Hollywood tradition dictates that in Act One of the outbreak narrative, we begin deep in the bowels of the CDC, cell cultures sloshing around a petri dish, a gaggle of white coats huddled around a microscope. Cut to the limb-flailing, flesh-eating symptoms, entire families frothing at the mouth — once unleashed, the pathogen will sweep the globe and consume us all before you can finish your Hail Marys: I’ve always loved you, Nancy!
But according to Daniel Brooks, who’s been studying the rise of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) for 40 years, the Hollywood model needs to be recalibrated in light of climate change.
“It’s not that there’s going to be one ‘Andromeda Strain’ that will wipe out everybody on the planet,” says Brooks, professor emeritus at Toronto University and a senior research fellow at the University of Nebraska’s H.W. Manter Parasitology Lab. “There are going to be a lot of localized outbreaks that put a lot of pressure on our medical and veterinary health systems. There won’t be enough money to keep up with all of it. It will be the death of a thousand cuts.”
Brook... Read more