Disasters, War, and Famine.
They have visited us throughout human history.
Technology advances and we believe we have escaped the cycle, and then it happens again.
Is it inevitable?
Are we doomed to repeat history?
Or can we remember the past and change in time?
I know I sound like a mad prophet, but we must examine what has come before.
That way we can change the way we live, before the world changes us.
THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
During the Civil War, 23,000 soldiers died in one day in the battle of Antietam. It is the bloodiest single-day battle in American History.
622,000 people died in the Civil War, which at the time was 2% of the American population, or 1 in 50 people. That would be like 6.5 million Americans dying today.
The fragile Southern economy was based on slavery, an untenable system that had to change — yet it took war to change it.
WORLD WAR 1
67,000 people died in one day in the Battle of the Somme. 60,000 British soldiers and 7,000 French.
They were fighting to preserve the economic model of Colonial Empire — the British and French Colonial Empires versus the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires.
17 million people died in WWI, 10 million soldiers and 7 million civilians. Over 20 million people were wounded.
WORLD WAR 2
60 million people died in World War 2, and 40 million were civilians. That is as if the entire population of California died within six years.
40,000 people died in the siege of Stalingrad. 135,000 people died from the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Many people consider WW2 the true end of WW1.
THE NEW WORLD
There were an estimated 20 million Native Americans living in North America when Colombus arrived. 90% of all Native Americans died from disease brought by Europeans. Entire groups of people vanished before the tidal wave of disease.
THE FLU EPIDEMIC
The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than World War I, at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people, the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351. Known as "Spanish Flu,” the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster.
It became global because WWI was global, with large groups of soldiers and displaced people moving from country to country. There was a delay in treating it, it mutated several times, created several waves of the infection. It was less than 100 years ago.
THE AIDS EPIDEMIC
25 million people have died from AIDs since 1981. The millions who first died of the disease were ignored and marginalized, allowing the disease to spread.
During the 20th century, 70 million people died from famines across the world, most brought on by war and misguided government policy — like the 30 million who died during the famine of 1958–61 in China and the famines in the Soviet Union, including the Soviet famine of 1932-1933, caused by the policies of Stalin.
In the late 20th century, there was the Khmer Rouge-caused famine in Cambodia in the 1970s, the North Korean famine of the 1990s and the Ethiopian famine of 1984–85.
We are due for a famine…
We are going through the worst drought in fifty years in America, with crop yields down 40% since 2012. It may continue, since climate change is creating more dramatic weather patterns in both winter and summer.
We are due for a pandemic…
The Ebola virus doubles every 24 days and Enterovirus 68, which paralyzes children, is spreading quickly as well.
We may be approaching another world war…
We used to tolerate 6 million dead in a country, 60 million dead worldwide, and 20,000 dead in a day.
We Must Change our Mindset and Get to Work
If we become hyper aware of the impending storm, we can prepare for it and avert it.
We must end our dependence on foreign oil, which creates more world conflict.
We must address climate change, which is exacerbating the risks for famine. To end our dependence on fossil fuel quickly, we must consider fission once more, and push for fusion, which the European Union is already aggressively pursuing.
We must tax carbon, and create economic incentives for alternative fuels, and tax credits for people and companies that find alternate ways to save energy — from living off the grid to building electric cars, to solar roadways and turbines run by tides.
We must be diligent in preventing the spread of disease, using our military strength to organize against these new lethal foes. The logistics we use to mobilize armies should be used to mobilize against disease.
It is a mindset. We must prepare today. We must start believe and acting like we are in a disaster, in a war, and in a famine already. That way, when it strikes, we are not only prepared, we can shorten their durations and lessen their impact.
People write about the Greatest Generation, which had the mindset and the grit to save the world from Fascism and Empire.
Our current generation, and our children, will be required to have the same mindset and even more grit, and we should prepare now.