Of Coronavirus and Chartism 468


I am cheerfully optimistic that this Coronavirus, like asian swine flu and SARS before it, will prove not to be as deadly as may be prognosticated by journalists wanting to fill column inches. One day the human race will become extinct; but it is unlikely to be a virus that does it, as wiping out your host is not a clever survival policy for a virus. Even a disease as vicious as ebola proved not to be so potent against subjects who were not malnourished nor struggling with other health issues. So far this coronavirus seems to have a mortality rate of about 3%, which is probably an over high estimate as it is only a percentage of those who died after testing, whereas it appears there are large numbers with milder symptoms who are unlikely to have been tested in the first place. So coronavirus is not looking vastly different to ordinary influenza, which has a mortality rate of about 1%.

When you or I get flu we don’t normally panic as though we have a 1% chance of dying from it. That is again because we are well nourished, live in good conditions and have not been much weakened by other disease. Like this coronavirus, influenza generally carries off the old and frail. Whether the infamous Spanish flu after the First World War that killed so many was a particularly potent strain is open to doubt. A more powerful factor is probably that the population it wracked was suffering greatly from malnourishment, stress and disease already as a result of the war. But unlike this coronavirus, that one did attack children badly.

Which is not to say the current coronavirus might not yet mutate into something much more lethal, but as yet there is no sign of that happening.

I was educated both at school and university very much in the liberal tradition of history. At both levels, the curriculum featured a view of historic political development very much as “progress”. The “years of revolution”, 1830 and 1848, were landmarks in this, where liberal and national movements made some progress against monarchist autocracy across the whole of Europe. These political waves of convulsion on a continent wide basis undoubtedly happened, and in the UK resulted in the Great Reform Act and the Chartist Movement. They were taught in the Macaulay/Trevelyan historical tradition as very much the product of development in thought, as a product of political philosophy, as though the masses were moved by the elegantly turned phrases of a Benthamite pamphlet.

At university, I did add to this the knowledge that poor harvests had helped precipitate events, and indeed those had featured in my A level lists of “Causes of the French Revolution”. But it was only really a few years ago, when I was researching Sikunder Burnes, that I came to focus properly on the role of epidemiology in these human convulsions. Both the 1830 and 1848 European wave of revolutions coincided with the first and second ever cholera pandemics sweeping across Europe. The reason I came across this while studying Burnes is precisely that it was the opening up of Central Asia to trade in this period, largely through Russian exploration and expansion, that brought the disease into Europe. Burnes was in 1832 in a Bokhara ravaged for years by cholera. Its great canals – which are still there – were only being opened to fresh water once a month, and they served as both water supply and sewer, as Burnes documented in detail.

Without the misery inflicted by cholera, both directly and in economic impact, the desperate urban mobs may not have existed which enabled middle class liberals – and their own auto-didactic leadership – to start the establishment of western European democracy. It seems a very strange thing to suggest that cholera pandemics forwarded social progress. But there you are. I am now proceeding to an audacious discussion as to whether a lack of effective pandemics may retard social progress. Hang on to your hats.

[As a complete aside, I also discovered while researching Alexander Burnes that the great British liberal historical tradition was founded on a truly remarkable incestuous household menage a trois between Macaulay, his sister and Charles Trevelyan, father of the historian George who may well have been Macaulay’s son and nephew, rather than the official version of just nephew, and that Macaulay had also been having sex with his other sister. So much for Victorian respectability. Sikunder Burnes is a difficult book to describe because it presents an extremely detailed and painstaking account of the life of a 19th century British imperial functionary, and then from that framework sprout all kinds of exegeses on my wider intellectual interests. I hope it reads better than that sounds].

I do hope that I am right that coronavirus will prove, like SARS, not a great threat to us. The ability of modern nutrition, living conditions and medicine to ward off serious risk of epidemic and other illness has of course resulted in a very significant increase in human longevity. The relentless increase in longevity has slowed slightly as a result of the post 2008 economic crash, but I expect it to pick up again as it is a centuries old trend. In the UK, much has been written about the economic effects of this. In the UK, the concentration of wealth in the hands of old people who are not dying and passing it down, coincides with economic changes which have made it very difficult for young people to have good secure employment and to accumulate wealth, particularly property.

At the same time, the old people may own wealth but do not much generate it. With the increasingly aged demographic profile boosted by both people living longer and by historic falling birth rates, the percentage of the population in employment is in decline. The Office of National Statistics projects that while in 2007 there were 244 pensioners for every 1000 adults of working age, by 2041 there will be 419 per 1,000. This is a well understood economic problem to which, within the UK, the answer has lain in immigration.

It is not my purpose here to touch on these economic questions. I wish rather to look at the political effects. The UK has become a gerontocracy. The proportion of British adults eligible to vote who were aged over 55 in 2007 was approximately 37%. By 2041, that will be a majority of voters aged over 55. It is quite possible that a majority of those who do cast their vote in the UK are already over 55, as voter turnout is much higher among the elderly. So by 2040 it is perfectly possible that 60% or more of all votes actually cast will be cast by people aged 55 or over.

This is significant because it is a matter of indisputable fact that voting patterns are different between the old and the young. It was, to a truly remarkable degree, only the votes of the over 55s that stopped Scottish Independence, voted for Brexit, and elected Boris Johnson. Now any time I write on this subject I get offended older people saying “well I am old but I am not a Tory”. I know. I am not claiming every old person is a Tory. But Unionism, Brexitism and Toryism all are much more predominant among older voters. And while the issues may differ by 2040, I very much doubt there will cease to be differentials between the views of the old and the young.

The long term effects of western political systems which become increasingly dominated by geriatric voters are very unlikely to include a greater willingness to adopt progressive or innovative political approaches. I do not see how there can fail to be a stultifying effect on social progress. Again, I am 61 myself. Of course there are many radical older people. But there is overwhelming evidence that is not the norm.

Gaia has ways of restoring balance. It seems to me a fascinating speculation that, as the planet’s apex predator, mankind has succeeded in increasing individual longevity by increased nutrition and an ability to stave off pandemics which nature would use to keep down the numbers, and which normally would particularly kill older people. But the result of this may be a profound reduction in the adaptability and flexibility of mankind’s political hive mind as it becomes encrusted with geriatric thought, leading to seriously bad political decisions which ultimately will impact population anyway. Climate change is the most obvious example, but the process could have long term subtle effects in many ways.

Thomas Malthus was pilloried for centuries, but his critique of the dangers of human over-population now chimes with envronmentalist concerns. I have no desire to underestimate the suffering of those unfortunate enough to be affected by coronavirus. I do not actually wish to see elderly Tories and unionists carried off by flu. But I suspect you, like me, may very seldom get to read an article referencing the interrelationship of epidemiology, longevity and political systems. As the avowed purpose of this blog is to make people think, I thought readers and commenters may care to stretch their brains on this one.

Finally, as a restorative affirmation of the fact that older people can have very positive contributions to make to political thought, here is last week’s debate between George Galloway and myself on the subject of Scottish Independence. It has become unusual in British politics to see two people with fundamentally different views on a major political issue, discuss the matter with mutual respect and absolutely no rancour. It is a practice that appears to have deserted most professional politicians, as the last disintegrating days of the UK state become increasingly acrimonious.

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468 thoughts on “Of Coronavirus and Chartism

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  • Courtenay Barnett

    Craig,

    ” When Thomas Malthus published that the poor could eat their children, he meant it as a critique of the dangers of human over-population, but his reputation has suffered ever since by opponents who maligned him as though he meant it literally. ”

    To be fair to Malthus – was it not that he saw a trend and honestly thought that the demographics would lead to disaster. It seems that industrialisation led to smaller families and this served as a check on population ( but – maybe not if you were a devout Catholic and Irish).
    Anyway, the modern day challenge of ‘climate change’ may in actuality be presenting the kind of existential threat which Malthus conceived of in his time.

    • Los

      Perhaps the Coronavirus crisis currently being promoted will provoke Priti Patel to bring in some “Modest Proposals” to ramp up Britain’s ratings in the Police State league?

      • Marion

        You can bet on it. I smell a rat with all the hype & fear porn over this.
        Problem: Create something or hype up a thing to ‘pandemic’ proportions)
        Reaction: Get the populace in a state of malleable fear, so they wail ‘they (authorities) must DO something…..help us!’
        Solution: ‘Authorities’ implement the very thing they’ve wanted all along: Population control.
        Standard control technique.

    • joel

      To be less fair to Malthus, you must also remember the extreme degree of elite callousness towards the poor throughout the golden age of English liberalism. Jeremy Bentham, for example, wanted the children of the poor to be removed from their parents at the age of 3 and put to work in industry. Even Tommy Malthus’s greatest apologists would have to accept he is more renowned for his ferocious contempt for the poor than for his searing wit.

      • Bramble

        You put this into the past. Attitudes to the poor are still callous: the benefit system is being changed to ensure the poor are punished and to deter couples from having children today, for instance. And this is being done not by the elite but as a result of voters, many of them poor themselves, choosing to support parties which carry out such policies (with a sprinkling of bestial racism to make it even more delectable to them). Had Labour been led by a Bliarite ready to carry on with UC as well as support every other neoliberal and neocon policy espoused by the Tories, he or she would not have been assailed by vicious campaign of blatantly untrue smears which Labour voters not only believed, but wanted to believe.

        • joel

          Indeed. So much for the Whig interpretation of history .. We are bound full-steam back to the bracing golden age of English liberalism, c.1820, when anti-social selfishness reigned supreme and most struggled to subsist in a howling wilderness called freedom.

    • Julian Bond

      “To be fair to Malthus – was it not that he saw a trend and honestly thought that the demographics would lead to disaster.”

      The same is true of Paul R. Ehrlich in the late 60s. He warned of the dangers of exponential population growth just as global population’s exponential growth peaked. Since then it’s been growing linearly, not exponentially. It may still slow further and plateau before the century is out. If it really had maintained 2%/yr as Ehrlich thought we’d be in a world of hurt from overpopulation already.

      What’s not yet clear is if the Club of Rome, Limits to Growth and Climate Heating people have similarly seen a trend, warned of the potential disaster but proved wrong in the long term. The trends are real. The long term outcome may be different to that predicted. Of course it may also be worse and all happen faster than expected. Just because some forecasters have been wrong does not mean that all are.

    • N_

      Malthus didn’t conceive of an “existential threat”. He thought it had always been, was, and always would be natural for the poor to be continually “population controlled” (to use modern parlance) by filth, penury, immorality, and barbarism that cut short many of their individual existences. He didn’t conceive of any threat to the existence of the species. That’s modern propaganda.

      I’ve written a longer comment on Malthus in which I cite the hypocritical changes he added as a wrapper between the first edition of his “Essay” (anonymous, 1798) and the second (published after his name was exposed), and I hope the mods allow it through.

      The line that starts with Malthus comes down through Spencer, Galton, and H G Wells, all of whom called for mass murder, and then it comes down through people like Cyril Burt, Charles Murray, Richard Herrnstein, E O Wilson, and Robert Plomin. That’s “intellectually”. As an attitude it is the dominant view throughout the British ruling class and much of some of the other classes in Britain too, and it also relates to colonialism.

    • N_

      [ Mod: Caught in blog filter, timestamp updated. ]

      Yes, Malthus is the father of the greens and “environmentalism”. And those of us who despise Malthus aren’t informed by confusing him with Swift and believing he said in seriousness what Swift said for satire. Almost the whole of Malthus’s “Essay on the Principle of Population” is about how dirty, immoral, barbaric, disease-ridden and short-lived the lower orders are in various parts of the world. It’s as if he got a vicar’s stiffy in his underpants whenever he was writing all that stuff – hundreds of pages of practically the same thing, offered as “evidence” to support his belief that the poor will not only always be with “us”, but they will always live in dirt and disease and barbarism and immorality because that’s their nature and the nature of the world too.

      The wrapper about how he wanted to “improve” “society” in the “future” was no more than “Christian” hypocrisy, only added AFTER he was exposed as the author of this wretched book. In the first edition, which he had been too much of a coward to put his name to, he was more honest, taking the p*ss by writing

      (The author) hopes it will appear, that, in the discussion of this interesting subject, he is actuated solely by a love of truth; and not by any prejudices against any particular set of men, or of opinions. He professes to have read some of the speculations on the future improvement of society, in a temper very different from a wish to find them visionary; but he has not acquired that command over his understanding which would enable him to believe what he wishes, without evidence, or to refuse his assent to what might be unpleasing, when accompanied with evidence.

      The view which he has given of human life has a melancholy hue (…)

      If he should succeed in drawing the attention of more able men, to what he conceives to be the principal difficulty in the way to the improvement of society, and should, in consequence, see this difficulty removed, even in theory, he will gladly retract his present opinions, and rejoice in a convition of his error.

      In other words “You social improvers say what you want, but I prefer evidence, me”.

      By the time this man had been exposed, he wrote in the second edition (the main text, not the preface) that his “mode of conducting the subject which naturally presents itself” was “1. to investigate the causes that have hitherto impeded the progress of man towards happiness and 2. to examine the probability of the total or partial removal of these causes”…but then he still launches into screaming like an “objectivist” banshee about how filthy and prone to die of immorality and filth and killing each other the poor and “primitive” were. He’s still taking the p*ss, but now he is trying to wear a cloak that hides what a disgusting entitled wretch he was, revelling in other people’s penury and misfortune.

      He espoused what are still the two dominant social ideas in the heads of the hate-filled British ruling class (and for that matter, in much of the middle class, certainly most of the lower middle class, and indeed in quite a bit of the better-off working class): a) the poor smell and spread disease; b) they f*ck like rabbits. Galton, Huxley, Spencer were Malthus’s successors. He is the secret god of the Tory party and the British bourgeoisie in general.

      Extinction Rebellion must be creaming their pants as they watch the coronavirus too.

      • George McI

        “….the poor will not only always be with “us”, but they will always live in dirt and disease and barbarism and immorality because that’s their nature and the nature of the world too.”

        That reminds me of a droll comment from Gramsci about how we should always work to ensure that the poor would always be with us since Jesus said it was so.

    • George McI

      I think it’s very hard to be “fair” to Malthus considering that this guy came up with the perfect get-out clause for the rich to do fuck all for the poor. He said “Don’t feed them! You’ll only increase their suffering!” So you can be cruel and “compassionate” at the same time!

      And wasn’t Malthus opposed to contraception which would have been the logical answer to the hell he was presenting? Now that opposition is interesting since it ensures that the rising industrial capitalism would have the largest possible number of desperate labourers who would work for next to nothing.

  • Sohail Bhatti

    As a jobbing Director of Public Health, these kinds of thoughts regularly go through my head too. This Wuhan virus is more infective than pandemic flu which means most everyone will get it, just a matter of time. Also, some people have no symptoms, so more spreading. Less lethal than SARS which burnt itself out. Yet, 16.4% seriously ill in hospital. Jumping from bat means it is not optimised for the human host, but will eventually get there through mutation. Real saviour is vaccine but will take 3-6months minimum, if we break all the safety protocols. Hope I’m wrong, but the maths rarely lie.

  • lysias

    The Spanish Flu was notorious in the well-nourished United States for killing vigorous young adults, including civilians who had escaped the war.

    The explanation usually given is that it killed by causing an overreaction of the immune system. Young adults, who had been exposed to fewer strains of flu and whose immune systems were strong, would have been particularly vulnerable.

    • JP

      My paternal great grandparents (ggf being a Billingsgate fish porter), both died of the Spanish flu, ggf in the 1919 first round, ggm in 1920 second round, leaving my gf an orphan who ended up in a workhouse – he was the only surviving family member.
      My research/understanding was also that the younger and healthier were more at risk from the flu virus due to the strong immune system reaction.

  • Martin Hawes

    The greatest threat to human survival is not biological but psychological. We are still to a large extent operating on Cro Magnon software, upgraded with technological smarts that give us near-unlimited power to destroy ourselves and our environment. Gaia has ways of restoring balance, but it’s not clear she can escape the Anthropocene without losing most of the fruits of the last billion years of evolution. (I keep thinking of all those spent-fuel pools poised to shower the planet with megasieverts.) The only hope may lie in some kind of global revolution or renaissance in human consciousness. I can’t say I’m optimistic, but the alternative is despair.

    • nevermind

      Its called extinction rebellion, Martin, and it is spreading faster than this virus.
      The make up of it is yet to be discoveted, but research in genespecific military grade viruses has been going on in labs around the world for some time.

      Maybe this is a time for Porton Down to come clean on their own research, as this virus will dwarf the puny Scripal construct, maybe a few reassuring words as to what such weaponised bioweapons could do would help change their abysmal image in public.

    • Magic Robot

      Martin Hawes
      January 27, 2020 at 02:16
      “The only hope may lie in some kind of global revolution or renaissance in human consciousness.”
      So profoundly true.

      • Marion

        The re-boot of human consciousness is coming….but not till all the ‘freedom doors’ have been slammed shut & we are on our knees in total despair. I’m afraid that It’s going to take just that to wake us up. And that may be a while coming….

  • Roger ewen

    I have the greatest respect for George, but I fail to understand and I have heard him state, why it’s okay for other nations to acquire their own independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, but terrible in his eyes for the people of Scotland.
    Are we not competent? Are we sub normal?
    I don’t know if he’s looking at, Englands Labour Party and Westminster elections and without Scotlands Labour MPs, Labour will never again be a party of government, in England. Forever a bridesmaid, never a bride.
    I’m sorry, a nations aspirations, a right to freedom, are more important than party political loyalties.
    If England is foolish enough to vote for the party of slavery, war and corruption why should it be us or our families that suffer that injustice!
    We our elected officials should set our nations standards, and national aspirations, for future generations, taking long term strategic views, 25 years 50 years 100 years….. instead of looking for crumbs left on the floor by a degenerate privileged privately educated elite who base there opinions on a right of birth.

  • David G Crowther

    https://off-guardian.org/2020/01/25/coronavirus-update-following-the-money/

    “As of the time of writing, the real (or at least reportedly real) numbers stand at 1407 cases, 41 deaths. Which means the mortality rate is now actually below 3%.”

    I was under the understanding that caronaviruses were the cause of some winter colds and flues … as opposed to colds and flues caused by rhinovirus’. Unless your very old, very young or have a compromised immune system there doesn’t appear to be much threat of fatality to most people.
    https://kidshealth.org/Nemours/en/parents/101553.html

    Though I’m glad the Matildas Olympic qualifiers have been transferred to Sydney, I’m pretty sure it’s all a media beat up, “Bad China” etc and the money spinner Kit Knightly points out in his article.

    As an aside … quoting Craig and providing links to his media appearances, speeches, articles and blogs … exacerbated by my own pointing out of pretty obvious MSM bullshit …. has resulted in my Guardian commentary account no longer being accessible.

    As Mr Murray’s speech at the World Beyond War conference in 2016 confirmed for me that the world operated in exactly the way I believed it did …. not being able to comment in the Guardian isn’t that much of a loss.

    Apart from the regular Australian Parliament Live article you couldn’t comment on anything actually important in most cases.

    Keep up the good work Mr Murray and very glad to hear Julian Assange is out of solitary though this seems to have resulted more from the actions of his fellow inmates than any sort of conscious arising with in the UK government.

  • Bruce Berry

    Throughout the longer span of human time, elders were useful and needed for their experience and wisdom, especially in political matters. So our geriatric society should be an extremely wise one. That is it not, is to me reliable evidence of how far we have strayed from our natural course. Old people don’t know how to live in the new way, and of course that new way is being re-invented with every generation. So in the modern era, their wisdom is always obsolete. I can’t see how this is a sustainable situation, where the essential cultural memory we use to survive is so shallow as to be only one generation old.

    • nevermind

      So doing some real gardening and bringing some food on the table, whilst teaching the grandchildren, who, in the majority of cases, are not asked to grow peas or vegetables on school grounds, who do not get basic algebraic lessons using exactly these peas they are watching develop in our school gardens, all this is not as important as being able to sync their i phone with a computer? Bruce?
      I think you are overemphasising modernity and fail to account for the impact this development accrues.

    • Tom Welsh

      “Old people don’t know how to live in the new way, and of course that new way is being re-invented with every generation”.

      Certainly a fine-sounding generalisation. Can you give any convincing real examples?

      Here is a simple counter-example to be going on with. Until about the 1950s and 1960s most sensible people did not live beyond their means, as they knew that would lead to debt and extremely painful consequences. Today, everyone is encouraged to get heavily into debt; and as a result many have become impoverished while the financial sector has more or less eaten the real economy which it originally served.

      • Giyane

        Today the energy company I called to dispute my bill told me I had a choice between chat with a bot or text aan advisor. When I eventually found a human to talk to it took less than five minutes to resolve the problem.
        How is this progress?
        Something in the way the human spoke got my trust immediately.

    • Robyn

      Bruce Berry, old people’s wisdom may (or may not) be obsolete, but a lot of their attributes are not. To take a few examples: babysitting, loans and/or gifts of money to children and grandchildren, transport of grandchildren, paying grandchildren’s school expenses, helping younger generations with home renovations, gardening (or teaching the next generations how to plant and grow things), baking for family get-togethers, community work of all kinds – and lots more. To me, in all this they are passing on wisdom of a certain and important kind. There was some research years ago which put a monetary value on the contributions of senior citizens and the findings showed that their input to society is considerable.

  • John Exeter

    Average human longevity has increased everywhere not primarily through medicine but through toilets, public sewers and better housing. Basically what you do with the sh*t and how to get clean water. The declines in typhoid and cholera are classic examples.

    And I share Craig’s expectation that this latest virus will likely be a 1% phenomenon. But the risk of it being a big one is of course not zero.

    I disagree however about the dangers of gerontocracy. The “anywheres” rail against if as it does not support their individualistic and identitarian focus, but theirs is not the only moral viewpoint, and once you start thinking that the opinions of the old should be ignored you are well on a slippery slope to fascism. You either believe in democracy or you don’t.

    BTW, Craig and others should IMO concentrate on persuading the over-60s, not rueing their voting strength. Research on how to get this demographic to support Independece is more likely to bear fruit than 10 demonstrations by thousands of young idealists who will the probably not even to vote.

    You can only change society by taking the old with you. Greta et al will continue to appeal to the media, but will probably change nothing.

    • Tom Welsh

      “BTW, Craig and others should IMO concentrate on persuading the over-60s, not rueing their voting strength”.

      Although of course Mr Murray himself is one of the “over-60s”. (As am I).

      So presumably it’s not the over-60s as such, but only those over-60s who have the wrong ideas and beliefs who give cause for concern among the right-thinking.

      It’s odd (or even funny) to think that so little has changed in Scotland since the days of John Knox – or even since 1824 when James Hogg wrote “The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner”.

      Some are Elect and Saved, while others are predestinately Damned. Many and bloody wars were fought in a vain attempt to determine which were which.

      • Eric McCoo

        “over-60s”.

        As am I, as is rabid ageist Paul Mason. The Sun Professor Brian Cox from the telly isn’t 15 as you might have thought. He’s over 50 but he hates ‘old people’.

        This ageism is a symptom of frustrated hubris that wants to angrily sweep away all inferior beings that stand in its way Corporate liberalism is the ultimate goal of evolution and must prevail as quickly as possible.

  • Susan Boutwood

    Dear Craig,
    How exciting to read your ‘audacious discussion’ about the inter-relationship between pandemics and social progress. For the last 20, of my 69 years, I have struggled to understand what factor(s) drove the brief periods of social progress and why that progress was not sustained. But to no avail, Craig. This is why I am so intrigued by your ‘theory’! You’ve stretched my mind on this one, and I take my hat off to you for coming up with an explanation from such an obscure relationship like social progress and pandemics (like the great minds who discovered the unlikely relationship between gastric ulcers and H. pylori).

    The explanation given for social progress under Capitalism (from my Economics courses) was that ‘SELF-interest’ (e.g. as individual wealth increases, the dislike of seeing people dying on the streets) leads to ‘SOCIAL interest’. The theory seemed plausible in the 70’s, but the indifference to the growing obscenities of extreme poverty and homelessness around the world, has since shown this theory to be totally false (like most of the capitalist economic propaganda).

    None of my peers are outraged about the obscenities resulting from growing inequality, so maybe there is something to your theory about stultified, fossilized minds (accentuated by a lack of recent pandemics). Pandemics certainly focus the mind.

    I’m fine about the next pandemic – if that is what it takes to prevent the return of feudalism…

    Susan

    P.S. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to make donations directly into your bank account, Craig. I don’t feel guilty anymore:)

  • Sam

    Pandemics have led to a LOT of social change, as I’m sure you remember from reading Thucydides. As for cholera in particular, it played a very key role in the American revolution (1770s) as well.

      • pete

        Re smallpox and the American Revolution

        Er, smallpox certainly played a role in American colonisation. Ask any native American.

  • giyane

    Thank you Craig , you seem to have covered everything and it isn’t even breakfast time.
    It’s perfectly possible to choose your politics out of self-interest. I like socialism because it promises to help me get through the vicissitudes of life but I don’t like the tyranny of a closed shop trade union and I don’t like China’s policy of universal spying.

    On the other hand I hate the whole idea of company profit focus but I have had a company for over 10 years solely because Gordon Brown would not allow me as an individual to claim any expenses that I necessarily incurred in my work as an electrician, That blinkered mentality is still there in the dinosaur brain of the Labour Party. I enjoy everything about having my own business, the accounts, the variety, being able to help charitable institutions if I like and being able to stick 2 fingers up to narrow-minded idiots on construction sites as well. You don’t like my face. I don’t like yours. Bye bye. Job done in a second. Start somewhere else in the morning.

    I have an English degree of sorts but I have never used it for work. I have often applied for Teaching English work in China which would be the logical use for my qualifications. China is amazing.It loves technology and Britain hates it. I completely re-trained after university in Book Conservation, care work, Electrical installation and air conditioning. But China doesn’t give Z visas to over 60s. Every time I apply, I look at the city. One city had earthquakes, another had heavy metal mining.

    Wuhan has a vast river which to my eyes looked a bit unhealthy. So my first reaction to the current virus was that maybe the river is unable to cope with the water closet which created the great stink in the Thames in Victorian times. Asian toilets use only just enough water to get the poo moving, not 10 litres per flush for every pee.

    I love and admire China, but China doesn’t want me. I love and admire the Labour Party but it doesn’t want me. I love and admire my children but they don’t want me. I love and admire Islam, but if it wants to blow people up in churches who are worshipping God in the way they were taught as children, I really get the feeling it totally despises me. C’est la vie.

    • Marion

      Giyane: If I may state – these institutions – be they people or countries, don’t ‘want’ you because you talk/think sense! Anyone who thinks outside the box in these times are on a hiding to nothing. Carry on – you’re doing something right!

      • Giyane

        Marion
        Thank you for those words of encouragement.
        My son says ‘ Dad , at what age did you start doing what your dad wanted. To which the truthful answer is , not yet. Much better to see life as a relay race. Another generation fought against st unbelievable odds to give us a better life than theirs, and our job is to make our children’s lives better than ours, not by any means in a financial way. Our parents hid their struggles from us so we tend to judge by their obvious failures instead of their enormous hidden achievements.

  • Alex

    “but it is unlikely to be a virus that does it, as wiping out your host is not a clever survival policy for a virus”

    To my knowledge the worst viral pandemics happen when a virus makes the jump from (usually domesticated) animals to humans. So even in the unlikely event of 100 % mortality among humans, the virus would still be left with it’s orginal host species. Then again I don’t know much about biology, maybe someone else could provide more insight.

    • Alex

      “As the avowed purpose of this blog is to make people think, I thought readers and commenters may care to stretch their brains on this one.”

      P.S. Thank you for this post, Craig, in my case you have succeeded.

    • Tom Welsh

      A virus has no brain, and does not think or plan. It does not have such a thing as a survival policy.

      If a particular virus mutates, it may spread more rapidly to more hosts. Whether it kills the hosts or not is essentially a matter of chance.

      The main reason that most viruses that we are aware of do not kill all their hosts is that any viruses that did so have themselves ceased to spread. (Note that as viruses are not alive, they do not really “die” unless destroyed by harsh heat or chemical treatment).

      The foregoing facts in no way rule out the possibility that a virus might, at any time, mutate in such a way as to kill 100% of its hosts.

      • Magic Robot

        Tom Welsh
        January 27, 2020 at 09:19
        ” It (a virus) does not have such a thing as a survival policy.”
        Charles Darwin would disagree.

        • Tom Welsh

          On the contrary, Magic Robot, Darwin made it very clear indeed that all he was hypothesising was that organisms are more or less fit to multiply in a given environment, and that when environments change it is those organisms best fitted to the new environment that survive.

          Any suggestion of anything resembling mind, or purpose, or intentionality is absolutely not Darwinist. Such ideas were enthusiastically propagated by people like Lamarck, Teilhard de Chardin, Herbert Spencer and even George Bernard Shaw (who should have known better, and probably did but could never resist a popular story).

          Stuff (including climate change, volcanic eruptions, continental drift, mountain building and mutations) happens. Those that survive, survive.

          That’s basically it.

  • Theophilus

    The debate with George Galloway is fascinating but regrettably you did not discus two vital issues. First the question of membership of the European Union. As an Englishman I would take Scottish Nationalists more seriously if they said that they want to be truly independent and therefore not join the lamentable EU. The Faroes want as little to do with the EU as possible, why does Scotland have to grovel to the gangsters in Brussels? This relates to the second problem that was not discussed, which is the border. If Scotland is part of the EU then there must be a controlled border with England for the first time for hundreds of years. I have found no one who can tell me how many hundreds of years ago there was a hard border but it is clear that it would be totally unacceptable to the people living there who return Conservative MPs and, on the Scottish side, voted to stay in the Union. For the record Enoch Powell, in the 1970s, stated quite clearly that in his opinion the Scots could take back independence any time they wanted to. I believe a majority do not want to and that the SNP will do badly in the next devolved elections and that they know this, which is why they are trying to hurry things up.

    • Bramble

      If the NHS were really beloved, the election would not have been won by the Tories, who will kill it (as the leaked documents displayed by Jeremy Corbyn showed: just suggesting they were leaked by the Russians was enough to discredit them, however factual they were). We say that to feel good about ourselves, not truthful.

      • Mary

        The smears of anti semitism that were planted lost it for Corbyn and Labour.

        The NHS is loved but not really appreciated. Compare it to the US model of ‘healthcare’ where a high proportion of personal bankruptcies are due to inability to pay medical bills.

        ‘Two-thirds of people who file for bankruptcy cite medical issues as a key contributor to their financial downfall.

        While the high cost of health care has historically been a trigger for bankruptcy filings, the research shows that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has not improved things.

        What most people do not realize, according to one researcher, is that their health insurance may not be enough to protect them.’

        https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/11/this-is-the-real-reason-most-americans-file-for-bankruptcy.html

    • Tom Welsh

      “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men,
      Gang aft a-gley,
      And leave us nought but grief and pain,
      For promised joy”.

      The original plans for the NHS, in the first glad sunshine of the post-war era, envisaged a future rather different from that which actually ensued.

      The planners saw all the chronic disease and illness in Britain, and reasoned that a few decades of proper treatment would restore most of the population to normal good health. After that, the costs of running the NHS would steadily fall until they were easily accommodated.

      Unfortunately, what happened was much the opposite. More and more people apparently became sick, and thus needed treatment.

      One wonders why.

  • M.J.

    If you are interested in Epidemiology, you might like a book I saw in a college library once, Kenneth Rothman’s “Epidemiology: an introduction”. I believe I’ve also seen “Epidemiology” in the Very Short Introductions by Oxford University Press, a marvellous series IMHO.
    You might also enjoy Judea Pearl’s Penguin paperback “The Book of Why” (if you haven’t already got it) -though it should be said that Dominic Cummings is a fan of Pearl, and Pearl’s book is apparently recommended reading for the “weirdos” he’s reportedly seeking to employ. (Surely Cummings is not suggesting that normal people wouldn’t want to work for someone like him? 🙂 ).

  • Alex Birnie

    I choked on my coffee as my 69-year-old brain absorbed the fact that my mind was part of the crust on the hive mind……

    You certainly keep me thinking new thoughts, Craig….. and here was me thinking I was more yeast-like than crust-like….. 😂😂

  • Mary

    Public Health. It’s obviously a growth area in the jobs market. There are 46 vacancies in this field alone advertised on Surrey County Council’s website. No wonder there is a double whammy on county and local council taxes, up 4% in the county rate alone.

    Not forgetting the ‘Health and Wellbeing’ cohort.
    https://www.healthysurrey.org.uk/about/board-members

  • Tom Welsh

    “When Thomas Malthus published that the poor could eat their children…”

    I was not aware that Malthus had ever said such a thing. Is Mr Murray, I wonder, thinking of Jonathan Swift’s satirical “Modest Proposal” of 1729? (“A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Public” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Modest_Proposal).

    Swift, of course, was using the shock value of such a disgusting idea to attack callous English attitudes to the starving Irish.

      • Tom Welsh

        Thanks.

        As far as I can ascertain, Malthus was mainly just pointing out that a simple mathematical model could be applied to human population growth, the means of sustenance, and the distribution of those means among the population. He noted, among other things, that exponential growth (to which population tends) will always outpace linear growth.

        Malthus’ model was far simpler and much more realistic than the models used by climate change enthusiasts to argue their claims. Yet apparently his model was wrong (and wicked), while their are unquestionably correct (and virtuous).

        • George McI

          “Malthus’ model was far simpler and much more realistic than the models used by climate change enthusiasts to argue their claims.”

          I keep reading this kind of thing but is it true? Has Malthus’s geometric against arithmetic growth model ever been demonstrated? This link disputes that:

          https://climateandcapitalism.com/2011/07/04/sarkars-confused-defense-of-malthuss-capitalist-ideology/

          Excerpt:

          “But what is the relationship of this claim to the facts? Malthus’s theses of geometric growth in population and arithmetic growth in food supply are so mistaken that they were already clearly false in his own lifetime. In over 200 years since that time, global food supply has more or less kept up with global human population growth, without a catastrophic population crash. This is not to say that we should be complacent about the future, but Malthus is simply wrong.”

  • Deb O'Nair

    The Western media represents the interests of the wealthy (individuals and corporations). The hype behind coroanvirus, and other viruses, is for the benefit of big pharma who have seen large share price rise – the greater the panic the higher the prices go. Remember when Blair spent millions buying vaccines for a virus that had only ever been made in a lab? There is also the geopolitical angle; criticising China. The other day multiple news outlets were going on about “will the Chinese people remain compliant?” and talking about potential civil unrest.

  • Alyson

    The Wuhan livestock market sold bush meat of all kinds, including live, and dead, koalas, snakes, and every other kind of animal, for consumption. If diseases pass from livestock to humans, then this unregulated food market, selling live bushmeat from around the world has potential to cross contaminate in various ways. As for Ebola, it has a seventy percent mortality rate, and a two week incubation period. This is how it spreads so far, so fast. There is some evidence that the Black Death was Ebola, arriving via a merchant from Venice selling fine clothing which he had purchased at a market there. His next door neighbour’s were the first to die, but people could travel a long way before they showed any symptoms. This new virus apparently show symptoms 24 hours after exposure. The best description of Ebola can be found in MM Kaye’s book Trade Winds, which is set in Zanzibar in the 1860s. She says the continent of equatorial Africa was left empty as people fled before it or dropped and died where they fell. The colonials set up disinfecting regimes to minimise exposure. Seeing a sufferer on television once, the evidence was clear that it was the Black Cholera or Ebony Cholera of that previous event. Preventing exposure to modern pathogens ought to require us to clean door handles on a regular basis. Simple preventive measures could suffice. Public Health education is a wonderful thing.

    • Tony

      Heavy rains in England led to crop failure and this meant that people had little defence against the Black Death according to a Ch4 documentary from about 5 years ago.

  • Richard Colvin

    The article doesn’t mention the fact that more and more people are working today compared to 30-40-50 years ago. First, the number of women in the workforce is far higher today than 50 years ago. But in every age cohort the % of those working has dramitically increased, including those aged 65-69, who never used to work. So, basically our working lives are getting longer and longer as out life expectancy increases. Therefore I’m not convinced (yet) that our population demographics are a serious problem. Maybe the problem is that there were just too many baby-boomers and they’re now retiring; as they die off the elderly population will decline. So if it’s a problem then it’s a temporary one.

    • Tom Welsh

      “So if it’s a problem then it’s a temporary one”.

      All problems are temporary. The more interesting question is how long a given problem lasts compared to the people who are experiencing it.

  • michael norton

    Perhaps the greatest social changes happened in Europe following the Black Death of 1367-8
    Between on third and a half of all people alive in Europe during 18 months died.
    Probably the same in Asia.
    Afterwards, workers moved to other places feeling their work would be better remunerated/appreciated.
    Also in the aftermarth came Renaissance and the age of Exploration.

  • Tarla

    Two parts to this article, flu and independence.

    On the flu in China – the language used by the MSM and the political establishment is hyped up anti Chinese government. To put it bluntly it’s an attempt to ‘show’ how the government ‘isn’t coping’, is ‘struggling to…’, there is ‘chaos’, etc. that displays their very own anti communism anti Chinese attitudes. The Chinese government’s response has been very much on the front foot and doing everything possible to contain and deal with this outbreak. Including to attempting build an enormous 1 000 bed hospital in 10 days. An incredible feat if they can pull it off. I’ve no doubt the people of the UK will have observed that statement. and the actual pictures of the site, with jaw dropping envy.

    “In total, 17,230 beds have been cut from the 144,455 that existed in April-June 2010, the period when the coalition Conservative/Liberal Democrat government took office and imposed a nine-year funding squeeze on the NHS, even though critics cautioned against it because of growing pressures on the service.

    The 127,225 figure is the smallest number of beds available in acute hospitals, maternity centres and units specialising in the care of patients with mental health problems and learning disabilities since records began in 1987/88”.

    The reason the Chinese communist government can go into action so quickly is due to the planned economy, free from the constraints of an austerity driven capitalism. The flu in China will be sorted and it’s the western anti communists that will be left looking daft and reactionary.

    The second bit of the article is independence. But this is related to the first bit. Without getting rid of capitalism Scotland like any capitalist cpuntry will suffer from the anarchic nature of capitalism. As the Chinese show they are able to deal with a crisis far easily and stustained that capitalist countries. A similar thing happens with the Cubans as well, when there is a crisis. Look at the response of the Cuban communist government during the hurricane season, it’s remarkable response is the complete opposite to US dominated Haiti and other countries in the region.As the great Scottish communist agitator John Maclean, and James Connolly, put it –

    All Hail, the Scottish Workers Republic!
    by John Maclean
    First Published: First issued as All Hail, the Scottish Communist Republic in Aug 1920, and subsequently reissued along with Nov 1922 election address.
    Transcription\HTML Markup: Scottish Republican Socialist Movement Archive in 2002 and David Walters in 2003
    Copyleft: John MacLean Internet Archive (www.marx.org)1999, 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

    For some time past the feeling has been growing that Scotland should strike out for national independence, as well as Ireland and other lands. This has recently been strengthened by the English Government’s intention to rely mainly on Scottish troops to murder the Irish race.
    Genuine Scotsmen recently asked themselves the question: “Are we Scots to be used as the bloody tools of the English against our brother Celts of Erin?” And naturally the instinctive response was – No!

    Again the land seizures by Highland crofters are arousing the blood of Highlandmen driven south to the Clyde Valley for work. Especially the filthy tactics of Lord Leverhume (an English capatalist), whohas dismissed Stornoway wage slaves as a means of beating the Lewis raiders who seized the farms of Coll and Gress. Divide and conquer again!

    Scottish students of history now realise that Edinburgh lawyers and politicians sold Scottish independence in 1707, although most blame has fallen on the Earl of Stair. many of us are convinced that ever since 1707 the Edinburgh kings’ and queens’ consels and politicians have been in the regular pay of London to keep Scotland as the base tool of the English government. These scoundrels in the eighteenth century helped to ruin Burns, the peasnats’ and people’s poet.

    The “rebellion” of 1715 and 1745 were natural reactions against the treachorous deed of 1707, but these unfortunate outbursts but gave the English the excuse and chance to subdue the Highland chiefs and then corrupt them with an English education at Oxford and Cambridge.

    Since 1790 the chiefs became Englishmen in outlook, and used their clansmen to defend English capatalism against the revolution started in Paris in 1789. Since the Napoleonic wars the Highland regiments have been used to defend the stolen lands of England all over the globe, and have largely helped to extend the English empire.

    Whilst doing this, the Dukes of Sutherland and Argyll and other chiefs proceeded with the english landlord policy of land clearances. The friends of the fighters were chased of their native heath into the lowlands or out to Canada and Australia.

    Now the reaction is beginning – inspired by Ireland and Russia. Scotland must again have independednce, but not to be ruled over by traitor cheifs and politicians. The communism of the clans must be re-established on a modern basis. (Bolshevism, to put it roughly, is but the modern expression of the communism of the mir.) Scotland must therfore work itself into a communism embracing the whole country as a unit. The country must have but one clan, as it were – a united people working in co-operation and co-operatively, using the wealth that is created.

    We can safely say, then: back to communism and forward to communism.

    The control must be in the hands of the workers only, male and female alike, each workshop and industry sending delegates to district councils and the National Council. The National Council must be based in or near Glasgow, as half the population lives within a radius of twenty miles from Glasgow.

    In the period of transition a wage-earners dictatorship must guide production, and the adoption of the machinery and methods of production, to communist methods.

    Many Irishmen live in Scotland, and, as they are Celts like the Scots, and are out for Irish independence, and as wage-earners have been champion fighters for working class rights, we expect them to ally themselves with us, and help us to attain our Scottish Communist Republic, as long as they live in Scotland. Irishmen must remember that communism prevailed amongst the Irish clans as amongst the Scottish clans, so that, in lining up with Scotsmen they are but carrying forward the traditions and instincts of the Celtic race.

    All hail the Scottish Workers’ Republic!

    This analysis in the 1920s is as relevant today as it was then, if not more so, as English chauvinism and reactionary nationalism is on the rise again.

    In the interview Craig stated that ‘every Scot that have been elected at a national level’ MEPs, MPs and MSPs, should play a part in a national assembly. Firstly, why is it only confined to those that have been ‘elected’ under the ‘democracy’ allowed by UK convention. You can’t complain that Westminster government is stopping an independence vote as that is their right, to then say we’ll only have those Scots who have been elected under the very system you are complaining about. ‘Every Scot elected’ includes trade unions, co-operative societies, community centres etc in fact anywhere and everywhere the people participate in ‘democracy’. It’s idiotic and anti democratic to solely confine the national assembly to those elected under Westminster tutelage. We need a democracy that draws in even wider the Scottish people street committees, factory/office committees, social club committees, area committees, city wide committees in other words democratic centralism. Bottom up to encourage the widest participation and elect those with the strongest leadership credentials, argued for and debated and voted for in an open way amongst the people.

    Secondly, without the widest participation the vote for independence will be lost. Large sections of the working class in Scotland have shifted leftwards and pushed the SNP further and further leftwards than some want to go. Without taking the issues into working class communities further, Scotland will not get independence. It may be argued why swap one capitalist country, the UK for another capaitalist country Scotland. In a way, that is what the Tories/Unionists/Labourites etc want the debate to focus on ‘how well’ the SNP runs capitalism in Scotland, health, education, bin collection, etc. The Scottish working class have a very proud and long history of struggle against capitalism, during the illegal war against Iraq Scottish train drivers refused to move military equipment, and will gather around the banner of Scottish Independence but it will be curtailed and attempted to deflect by the ‘issues’ like health, education, bin collection. The debates are in the open and attempting to contain them within a National Assemble without widespread involvement from the off will be a disservice to the people of Scotland.

    • giyane

      Tarla

      Since the election I no longer listen to the completely partisan commentary on Radio 4 news.
      The toxicity of the BBC commentary is no doubt coming from what N_ calls the Duke of Cummings.
      Count Dracula Cummings. Best stay away.

  • Geoffrey

    A very interesting article Craig. Though I understood the death rate had increased as a result of a/ The opiode use epidemic mainly in the US and in the UK the increasing use of alcohol by relatively well off middle class old people.
    Another point is the national obsession with the NHS may well be driven by older people who are it’s heaviest users. If we spent less on the NHS we might reduce the number of old and annoying people.

      • Geoffrey

        I don’t think many would start smoking on the basis that they could keep their intake to a couple of fags a day, which I suspect may also be good for you.
        Wine may be different as it is mainly drunk by well educated, affluent middle class people, and anyway if you only drank a couple of glasses a day and enjoyed them why on earth would you stop?

        • Tom Welsh

          By “moderate” I mean between a quarter bottle and perhaps a whole bottle of wine per day. For couples, it’s convenient to split a bottle – the man should ideally get about two-thirds and the woman one-third due to her lower mass and alcohol tolerance. The benefits and harm of alcohol vary with the disease in question. The sweet spot might be half a bottle for cancer, more for other conditions and less for some. Overall, half a bottle a day does a measurable amount more good than harm o n average.

          Any dry wine is good. Sweet wines should be avoided, not because of the alcohol, but because of the sugar. Dry spirits are also fine in moderation.

          Beer and anything else made with grain of any kind should be avoided.

          • Geoffrey

            There are I know many who can drink the amounts you mention with no apparent ill consequences. But I have seen the misery, destruction and death of many who are unable to to drink moderately.
            However, I would not discourage anyone from drinking, we all make our own choices.

        • Tom Welsh

          “Wine may be different as it is mainly drunk by well educated, affluent middle class people…”

          Be careful not to appear provincial! Have you ever been to France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Germany…?

  • Rhys Jaggar

    When discussing 3% ‘mortality’:

    1. That is currently 3% of REPORTED CASES i.e. those people who actually felt unwell enough to see a medical professional.
    2. It does not include the no doubt tens of thousands who will have been exposed to the virus without displaying significant symptoms. It is entirely consistent with known general viral epidemiology to postulate that 100,000 people have been exposed so far to the virus which reduces the ‘mortality’ rate to 0.5 in 1000, which is around 0.02%.
    3. Then you have the other 9.2 billion people who have not been exposed, may never be exposed to it, so the current ‘mortality rate’ is, for roundness of figures and assuming a few more die this week, after 1 in 100 million. I do not think the human race is in imminent extinction mode based on those statistics.

    Having worked professionally on various disease-causing viruses, I can inform all readers that there are large, large numbers of viruses which may infect enormous numbers of folks without causing any disease. They just reside latently, waiting a time to reproduce, much like yeast sporulate if conditions for normal living get awful. A virus trucks along just fine inside a human cell and only if it integrates its DNA into the wrong part of the human genome can problems occur. This occurs occasionally when HPVs contribute toward cancers of the cervix and other organs.

    EBV rarely causes cancer, occasionally causes other less serious diseases and usually causes nothing.

    HPVs can cause warts, occasionally cancer, usually nothing.

    As Mr Murray says, those with compromised immune systems are far more likely to progress to cancer in these virus-associated diseases. Why? Compromised immune systems are not munching up dodgy cells before they establish a critical mass and a means to evade the sentries of our body.

    Various Herpesviruses are similar, ditto adenoviruses, ditto Zika Viruses etc etc.

    More controversially, several vaccines are like this too. It is impossible to discuss very rare adverse outcomes rationally where vaccines are concerned, despite it being absolutely established in the regulatory world of global pharma that rare adverse reactions to licensed chemical drugs, termed IDIOSYNCRATIC DRUG REACTIONS, have been discovered and often led to withdrawal of various genuinely successful drugs from sale. I worked on the business plan of a US start-up nearly 20 years ago addressing this precise matter.

    I now assume that every media scare like this is coordinated, but remain open to the possibility that one of them actually might be for real.

    • Alyson

      Just for reference: Swine flu deaths examined – NHS
      11 Dec 2009 · From these figures, the estimated mortality rate was 26 deaths (range 11 to 66) per 100,000 people who had swine flu, or 0.026% of those affected. There was no difference between males and females. The lowest death rate was in children aged five to 14, at 11 deaths per 100,000 cases.
      Young adults and pregnant women were most at risk, and hospitalised

      • Republicofscotland

        According to media reports SARS spread to 26 countries in 2003/4 the WHO reported 8000 people infected with a further 750 people dying from the virus.

        The Coronavirus is well known and has been around since the 1960’s. Though scientist believe the virus could be at least 10,000 years old, surviving in the “human” family all that time.

        MERS is less easily passed to human by human, but is much more dangerous than SARS. According to the WHO the Ebola virus is on the rise again in the DRC.

    • Tom Welsh

      “As Mr Murray says, those with compromised immune systems are far more likely to progress to cancer in these virus-associated diseases”.

      Indeed; one of the worst fallacies in public discourse is the search for single causes. Most important events have several causes, although it is much easier to ignore all but the one that is currently in the news.

      Can we think of anything that might cause people nowadays to have compromised immune systems? Offhand,

      – Bad diet and drink.
      – Insufficient and broken sleep.
      – Chronic mental, physical and emotional stress.
      – Pollution from thousands of sources, coming in the air we breathe, the liquids we drink, the food we eat, and things we merely touch.
      – Actual poisons such as fluoride and chlorine. Given that “the dose makes the poison”, isn’t it likely that some among 9 billion people are getting poisonous dose?
      – Lack of physical exercise.
      – Deprivation of purpose and the satisfaction of friendship and achievement.

      • Jen

        In the case of the Wuhan coronavirus fatalities, so far the oldest victims were aged 89 years and the youngest victim was aged 48 – 50 years.

        In addition most of the victims had underlying health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease: conditions usually associated with older people.

        It’s likely that some if not most of the men who died also had lung damage from long-term heavy smoking.

        Air pollution might be a significant factor in the deaths of these people as well. Cities of the size of Wuhan, not to speak of the way the residential population is concentrated in a restricted space or spread out, depending on the physical geography or government regulations on how land is allocated and used, may have their own microclimates that among other things could generate high levels of air pollution. Winter is often a period when cities suffer from temperature inversions when cold air is trapped under warm air and air pollution does not disperse as it should.

        Most victims were also workers at a seafood market so they would be working in physically arduous jobs in outdoor conditions exposed perhaps to extremes of temperature during a long working day which might start well before sunrise.

  • Jones

    quality of life has not increased at the same rate as longevity, now people are forced to work for longer for many a few extra years just means more years of struggling financially and physically, of course the wealthy may enjoy their extra years as they able to ”choose” how they spend their time, but for many the luxury of choice in how one spends their elderly years has been removed by the government.

  • Republicofscotland

    Last I looked eleven countries had confirmed cases of the Coronavirus. A news report the other day claimed that one young doctor in China had died from contracting the Coronavirus through her eyes, and that it was now safer to wear googles and a mask when treating known infected patients.

    On contagions, years ago I read that over hundreds of years and the eruptions of volcanoes, that crops failed in tandem with the eruptions, sometimes for several years in a row causing famine, and the rise of diseases. I vaguley recall one of the volcanic eruptions could’ve brought about a French revolution.

    Such is the power and ferocity of those eruptions that there was a year without a summer. That saw crops fail and widespread famine across Europe. Russia saw widespread famine from a volcanic eruption in South America.

    As for human extinction, we are already in the middle of the Sixth great extinction, the most notable ones are the Permian, due to the Siberian Traps and the Cretaceous extinction, due to an asteroid, evidence of its power can be found in the KT boundry around the globe.

    Our extinction, which will occur in the Anthropocene/Holocene, will be due to heating up the planet quicker than it needs to, animals will become extinct due to loss of habitat and persecution, as the human race explodes across the Earth.

    Human were once part of nature, now they’re a force of nature.

    • Tom Welsh

      “Human were once part of nature, now they’re a force of nature”.

      May I disagree? I think that humans are still a part of nature – just like locusts.

      Seen lately on Slashdot:

      Planet 1: You look terrible, what’s wrong?
      Planet 2: I have homo sapiens.
      Planet 1: Oh don’t worry. It will pass.

      • Republicofscotland

        “May I disagree? I think that humans are still a part of nature – just like locusts.”

        Locusts never began changing the climate or caused extinctions of other species, we are and will continue to do so.

        • Tom Welsh

          Locusts do periodically overrun quite large areas and eat everything edible. Their activities are on too small a scale to change the climate much – although it gets nice and shady under a large cloud of them – and they certainly deprive other species of their food.

          Because humans are much more capable than locusts they have been able to swarm in even greater numbers. Single swarms of over 1 billion locusts have been recorded, whereas the total human population is less than one order of magnitude greater.

          When humans have reached the critical number – corresponding to the critical number for a locust swarm – their population will collapse.

  • Mist001

    I’ve just watched your video and note that you’re wrong on Boris Johnsons position. He has never refused a second Scottish Independence referendum as far as I’m aware. He has however, refused the request made by Nicola Sturgeon for a section 30 order.

    A section 30 order and a second referendum are two quite different things.

    The person who is standing in the way of a second referendum is Nicola Sturgeon herself, who is on public record as quite clearly stating that she will not hold a second independence referendum without first obtaining a section 30 order. This is the so called ‘Gold Standard’.

    She HAS to change her position on a section 30 order otherwise there will never be a second referendum. Westminster will never agree to a section 30 order and I suspect Nicola Sturgeon knows this very well and that’s why she can quite confidently talk about a second independence referendum and keep independence supporters onside which keeps both herself in power and keeps the membership fees coming in and yet, doesn’t have to commit to a second referendum because she can lay the blame at the feet of Boris Johnson.

    I believe it to be disingenuous deceitful behaviour from La Sturgeon but more fool the independence supporters for not seeing this.

    • N_

      “Constitutional” matters are reserved. Boris Johnson doesn’t have to “refuse” Nicola Sturgeon or anybody else the right to break the law.

      First, Sturgeon is probably looking most towards winning next year’s Scottish general election. She hopes she will regain the majority she lost at Holyrood in 2016, two years after the SNP lost the indyref. SNP voteshare would have been lower still in 2016, had the party’s supporters not been so fired up – as indicated by the turnout figure of 56%, low (as usual) by the standards of Westminster elections in Scotland but significantly higher than the 50% Holyrood turnout in 2011. “England won’t let Scotland do stuff” keeps her moronic supporters fired up, and Sturgeon’s hope is that if the message is shouted loud enough it will also win votes in the middle, even if it probably won’t.

      Second, she wants to keep her minority government in office until next year’s election happens, which means distracting from all the scams and thieving and incompetence, especially as the NHS in Scotland is left to go to hell. (Said government has a far bigger budget than the SNP from its membership fees.)

      Third, she wants to keep her OWN a*se in office until next year’s election. Whether she will still be First Minister in six months’ time, though, depends on what happens at Alex Salmond’s trial for attempted rape and other serious sexual offences. I doubt she’ll last long after the verdict comes out, even if she digs her fingers into the doorframe and says there’s a conspiracy against her. The woman’s aura says she’s got it coming to her.

      • N_

        The way she plays as if she’s some kind of tartan version of “Marianne” or Eva Peron or La Pasionaria is so repulsive…even to many SNP voters.

        • Mist001

          The point that I was making is that Johnson has never refused a second referendum and it’s wrong to say that he has. Sturgeon is the one who is preventing a second referendum due to her ‘gold standard’ section 30 order, which she knows damned well that she’ll never get.

        • Cubby

          N and Mist001 a couple of Britnats trying to outdo each other with their SNP baaad. Mist001 says SNP very baad N ups that with SNP very very baaaad.

          N still waiting for you to explain how the Barnett formula relates to fishing in Scottish waters.

          • Mist001

            I hope this Cubby character has no input in the running of an independent Scotland. Anybody who sees through and is critical of Sturgeon and the SNP is automatically a ‘britnat’ or even better, a ‘yoon’.

            They really shouldn’t allow adult with the faculties of a primary school kid participate in adult discussions.

            Maybe Sturgeon and the SNP should take that up as a cause instead of their current obsession with gender policies.

          • cubby

            Mist001

            Maybe you should change your picture. You look like an extra from the The Walking Dead.

    • cubby

      Independence supporters can see what you are mist001 and it ain’t an independence supporter.

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