One World Never
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By etrigan - Last updated: Thursday, August 7, 2003 - Save & Share - One Comment

Here’s a “Salon”:http://www.salon.com article about a “mysterious illness among the troops”:http://www.salon.com/news/wire/2003/08/06/army/index.html in Iraq and Afghanistan. Somewhere between the gray matter that housed this reading material and my current bedside reading, “Ringworld”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345333926/rollecomthewebsi by Larry Niven, a thought occurred to me that maybe achieving “one world” is not such a good idea.


In the opening pages of Ringworld, the lead character laments the fact that instant transportation devices have homogenized the world. By making the distance between any two electrified points in the world effectively zero, cultures and races became blended to the point of sameness.

After the “first” Gulf War, soldiers returned with a “sickness”:http://www.cato.org/dailys/11-26-97.html that still seems elusive in a specific scientific sense. With the disclaimer ??officials have pretty much ruled out exposure to anthrax, smallpox or any other biological or chemical weapon??, one has to wonder if Gulf War Syndrome might, also, not be directly attributable to chemical or biological weapon exposure. I have to wonder if the U.S. is witnessing an inverse of their own long over-due “medicine”:http://www.historylink.org/output.cfm?file_ID=2856 — so to speak.

I’m no scientist, I admit that…but I read a lot and I’m a smart guy (and let’s be honest: scientist don’t always know “what they’re doing”:http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000B29CD-0C94-1C6F-84A9809EC588EF21 anyway.) So, here’s my unscientific theory: The separation of men onto different continents is a biological necessity. The invaders that founded our country were lucky enough to be on the non-dying side of their biological clash. Now, we are repeatedly finding ourselves on the short end of the bacterial-/viral-stick and maybe we physically shouldn’t be there.

After spending time with my leftist biology scientist friend, Jill, where we discussed genetic diversity (and specifically the extinction of “big cats”:http://www.defenders.org/adopt/bigcats/ around the world) I am starting to think that Larry Niven’s vision of an even (virtually) smaller planet may either (a) not be achievable or (b) result in the destruction of human genetic diversity — and not in the way he describes, but in a “28 Days Later”:http://www.28dayslaterthemovie.com/ we are all gonna die way. What if the diseases that are afflicting us in the Middle East were brought back to the States? Could they spread even faster when presented to a biological culture that is obviously not prepared to defend itself? Scary thoughts on my part.

oh, and here’s an only tenuously related big cat quote:

bq. ??America’s big cats are only a heartbeat away from extinction, with only about 100 ocelots, up to 1,000 lynx, about 90 Florida panthers, and less than 500 American jaguars left in the wild today.??

Maybe my biological scientist type buddies will read this and comment. Marc? Jill? Roy?

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One Response to “One World Never”

Comment from KellyMc
Time August 7, 2003 at 6:03 pm

I think the possibility of such a thing is an argument for more trans-global contact rather than less. Keeping people apart only allows more time for such microbes to evolve. Better to have SARS (or even AIDS) today than in 50 years when it’s much more contagious and complex.

And I would guess that modern air travel has pretty much negated the possibility that there’s a whole continent full of people carrying around a bug that could wreak smallpox-in-the-new-world style havoc. Isolated communities in Africa may be another matter.

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