Comments

  1. Back on topic with a sad plot twist, Dr. Li Wenliang, who played a whistleblower role in reporting this outbreak, had died of the disease. Here we see the weaknesses of the authoritarian system in dealing with this sort of crisis, as trying to hide the truth will not stop the progress of a disease, but telling the truth can.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/chinese-doctor-who-tried-to-raise-alarm-on-coronavirus-in-wuhan-dies-from-disease/2020/02/06/8bf305a2-48f9-11ea-8a1f-de1597be6cbc_story.html?itid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-world%3Ahomepage%2Fcard-ans

    1. This made me sad, too.

      I listened to the report in the car, waiting to hear he had some underlying disorder that made him more vulnerable than other basically healthy men in their 30s.

      But, no mention of anything like that. Why do you think he died? From a non-very-threatening virus? From an underlying illness?

      From disappointment with his country? Because sometimes that certainly makes me want to curl up and die.

      1. I’m not a parent, but this disappointment with country must be very similar to what a parent feels when their child commits a serious crime.

        And I do share your concern that this virus killed a young and presumably healthy man who had good access to healthcare. I’m glad many of his countrymen are recognizing what he did.

  2. Chris-
    I agree and disagree with you. Yes, much of the journalism around this virus has been asinine, misleading, and downright unethical. But that doesn’t mean this *couldn’t* become a larger problem.

    The death rate is unknown, or at least, the ranges are vast (I’ve heard everything from 0.5% to 5%, which is a 10x difference). But even at the lower range, it still appears to be somewhat deadlier than the regular flu, and that’s a problem, because *if* this becomes a pandemic, then the numbers can become much bigger. Even if this is “nothing more dangerous than the common flu”, that’s a problem because the common flu kills 50,000 Americans a year. Are you really saying that until this virus kills at least as many Americans, we shouldn’t worry about it?

    And WRT health resources, those resources are available, until they aren’t. ICU beds (and the staff to man them) can’t be produced overnight. There are ~100,000 ICU beds in America. On any given day, 80-90% are occupied. Assuming that in a disaster situation, we can open up a max of 50% of our ICU beds (by canceling elective surgeries, discharging people faster, etc.) that means we would have anywhere from 10k-50k ICU beds available. Assuming the average patient who comes down with this flu needs to stay in the ICU for 5 days, that means a max daily admission rate of 2k-10k patients. Nationwide. And that’s it. This isn’t a gradual phenomen. It’s a cliff. Until we hit the cliff, we can provide the type of care that keeps mortality at 0.5% or less. Once all of our ICUs fill up and we hit that cliff, our health system starts providing the type of care that leads to 4-5% mortality.

    Now, of course, we’re nowhere near that, so there’s no need to panic. But my point in bringing these numbers up is that the 0.3% death rate depends on health system resources that are finite, and can be easily overwhelmed by a surprisingly small number of cases (2-10,000 a day even in our country, with our abundance of hospitals). And that’s why it pays to start dealing with this disease now, rather than wait.

    That said, I do agree that worrying about it and panicking about it are two very different things. FWIW, I think the US response has been reasonable: screen every person who has visited China, isolate and monitor people as needed, and treat people early. The ban on all foreign nationals is excessive, and carries Trump’s usual fingerprints on it 🙂 And as for individual precautions, aside from not visiting China, there really aren’t many precautions that are needed for daily life.

    I do agree that China’s approach has very likely exacerbated the problem. Their crackdown and penalties means people have an incentive to lie, which is the worst thing to happen when you’re trying to control an outbreak. But probably their worst decision was to quarantine 60 million people. Quarantine is a draconian policy, in which you draw a line in the sand and explicitly sacrifice everyone on one side of that line in order to save the people on the other side. It is extraordinarily difficult for a democracy to condemn 60 million people to a markedly increased risk of dying in order to save even a billion other people. I’d guess only a totalitarian regime could even contemplate it.

  3. I think this chart does a wonderful job of representing the growth of the virus called humanity. And just how many of the 2.7 billion in India and China are now just entering the “middle class” zone, clamouring for the toys the western nations have already?

    https://ourworldindata.org/uploads/2018/11/Annual-World-Population-since-10-thousand-BCE-for-OWID.png

    In the tyrant’s “speech” last night, how much time was spent talking about the environment and global warming?

  4. EJ

    What on earth just happened in Iowa? My twitter feed is screaming that Buttigieg tried to steal the election. That sounds too alarmist to be true, but his sudden rise contradicts the poll data and makes me wonder what the actual story was.

  5. OT comment on the Iowa Caucus debacle – I suppose that if you’re going to totally fuck things up, better early than later. But goddammit Dems! You are our only option to check this raging authoritarian asshole, and you’re not inspiring a lot of confidence here.

    1. Still a long ways to go yet, tbs, but Michael Bloomberg may have benefited more than anyone else from last night’s fiasco. I’ll admit I thought he was indulging in a vanity campaign – or, in the most optimistic light, just doing his part to beat Trump – by skipping the early states, but now? If Biden and Buttigieg collapse, he’s in a pretty damn good position to pick up a lot of their support.

      And for a man already polling in double-digits nationwide, that’s not a bad position to be in at all.

      https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/04/mike-bloomberg-iowa-2020-election-110690

      1. Not keen on a battle of the billionaires, but Bloomberg is still better than Mango Mussolini.

        Also agree with the opinion that if Iowa tosses the caucuses and does a primary and/or doesn’t always go first, those would be good things that could result from this mess.

  6. Hello Folks.

    This is sort of close to home as a just had my flights canceled for a vacation to include a motorcycle ride around New Zealand next week due to this panic. I’ll begin with a link to a Psychology Today piece that is interesting. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/its-catching/202001/the-chinese-coronavirus-is-not-the-zombie-apocalypse

    Next, a general comment on how our world is adapting, (or failing to adapt), to changes in media and information, and how unreliable the new channels of data are at keeping any sort of rational perspective on reality. We live in a world where about nothing can be taken at face value. In our youth, our information bandwidth was very limited. There were a few newspapers, and the network news. And for the news, you had to be right there, and on time, to watch it. As a result, information was a rare commodity that was vetted by many professional journalists before dissemination. Cronkite and Rather were actually reliable – at least to the extent they weren’t simply chasing viewership with splashy stories for the sake of the splash. Any mistake in reporting by a major news organ would be picked up in a flash, and there would be consequences. This is no longer the case, as Chris has pointed out. The number of Americans who get their news from social media is almost as distressing as those who disbelieve evolution. Oh sure, there were always those who got their “news” from the tabloids displayed in the checkout line of the grocery store, but this recent apocalypse of zombie information is not the same thing.

    Let’s review some of the last global health panics

    Total global fatalities to date:

    SARS 744
    Bird Flu 616
    MERS 861
    Coronavirus 305
     
    TOTAL 2,526

    So, on the surface at least, that’s a bunch of people, and it’s not good. But for perspective, the US alone experiences over 50,000 deaths per year from seasonal flu alone. Wow.

    Well, one could say that those other diseases are more dangerous. They’d be wrong. Most are less deadly than seasonal flu. Or that they are more contagious. Wrong, again. Or that coronavirus is somehow different. *gong sound* Nope. SARS, MERS, and this latest coronavirus are all – coronaviruses!

    So what’s going on here? It’s complicated, but I think I have some idea. It’s not entirely different from the vaping thing a few months back. (Remember that?) Throw in an authoritarian regime or two, an orange orangutan in the White House, the global media, and the oh-so-concerned global health agencies, and you get this. What you don’t get is a whit of perspective. And this is absolutely not a right-left media thing, either. Every major news organ on the planet has been spreading the panic. Every. Goddam. One.

    Right now I’m really pissed off. This is simply crazy. Even the WHO recommended against travel restrictions. (But not before calling this a Global Emergency, I might add.)

    This is not some kind of conscious conspiracy to deceive. This is about media fighting for advertisers, agencies fighting for relevance, governments fighting to appear to have the health of citizens at heart, and a few individuals fighting for a place in the spotlight. The real problem is just where this is going to lead.

      1. Nice to see you too, FP. I’ve been to Kiwi several times, but never on a vacation, and never to the south island. Still looking for flights, and we’re flexible. I was thinking about seeing Duncan. That still might happen, but he lives down near Antarctica. Long ride.

    1. Hi FiftyOhm
      Did the motorbike ride get cancelled or just postponed ?

      You are welcome to drop in down here in Gore – one of my pals did a big bike ride here last year – said it was excellent

      Saying that we had Civil Defense warnings yesterday and I was awakened at 6am by instructions to evacuate
      They let us go back home at 6pm
      The river had gone from 40 cumecs to 2500 cumecs and was 4.8 meters above it’s usual height
      But the stopbanks held and most people are OK

      1. Hello Duncan! We’re still scrambling to find flights. Our travel schedule is flexible, and the bike is going to be available, so I’m hopeful. One goal is to get down, (waaaaayyyy down), to see you in the Southland. Let’s figure out how to communicate a bit more directly than here and Quora.
        Best – David

      2. Hello Duncan! We’re still scrambling to find flights. Our travel schedule is flexible, and the bike is going to be available, so I’m hopeful. One goal is to get down, (waaaaayyyy down), to see you in the Southland. Let’s figure out how to communicate a bit more directly than here and Quora.
        Best – David

        Also – I’m very glad to near you’re OK. Houston is known to get a bit of water now and again as well! I know the feeling…

  7. I am still waiting for the day that Ebola mutates into new aerosol strain.

    Then all the hysteria we are witnessing over some trivial new virus would actually be justified. You want to see civil rights and global trade wiped out in a matter of hours? The second that it is suspected, not proven. that someone got Ebola from someone else breathing on them.

    But nice to see that water is still wet, and the propaganda machine for the insane right is still completely functional.

    And yeah, I am hoping for a new plague to come along and cull the species called homo sapien. It is the only thing that will slow down the destruction the species is doing to the biosphere. Sooner or later, these bulldozer drivers and arsonists in the Amazon, SE Asia, or Africa will encounter a new insect or plant that has a lovely surprise for the human race, or I can at least hope for it.

      1. Chris, bottom line, the biosphere can simply not support 7.4 billion human beings, at least with the ecological footprint the average human imposes.

        Let’s skip Global Warming the moment. You seriously think that India, China, or any number of other emerging economies, with their exploding middle classes, are not saying “we want all the nice toys that the West have.”

        And that means so much more pollution, including plastics, water, air etc, plus deforestation.

        And no way, no how, is any country going to enact punitive laws to stop, let alone reduce, the human population. China tried that, look at how that turned out. Plus, capitalism completely fails when the customer base shrinks.

        So pray tell, do you seriously mankind going to turn around the rampaging, and increasing damage we do to the planet’s biosphere? And if so, in what timeline, and how, precisely.

        I stand by my statement that nature is the only thing that can stop us, because we can’t self-regulate.

      2. You did not answer my question.

        1. Do you believe that mankind will by itself turn around the destructive path it is set on (that includes self-destruction)?
        2. If so, precisely how will it do so, and in what timeline?

        Or, do you believe that the planet can support a never ending amount of humans all consuming at the rate of the average american?

        If your answer to the last question is “yes”, I would strongly urge for YOU to get help.

      3. Agreeing that human-triggered environmental catastrophe could happen and kill off many, most, or even all humans is one thing. Rooting for it to happen is something completely different, especially as the most innocent will get hit first and worst.

        I will agree the humans have been poor stewards of the planet, and very likely will pay a steep price. But I’m rooting for humanity to wise up and do better, even if it’s not likely.

      4. In other words Chris, you have no response that outlines any solutions that are practical and able to be implemented.

        And Flypusher, of course the poor get hurt the most. That happens in every case when large scale catastrophes occur. It has always been that way, always will be that way. As for rooting for humanity to “wise up”, what would that look like?

        We have thousands, more like hundreds of thousands of activists across the planet with a public platform (I am not talking about the 10’s of millions who without the same leverage). We are seeing countries talking about reducing plastic use in a massive way. We obviously see what is happening with the efforts against Global Warming. But do you REALLY believe that any country is going to massively restrict pollution and resource consumption if it affects the economic growth, especially in emerging economies?

        The root cause of all of this is our population growth. It is complete madness to think that there can be never-ending growth in the human race that will result in anything but a collapse of the ecology on the planet. And the ONLY way to reverse the damage on a large scale is the reduction in the size of the human race. But no individual, and no gov’t, is going to try to implement that on a wide scale. So nature itself is the only entity that might create a solution.

      5. If I might throw my two cents into this, Dins, there’s no point in giving you any “practical solutions” because you’re plainly not interested in them. You’re a pessimist ‘arguing’ from a presumed conclusion that seeks affirmation of your own beliefs, nothing more.

        You plainly do not believe humanity is capable of solving long-term population problems, instead asserting that nature-induced widescale annihilation is the only possible outcome. What the hell good is it for anyone to present you with any alternatives? You don’t want to believe there are any, just like you don’t want to believe there’s any peaceful alternative to dealing with Trump and his Republican sycophants.

        If that’s your mental fix, then like Chris said, get some help. That’s an unbelievably shitty mindset to go through life with, and you should give it everything you have to change it.

      6. Ryan, detail for me a program that any country can implement that not only stops population growth, but actually reverses it. Many western nations need immigration now to maintain their current population, but none are actively encouraging a severe reduction in their consumer and tax base.

        I am all ears for your plan. Or anyone’s plan.

      7. Dins-
        Here you go: Women’s education, and improved healthcare to reduce infant and child mortality.

        Women’s education has been proven over and over, across vastly different countries and cultures, to almost directly lead to a reduction in fertility. It’s so successful, that a large part of the world is now grappling with population declines. That includes large countries like China, which, even after liberalizing their one-child policy, is still facing population stagnation and decline. And even India, without such restrictions, has seen a marked reduction in their fertility in the past few decades which correlated with improved female education and improved overall health.

        Likewise, reduced infant and child mortality means people don’t have a few extra kids as “spares” to make up for the kids they expect to lose to disease. If you know all of your kids have a very good chance of making it to adulthood, you don’t have 5 and expect a few to die. You have 1-3 and expect all of them to live.

        Those are 2 programs that aren’t just conjecture. They’ve been proven to do exactly what you say is impossible to do without nuclear holocaust level death and destruction. However, I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to say that the experiences of countries as varied as rich western countries, atheist Asian countries, poor Latin American countries, and everyone in between, just don’t count…

        P.S. If you believe death and destruction is the answer, we already tried it. It was called WWII. It decimated most European countries. Guess what? Populations came roaring back in a few generations. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are now bustling cities too.

        Before you make your inevitable argument to exclude nuclear weapons and warfare as appropriate analogies for your feverish dreams, we can talk about, well, fevers. The Black Death killed 30% of Europe. The Spanish flu killed 50 million people in a year. AIDS has killed 30% of some African countries. None of them were so much as a blip in the inexorable increase in human populations that followed. It really does seem that nothing stops humans from procreating except empowering women, and improving children’s health. Once you do that, not even public exhortations and outright cash rewards to have more babies reverses the decline.

        Really, Dins, it behooves you to become a student of history. If you’re going to propose radical solutions, it’s on you to prove why they would work. You take it as obvious that they would, ignoring millenia of human history that might give you better answers.

      8. WX:

        You did note that in my above post I said “Many western nations need immigration now to maintain their current population.”

        My statement already assumes the efficacy of the two programs you describe. But you know what? In the u.s.. there is a massive effort to reduce woman’s access to health providers and birth control, to reverse the gains in the past 50 years. That is not the only country that is trying to regress. That article I posted yesterday talked about the reduction population growth from a peak of 2.2% some decades ago to one of 1.05%, and that growth rate is indeed dropping.

        But it is not reversing. The population is NOT shrinking, it is simply growing more slowly, year over year.

        And NO capitalist country has had a leader stand up and say “we are proud to announce in the 4 years of our tenure we have reduced the country’s population by 5%, while maintaining our GDP and tax base at the same levels, reduced our resource extraction by 25%, and pollution by 50%”. The tyrant is going to win in the u.s in November by talking about GDP growth, and the stock market soaring. Increased carbon, water, and air pollution are simply hoaxes of the lizard people and the chinese, and don’t matter anyway when compared to higher incomes for everyone.

        Every single western nation, or any nation with a safety net, needs an increasing tax base, be it more humans, or humans paying way more in taxes, to take care of an aging population that is living longer every year (the mighty u.s. being one of the rare exceptions, of course). Chris wrote an article some months back detailing the culture clash Japan has with its racism and simple mathematics of a shrinking domestic population. Every western nation with an aging population has the same problem.

        If aliens came down, and humans explained that the most successful model humans had come up with was one of unlimited growth, forever, they would simply leave, and nuke the planet from orbit. It would be the only way to be sure, that this insanity would not infect the rest of the universe.

        So yeah, the only hope the biosphere has is for nature to step up and do what happened in the 850 years ago. Humanity simply cannot self-regulate. And even if by some miracle the population stabilized, individual consumption rates will continue to rise. Sorry, but some poor African living in the Sudan simply does not consume the same amount of resources as someone living in Los Angeles, or NYC, or Iowa.

        An even more appropriate example is someone living in Bangalore, or Chengdu, who has seen their income double in the past 7 years, and now sees all those ads for a cell phone, or nicer clothes, or a car, or a roomier apartment, and wants them too, because, hey, they earned it, and deserve it, just like all those rich people in Europe, North America, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, etc.

        Humans are indeed like a virus or cockroaches. Even in the event of a total apocalypse, man would adapt and survive, albeit in smaller numbers. That is what a culling is. We always come back.

      9. So, IOW, you’re saying that *despite* the fact that *even with* every politician exhorting their populations to have more babies, etc. etc. no one is listening, and is reducing their fertility, that somehow doesn’t count as evidence of exactly what you’re saying can’t happen without a “nuke from orbit”? Despite the war on abortion and easy access to contraception, our fertility continues to decline. Despite politicians in Japan literally offering women cash rewards for having babies, they’re refusing to do so. Will politicians *like* the idea of their country’s population shrinking? Who cares? Clearly not the citizens making individual decisions about how many children to have. Will they try to fight it? It doesn’t matter because they’re clearly failing.

        In fact, you even acknowledge that, regardless of what individual politicians have tried to do, population growth at the worldwide level has markedly declined, and is continuing to do so. Why do you think that trend will stop at zero? It never did for any country. No country experienced a sustained reduction in growth rate that all of a sudden stopped and maintained at zero. And really, that makes sense. How many kids you decide to have is an individual decision. No one thinks “Oh my god, my country’s population growth is nearing zero. I better have more kids!” Which means the cultural, economic, educational, etc. trends that produced the lower growth rate don’t magically stop when the number hits zero. It’s only a matter of time before the population starts to shrink globally (a time that will come sooner rather than later, given the changes we’re seeing in China and India).

        Yet seeing that evidence with your very own eyes, a trend that spans the last few decades and includes every country in the world, and every politician in the world, many of whom aren’t happy with the trend but have been powerless to stop it, you still think that somehow Trump will singlehandedly reverse the trend and we’ll have a billion more people before he leaves office? Is that the premise you’re founding your entire thesis on? You’re literally discarding decades of factual history, in which thousands of politicians from all parts of the ideological spectrum throughout the world have come and gone and haven’t changed the trend, with numerous countries now facing population decline, to assert that humanity will explode in numbers because, well, I’m guessing because you need that explosion to occur to vindicate your doomsday delusions, and it’s easier to dismiss facts than to change your mind. Do you see how ridiculous that sounds? Where’s your evidence that this massive, sustained, global trend to lower fertility is going to stop just because it hits zero, or because Trump wants to exclude birth control from insurance coverage? Even if he magically manages to do so, how does that stop the trend in the rest of the world?

        So your assumption that the population will explode is false. In a few decades, we’ll be experiencing a global population decline, one which likely will get faster every year. If you don’t believe this, you’re dismissing every expert out there that’s saying it. Not a single one thinks our population will explode (note, it may slowly grow for another few decades before it starts declining. But we are close to the peak right now).

        Now what about your other assumptions. No capitalist politician has stood up and said they’re reducing pollution? What exactly was the Paris agreement? Every single one of those politicians stood up and publicly committed their countries to a path of reducing carbon emissions, with actual numerical targets. And by and large, they’re accomplishing it. Even the U.S., despite pulling out of the actual agreement, looks set to largely follow it thanks to massively expanded renewable energy production. China has publicly announced a target of getting 35% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, and backed it up with penalties for regions that fail to hit that goal. That’s less than 10 years from now, and it was an upward revision from 30% a few years ago.

        Unless you’ve had your fingers stuck in your ears for the past decade or so, there’s no way you could have missed these pronouncements and goals that politicians around the world have made. Indeed, they’ve become so common they no longer make the frontpage news. Literally google + “carbon emission goals” and you’ll see official pronouncements from nearly every country about their targets. And most of those countries are not only meeting those targets, they’re ahead of them.

        Again, you’re a very poor historian if you think that somehow the only way out of our environmental mess is a nuclear attack from aliens. A hundred years ago, our cities were miserable, polluted stinkholes. They’re largely cleaned up now, despite having more people packed in more densely. Even more recently, Los Angeles went from smog so thick you could cut it with a knife, to markedly improved air quality. And Beijing is already down the same path to improvement. What you fail to recognize is that increasing spending power means you can spend more on environmental remedies too, and that, as people grow richer, they start demanding them.

        The Chinese people are rich enough now, with their basic material needs satisfied, that they’re demanding their government do something about pollution, desertification, and other environmental concerns.

        As economies advance, the amount of energy needed to produce a dollar of GDP goes down (i.e. we get more efficient). Globally, energy intensity declined by 1/3rd between 1990-2015:

        https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=27032

        And developing countries led the way, declining 40%.

        Look, no one on this forum will argue with you that we are facing big environmental challenges. But throwing up your hands and deciding that means that everyone has to die to save the environment, and that anyone who advocates other approaches is a naive fool, is either willful ignorance about all the other options available, abject denial of historical trends that point to realistic solutions, and/or being so blinded by this bloodlust to see billions of people die that the environmental challenges you claim you hold so dear are actually a secondary concern.

      10. EJ

        This is your regular reminder that Dinsdale has reneged on his commitment to either keep his mouth shut, or post a picture of himself participating in activism.

        I mean, someone with beliefs as strong as his isn’t just going to sit there on the internet being angry, right? He would let that energy motivate him to do some organising, some doorknocking, to volunteer with a direct action collective, or engage in antifascism. Just sitting and shouting on the web is not only sad, but makes me wonder whether he actually cares about the causes he espouses.

      11. A couple things:

        1. EJ, you were the one who suggested that bargain, and I told you no way, no how, does anyone put up a photo of themselves with photo recognition software technology at the level it is today. And as for activism, the legal kind at least, good luck with that. The tyrant is just a microcosm of what is happening globally. But that thing now sits at 49% approval in the latest Gallup poll, which means he wins in a cakewalk. If half a country approves of that monster, just another example that the planet is doomed.

        2. WX, you can talk all you want about the population growth slowing, but I have provide any number of links, several based on UN info, that states by 2050, the global population will be between 9.7 and 10 billion, and will finally flatten in at the end of the century, at around 11.5 billion. By then, it will be far too late. And yeah, we have all these countries pledging to dramatically drop their carbon emissions (which is just one of many types of pollution), but most are no where near their targets. It is all too little, too late.

        Only a drastic drop in overall consumption by humans will save the planet’s ecology as we know it today.

        https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/#table-forecast
        https://population.un.org/wpp/Graphs/DemographicProfiles/Line/900
        https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/world-population-prospects-2019.html

  8. “ Beyond Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province, mortality rates from coronavirus infection are hovering around .3%. “

    That’s one of the first things I want to know about any outbreak before I decide to worry- how deadly is it really? Which then leads to the next question – is it killing evenly across all groups, or just ones that are more vulnerable (very young or old, no access to care, weakened by pre-existing conditions)? Then I ask “how easy is it to catch?” Ebola is horrifying, but it’s not that easy to catch, especially in America. This bug is more contagious, but if you’re taking precautions to avoid the flu, you’ll also avoid this virus. It merits a response because it could mutate into something more dangerous, but for now it’s not worrying me.

      1. Thanks, Mary for this link. I do believe everyone just needs to “Calm Down.” Also, thanks, Chris for your enlightening article. It is disgusting how real science fact gets twisted in to fear-mongering click-bait.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.