Epidemiologists Have Been Warning Us
This is nothing new. Even without the Grand Solar Minimum to make life more chaotic we have been told to expect a pandemic of massive proportions. Why were they warning us? It mainly has to do with population density and speed of travel. When you have a large number of people living together in crowded conditions it is easier for one ill person to infect another. There is just so much overlap of personal space that we end up touching the same surfaces and breathing one another’s air. In addition, modern transportation removes a lot of the barriers to the spread of disease on an international level. An infected person can get on a plane in one country, fly around the world, disembark and check into a hotel before they develop symptoms. Depending upon the disease they might even check out a few bars and tourist spots before feeling ill enough to worry. By the time they are sick enough to know it is more than jet lag thousands of people might have been exposed to whatever they are carrying.
Immunity Is Genetically Specific
Have you ever wondered why you need to get a flu shot every year to be immune? Vaccinations work because they teach your body to fight a weakened or even dead form of the disease you are being vaccinated against. Your body learns how to recognize and attack it. The problem with flu vaccines is that there are so many variations of the flu and doctors cannot always predict which one you will be most likely to be exposed to in a given year. When the influenza virus mutates (as it often does) the virus does not match the memory your body has of the flu and it can go unnoticed while your body is trying to figure out what it is and what to do about it. The same is true for other viruses. It is also true if your immunity is natural and came from a previous infection.
What Causes Mutations
There are lots of things that cause mutations but we need to look at viruses specifically. You see, viruses are special because they cannot reproduce on their own. Instead they attach themselves to cells and inject their genetic material into the cell forcing the cell to act as a factory producing more viruses. When the cell is full of the virus clones it explodes releasing the new copies out to repeat the process. It is really very simple and elegant in a way.
The viruses run into problems because for some strange reason the organisms they infect and use for baby making machines do not appreciate having their cells destroyed so they fight back. As long as they can recognize the virus they will refuse to allow it access to the cells and do their best to destroy it. That means it benefits a virus to be able to shape shift quickly into new and unrecognizable forms. In other words they have a natural tendency to mutate.
Some viruses are better at mutating than others. In viruses there are two ways of carrying genetic code. One is RNA and the other is DNA. DNA is more stable because there is a proofreading in its reproductive process. While RNA is more freewheeling in its approach. You can kind of tell which is which. If a disease was common in the prevaccine era but is almost wiped out now then it multiplies by DNA. If virologists cannot pin it down well enough to make an effective vaccine then it uses RNA to carry genetic material
Why This Matters
In the old days when data and sound was recorded on floppy disks and cassette tapes you could accidentally erase them with magnets. Well, the same thing kind of happens when you expose genetic material to radiation. Little bits of data are corrupted or destroyed. The end result is mutations. In effect radiation allows the old DNA based viruses that we thought we had defeated to act like RNA based viruses and mutate like crazy. This means you can get new and interesting diseases (meaning unpreventable forms of everything from smallpox to Ebola and on down the road) In addition, it means that the RNA based viruses will mutate even more effectively.
The End Of Vaccines
In the end, this makes vaccinating for a given disease to be a problematic solution at best. You can vaccinate til the cows come home but if the virus has mutated and changed its genetic profile the body still will not recognize it. Worse, by the time you develop a new vaccine odds are the virus will have come up with a new and more interesting form yet again. It is a losing battle.
So Where Does The Radiation Come From
To really understand this you need to go look at my posts on galactic cosmic rays, solar winds and other things of that nature. Why? Because space weather can make you sick. You see, the sun has cycles in how weak or strong it’s output is. That means sometimes it is putting out less energy and included in that process is the production of less solar wind. This starts a cascading effect that ultimately allows more intergalactic cosmic rays to enter the earth’s atmosphere. Well, guess what… that means more radiation is entering the earth’s atmosphere. Are you making the connection? If not: solar minimums have higher levels of radiation entering our atmosphere and that causes more mutations which means diseases are better at infecting us.
Really Bad Bugs
No, not the crawly ones. I am talking about viruses. The problem with mutations is there are secondary side effects. A virus might succeed in getting into cells quicker but in the process it might lose some of its ability to keep the host alive. Keep the host alive… wait, they are trying to kill us, right? Nope. The most successful viruses (meaning those that can reproduces the most effectively) don’t kill their hosts or at least don’t kill them right away. They want you limping along shedding clones of themselves all over the place so that they can make new and exciting friends. That us the “goal” of a virus. Making you miserable and ultimately killing you is just a side effect of their reproductive process. When a virus has been around for a while it tends to tone down the destructive behavior and learn not to kill its host so quickly. This happens because the less destructive strains reproduce more effectively. Unfortunately, with all the mutations we will be back to square one with many of these new versions of the viruses.
As I write this in July of 2019 the majority of the world still has enough food. I am not saying there are not pockets of hunger but collectively most people are eating. This year’s growing season has been a disaster of monumental proportions and it will be followed by an even more depressing harvest. Already stores are putting up signs telling customers that there are shortages of certain items and blaming the poor growing season. Things are headed downhill.
I don’t think Americans will get too hungry this year. Don’t get me wrong. It will not be the same as last year. Prices are going to go up and some items will not be as readily available but we are not going to starve. The same will not be true in other countries. We will be eating at the expense of our poorer brothers and sisters. This is a fact. Rich countries buy food and poor countries pay the price in human lives. That is not a dig at “bad” first world countries. The same would be true if the situation were reversed. It is just an unfortunate fact of life. When times get hard someone does without and there are ramifications.
The problem is hungry people have weakened immune systems and that makes them easy targets for disease. Worse, because famine relief if given out in aid camps many hunger refugees will be forced to congregate in tent cities with poor sanitation under crowded conditions. Do you see the implications?
You have all heard the commercial “What starts in Vegas stays in Vegas” yeah, not so much and even less so in refugee camps. Things spread. End of story.
Not everyone is going to be poor and desperate enough to end up in a refugee camp. Many people will just move. You see the situation we already have over immigration. What do you think it will be like when things get really bad? Mobile populations spread disease more quickly. This is especially true when the people moving around are weak and sick from poor nutrition. This is not an anti immigrant thing. This is an ugly fact. I cannot apologize for facts but I can be sad they are true.
I think I have eaten pretty much all the odd critters that you can eat in my area. Possum is just nasty. Raccoon is greasy but doable if you cook it right. Deer, well deer is just delicious and that is a fact. The list goes on. The thing is I am lying to you there. I have not eaten ALL the critters… just the ones we are marginally willing to accept as food. I have not eaten rat. I have not eaten my neighbors dog or a coyote. I have not eaten any form of cat feral or otherwise. Where is the magic line telling you what you are and are not willing to eat? It doesn’t exist. We make our choices on a sliding scale determined by how hungry we are. When someone in Africa eats the wildlife we condescendingly refer to it as eating bush meat but in their minds it is no different than it is for me when someone brings down a nice buck and puts it in the freezer. The line is about to get a lot more blurry.
If you could go back in time to places where people were truly hungry you would find there were no real vermin problems of the rodent variety because there were no rats left. They were all eaten. So were the dogs, cats, pigeons and anything else that could be eaten. Some animals carry diseases that can be caught by humans. When you butcher an animal you get its blood on you. I’ve gotten hit in the face with bloody particles while butchering etc. It just happens. You get blood on your hands and a fly lands on your nose so you absentmindedly brush it away making a nice bloody streak across your face before you realize what you are doing. You cut yourself and your blood and the animal’s blood mingle. These things happen. You can also just not cook the meat long enough. No matter how careful you are disease can spread.
People do not realize how quickly a disease can jump the species barrier if conditions are right. This is especially true in crisis situations when weakened starving people are reduced to eating anything they can get. That means they will not be too picky about the animal they kill. An experienced hunts sees a sick animal and moves on because they know it could infect them. An inexperienced hunter might think they got lucky and not realize their luck was bad not good.
I have talked mainly about viruses because the genetic mutations make vaccines ineffective. There is more to the story. Mutations can also make fungal diseases and bacterial infections more resistant to antifungals and antibiotics. We are already having issues due to preexisting problems They will only grow with time.