Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Not Why, But Why Not Coronavirus?

I’m no longer a young man and so I often see things from more of a historic than immediate perspective. When I was a lad, there were touch more than a billion people on the planet.

Now, we’re nudging 8 billion and, unsurprisingly, things are different. But apparently only from my perspective. While the planet slowly incinerates its land portions and loses 200 species a day, our human species persists.

Which is chiefly because we control and abuse so much of what we inhabit. There’s no one there to stop us.

In the ancient times of my youth, there was no Roundup, genetically modified food or single-season seeds. In those days Monsanto (inventor of all three) was simply a sleepy little old chemical company.

The list of ‘not-quite-yets’ included Eisenhower’s interstate highway system, trawler-fishing, industrial agriculture, the Marshall Plan to reconstruct Europe and Japan, plastics, antibiotics, jet aircraft, the cruise ship industry, internet, personal computers and underarm deodorant. People still were crippled by polio.

The other non-human aspects of the planet have a number of checks and balances. Wolves eat deer. Hawks eat what Monsanto has left of mice. But mankind doesn’t have wolves or hawks or plagues any more to keep him in check. Humanity, like Ol Man River, just keeps rollin’ along.

But the laws of nature have not yet been revoked, no matter that Monsanto, Amazon and Facebook continue to exist.

We humans have been shown an environmental disruption (that we used to call global warming) and were slow to respond. Californian and Australian wildfires just pissed us off. Miami and Venice got their feet wet and it was first a novelty and then an inconvenience. Floods and drought wrecked a lot of farming, but it mostly showed up as price increases. What the hell, you could still get asparagus in January.

Mother Earth (for those who still lovingly call her that) rolled over, thought a bit and figured we weren’t listening and this whole weather thing was taking too long. By the time humans got trimmed back, she would have lost all the useful animals like lions and tigers and bears.

So she rebooted her computer, did a software update and sent us  a plague. That had worked before and a modified version killed 50 million in the 1918 flu epidemic, so why not?

Black Death? Good marketing, but the name’s been used. AIDS? That killed nearly 40 million, but took 40 years to do it and never outran population growth. Too slow and, besides, its sexual overtones are divisive. Bubonic Plague? Hmmm, maybe on to something, that mowed back 40% of the population in areas of the Near East and 5,000 a day were dying in Istanbul.

All too old-timey, these names and we need something more modern—a virus that can hop on jet planes, leap tall buildings and not only pare back the human population, but travel aboard its most desirable forms of travel. Now for a name. Something memorable.

Corona. One or more circles of light seen around a luminous object.

Perfect. Has that aspect of the glow surrounding the sun, St. Elmo’s Fire as well. If I can get these humans chopped back to a billion or two, they may have a chance and certainly everything they are destroying will have a chance as well.

Sign me up. The corona-virus. Has the perfect ring to it (no pun intended).


  1. There are those that would say that it is man-kind that is the most virulent plague on the Earth.

  2. 103 empires and twelve civilizations have come and gone between the British empire and Sumer empire of 2400BC. The rules, laws and values of each era are the more visible aspects of social orders. Much less visible, and far more lasting, is the sentient purpose that simply adapts to whatever evolutionary cycle is in process.

    Holy Wars between Christians and Muslims were from 1123AD to 1492AD. And after 1492AD the Holy Wars continued, but with Christians fighting Christians, until the 17th century.

    Amidst the Holy Wars, the Mongols conquered vast parts of Eurasia and with them came the Black Death plague. All the while the Abrahamic faiths became a dominant global belief; Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Bahá'í Faith, Rastafari.

    But centuries of war and plagues means centuries of unresolved trauma, so it was only natural that power and money was going to be poured into building a Military Industrial Complex - and medicine would strive to preserve life up to eight billion.