We have a problem. A serious one. At any moment, a life-threatening global pandemic could spring up and wipe out a significant amount of human life on this planet.
The death toll would be catastrophic; one disease could see as many as 100 million dead.
It sounds like a horrifying dream. It sounds like something that can’t possibly be true. But it is. The information comes from Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization.
He spoke today at the World Government Summit in Dubai, and according to his assessment, things are not looking good.
“This is not some future nightmare scenario,” said Tedros (as he prefers to be called by Ethiopian tradition).
“This is what happened exactly 100 years ago during the Spanish flu epidemic.” A hush fell across the audience as he noted that we could see such devastation again, perhaps as soon as today.
Tedros was equal parts emphatic and grave as he spoke: “A devastating epidemic could start in any country at any time and kill millions of people because we are still not prepared. The world remains vulnerable.”
What is the cause of this great vulnerability? Is it our inability to stave off Ebola? Rising incidents of rabies in animal populations? An increased number of HIV and AIDS cases?
No. According to Tedros, the threat of a global pandemic comes from our apathy, from our staunch refusal to act to save ourselves – a refusal that finds its heart in our indifference and our greed.
“The absence of universal health coverage is the greatest threat to global health,” Tedros proclaimed.
As the audience shifted in their seats uncomfortably, he noted that, despite the fact that universal health coverage is “within reach” for almost every nation in the world, 3.5 billion people still lack access to essential health services.
Almost 100 million are pushed into extreme poverty because of the cost of paying for care out of their own pockets.
The result? People don’t go to the doctor. They don’t seek treatment. They get sicker. They die. And thus, as Tedros explained, “the earliest signals of an outbreak are missed.”
Surveillance is one of the most vital forms of protection the world’s public health agencies can offer, but these agencies rely on the money of the governments they serve.
And in the United States, which is presently enduring a flu season of record-breaking severity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced they would be cutting their epidemic prevention programs back by 80 percent.
Programs for preventing infectious diseases, such as Ebola, are being scaled back in 39 of the 49 countries they’ve been employed in, according to The Washington Post.
The reason? Quite simply, governments are pulling money from these programs, and it’s not clear whether any more will ever be allocated – at least, not in the US during the current administration.
It might seem a bit obtuse. But, as Tedros pointed out, too often we “see health as a cost to be contained and not an investment to be nurtured.”
Aside from the obvious – avoiding a global pandemic that ravages humanity – healthy societies are advantageous for reasons that are more economic than epidemiological.
“The benefits of universal health coverage go far beyond health,” Tedros said. “Strong health systems are essential to strong economies.”
We know that the quality of pre- and post-natal care a person receives when a child is born has a direct impact on how soon they’re able to return to work (if they choose to).
If we want our children to grow up healthy enough to become functioning, contributing members of society, then the quality of care they receive from birth throughout childhood can’t be underestimated.
“We do not know where and when the next global pandemic will occur,” Tedros admitted, “but we know it will take a terrible toll both on human life and on the economy.”
While Tedros acknowledged there’s no guarantee we’ll one day create a completely pandemic-free world, what is within our reach – if we have the investment and support – is a world where humans, not pathogens, remain in control.
We can do better. And if most of us are to survive in the long term, we must.
Scientists Warn of Threat from Unknown Mystery ‘Disease X’
Similarly to how an ‘unknown’ planet is referred to as planet X, now there is a placeholder for a yet unknown disease threat and it is represented as DISEASE X! This highlights the fact that it could result in a potential global catastrophe and such a risk should not be taken lightly.
Humanity could be at risk from any number of currently unknown pathogens.
The World Health Organization has highlighted the potential danger of a deadly, as-yet-unknown pathogen.
Each year, the global health body convenes a meeting of senior scientists in an effort to put together a concise list of the most likely diseases to cause a major international public health emergency.
While it isn’t surprising to see viruses such as Zika and Ebola make it on to the list, this time around something unexpected has been added – a mysterious malady referred to only as ‘Disease X’.
As it turns out however, this unspecified disease is actually a placeholder.
“Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease,” WHO said in a statement.
With the potential for gene editing to produce a disease far deadlier than anything ever seen before, it is not difficult to see why health authorities are being advised to expect the unexpected.
“History tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before,” said John-Arne Rottingen, chief executive of the Research Council of Norway.
“It may seem strange to be adding an ‘X’ but the point is make sure we prepare and plan flexibly in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests.”
“We want to see ‘plug and play’ platforms developed which will work for any, or a wide number of diseases; systems that will allow us to create countermeasures at speed.”
Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 NIAID
Over 200 Earthquakes Detected at Yellowstone Supervolcano
Regular earthquakes are bad enough. Volcanoes too. But an earthquake swarm at a supervolcano? That really sounds like it could be scary, and scientists say they’ve just detected such a phenomenon at the site of Yellowstone caldera.
According to geophysicists with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the past fortnight has seen Yellowstone supervolcano shaken by a swarm of over 200 earthquakes since February 8, accompanied by innumerable smaller tremors too faint to accurately record.
Despite how alarming this cavalcade of seismic activity might seem – considering its unnerving proximity to one of nature’s most potentially devastating powder kegs – scientists say we shouldn’t be panicked.
Researchers Mike Poland and Jamie Farrell from Yellowstone Volcano Observatory explain in a USGS update that swarms like this account for more than half of the seismic activity at Yellowstone, and they’ve never actually been known to contribute to volcanic activity at the caldera.
Small earthquake swarm at @YellowstoneNPS, Feb 8-present, 180 events located thus far by @UUSS_Quake_Info. Location similar to last summer’s swarm. This is a common area of swarm seismicity. No other changes noted in Yellowstone activity. pic.twitter.com/n1ZfCjtdrx
— USGS Volcanoes🌋 (@USGSVolcanoes) February 18, 2018
“This is what Yellowstone does; this is Yellowstone being Yellowstone,” Poland told Live Science.
“It experiences swarms all the time.”
Case in point: last June, the region experienced an epic earthquake swarm that was 10 times more turbulent, breaking Yellowstone records on its way to ultimately producing some 2,400 quakes by September.
Ordinarily, the caldera sees around 1,500–2,000 earthquakes per year, with about half taking place during swarms. In the current swarm, the largest earthquake reached a magnitude of 2.9 on the Richter scale, whereas last year’s quakes topped out at a magnitude of 4.4.
These events might not produce fiery eruptions from Yellowstone’s expansive magma chambers, but they’re still a valuable opportunity for scientists to study the behaviour of the caldera system.
The latest outbreak took place in an area around 13 kilometres (8 miles) north-east of West Yellowstone, Montana, close to last year’s 2,400-strong swarm. The researchers say it’s possible the new flare-up is actually a continuation of the 2017 incident.
That might seem like a long stretch, but on the vast timescale over which seismic activity plays out, it’s actually just a blip – and the researchers even say both the 2017 and 2018 swarms may actually hark back to a quake from the previous century.
“One of the potential explanations for why this area is so swarmy is that the whole crust in the area is still adjusting to the big earthquake in 1959,” Poland told Live Science.
That episode, which induced the surrounding landscape to plummet by several metres and provoked seiches (standing waves) on Hebgen Lake for 12 hours, was the largest historic earthquake in the region, killing dozens of people in a landslide.
The 7.3-7.5 magnitude earthquake was due to stresses along faults under the region, but Yellowstone is also susceptible to pressure changes beneath the surface due to the buildup and withdrawal of fluids like magma and hydrothermal water, plus gases too.
For now, there’s no indication that these suspected after-effects are actually a sign of any impending greater seismic activity to come – nor a prelude to an eruption, but if (or when) a volcanic outburst is next unleashed at Yellowstone, it likely won’t be the cataclysm many fear, the researchers say.
“If Yellowstone erupts, it’s most likely to be a lava flow, as occurred in nearly all the 80 eruptions since the last ‘supereruption’ 640,000 years ago,” Farrell told Newsweek last June.
“A lava flow would be a big deal at Yellowstone, but would have very little regional or continental effect.”
Of course, that’s just likelihood being talked about there. One year or another – although it could be countless millennia away – the supervolcano will inevitably undergo another of its incredibly rare, but unimaginably catastrophic super-eruptions.
To give you an idea of how bad that (hopefully very far-off) explosion could be, NASA estimates the global consequences could be graver than a planet-devastating asteroid strike, with ash clouds likely to starve Earth of sunlight in a choking, years-long volcanic winter.
The good news is, that’s probably not what this earthquake swarm is all about.
Right now, we can be thankful that Yellowstone is being sleepy – especially since, even while it’s napping, it remains a bizarre and unpredictable place, at turns deadly, surprising, and confounding.
As long as it’s not super-erupting, we’ll take what we can get – and in any case, the latest swarm looks like it could be over for now.
“It’s slowly petering out, although these things wax and wane, so it’s a bit difficult to say that it’s ending,” Poland told Newsweek.
“Yellowstone is just a very swarmy place.”
Apocalypse to start on April 11 claims David Meade
Serial predictor David Meade, who previously claimed the world would end on September 23 and November 19 in 2017, says the new date of the apocalypse is now April 11.
Mr Meade begins an article on Planet X News by saying: “The fat lady is about to sing. It’s all over.”
Mr Meade gives a list of reasons as to why he believes this will be the date of the end of the world, also adding this will be the year the Antichrist finally reveals himself to usher in the apocalypse.
The conspiracy theorist said the Great American Eclipse which took place on August 21 last year, was a “harbinger of a seven-year Tribulation period”.
Mr Meade added the solar eclipse began in Oregon, the 33rd State, and ended in South Carolina, which is in the 33rd parallel – a circle of latitude which is 33 degrees north of the equatorial plane.
Mr Meade said: “The last eclipse of this nature was 99 years ago (33 x 3)”.
Three is significant in Biblical terms as it represents the Holy Trinity. Thirty three is how old Jesus was he died.
He goes on to say the “crazy people of the United Nations” declared on December 21 that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.
This was followed 42 days later by the blood red blue supermoon.
Following this, Mr Meade says “Ron Reese, a Bible scholar of many years … says the Tribulation begins on or around April 11, 2018.”
Mr Meade says the Antichrist will step out of the shadows following this date and “I think I know who it is but there is no way I’m releasing that information.”
He said North Korea will commence World War III later this year and that the fabled Planet X – a mythical planet that is allegedly heading towards our solar system and will knock Earth off its axis and cause widespread destruction – will appear.
Mr Meade said: “Halfway through the Tribulation the Antichrist declares himself in the rebuilt Hebrew temple in Jerusalem. There’s major trouble from that point forward. Everything escalates a hundredfold.
“The Antichrist’s time is brief (a full 3.5 years) but he wrecks havoc on the earth in that time. He creates nuclear wars and as a result there is famine and pestilence.”
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