We Live on Fragile World
We live on a fragile world. It has many balances and checks that keep it in order, but there are many things on our planet and in our solar system and the universe that can disturb this balance. If you are of the opinion that ‘forewarned is forearmed,’ then read on. Some of the risks may seem quite fanciful, and maybe they are, but there are a number of ‘left field’ risks that people seem to be totally oblivious of, even missed by the best scientists.
Some of the main confusion over assessing risk is over probabilities, for example the risk of an asteroid hit that probably caused the extinction of the dinosaurs happening about every 1.5 billion years, so the odds of it happening is 1 in 1,500,000,000. So, scientists claim that it is so extremely rare for this event to happen and it’s not worth worrying about, but the odds of it happening the year before it did and the year it did are 50:50, at that time it being a big and very significant risk, the year before being ‘it happening next year.’ The odds of winning the lottery are very small, but people do, and the fact that so many semi-dangerous bodies are missed right up until a short time before they pass us, some from unwatched or odd or unusual angles adds to this ‘left field’ possibility. The calculations are done on the unknown and unverified past, many things not having happened and not known about until they are suddenly discovered by alternative research. Then the view is, ‘how could we have missed this obvious and blantant thing?’ An example of this is the certain knowledge of all significants volcanic eruptions for the past 300 years. But in 1808-1809 there was a missed eruption bigger than all of the volcanic events of the past 300 years and has only recently been discovered, not ‘existing’ until 1991, and even now is conjectured to have happened somewhere on the edge of the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire,’ somewhere in an area of 100 million square miles, about half the surface of the planet. Pretty exact science then. Probably Volcán Putana, and the experts may discover it was a bigger eruption than thought, the air flows simply being different at that time so dismissing it, as it doesn’t fit in with theory.
It does seem that we are entering a slightly more active and unstable time for the earth as things go, not just with the current climate change panic.
Most of them occur on a level we would find hard to stop happening, although we can plan for some of them, all of them are possible at some time and will happen. It’s not if, but when they will, hopefully when humans are not around anymore or have moved on.
I will try and include as many of the things as possible and how likely they are. Some are possibly in the order or millions of years, some may come later on today or tomorrow, or even approaching unobserved.
I’ve set up this site as a record of what seems to be happening in the world and what to look out for. If we can identify a threat we can work towards avoiding it or at least mitigating its effect.
At the moment we live is a relatively stable environment with certain major threats, but what worries me is that there is so little we know of times befoe about 12,000 years ago.
The idea that homo sapiens just ‘came into being’ about 300,000 years ago is often said, but the process is a gradual one of millions of years. Neanderthals developed probably around 450,000 years ago and belief led science of the past says that they were stupid cave dwellers that were little more than apes, but modern discoveries have found they were as able as sapiens, possibly more advanced at the time. We have as much as 4% Neanderthal genes, so sapiens bred with them. Maybe I have an affinity for them, as DNA testing claims that besides being in the top 2% for intelligence I am also in the top 2% for having the most discovered Neanderthal genes. I like sitting in my man cave with stones and odd bits of animal bones making or repairing things.
Recent discoveries are that it wasn’t an all or nothing transfer from Neanderthals to Sapiens, but there were a number of Sapien incursions that failed completely at the time and that the process didn’t happen over maybe a 1,000 years of sapiens arriving and replacing at 40,000 years ago. The discoveries recently suggested that sapiens turned up around 60,000 years ago, so the replacement happened maybe over 25,000 years, 2% of neanderthal genes surviving from that period. If gene patterns that suggested ‘Britishness’ existed rather than a vague concept, you would probably find that in 2,000 years only 2% of people would still have ‘British genes.’ So the similar idea would be; that a ‘non-British’ race wiped out the obsolete ‘British’ race, rather than joining together and certain dominant genes being carried forwards. A similar thought process seems to happen with the ‘beaker people’ replacing the indigenous race present at the time, rather than this combination type effect honed by evolution these combinations being lost in the mix. Many bits of evidence and the conclusions are because a person has decided this is the answer, then looked for supporting evidence that follows this line. All things being equal and something just being down to random action, if you first decide on a result, you will find 55% of the information confirms your result.
The first tools made by a homo species, maybe Keynathropus platyops or an Australopithecus type has been dated to about 3.3 million years ago. Flaked and sharpened stones, hammers and large shaped rocks moved and used as anvils in the Kenya area. Other animal bones with distinct cut marks have been found in Ethiopia, from about the same time, so the assumption is that nothing happened in the way of technological development for all but 15,000 years of a 3 million year span is the current belief.
We live on a big world, but if there was a disaster that wiped out most of the humans or reset the civilisations what we would have achieved apart from massive stone structures would disappear completely within a few thousand years. Take an iPhone. Leave in in a cave for 10,000 years or bury and you would have a small area with slightly higher levels of rare earths. All the buildings would go within 5,000, something like the Eiffel Tower being a source of reddish iron rich rock after that time, mined and being smelted without knowing what it was or where it came from. After 30,000 years there would be little trace.
The current belief is that advancement only has happened in the last ½ percent of homo’s existence, nothing before, except anomalies that don’t fit, so assumed they can be ignored. What were they doing the other 99.5% of the time? It dosn’t fit in with the superiority and much more advanced idea of modern man, so can it be discounted, but what if this were just due to ignorance of the past, not expert, but lack knowledge that gives this impression. Would a man of the past survive in the current day. The answer is probably yes, being no less able in the past than now. Which of us, apart from people who could organise and command vast countrywide and technical resources, can even think of producing some of the stone structures that ‘primitive man’ just happened to produce? Whips and slaves go some way towards this, but this denies the whole practical idea of application and abilities. Which would you rather have doing it, a ‘primitive’ person who has built them in the past, or an architect fresh out of university, with all the theory and formulae behind them.
I must admit I eat meat. I would rather not, but it leaves other problems open until we no longer require it for sustenance or a tenable alternative. Like with intolerances and allergies, not eating something your body can tolerate over time probably leaves it open to first not being able to tolerate it, developing allergies to it, then later evolving so you can no longer use that food. It’s likely, like with gluten, lactose and nut intolerances and allergies we may develop meat, dairy and other intolerances, not being able to utilise an increasing percentage of available food by not stressing or tempering our bodies by exposure to them. People with little problems with them find it fashionable to avoid them thinking it will do them good, but most of these are probably confirmation bias led beliefs. A sort of reverse placebo effect. Come a major disaster, and such limitations may back us into extinction. Things like Giant Pandas and Koalas are just extinctions waiting to happen. The average giant panda has about £16,000 per individual per year investment behind it to keep it going, compared to people baulking at allowing £500 per year for humans.
Until we leave the planet and have more than one certain target painted on all life on earth, meat is probably going to be an uncomfortable and immoral necessity for an advanced race.
Myself, I class myself as just another temporary animal trying to survive, not above any other and having extra rights, but also not below any other and deserving of just being fenced in small areas, nature having rights above me. You do what you need to survive, and allow others the right and ability to survive.
I like other creatures and other creatures seem to like me. I help them where and when I can. They all have personalities, desires and maybe even beliefs, use logic, and aren’t as distinct from us as many people believe. It’s not us and them, it’s us being a part of them, just slightly more clever and able in some ways.
Many other creatures live for the here and now, not hoarding all they can grab for an unknown and unreliable future, making it more difficult for others and causing that future to be more uncertain and perilous, even for their own descendants, find us amusing and incomprehensible, if worrying, with our antics.
I have traced back 63 major civilisations in the world and what seemed to be a path to their root ancestors to 6 separate areas of the world. There are probably many missing and unknown, even with the millions of archaeologists frantically researching and theorising on what went on, a major new discovery happening nearly every year where there was no knowledge before, so histories record didn’t exist to alter what we thought happened. In all those 6 areas separated by as much as 10,000 miles apart things started advancing in a similar and major way simultaneously about 10,000 years ago after hundreds of thousands or millions of years of not doing so with no obvious or recorded contact with each other. Another coincidence is that this happened at exactly the same time as the extinction of a lot of the megafauna in the world. Have we advanced in intellect and ability massively over the last couple of thousand years. The discovery of the Antikythera mechanism from about 2,000 years ago suggests we haven’t advanced that fast, as with carvings from 10,000 years ago, a problem for modern designers. The general idea is that such things can be ignored because it doesn’t fit in with the idea of what is ‘known’ about then.
We’ve probably not changed too much in the past 100,000 years intellectualy, so advancement could be around a 1 in 10 chance or 0.1 probability over that period, but 6 concurrent events, probably a 0.1^6 or 1 in a million chance of occurrence. Add to this the extinction of the megafauna, you would need to add a 1 in 100 chance taking the odds to 100 million to 1 that this was just by chance. The discovery of old maps that seem to indicate ice free coastlines in the Antarctic, a thing that probably hasn’t happened for at least 12,000 years is merely a supporting detail, being almost certain that there is something in history that we don’t know about, a thing that may affect us dramatically, known history being only decided by the tellers of the story.
I don’t think is was just the conspiracy theory of ‘Aliens’ giving us knowledge and behind all the human achievements. I think we were and are quite capable of many of the things of the past and nearly all observations are due to being unfamilar with nature and its effects.
We live in a world of false equivalences and pseudoscience where calculation and consideration of things like pollution is dependent on percentages and what produces it rather than totals and accumulations. So, one tonne of green pollution is OK and much better than one tonne of identically chemical non-green pollution and an evil to be removed or replaced. The real world doesn’t work this way. One tonne of CO2 is the same whatever is the cause of it. But, just how do you separate the fractionation of pollution? This bit of CO2 is green, this bit is not. This bit is good oxides of nitrogen made from green sources, these oxides of nitrogen are polluting and made from dirty sources. The total is 100 one year and 110 the next, some totals not changing, but the modifications made to help the situation add to the problem more than the problem, which continues in its course. My worry is that CO2 is a part of the symptoms of things changing rather than the direct one-for-one cause of it. A bit like drinking too much is a consequence and result of alcoholism, rather than alcoholism is a consequence of drinking too much. How do the balances nature take effect and what is leading to what as a result. Without a clear definite path of cause and effect based on real life characteristics rather than laboratory conditions and theoretical effect we can’t ever be sure.
Methane has been mentioned as an additional driver, temperatures rising releasing more methane, so adding to the problem, but methane has always been a major driver, having a major effect before man was even around, more than CO2 and discounted as irrelevant is the past by studies, but because man is involved it is seen as an addition to man’s effect and a temperature rise now a lot worse than a temperature rise before man was involved. Rises before man would also have the same effect, but are not included in calculations or modelling of the past. An omission that calls the whole study to be suspect and raises the possibility of confirmation bias throughout. The results obtained were ones that were the ones that were thought of as being true in the beginning, the options for it not being true thought of as false and not catered for.
We are currently in the opinion field all of what is happening can be prevented by following a definite course of action. To not follow that action, or the world’s efforts so far having no effect is still unthinkable and removed from any discussion, so any preparation for this is seen as defeatist, wrong thinking, and should be suppressed. So thoughts of any preparation or insurance for it not working is not allowed. The idea is that it would lessen the resolve of the world or movement to do so. To be prudent or cautious is seen as wrong thinking, being better to be decisive, even if you get it wrong and may drastically increase the calamity and suffering that ensues.
Methane was totally ignored by all climate studies that claimed exactness of results, with cause and effect proof, and not included before it became known that it was a vitally important factor that logically rendered most of the conclusions and models invalid because of this lack of inclusion. Have they been recalculated to include it? No, all the models still stand as they were, and are still depended upon as accurate renditions of the future.
The recent outbreak of Covid-19 may have happened because of statistical chances, but it was quite easy to predict as it was a virus that fulfilled certain characteristics of being the perfect storm or ‘three bears’ type virus. The previous viruses that caused concern had higher mortality rates and were immediately put in the high-risk category, similar to the classifications of such things as Ebola and Marburg. Covid -19, although a problem, didn’t cause that many fatalities at the start, so was seen by the local authorities as a nuisance and an embarrassment. Because it showed lower levels of mortality it was classified as being beneath real notice by the world and played down by the non-medical administrators. But, because of its unrealised infectivity it was enough to cause widespread contamination before the problem could be contained. The Chinese New Year celebrations and movements went on unhindered, taking the virus with them. By the time the problem was realised the numbers were out of control and we are in the position we now find ourselves, being now a problem of mutations that may again go out of control, disguised and underneath the numbers of cases in the world.
A new variant may suddenly appear confused amongst the other variants and not be spotted, SARS and MERS showing the possible effects of things going wrong this way. The virus was not too hot, not too cold, just right to slip under the radar and escape, and being just fatal enough to cause major problems, probably for decades to come. The major risk is stealth infection of a more dangerous variant.
It’s unlikely the problem is over and may just be wishful thinking that extra infectivity comes with the characteristic of lessened mortality, and it is possible that thorugh long term infection and compromised immune systems, a combination effect may happen in an already contained area combining the mortality of MERS and the infectivity of Omicron. Such an occurrence may come from the Middle East or originate close to the origins of SARS.
We have Omicron at the moment in the world being dominant, but things aren’t ‘over’ by a long way, Omicron being considered a ‘lesser virus,’ but the ability to quickly re-infect compared to previous variants may mean the cumulative is somewhere near equal to it’s predecessors.
As far as I can tell from the continued level of infection due to things like Omicron BA.2.75 and BA.5 and the reduced levels of healthcare that resulted from it, the population of the UK is affected by a 14% mortality overhead, possibly taking the longevity down to a new average of 72 years, so losing all the medical gains of the last 50 years. I think it likely that Covid will also have knock on effects on overall cell renewal health, resulting in problems and a further reduction through long covid, disabling covid and an increase in cell mutation probabilities, leading to poorer organ performance and function and increased cancers after about 50 years of age.
Covid still uses the ACE2 enzyme as an entry point to the human system and is expressed quite highly in epithilial cells, especially of the lungs and major organs, problems that the original, Alpha, Beta and Delta variants caused to be immediate major problems in some people. I am worried that even Omicron causes some damage to those cells, maybe in a minor form, but whereas previous versions were slow to re-infect, the cumulative effects of infection and re-infection of Omicron may cause a similar level damage overall, leading to opportunist type infections such as pneumonia and the RSV virus to take hold where they previously wouldn’t. I still think that the conclusion I came to originally right at the start that this will be a decade long problem, possibly two, is still true, and the ramifications for not coming up with a fully world-wide solution, and the dealing with it piecemeal by country, with local temporary and political victories, will ensure it will be with us for longer than that time. It’s now probably in the region of 142 weeks after the first zoonotic transfer, probably from bats, possibly directly from them. In a previous article I referenced an article in Nature from Dr Zing-Yi Ge https://www.nature.com/articles/nature12711 where his team noticed that a SARS like coronavirus found in Chinese rufous horseshoe bats could possibly use the human ACE2 enzyme directly and in Civets without intermediary species. This ability allows for a double level infection and pooling capability if Horseshoe bats, Civets and Humans are in close proximity for a length of time. A sort of infection triangle, each with a potential for infecting and re-infecting each other and fast mutations. In poor conditions and lingering long-term illnesses it would amplify this ability, allowing for breakthrough.
Numbers in the world are increasing dramatically with consistently over a million new cases a day with many being in Germany, France and Italy, but mortality is still staying low. Looking at general statistics it seems there is about 10% chance of re-infection within the period of a year. But this was based on past variants as well as current ones. The extra infectivity and ability to bypass immunities suggests that recent variants could have as high as a 20% chance if exposed to them for reasonable periods. This would mean around a risk of once every 5 years or 12 times in an average lifetime. The concern is cell damage each time this happens. Even a 1% cell damage increase rate could accumulate an extra 12% over a lifetime. If you take the normal yearly overall general cell damage and mutation rate you get close to a cumulative 1% a year in genetic load. It may be that each time a person catches Covid it ages them in damage terms by a year of their genetic status or load level at that point. This may be a temporary effect until some form of tolerance is obtained.
The number of events of Zoonotic viruses seem to be steadily increasing, with lesser levels of international travel in the past, and many now going into ‘more exotic’ places. There are many assumptions with a lot of the diseases, Covid-19 being one of intermediary species, but an article by Xing-Yi Ge in Nature 23/10/2013, where his research found the capability of viruses isolated from bat faeces to use the human ACE2 enzyme directly, the main method of entry by Covid-19, suggests there may not necessarily have been an intermediary. If this is the case, then just going into the areas populated by those bats, or concentrated in enough numbers of live specimens outside, may be enough to return a zoonotic disease to civilisation. The fact that there is a direct rail link between the areas in which he found this and Wuhan does suggest some form of direct link.
I believe in the phrase ‘forewarned is forearmed’, although there is a latin saying ‘praemonitus, praemunitus’ that means the same thing. Politicians don’t like the public being informed as a little knowledge quite often makes people doubt their claims. The laws on secrecy being quite severe to avoid embarassment to the government and the wealthy. National security and interest is claimed on many things, but when the later come out, the secrecy is found to be in their personal interests, not the countries best. Culture an air of learned naivety. Still, ‘drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring. There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again,’ as Alexander Pope says, so try to have a deep world view, not a shallow one, skimming off the cream for your own purposes.
If I would hazard a guess at the likeliest breakdown in society it would be from systemic failure. We have a complicated world in which many areas are interconnected, interrelated and interdependent. We have had a move towards what is called ‘just in time’ manufacturing and distribution, which is the most efficient way of production and getting things where they need to when they are needed. This solves many of the logistical problems and removes a lot of the need for storage, which is common with uneven processes, but what it does rely on is the system working properly with no hiccups, stalls or political problems. If you then combine it with a free market system, goods assigned to you can go to another higher bidder, so having a built-in instability, this move to ‘perfect process,’ also removing storage and back-up supplies will make the systems and those that depend on them less resilient. The idea that ‘market forces’ with sort out the need and efficiency make for every system to become volatile and tend towards instability. It’s good for the ‘dealers’ in the system as they have the resources to pick and choose when to sell to get the highest price, a bank of money buffering them from any ravages, so is exactly what they would promote, but many are without those extensive resources and the level of suffering goes up. If a society is decent it would look after all its members, otherwise what is the point in having it, or following its rules for those who do not benefit. Society is not a god to be worshipped, but an artificial entity and a social contract that is there for the mutual benefit of all its members. Remove those benefits and you have reneged on that contract, so demanding people stick to it for your benefit is hypocritical. You cannot have, ‘I demand that you stick to the rules; I will do what I like,’ that many politicians now show by their recent actions, distorting and evading inspection using the system, supported and aided by other authorities, rife with an inherent ‘them and us’ status and regard.
Systems seem to be breaking down, resources are starting to dwindle, and politicians seem to be putting in place laws and rules that are not capable. All it needs is for one major planetary disaster and its ‘back to the stone age guys,’ and a social reset. The systems in place and coming into place being very fragile and dependent on everything working properly, waiting for a social cascade failure. We are currently seeing many of those aspects and little is being done to remedy them, most of the changes being just done on image, not substance, in a cheap fix and substandard way that looks good and gives the impression of durability with none of it actually being there.
With the world’s climate 99% of the effort and consideration is about preventing it from happening or vastly reducing the effect and 1% on what will be necessary if the effort turns out to be futile. If all the models and theories about it are exactly correct, then maybe this is a possibility. If the people working them out aren’t the super geniuses they personally think they are, with massive practical experience and extensive broad knowledge across many fields, or the figures are slightly off, little chance. One thing is clear; the world and its current societies are unsustainable and not capable at the current rate of consumption, and are really systems just waiting for things to fall apart.
It’s not our problem