Which doomsday disaster do you think the world is most likely to experience? This week’s roundup includes news regarding biological and nuclear weapons, earthquakes and even a new and deadly coronavirus. The Doomsday Preppers are prepared. Are you?
Nuclear Weapons and The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program
The Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program was a law created by Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar in 1992. Following the end of the Cold War, CTR has worked to provide funding and expertise for states in the former Soviet Union to reduce, dismantle and dispose of their nuclear arsenal. Nunn and Lugar spoke Dec. 3 at an event held at National Defense University in Washington, D.C., celebrating the work the program has achieved in its 20 year existence.
Both Senators noted that although the program was a success it was time to consider the future and ensure that it remained relevant. Nunn credits his experience living through the Cuban missile crisis for teaching him the danger of nuclear threat. He cautioned the audience that anxiety following attacks and scares quickly fades and legislators should still be deeply concerned about possible dangers. The Cooperative Threat Reduction program also will have to evolve to meet new threats and contexts, the senators said. Nunn believes reducing biological threats will be more of a challenge than nuclear threats, because of the number of widely dispersed worldwide. Both senators agreed that CRT must evolve to meet new threats.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Many people worldwide depend almost entirely on their cell phone to make calls, even in emergencies. Reports state that this is true of more than 30% of Americans. What happens when you reach for your phone in the middle of a disaster, natural or otherwise, and find yourself without any service? With the number of landlines waning across the country the question is becoming increasingly relevant. Wireless phone service however does not have the same regulations as a standard landline and cell carriers continue to fight the proposal of regulations aimed to get communications back online after a disaster. “Traditional carriers had reliability requirements, and reporting requirements,” says Susan Crawford, a visiting professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a former technology adviser to President Obama. “We treat wireless and broadband much differently.” Cell phone carriers insist that emergency regulations remain voluntary and the FCC to this date has supported their argument. Would you be able to contact emergency services and loved ones in a major disaster?
Novel Coronavirus- A New Potential Pandemic?
Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface and are common around the world, usually as the cause of colds. However, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “a novel coronavirus was identified as the cause of severe respiratory illness in two adults from the Middle East in June and September 2012.” The CDC notes that it is a different virus than other coronaviruses previously found in people and is also different from SARS. The World Health Organization (WHO) is now reporting several other cases.
According to WHO, “In summary, to date a total of nine laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with the novel coronavirus have been reported to WHO – five cases (including 3 deaths) from Saudi Arabia, two cases from Qatar and two cases (both fatal) from Jordan.”
The current understanding of this novel virus is that it can cause a severe, acute respiratory infection presenting as pneumonia. Acute renal failure has also occurred in five cases. The most recent death occurred on November 30, 2012. There are no reports of anyone in United States getting infected and sick with the novel coronavirus at this time and the CDC states that the risk of getting infected with this virus is very low. However, virologist are taking the threat seriously.
The World Needs a Pandemic Strategic Action Plan
A new paper published in the Lancet by Stephen S. Morse, PhD, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and colleagues, discusses research and surveillance opportunities that could help create a global pandemic strategy. The paper, “Predicting and Preventing the Next Pandemic Zoonosis” addresses the aspects of response, pre-emption and prediction.
“There is no question of whether we will have more zoonotic pandemics – the question is merely when, and where, the next pandemic will emerge,” says Dr. Morse. “The challenge now is to establish whether and how researchers can intervene before a pathogen reaches the human population and develop appropriate triggers for action. Zoonotic diseases, by definition, should be a key mission of human health agencies, agricultural authorities and producers, and natural resource managers, all working cooperatively. However, in reality, the current situation leaves much to be desired, and we need substantial investments in each of these areas.” Will the next pandemic arrive before we are prepared?
7.3 Earthquake and Small Tsunamis Rattle Japan
Striking the same coast that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake; a 7.3 earthquake shook Japan on Friday. The USGS reported at least six aftershocks, the strongest of which was 6.2 in magnitude. The Meteorological Agency in Japan has an early warning system that provides the estimated intensity and timing of a major quake and issued a warning six minutes before the quake struck. Coastlines were hit by several small tsunamis, but there were few reports of injuries and no deaths. While this was a large and potentially dangerous earthquake, it was exponentially smaller than the quake that caused mass destruction last year.
The 9.0 magnitude quake that struck in March 2011 caused a devastating tsunami and left more than 15,000 people dead, with more than 3,200 missing. Scientists believe that a similar earthquake, magnitude ~8 or greater in California along the San Andreas Fault is inevitable in the next 30 years. Such a quake will produce devastation to human civilization within about 50-100 miles of the quake zone, especially in urban areas like Palm Springs, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Japanese, despite all their intensive earthquake preparations, are still recovering from the 2011 quake. Preppers in California may want to take note!
Most Californians fear a massive earthquake, but in this week’s episode of Doomsday Preppers: You’ve Got Chaos, Bob Kay believes the earthquake will cause unprecedented destruction to the environment. Tune in on Tuesday December 11 at 9PM et/pt and check out how Kay plans to survive.