Contagion

Greece as Strange Attractor: Wings of the Butterfly

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The Butterfly's Wings Effect– Small changes in intitial conditions lead to wildly different outcomes in complex systems.

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What the Euroclowns are hoping here is that the Syriza Goobermint collapses under the weight of the capital controls, like people unable to withdraw more than €60/day from the ATMs, increasingly long lines at those ATMs, decreasing FOOD available for purchase on the shelves of the local Groger Grocery store, lack of Toilet Paper, etc. IOW, the Eurotrash version of Venezuela. Cut them off from the MONEY, and they will capitulate. No Bombs necessary, the population will riot, the Goobermint will be deposed, and a New Regime of your choice can be dropped in their place, amenable to administering the debt slavery. That's the plan, but it's not clear it will work this time, at least not before the whole EZ is caught up in the contagion. Contagion is really the problem here, not Greece itself.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/97/Hurricane_Katrina_LA_landfall_radar.gifIt's a Chaos Theory problem, and Greece is the Lorenz Attractor in this real life example of the Butterfly's Wings effect. Normally used as an example in the genesis of a Hurricane, what this math shows is that just a small change in a complex system in its initial conditions has a vast effect down the line as those conditions change the state and a cascade of new conditions elsewhere in the system result from that. The Hurricane here is Financial Implosion of the Euro, and Greece is the Butterfly…

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Full transcript of this Rant will be available HERE in a few days

Earlier Rants in the Greek Kabuki Souvlaki Series

The Game Continues…

For you Rant Fans, I found a New Gear for this one, and got it into OVERDRIVE by about the 7 minute mark, channeling Peter Finch.  🙂  A little Charlton Heston for Spice too!

Also, be aware I started the script for this last Friday during the first meetings, so the first part is not about the stupidity today, but a preview of that stupidity.

Snippet:

…Well, a thoroughly anti-climactic day here in the Greek Souvlaki Kabuki, as DieselBoom and Souvlakis spent a whole day talking past each other, with absolutely no indication that anyone is going to give an inch here. The Can Kick for this now is back to the 'Deadline' date of next Monday and the ultimatum that the Greeks will be CUT OFF from their Euro Gold Card and left to twist in the wind.

So what's the chances that they can come up with a SOLUTION to the problem on Monday they couldn't come up with today? Slim & None of course, unless somebody capitulates, and neither side can do that. The market of course believes that this is just another one of the endless series of “Deadlines” that will be Can Kicked down the road once again, and that very well might happen. Or maybe not.

What will it take to get a reaction here? Basically, the day the Greeks finally declare a Bank Holiday and start printing New Drachmas. Then Mr. Market finally wakes up from the stupor and does a Charlton Heston Planet of the Apes scene.

You did it! You finally really did it! You Blew it all Up! Damn You! Damn you all the HELL! LOL…

 

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In case you missed them, here are the last 2 installments of Greek Kabuki…

History in Free Verse

From the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler
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Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation June 22, 2015
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History might not rhyme, exactly, but it’s not bad for free verse. Greece is this century’s Serbia — a tiny, picturesque backwater nation blundering haplessly into the center stage of geopolitics. And the European Union is, whaddaya know, Germany in drag, on financial steroids.

Nobody knows what will happen next in the struggle to wring some kind of debt repayment promises out of poor Greece. Without “restructuring” — a virtual national bankruptcy proceeding — there can be no plausible promises of repayment. Both sides seem to have exhausted their abilities to juke their way out. The European Union and its wing-men at the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) can only pretend to kick that fabled can down the road because it has turned into a cement-filled 50-gallon drum. The Greek government can only pretend to further dismantle its civil service and pension systems lest angry citizens toss it out and replace it with a new government, perhaps an ugly and pugnacious one made up of Golden Dawn party Nazis.

In the background, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and perhaps even France wait without peeping to see if Greece is allowed to restructure, because you can be sure they will demand the same privilege to debt relief. But that’s hardly possible because the ECB has been engineering a shift of debt-holding away from the big corporate banks  — which made all the stupid loans — to the taxpayers of their member states, especially Germany, which stands to be the biggest bag-holder when a contagion of serial default seeps across the continent.

This implies, of course, that along the way to that outcome something sickening happens to the price of all the bonds that the debt is embodied in. Namely, its value craters for the simple reason that the threat of non-payment makes interest rates shoot up to reflect the actualization of risk. That would certainly set off the booby-trap of derivative interest rate swaps and credit default swaps that have been laid into history’s greatest financial minefield. Thus, the big banks that were supposedly shielded by the ECB shell game of Hide the Debt Pea Somewhere Else, will blow up in a daisy-chain of unpayable obligations.

The net effect of all that will be the disappearance of nominal wealth — it crosses an event horizon into a black hole never to be seen again. The continent discovers it is a lot poorer than it thought. Fifty years of financial engineering comes to the grief it deserves for promoting the idea that it’s possible to get something for nothing.

The same thing more or less awaits the USA, China, and Japan. For the USA in particular the signs of bankruptcy have been starkly visible for a long time outside the bubble regions of New York, Washington, and San Francisco. You see it in the amazing decrepitude of the built environment — the cities and towns left for dead, the struggling suburban strip malls tenanted if at all by wig shops and check-cashing operations, the rusted bridges, pot-holed highways, the Third World style train service. Most sickeningly you see it in a population of formerly earnest, hard-working, basically-educated people with hopes and dreams transformed into a hopeless moiling underclass of tattooed savages dressed in baby clothes devoting their leisure hours (i.e. all their time) to drug-seeking and the erasure of sexual boundaries.

That shocking social and political bankruptcy has, so far, acted as the sinkhole for all America’s financial degeneracy and the entropy it generates. The financial class (the 1 percent who own 40-plus percent of the financialized economy) must think it’s immune to the consequences of its activities, namely racketeering of one kind or another — criminal misconduct and accounting fraud in the service of money-grubbing. They must truly believe that risk has been offloaded into the ring-fenced concentration camps of capital: the derivatives pools. But risk, like rust, never sleeps and can’t be so easily contained. The obstreperous claims of debt only die down with the acknowledged disappearance of wealth, as when a bottom-feeding collection agency attempts to collect a few cents on the dollar of a car loan gone bad.

The US Federal Reserve, like the European Central Bank, sits atop a vault of bonds representing a colossal aggregate promise to repay debt that can never be repaid. Their loss of value will come to be seen for what it is: the disappearance of national wealth. We’ll have our moment, too, when the 50-gallon can full of cement can’t be kicked down the road another inch. It might come when Europe sets the example for a loss of faith in a system run to crime and rot.

 

 

James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

Pi Day Circle Jerks & Soap Operas

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on March 17, 2015

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You Fucked Up!  You TRUSTED US!

A Potpourri of Ranting on the Student Loan Debt Bubble, Brazilian Collapse Issues, Saber Rattling in Europe,  Austrian Banking Collapse Contagion and Topping off the Pi with some Greek Feta Cheese!

Snippet:

…Sadly of course, the Jig is Up on this, and not only are there not sufficient jobs for the recent FSoA Kollege Grads at a high enough pay rate to service their debts, neither are there even enough jobz for the Indian IT grads to make a living at 25% of the pay rate in the FSoA EITHER.

BUT, because there are no decent jobs out there for recent HS grads, EVERYBODY goes to Kollege to study SOMETHING, and Da Goobermint guarantees the loans they take out to do that. The fact that upon graduation at least 1/3rd of this population can’t pay off the gobs of money they borrowed to do it has become a huge stinking mess of a problem now, getting exponentially larger by the day.

Said Loans to these students are not collateralized in any way, and you can’t Repo an education out of somebody’s brain, even if there was any value in doing that. So now you have $1.3T in debt here, a MINIMUM of 1/3rd of which just is not gonna get paid off, no way no how, and a HUGE population of people who face Debt Slavery for the rest of their lives because laws were ALSO passed to make student loans non-discharchable in a Bankruptcy. A typical Fracking Company can go BK and the managers and Geochemists who got salaries paid on the debt issued to them can walk away scot free, but if you took out a loan to study IT networks at the Devry Institute, you cannot go BK, EVAH! You made a mistake, you fucked up, you BELIEVED the lies that were sold to you this would continue in perpetuity, so suck it up and take your punishment!…

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Now, back to our regularly schedule Soap Opera…

We’ll Know by Christmas

Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall

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Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on October 15, 2014

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“The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.” Douglas Adams

As I write this the WHO is saying that the number of cases of Ebola in West Africa is likely to ramp up to 10,000 new ones every week by December, with around seven out of ten people who contract it dying from it. “Don’t worry,” seems to be the message being purveyed down from on high “This will have little impact in the technologically advanced rich nations.”

I’m not so sure.

Straight away I’ll admit that, obviously, I’m not a doctor or a specialist in contagious diseases. A majority of people will read that last sentence and say “Therefore you have no right to talk about it.” If you’re one of them, then bye. However, I do have a firm grasp of the exponential function, and a keen sense of when people in high places are telling fibs to make themselves look like they are in control of events. Perhaps that’s all one needs at the moment. When I see the official message change in the space of a week from “There’s not a chance,” to “Only one or two people might get it,” to “A handful of people might get it,” then I naturally project forward a bit and think about expectation management and message creep.

Frankly, at this stage, it’s more or less irrelevant that we have the occasional case popping up in the West. We are able to deal with them without too much of a problem (the main threat comes later) – although it is concerning that the nurses in Spain and the U.S. who did contract the virus did so despite wearing full protective suits. We are repeatedly assured that this cannot happen, and the fact that it has happened has immediately been blamed on a ‘breach in protocol.’

But breaches in protocol are what we humans are good at. Every organisation that I’ve ever worked at has been full of people breaching protocol at every level. Usually, of course, doing so hasn’t led to them dying messily with blood gushing from their orifices and so mostly they get away with it. Are we to believe that the sprawling medical sector with its vast hordes of employees is less prone to this?

Yes, in the real world, shit happens.

Let’s face it, if you’re an official in some position of power and your job and status depends on making the right comments or being able to pass the blame for something onto someone else then you can be expected to act in such a manner. It’s what you are programmed to do in a non-holistic linear kind of way. So when, for example, a health official says it ‘impossible’ to catch Ebola from a mattress and then someone goes right ahead and does it anyway because they briefly touched a drip feed that had a viral load from some other patient who had sneezed a fleck of vomit on it as they wheeled the bed past him in a corridor, which then came into contact with said mattress and passed it onto someone else, then said official can claim that due to a clause in article 41.5b of the Code of Hospital Regulations about moving patients around then the porter had breached protocol and caused the infection. Problem solved, for you at least.

Here’s a hypothetical situation. Imagine that despite Ebola had somehow mysteriously appeared in your country and the government message had been racketed up to the point of saying “Don’t worry, only a quarter of you will get it,” but so far you had been lucky and avoided it. You’ve washed your hands all the time, avoided contact will all other human beings and animals, not touched a doorknob in six months … but despite all of this you started to come down with a fever and worried you had caught ‘it’. Several of your friends and family have already disappeared into hospital isolation wards and you have never heard from them again, and there are rumours swirling around that the hospital has run out of protective gear and that most of the staff have either died or fled, leaving it manned by untrained survivors with precious few medical supplies to work with. Would you a) Check yourself into said hospital and hope all the rumours were untrue or b) Lie in your own bed with your stash of medical supplies you had managed to amass, send out a farewell Facebook status update and hope for the best?

People who opine on healthcare programmes, just like economists, always assume that people act in a rational way — although it is they who decide what constitutes rational behaviour. They build models based on people acting in the way they are supposed to act, even though not many of them are psychologists.

As they stand, things don’t look good. With a doubling of new cases every 21 days that means every single person in the world will have or have had Ebola by September 2015. Of course, this won’t happen in such a neatly exponential way as there are many interrupting factors that will slow the disease’s spread. In any case, we probably have only a few weeks to stamp down on Ebola and eradicate it from West Africa, because as soon as it gets really out of hand there will be people fleeing to other parts of Africa and bringing the virus with them.

***

Over the last few days in the course of several discussions about Ebola a few truly inane points and suggestions have been raised. Here are some of the most prominent ones:

Ebola is not very contagious and it is only poor people in Africa that can get it. Well, the fact is that we don’t know an awful lot about this strain of the virus. We pretend we do, but we don’t. If we did then people wearing space suits would not be getting it. A past study has shown that it can be transmitted through the air between monkeys and pigs. The study has been attacked and defended thoroughly and, like most things on the internet, you end up not knowing what to believe. Nevertheless, if you ever come into contact with someone who has died from the disease, or if you end up caring for a family member with it, the chances are that you will get it too. Simple as.

This is getting out of control, we should quarantine the affected African countries and shoot anyone who tries to escape. Ummm, interesting suggestion. Never mind the fact that the moment any such suggestion is raised there will be an exodus of people from those countries. Where would they likely flee to? Well, apart from fleeing to all corners of Africa they would also flee to the homes of their relatives in New York, London, Paris etc. They may try and do that anyway, as things progress.
 
Our country can cope with an Ebola pandemic. Don’t make me laugh. When Britain’s health minister appeared on TV a few days ago proudly proclaiming that there were two specialist beds in isolation wards in London to cope with Ebola patients I did a double take. Did he say two? TWO? To be shared between the 20 million people living in the southeast? Will they be taking it in turns or what? At what point, after the epidemic becomes a pandemic, do we manically start trying to build more isolation wards over here rather than building hospitals in Africa? So many questions …
It’s just a media fabricated panic to distract us from war, global warming, financial meltdown etc. If anything the media is under reporting this. When the staid folks at the WHO say that “this is the most severe health emergency in modern times,” then it takes a peculiarly asinine person to pretend that it’s unimportant.
This is nature’s revenge … bring it on. Fine, ecologically speaking that may be so, but you have to be willing to be one of the statistics rather than merely wishing it on other people who are less fortunate.
It’s all a global conspiracy by the Koch brothers/One World Government. Yes, whatever. If you believe that it’s a conspiracy that’s fine but it won’t do you any good.
Nigeria has eradicated it, so can we. Hurrah! Nigeria has had a few isolated cases of wealthy individuals. Furthermore, there is a lot of oil wealth at stake in that country and the last thing they need is news of an Ebola outbreak. Do you really believe everything you read coming out of the world’s most corrupt nation?
***

So, what do I think is likely to happen? Well, I think there are two likely outcomes, and we can only hope it is the former.

Outcome 1. We throw everything we’ve got to help states in West Africa get on top of Ebola and contain the disease. It won’t be easy and it will entail a lot of ethical dilemmas, such as choosing who gets priority treatment and who does not. Many of our best doctors and nurses will have to go there and a lot of them will not come back. It will cost a fortune, just when we can least afford it, but in the end it will be worth it. As a follow up, deforestation will have to be halted, the spirits of the fruit bats appeased and a huge Marshall Plan like effort to lift Western Africa out of poverty will have to be put into action to prevent Ebola taking off yet again.

Outcome 2. The cases in West Africa continue to multiply and the disease increases exponentially, really taking off at the start of 2015. Chaos ensues as people flee disease centres and bring the virus with them. Overworked and demoralised healthcare workers abandon their posts as they realise they are at the highest risk of contracting the virus, further complicating the situation. Instead they go back to their own families and do their best to make sure that least they will get the care they need. The diseased, and quite a few non-diseased, are rounded up and put in warehouses that double as isolation centres where they are kept at gunpoint. East Africa, with its crowded slums becomes a new hot zone, and from here it is a hop, skip and jump along the busy trade routes to the overcrowded virus-friendly conditions of India. As pharmaceutical companies frantically try to find a vaccine or a cure the disease spreads like wildfire across Asia and to the world beyond.

By February 2015 half of all air traffic has come to a stop. Airlines go bust and people who are stuck on the other side of the world suddenly find out how large it is. By May there is practically no international air travel apart from private jets and military aircraft. International supply chains are shattered and disorder and chaos break out everywhere as people struggle to get food, fuel and medicine. In some countries, national armies hand out food in the streets but there’s never enough.

By late summer a few island states have quarantined themselves to try to keep the disease out, but word spreads about these ‘healthy’ zones and people desperately try to reach them, bribing officials to gain entry and bringing the disease with them.

By now, the torrent of people pouring across borders by any means available has overwhelmed the tiny capacity the richer nations have to deal with an outbreak. People stop going to work and school, and avoid public transport and gatherings. People live and die in their own homes.

After a handful of years the disease has burned itself out, although distributed pockets remain in far away places. A huge chunk has been taken out of the global population — mostly in the poorer nations that lie in the tropics — with richer nations faring somewhat better due to more elaborate healthcare systems, less overcrowding and a greater access to experimental vaccines. Some of these worked and some of them did not. Everyone still alive will breathe a great sigh of relief and look back with sadness as they think of the loved ones they lost in the Great Ebola Pandemic of 2014-18. Economies are broken and people’s faith in science and progress lies in tatters — but at least they are alive. Life will go on, as ever, but everything will have changed.

There is, of course, a third scenario — Outcome 3 — the Hollywood one where we find a miracle cure just in time that can easily and quickly be mass-produced and distributed across the globe without any political interference. The likelihood of this happening in the timeframe that we have is pretty small though and it would not address the cause of the problem, meaning we’d likely get a new and even deadlier strain in a few years’ time.

So which of the above scenarios is the more likely and why? Do you have a survival strategy if Outcome 2 kicks in? If you do, pray tell.

***

We’ll likely know by Christmas which one we’re going to get. In the meantime you might want to read up about natural antivirals, wise up on sanitation and basic medical procedures such as oral rehydration, make friends with your immune system and start building up a stock of things that will likely be gone in a flash if a full-blown panic does break out.

Ebola & the Management of Mass Psychology

Off the keyboard of Brian Davey

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Published on FEASTA on October 8, 2014

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Public Health or Public Relations Crisis?

In the discussion about Ebola there appears to be a public relations message that we are all expected to accept that it is far less likely to run out of control in “developed countries” which have healthcare systems. In an article yesterday the chief concern of the Guardian‘s health editor, Sarah Boseley, was one of the management of mass psychology, the headline being: “Spanish Ebola case requires rapid response to allay western fears. It is important to ascertain exactly how Madrid nurse was infected to prevent inaccurate scare stories circulating on the internet.”

As one person commented after this article:

“No, it’s important to prevent the frigging ebola virus from infecting more people, especially medical staff and their families.”

In a potential epidemic situation like this we really all are in this together and it irritates the f*** out of me when journalists, officials and managers see it as their main job to “reassure the public”. This is because this “reassuring the public” starts from a presumption that everything will be OK – in other words it starts with the smug complacency that we always hear from “senior people” – that we can trust them, that they know what they are doing, that they are somehow immune from making mistakes and screwing things up. It is exactly the same attitude with fracking – oh there will be no problems here “because we have the best regulations in the world”.

And yet the experience in Spain and the USA shows quite clearly how the real world deviates from the ideal world which we are supposed to believe in – once we delve into it we find that staff at the hospital were protesting about the inadequate equipment and protective clothing for example and used the same lifts used by everyone else to take out infected materials and how they were generally unprepared for what happened. Exactly what you would expect from a lumbering management bureaucracy in the face of a complex challenge.

In this regard the situation in the USA in Dallas shows a similar failure to think things through in advance – like no arrangements to remove sweat soaked and infected bedding, like the need to trace people who are difficult to trace like homeless people.

Let me say in this regard that it does not seem obvious to me that the provisions for disease control and preventing an epidemic in “developed countries” are much more robust than in places like West Africa. That’s because (1) although there are a tiny number of super sophisticated centres for containing highly infectious diseases there is obviously a threshold magnitude of imported infections beyond which the arrangements for containing the disease would outstrip these resources and the system would likely break down entirely; (2) because the “developed countries” have much more mobile populations using mass transport systems where anonymous contact with large numbers of people can take place and (3) because there will be reluctance to impose the necessary controls because of the economic disruptive effects until it is too late – by which time (4) the economic disruptive effects could feed back into and amplify the chaos.

Let me explain each of these points in turn.

Firstly even a cursory reading of descriptions about medical procedures shows that containing this disease is highly resource intensive. In Nigeria at this time it looks as if the importation of the virus by a single traveller who flew in has been contained. But how has this been possible? It is interesting to note that from a single traveller there were 19 confirmed cases of further infection. 8 of these resulted in death and the last was detected on 31st August. So how on earth have the Nigerians contained it. The answer is that they have had a polio eradication programme using much the same procedure and skills and this programme has spare capacity because of its success. But get this:

“It took two weeks for the first isolation ward to open and health workers were initially reluctant to work in it. However, 1,800 health workers were eventually trained, protective gear was provided, and safe wards with enough beds and access to chlorinated water were set up so that patients could be treated safely. In total, health workers made 18,000 visits to 900 people to check the temperatures of possible contacts. As with polio eradication, this wasn’t easy but it was imperative to stopping the disease in its tracks.”[1]

So just one man entering the country requires a resource effort of 1,800 workers, properly trained and equipped with safe wards to fall back on – able to make 18,000 visits and checking 900 people!

Is our health service ready to do that? To deploy that level of resources? It seems to me that the resource intensity of this is such that there is likely to be massive overwhelm if there are not one but a few cases – for example an infected family not an infected individual comes into the country, the children go to a school and the parents travel around on work commitments.

This brings me to the second point. West African countries are by and large settled communities by comparison with our society. Yesterday I started to think about these matters when I wanted to get on a Nottingham tram just before 9 in the morning to go an get a flu jab. I let a couple of trams go by because of the difficulty that would be involved in getting in to the cram. Someone vomiting in a mass transportation system like this would be rather difficult to follow up – as indeed in a shopping centre or in the loos of my local pub. How would an epidemiological team follow that up? Or how do they follow up if and when infection circulates in a network of drug addicts?

Third point. It is obvious from this that, at a particular point, the level of infection, or protective measures against infection, are likely to be severely disruptive of “hub interdependencies of society” – like transport networks. Beyond a certain threshold magnitude of infection people are going to be fearful of using shared facilities – I can think of times I have not wanted to use a cash machine that someone appears to have spat upon. One such hub interdependency in a global economy is air travel itself. An article by an ebola expert in the German news magazine Der Spiegel mentions his fear that ebola will spread into the slums of India via air traffic hubs in the middle east. “Dubai could become a location of super contagion for those who change planes there are not subjected to any kind of health monitoring and travellers from Europe, America and Asia all sit together in the transit area in a colourful mix with people from Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria with no controls at all. Then they fly off to everywhere in the world”.[2]

Now the point here is that the logical thing to do would be some form of quarantine arrangements for a number of weeks before travel is allowed between countries but the consequences of this on the world airline industry would be catastrophic – and quite soon we are talking about a collapse or severe disruption of a large part of the global economy. Yet we know how our betters react to this – when “Mad Cow Disease” was identified in the UK it took 6 months to acknowledge the problem for the public so great was the fear of disrupting the meat market. And of course a disruption of the global economy should not be talked of lightly anyway – the pharmaceutical giants who. in principle, might eventually deliver us a treatment operate transnationally too.

In the meantime though there is a threshold, a tipping point in which a disease outbreak would be amplified by disruption to the economy. We can already see that in West Africa where ebola has led to rising food prices because it has disrupted the cultivation of food. In our own society it is easy to see that we cannot easily withdraw from close interpersonal contact without economic effects – for example it seems obvious that schools might be vectors of infection yet closing schools has profound effects on the ability of parents to work….

So…should we be fearful? I think that we should and if we could direct our reasoned fear at the politicians, officials and health managers to wake them up from their complacent attitude and devote a lot of resources and attention then that would be a thoroughly good thing….

More to follow…for now let me conclude with the following remark: in 1348 – 1349 probably one third of the population of the UK died from the Black Death that had already killed millions of people in India and the middle east. it then re-occured repeatedly over the next few hundred years. The depopulation of the Americas by disease introduced by the invading europeans was even more startling – with a death toll from disease by a startling 90%.

It could happen again – if we don’t want it to we will need a lot more focused attention and resources to prevent it – and a lot less complacency.

——————————-

PS [added at 15:41, October 8]: People are very concerned about airborne infection and I think a concern about droplet infection assumes that people are “producing droplets” – yet, I’ve not heard of coughs and sneezes from Ebola victims.

It seems to me that the problem is more likely to be that, once ill, people may soil themselves, vomit, sweat, bleed and pee too – and that has to be cleared up somehow. It has to be cleared up in a specially constructed highly controlled medical setting ideally – but there will be a need to deal with this in their own homes, in hotel rooms, on trains and planes, perhaps in public loos and so on – and in many cases it may not be known to the person concerned or those clearing up that this might be infectious stuff because this is at the early stage of the onset of symptoms and a diagnosis has not yet been made.

So what are the protocols for clearing up in these multiple different settings and for cleaners, nurses or family members, working in a hotel or public lavatory, for knowing whether a drunk just spewed up because s/he had too many or there is something more serious on the floor of a public lavatory?

What do you say to people who have been living with someone found to have ebola – what are they to do with those sheets? How does a teacher or nursery nurse know that the small child that soiled itself is from an infected family?

And here’s another thing to be concerned about. I’ve translated it from the latest copy of Der Spiegel (Issue number 41: 2014 page 117) This really is an example of Murphy’s Law

“Protective suits becoming scarce

Because of the ebola infection in west africa the demand for suits to protect against viral infection has risen so steeply that there is a threat of a bottleneck in the supply. DuPont, one of the world’s largest suppliers of these protective suits, is speaking of a “critical situation”. Because the the overalls can only be used once the need of international health organisations can barely be met. Already many hundreds of thousands of such protective suits are used every month according to DuPonts business manager Albrecht Gerland. There will soon be a need for a million. The Dutch business Imres, which has also produced more than 270,000 protective overalls since the beginning of the epidemic, is complaining that the production of overalls is becoming ever more difficult”

Further discussion of the effects of a global pandemic can be found in David Korowicz’s paper Catastrophic shocks through complex socio-economic systems: a pandemic perspective.

Endnote

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/oct/07/nigeria-ebola-experience-teach-world
[2] Der Spiegel 40/2014 (Print Issue ) “Seuchen. Indien ist schutzlos” Interview with Gerd Antes page 104

Feautered image: Ebola virus. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus#mediaviewer/File:Ebola_virus_em.png

Cometh the Pestilence

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on October 6, 2014

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There Will Be Pestilences: Why Are So Many Deadly Diseases Breaking Out All Over The Globe Right Now?

Earth - Our World - Public DomainEbola, Marburg, Enterovirus and Chikungunya – these diseases were not even on the radar of most people coming into 2014, but now each one of them is making headline news.  So why is this happening?  Why are so many deadly diseases breaking out all over the world right now?  Is there some kind of a connection, or is the fact that so many horrible diseases are arising all at once just a giant coincidence?  And this could be just the beginning.  For example, there are now more than a million cases of Chikungunya in Central and South America, and authorities are projecting that there will be millions more in 2015.  The number of Ebola cases continues to grow at an exponential rate, and now an even deadlier virus (Marburg) has broken out in Uganda.  We have gone decades without experiencing a major worldwide pandemic, and many people believed that it could never happen in our day and time.  But now we could potentially see several absolutely devastating diseases all racing across the planet at the same time.

On Monday, we got news that the first confirmed case of Ebola transmission in Europe has happened.  A nurse in Spain that had treated a couple of returning Ebola patients has contracted the disease herself

A nurse’s assistant in Spain is the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside of Africa in the current outbreak.

Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato announced Monday that a test confirmed the assistant has the virus.

The woman helped treat a Spanish missionary and a Spanish priest, both of whom had contracted Ebola in West Africa. Both died after returning to Spain.

Health officials said she developed symptoms on September 30. She was not hospitalized until this week. Her only symptom was a fever.

How many people did she spread the virus to before it was correctly diagnosed?

Meanwhile, Ebola continues to rage out of control in West Africa.  It is being reported that Sierra Leone just added 121 new Ebola deaths to the overall death toll in a single day.  If Ebola continues to spread at an exponential rate, it is inevitable that more people will leave West Africa with the virus and take it to other parts of the globe.

In fact, it was being reported on Monday that researchers have concluded that there is “a 50 percent chance” that Ebola could reach the UK by October 24th…

Experts have analysed the pattern of the spread of the disease, along with airline traffic data, to make the startling prediction Ebola could reach Britain by October 24.

They claim there is a 50 percent chance the virus could hit Britain by that date and a 75 percent chance the it could be imported to France, as the deadliest outbreak in history spreads across the world.

Currently, there is no cure for the disease, which has claimed more than 3,400 lives since March and has a 90 percent fatality rate.

I have written extensively about Ebola, but it is certainly not the only virus making headlines right now.

Down in Uganda, a man has just died from a confirmed case of the Marburg Virus…

A man has died in Uganda’s capital after an outbreak of Marburg, a highly infectious haemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola, authorities said on Sunday, adding that a total of 80 people who came into contact with him had been put under quarantine.

Marburg starts with a severe headache followed by haemorrhaging and leads to death in 80% or more of cases in about nine days. It is from the same family of viruses as Ebola, which has killed thousands in West Africa in recent months.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the Marburg virus, which is transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva and blood or by handling infected wild animals such as monkeys.

The Marburg Virus is an absolutely horrible disease, and many consider it to be even more deadly than Ebola.  But the fact that it kills victims so quickly may keep it from spreading as widely as Ebola.

We shall see.

Meanwhile, a disease that sounds very similar to Ebola and Marburg has popped up in Venezuela and doctors down there do not know what it is…

“We do not know what it is,” admitted Duglas León Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation.

In its initial stages, the disease presents symptoms of fever and spots on the skin, and then produces large blisters and internal and external bleeding, according to data provided week stop by the College of Physicians of the state of Aragua, where the first cases were reported.

Then, very quickly, patients suffer from respiratory failure, liver failure and kidney failure. Venezuelan doctors have not been able to determine what the disease is, much less how to fight it.

Why aren’t we hearing more about this in the mainstream news?

Here in the United States, enterovirus D-68 has sickened hundreds of children all over the country.  So far cases have been confirmed in 43 different states, several children have been paralyzed by it, and one New Jersey boy has died

Parents in New Jersey are concerned after a state medical examiner determined a virus causing severe respiratory illness across the country is responsible for the death of a 4-year-old boy.

Hamilton Township health officer Jeff Plunkett said the Mercer County medical examiner’s office found the death of Eli Waller was the result of enterovirus D-68. Waller, the youngest of a set of triplets, died in his sleep at home on Sept. 25.

The virus has sickened more than 500 people in 43 states and Washington, D.C.— almost all of them children. Waller is the first death in New Jersey directly linked to the virus.

The CDC seems to have no idea how to contain the spread of enterovirus D-68.

So why should we be confident that they will be able to contain the spread of Ebola?

Last but not least, the Chikungunya virus is at pandemic levels all over Central and South America.

We aren’t hearing that much about this disease in the U.S., but at this point more than a million people have already been infected…

An excruciating mosquito-borne illness that arrived less than a year ago in the Americas is raging across the region, leaping from the Caribbean to the Central and South American mainland, and infecting more than 1 million people. Some cases already have emerged in the United States.

The good news is that very few people actually die from this disease.

The bad news is that almost everyone that gets it feels like they are dying.

In a previous article, I wrote about the intense suffering that victims go through.  According to Slate, the name of this virus originally “comes from a Makonde word meaning ‘that which bends up,’ referring to the contortions sufferers put themselves through due to intense joint pain.”

Right now, the number of cases of Chikungunya is absolutely exploding.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent Fox News report

In El Salvador, health officials report nearly 30,000 suspected cases, up from 2,300 at the beginning of August, and hospitals are filled with people with the telltale signs of the illness, including joint pain so severe it can be hard to walk.

“The pain is unbelievable,” said Catalino Castillo, a 39-year-old seeking treatment at a San Salvador hospital. “It’s been 10 days and it won’t let up.”

Venezuelan officials reported at least 1,700 cases as of Friday, and the number is expected to rise. Neighboring Colombia has around 4,800 cases but the health ministry projects there will be nearly 700,000 by early 2015.

So why is this happening?

Why are so many absolutely horrible diseases emerging all at once?

Ebola HELL!

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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Published on Economic Collapse on September 23, 2014

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The Pure Hell At The Heart Of The Ebola Pandemic In Africa Could Soon Be Coming To America

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Ebola-Cases-And-Deaths-Photo-by-Leopoldo-Martin-R.pngDid you know that the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone is approximately doubling every 20 days?  People are dropping dead in the streets, large numbers of bodies are being dumped into the rivers, and gravediggers can hardly keep up with the the number of corpses that are being delivered to the cemeteries.  As you read this, life is pure hell in many areas of West Africa, and now the CDC is warning that things may get far, far worse in the very near future.  According to the CDC, the number of Ebola cases could potentially soar to 1.4 million by the end of January.  Of course the CDC says that this is a “worst-case scenario”, but for our health officials to even suggest that such a huge number is possible is quite chilling.  We are now being told that the fatality rate for this Ebola outbreak has risen to 71 percent, and so most of the “cases” will eventually turn into deaths.  If we do eventually see 1.4 million cases of Ebola in West Africa, it is incredibly naive to think that it will not spread to other parts of the globe as well.

The World Health Organization has been trying to document the number of cases and deaths that are happening, but at this point even the WHO admits that the official statistics “vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.

And for the first time, health officials are conceding that this crisis may never have an end point.  A study that was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine says that Ebola could potentially become endemic to West Africa.  In other words, it could become a disease that is continually spread and that we have to deal with on a regular basis like malaria or the flu.

Hopefully this outbreak will be brought under control shortly.  But at the moment there are no signs that this is happening.  In fact, hundreds of health workers have contracted the disease themselves.  And if current trends continue, the CDC warns that we could see up to 1.4 million cases of Ebola by the end of January

Researchers say the total number of cases is vastly underreported by a factor of 2.5 in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the three hardest-hit countries. Using this correction factor, researchers estimate that approximately 21,000 total cases will have occurred in Liberia and Sierra Leone by Sept. 30. Reported cases in those two countries are doubling approximately every 20 days, researchers said.

“Extrapolating trends to January 20, 2015, without additional interventions or changes in community behavior,” such as much-improved safe burial practices, the researchers estimate that the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone could be between approximately 550,000 to 1.4 million.

Over the past several weeks, there have been numerous reports of dead bodies lying in the streets of major cities over in West Africa.

And now even the WHO is admitting that many Ebola corpses have been dumped into nearby rivers…

“The true number of deaths will likely never be known, as bodies in the notoriously poor, filthy and overcrowded West Point slum, in the capital, Monrovia, have simply been thrown into the two nearby rivers,” WHO said in a separate statement.

No wonder Ebola is spreading so rapidly.

So far authorities have been able to keep this crisis mostly contained to just a few countries.

But what happens when we have over a million people running around with Ebola?

How in the world do we keep that contained?

There are some in the scientific community that are expressing skepticism that we will be able to…

That sort of exponential increase in cases makes it more likely that Ebola will become entrenched in West Africa, said Robert Murphy, a professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at Northwestern University.

If there are hundreds of thousands of Ebola cases, then “many more countries will have cases, and it won’t be just West Africa,” Murphy said. “There is so much mobility now, this can spread anywhere.”

If Ebola continues to spread like wildfire throughout West Africa, it is probably just a matter of time before it starts popping up in major cities in other areas of the globe.

If this were to happen in the United States, life would change for all of us almost overnight.

It is hard to put into words that kind of chaos that we are witnessing over in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone right now.  Panic and fear are everywhere, and the corpses just keep piling up.  The following is an excerpt from a recent New York Times article

The Ebola epidemic is spreading rapidly in Sierra Leone’s densely packed capital – and it may already be far worse than the authorities acknowledge.

Various models of the growth of the epidemic here “all show an exponential increase,” said Peter H. Kilmarx, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team in Sierra Leone. “The conditions are amenable to Ebola spread.”

“Since last month, it’s every day, any minute and hour, and often, they are coming” to bury the Ebola dead, said Desmond Kamara, a police officer.

A cloudy stream drains from the area of the new graves into the slum, further frightening the residents.

“We are at risk, big risk,” said Ousman Kamara, a resident. “We have made many complaints.”

But the bodies, he said, keep coming.

“Even at night,” he said. “You stand here, and you see them coming.”

Could you imagine something like that happening in America?

At this stage of the crisis in West Africa, all existing treatment facilities are absolutely overwhelmed.

Because there are no more beds, large numbers of people with Ebola are being turned away.  Many end up dying just outside of the walls of some of these clinics

A new Ebola clinic opened in Monrovia this week, but bodies lay on the ground outside its walls. Ambulances filled with Ebola patients, some that have traveled seven hours to get there, are not unloaded. Without help to get them inside, the patients fall in the dirt, mere feet away from treatment.

If things are this bad already when we only have thousands of cases, what are things going to look like when we have more than a million cases?

A representative for Samaritan’s Purse admitted the other day that “it’s too late. Nobody’s going to build 100,000 beds.

And it can be absolutely heartbreaking for health workers to turn away people that are dying.

The following is firsthand testimony from a health worker that is on the front lines of this crisis that is actually having to do this…

The first person I had to turn away was a father who had brought his sick daughter in the trunk of his car. He pleaded with me to take his teenage daughter, saying that whilst he knew we couldn’t save her life, at least we could save the rest of his family from her.

Other families just pulled up in cars, let the sick person out and then drove off, abandoning them. One mother tried to leave her baby on a chair, hoping that if she did, we would have no choice but to care for the child.

I had to turn away one couple who arrived with their young daughter. Two hours later the girl died in front of our gate, where she remained until the body removal team took her away.

Those that are working on burial teams often see things that are even worse.  Just consider the following example

Dressed from head to toe in white protective suits and thick goggles, the burial teams try to stay safe, but nothing can shield them from the unspeakable horrors they’ve seen when they make their regular rounds. On Friday, Kiyee described what he saw when he entered a home:

“I took the key and opened the door and went in and saw a 6-month-old child licking on the mother’s skin,” said Kiyee. The mother was lying on her stomach. She had died from Ebola. The baby was searching for the mother’s milk. “Right away I started shedding tears.”

This is the kind of pure hell that we could see in the United States if Ebola starts spreading here.

Just because we have a more advanced medical system and better living conditions does not mean that we will be able to stop the spread of this virus.

In fact, some medical professionals are already warning that we are not prepared for an Ebola pandemic.

If cases of Ebola do start appearing in major cities throughout America, you will want to be prepared to stay at home as much as possible.  There will not be any magic pill that you can pop that will “cure” you of this disease.  It is a brutally efficient killer that does not show any mercy.

So let us hope that global health officials know what they are doing and that this pandemic will be brought under control soon.

But it would also be foolish not to prepare for the worst.

Catastrophic Shocks in Complex Socio-Economic Systems—a pandemic perspective

Off the keyboard of David Korowicz
Podcast off the Microphones of David, RE & Monsta

Article Published on FEASTA on July 19, 2013
Podcast aired on the Doomstead Diner on July 20, 2013

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The globalised economy has become more complex (connectivity, interdependence, and speed), and delocalized, with increasing concentration within critical systems. This has made us all more vulnerable to systemic shocks. This paper by David Korowicz provides an overview of the effect of a major pandemic on the operation of complex socio-economic systems using some simple models. It discusses the links between initial pandemic absenteeism and supply-chain contagion, and the evolution and rate of shock propagation. It discusses systemic collapse and the difficulties of re-booting socio-economic systems.

Download the paper

Related posts:

  1. Sustainable currency and the green economy: An Irish perspective
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  3. Comment on Liquidity Networks: local trading systems using a debt-free electronic currency by Bruno Ricardo
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