We all remember the well known fable told by the ancient Greek slave and storyteller, Aesop, about the shepherd boy drafted to keep watch over a flock of sheep, and who, out of boredom, decided it would be great fun to fool the nearby villagers by pretending that a wolf was attacking the sheep. After the villagers rushed out to save the sheep a number of times based upon the boys fabrications they refused to believe him when the wolf actually did show up and began to consume the sheep. The obvious declared moral of the story is generally expressed as “There is no believing a liar, even when he is telling the truth.” However, there is, I submit, a second, unstated moral to the story as well. In spite of the shepherd boys prevarications the wolf was real. And the wolf did, in the end, show up to devour the poor sheep.
Which brings us to the point of this article. For centuries various predictions have been made about the end of the world on certain dates by assorted means and on quite a number of occasions these predictions have been believed by a significant number of people. Obviously the world did not perish in late December of 2012, the most recent date proffered in a long tradition of doomsday predictions that failed to materialize.
There have been countless dozens of other such failed predictions stretching back through the centuries. I think we could say that the batting average of those prognosticators of world destruction has so far been about zero. All of which, however, raises an interesting question. Why are so many people so fearful of and ready to believe in an impending doomsday? I think the answer to that question brings us to the unstated moral of Aesops fable. In spite of all the false alarms the wolf turned out to be very real. And eventually the wolf showed up.
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A New Pandemic Could Kill 80 Million People, Experts Warn
Are we ready for the next global pandemic? Maybe not.
Let’s back up, though. In 2018, the World Health Organization and the World Bank co-convened the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent group of experts focused on global health emergencies.
After taking into account everything from emerging political trends to climate change, the team concluded that “there is a very real threat of a rapidly moving, highly lethal pandemic of a respiratory pathogen killing 50 to 80 million people and wiping out nearly 5 percent of the world’s economy.”
“A global pandemic on that scale would be catastrophic, creating widespread havoc, instability and insecurity,” the authors continued. “The world is not prepared.”
The world might not be prepared for such a crisis right now, but the GPMB experts think it still has time to get on the right track.
They even outlined seven specific actions world leaders could take to increase our preparedness, including the full implementation of International Health Regulations, increased investment in vaccine research and development, and the establishment of strong national preparedness systems.
“For too long, we have allowed a cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to pandemics: we ramp up efforts when there is a serious threat, then quickly forget about them when the threat subsides,” the report’s authors wrote. “It is well past time to act.”
US Analysts Paints Grim Prospects of US-Russia Nuclear War, 18M Casualties Per Hour
Moscow has repeatedly cautioned the US against deploying short and medium-range missiles near Russia’s borders in the wake of Washington’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
American researchers at Princeton University have presented the results of their modelling of the most drastic scenario of a conflict between NATO forces and Russia with the use of nuclear weapons. In a video accompanying the research, called Plan A, the analysts show step by step how the two sides would arrive at almost complete mutual annihilation.
In the opinion of the Princeton researchers, a conventional war would turn nuclear after the sides use tactical nuclear strikes in order to halt the advance of conventional forces. The next step would be a massive nuclear exchange, with Russian aviation practically annihilating Europe and nearby NATO bases, which in turn would fire retaliatory strikes against Russian launch sites.
After this, according to the analysts, Russia and the US would likely use most of the remaining arsenals to destroy each other’s key military objects and would use the remaining nukes to target the most populated cities and economic centres to prevent a rapid recovery. The modelled nuclear war is expected to leave all parties involved devastated.
According to the researchers’ estimations, an overall exchange would take less than five hours in total and leave 34 million dead and 57.4 million injured immediately. This, in turn, means that the projected conflict could result in around 18 million casualties each hour. The analysts added that the numbers would rise after the last strikes due to nuclear fallout and “other long-term effects”.
The scientists indicated that the simulated stand-off was based on the real nuclear force postures of the countries involved and was made to “highlight the potentially catastrophic consequences of current US and Russian nuclear war plans”.
Asteroid Almost Twice as Big as London’s Shard Tower Heading Toward Earth
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has previously claimed that the Earth has no defense against giant asteroids approaching the planet, with NASA and SpaceX currently developing systems that would help to redirect space rocks from bumping into the Earth.
A monster asteroid larger than the world’s largest buildings, including London’s the Shard, will be passing near the Earth at a speed of 23,112 km per hour on 14 September, Live Science reported, citing the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).
The huge space rock called 2000 QW7 is approximately measured to be between 290 and 650 meters in diameter, which in comparison to 311-metre the Shard and 828-metre Burj Khalifa seems quite immense.
Nevertheless, it is quite unlikely that the giant will hit the Earth, according to CNEOS, as 2000 QW7 will pass within 0.03564 astronomical units from our planet, which is around 5.3 million km.
As the asteroid, just like our planet, orbits the Sun, the last time it approached the Earth was around 18 years ago, on 1 September 2000, and it is expected to come close again in 2038 (if we survive this time).
Previously Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had sparked fears about Earth not being able to defend itself against giant asteroids, such as the 99942 asteroid Apophis known as “God of Chaos”, that are considered potentially dangerous if they come within 7.4 million km from Earth, according to space organizations.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX and NASA are reportedly working together now on an asteroid redirect mission impeding the arrival of Apophis in April 2029, which will test Earth’s ability to defend itself against giant asteroids.
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