Living with Coronavirus
Sunday March 6th, 2022
The first digital war is upon us. It is Putin’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine. I expect Putin expected a cake walk. A lightning op wherein the president of Ukraine flees to a neighboring country along with heads of the Ukrainian government. An Op where the people surrender due to the overwhelming force used. That the Ukraine would just cave in the face of such forces.
What Putin got was a digital resistance. Ukrainian people sent wives and children away and took up arms. The Ukrainian military sought to do everything they could to slow the advance. They showed true grit from their president urging everyday Ukrainians to fight for Ukraine, to the troops who, when ordered to surrender by a destroyer, or face shelling, replied “Go fuck yourself”, and died for their commentary.
It’s a simple fact that Ukraine cannot prevent Russia from taking the nation. It is also a fact that a long running insurgency war, fought by determined Ukrainians against an occupying Russia, will drain both the coffers of Russia and military moral. Gaggles of Ukrainians playing Tiananmen square with tanks while protesting, streaming to social media was not in the game plan of Putin. A digital army of Gandhi’s was not in Putin’s war plans.
Non violent resistance only works if the masses actually see it and react against the violence. The world saw, and it worked, they world did react. All of Europe is now considering Joining NATO, as Ukraine was a neutral country and Putin invaded anyway. Multiple nations and corporations have sanctioned Russia for this war and the bite is being felt by Russians.
Ukraine wanted to join NATO, but NATO has strict rules on admittance. The most important aspect of NATO is that it is entirely defensive in nature. Member nations must declare never to launch a war of aggression, and if they do, they lose NATO membership.
NATO is a defense pact, if any nation is attacked who is a member, all members then consider themselves attacked and respond jointly.
Putin’s response to the digital exposure of his war was to close down the internet. Create a law declaring any speech, protest, or march against the war, even to call it a war, is now punishable by 15 years in prison. All non-state media has shut down and only RT remains.
The Russian people are not allowed to see what is happening, to see the plight of the Ukrainians. They share too much in common with Russians. They look like them, many speak Russian and vice versa, so viewers understand their pleas. This creates empathy for the Ukrainians in the Russian people, and Putin won’t allow that.
Media amplifies the empathy felt by the world for Ukraine and so Putin must control it to “control the message”. Case in point, many Russians believe Putin, like Americans believed Trump. Those Russians believe Putin is after Nazis in Ukraine like many Americans believed Trump was after the deep state boogeyman. Many Russians think their army are the good guys in a battle for the liberation of Ukraine, just as Jan 6th insurrectionists thought they were trying to save the country by tearing it apart.
Ukraine’s “stand fast” president Zelensky is Jewish. Some of his ancestors survived the Nazi death camps. Ukraine is not Nazi territory.
Over this hangs the cold war’s policy of M.A.D. or “Mutually Assured Destruction”. Putin publicly tests is ICBM’s and our Doomsday plane is running sorties. A new cold war with the ever-present threat of total nuclear annihilation has begun and is part and parcel of this new digital war.
“Dogs of war and men of hate
With no cause, we don’t discriminate
Discovery is to be disowned
Our currency is flesh and bone
Hell opened up and put on sale
Gather ’round and haggle
For hard cash, we will lie and deceive
Even our masters don’t know the webs we weave
One world, it’s a battleground
One world, and we will smash it down”-Pink Floyd
No average citizen wants a war because the common man always loses the most in a war; their homes, families, their lives all shattered even if they survive. This new Digital war is letting the average person see war in real time, in all its ugliness, unfiltered, unedited, and unscripted. No surprise that they do not like it.
Covid news, on the other hand, is good. Imagine that! Numbers are down all over; the Omicron wave has passed and the world wants to move on from Covid, just like they did with previous waves. Policies all over are dropping, reflecting the dropping numbers which are still high. It is our hope that will continue and that Covid will be gone.
That latter bit’s not true or accurate though.
WE, the wealthy, industrialized nations, might mask and vaccinate our way out of this wave, but history shows that once we do, we tend to ignore the problem in other places. Malaria is a deadly disease eradicated in wealthy nations but ever-present in poor ones. Malaria routinely has 200,000+ annual cases and kills 400,000 people a year.
That is an endemic disease, what covid will soon be declared here in the wealthy part of the world. Like Malaria and several other diseases, I expect Covid will remain a threat in the third world. It is also in many animal populations and a new, heavily mutated version was just found in deer in Ontario. It jumped from people, into deer, back into people.
I expect that type of thing to be the new normal, with people like me forced to mask and distance to remain uninfected. The new normal will be for the wealthy nations like America, to move on to an annual vaccine with occasional, even regional blooms and for people who have underlying conditions, who are immunocompromised, or who are elderly, to bear the brunt of viral protocols.
But the raw numbers have improved . . .
Global Infected 434,462,082 445,316,007
7-day average 1,550,560 infections diagnosed daily –Down
Global Dead 5,945,535 5,996,757
7-day average 8,882 deaths daily –Down
USA Infected 78,931,739 79,265,854
7-day average 47,730 infections diagnosed daily –Down
USA C-19 deaths 948,215 958,437
7-day average 1,460 deaths daily –Down
Maine Infected 226,120 230,720
7-day average 657 infections diagnosed daily –Down
Maine deaths 2,064 2,135
7-day average 10.1428 deaths daily –Down
“An Omicron-like variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 — one that appears to be highly divergent from circulating strains and sticks out on a long branch of the virus’ family tree — has been discovered in a population of white-tailed deer in Ontario, Canada, according to a new study.
The same strain has also been found in a person from the same area who had confirmed contact with deer, but there’s no evidence of sustained transmission from deer to humans, and it’s unlikely to pose an immediate threat to humans.
The researchers who first characterized what they are calling the Ontario WTD clade say it’s difficult to determine how this lineage evolved because it seems to have gone along unnoticed and unsampled in the background of the pandemic for almost a year. They speculate that it spilled over from humans to deer and then back to at least one human.
The new branch of the SARS-CoV-2 family tree has about 79 gene changes that set it apart from the original strain of the virus that was first identified in Wuhan, China. About half of those changes — 37 — have been seen in animals, but 23 of them have never before been identified in deer.
“It’s actually a pretty significant study, I think, because we’re seeing potential evolution of the virus in an animal reservoir,” said J. Scott Weese, a professor at the University of Guelph in Canada who specializes in the study of infections that jump between animals and people.
Weese says that before, we might see the SARS-CoV-2 virus pass between people and animals but then stop. There wasn’t an indication that it was persisting and changing in an animal population after these spillover or spillback events.”
“Americans, by and large, are putting the pandemic behind them. Now that Omicron is in the rearview mirror and cases are plummeting, even many of those who have stayed cautious for two full years are spouting narratives about “going back to normal” and “living with COVID-19.” This mentality has also translated into policy: The last pandemic restrictions are fading nationwide, and in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden declared that “most Americans can remove their masks, return to work, stay in the classroom, and move forward safely.” Other rich, highly vaccinated countries are following much the same path. In the U.K., for example, those with COVID-19 no longer have to self-isolate. It helps that these countries have more vaccine doses than they know what to do with, and a stockpile of tools to test and treat their residents if and when they get sick.
But in the global South, COVID-19 is much harder to ignore. More than a year after the start of the mass-vaccination campaign, nearly 3 billion people are still waiting for their first shot. While an average of 80 percent of people in high-income countries have gotten at least one dose, that figure stands at just 13 percent in low-income countries. In the poorest countries, virtually no booster shots have been administered. Such low vaccination rates are taking their toll. Although the official death count in India is about 500,000, for example, the reality might be closer to 5 million excess deaths—and most of those deaths happened after vaccines were introduced in the global North.
The rush in the rich countries to declare the pandemic “over” while it continues to ravage the global South is completely predictable—in fact, the same trend has played out again and again. Infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS that are now seen as “Third World diseases” were once serious threats in rich countries, but when incidence of these diseases began to decline there, the global North moved on and reduced investments in new tools and programs. Now, with COVID-19, the developing world has once again been left to fend for itself against an extremely transmissible virus without the necessary vaccine doses, tests, and treatment tools. Some pandemics never truly end—they just become invisible to people in the global North.”
I need to talk about the elephants in the room on climate change. The ones which I do not think we will ever do anything about. I am talking about our militaries the globe over, and the industries which supply them.
Stop and think for a moment about a “green” military, it won’t ever exist. Since the civil war in America warfare has become more and more industrialized. As it stands now every nation with a military has a military built by and run with fossil fuels. No one will voluntarily dispose of their military because without it any despot could invade and might do so like Putin is now. Since all the others have industrial weapons systems, so to must every nation have them for defense or risk being the next Ukraine.
Unilateral disarmament is not going to happen, and because that won’t happen, oil, petrol, and gas are not going anywhere. Unless we stop using them, we kill ourselves, but to stop using them is to expose ourselves to the despots among us.
On top of that, we eat petroleum products indirectly all the time. If you look at a graph of fossil fuel use and population growth you can plainly see that fossil fuels allowed us to farm on industrial scales, which allowed population to soar over the last three hundred years. Fossil fuels refrigerate foods everywhere on earth. It is to a point now that we need industrial farming and industrial power to feed ourselves. Without those food resources the globe will starve, from the poorest nation to the wealthiest ones, as always.
Hell of a catch 22 huh? Damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
The last IPCC report showed we were off in the models by a lot. We were already having effects now that were not expected until 2030. The new IPCC report is worse, as we have not done a thing about warming as the planet warms. The report is 3700 pages of fucking very bad news, overshadowed by the nuclear threat posed by Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Here is a short synopsis.
“The largest, most detailed climate change report in history was released today, clocking in at 3,675 pages, written by 270 researchers for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Program on Climate Change (IPCC).
With the invasion of Ukraine justifiably dominating the news, the report may not make many headlines. But it should cause you to lose sleep tonight, especially if you have children, and even if you’ve been numbed by decades of gloom and doom when it comes to global climate disruption.
In fact, as someone who’s been writing on climate change since 1998, I think it’s the most important 3,675 pages to be published this century. Not because it will influence the politicians in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry (i.e. the entire Republican Party plus Sen. Joe Manchin) or those bamboozled by Fox News—it won’t. It’s important because it stands as a record of what scientists know to be true, and what our leaders have failed to bring about.
When in two decades, my daughter looks out at her wrecked world, devastated by fires and wars and famines, she can point to this report and say, “you knew what was happening, but you didn’t stop it.”
And to that, I will have no reply.
There are 45 “observed impacts” detailed and documented in the report— . . .Some examples:
Changes to marine and freshwater ecosystems everywhere in the world have caused species losses, higher rates of disease, mass die-offs, destruction of entire ecosystems, and degradations of fisheries. These changes are “unprecedented over millennia.”
More “extreme weather events” (floods, fires, hurricanes) have begun happening even faster than expected. The rate of extreme events in 2020 was initially forecast for the year 2100. Droughts have tripled in the last 50 years, fisheries have collapsed due to extreme heat events, and over 20 million people have been displaced due to extreme weather events (mostly droughts, hurricanes, and floods) in the last ten years.
Global agricultural productivity has actually decreased due to changes in rainfall patterns, increased temperatures, ocean warming, increase in fungal infestations, and numerous other causes.
Roughly half the world population is experiencing “water scarcity” for at least one month per year, and nearly half a billion people are experiencing “unfamiliar precipitation patterns”—droughts in some places, flooding in others.
Glaciers are melting at rates unprecedented in human history.
3.3 billion people live in countries with a high vulnerability to climate change (as extensively defined in the report).
The report next lists 60 “projected impacts,” qualified according to level of risk and expected temperature rise, including:
9 million people will die of climate-related deaths per year by the end of this century. Heat-related deaths will double.
Even if warming increases by only 1.2 degrees—probably far too optimistic, as most scientists believe that 1.5 degrees in warming is now inevitable, even with significant emission reductions—there will be “mass tree mortality,” coral reef bleaching, and “mass mortality events from heatwaves” by 2050. At 1.6 degrees of warming, 10 percent of species will become endangered, with 9 percent at high risk of extinction.
Changes in distributions of animal populations will increase the risk of animal-to-human diseases like SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.
At 2 degrees of warming, between 1 and 3 billion people will experience water scarcity. Glacier floods will wipe out cities downstream. Between 42-79 percent of the world’s watersheds will be disrupted, devastating agriculture.
Low-lying island states will be submerged by 2100, some by 2050. In Europe, coastal flood damage will increase by 1000 percent. Approximately $12 trillion in assets will be located in vulnerable flooding areas.
Impacts will be much worse in vulnerable countries, and in urban centers in Africa and Asia. Mass migrations are difficult to predict, but are to be expected on a scale never before seen in history.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the report explains in even-more-excruciating detail that our most audacious attempts to adapt to global climate disruption—seawalls! —are simply not enough to significantly blunt many of these impacts. Large coastal cities, the report says, can be protected, but it’s impossible to move coral reefs, for example, which the report says are effectively doomed after 2040. Meanwhile, “maladaptation,” which solves one problem while making others worse, is likely to accompany any large-scale adaptation. And nothing, the report shows, will really make much of a difference over 2 degrees of warming.”
In short, we’re fucked, as a species. One of my biggest climate concerns is happening right now in Ukraine. Suppose, just suppose, that Putin understands the climate issue. Also suppose the reality that Ukraine is brimming with resources from food to rare metals, which it is. In this light “conquering” Ukraine for Russia makes survival sense for Russia, to secure precious resources the Russians need to attempt to survive climate shift. My fear is that wars will exacerbate the climate reality by humans the globe over beginning to fight over resources, like rats on a sinking ship.
The war in Ukraine looks a lot like that to me.
As I worked on this in my hilltop retreat another 51,222 of my fellow humans lost their fight with C-19, of those 10,222 were my fellow Americans, and of those 71 were my fellow Mainers.