Friday, August 24, 2007


Just in case You'd Stopped Worrying...

The weather up here in the north-west has been fabulous and I enjoyed a wonderful hike yesterday in the Macclesfield Forest. So it was deflating, when buoyed up by views of such a beautiful and bountiful world, to read this morning that :

The world will face a new deadly threat on the scale of Aids, Sars and Ebola within a decade, the world's leading authority on health said yesterday, as it warned that diseases were spreading more quickly than at any time in history.

My baby boomer mates and I have long smugly discussed in the pub how fortunate our generation has been- no real wars or even national service, material plenty and low unemployment, free love in the 60's and 70s and cheap air-travel around the world- but now our complacency, it seems, must give way to yet another anxiety. It addition to terrorism, global warming, super-power war making, a pension crisis and widening global inequality, we have to contend with an exponential increase in new diseases.

Forty diseases, unknown a generation ago, now stalk the planet and the recent WHO report discloses that over the past five years there have been over a thousand epidemics. Looking forward, we can expect more involving cholera, SARs, Ebola, small pox and avian flu which could affect more than 1.5 billion people, one quarter of the world's population; you've probably already spotted those naughty little e coli delinquents pictured above. Just in case you think all this might be a scaremongering exaggeration, the report adds:

"It would be extremely naive and complacent to assume that there will not be another disease like Aids, another Ebola, or another Sars, sooner or later."

And the solution? International cooperation. Our very own UK Department of Health agrees that this is the best way forward. So that would be the same international cooperation that has sorted out climate change, third world poverty, the Middle East and all those wars we didn't have in the last blood-soaked century? But I look outside my chaotic office and note the sun offering an extension of our mini-late summer and decide to take stroll down to my local Italian restaurant to book a little meal for this evening. The world may be about to implode in all kinds of ways, but we do really have to enjoy those vital simple things in life.

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