- By: Capt. William E. Simpson
- Posted on: October 23, 2013
The recent release of the movie ‘World War Z’ has catalyzed a lot of conversation about potential catastrophic disasters; namely long-term large-scale disasters, where everyone everywhere is engulfed in the same situation. It’s a scary fact that only a small minority of people who have a keen understanding of world history realize the relevance of what is depicted in this block-buster movie.
If we look back in history, much of what was once science fiction, has now become science fact. And in any cursory survey of historical large-scale disasters, there is certainly no shortage of real-events, which provide important lessons for everyone alive today, one of which is that they do happen!
When you speak of large-scale disasters to most people, the most common responses are things like; ‘Oh that won’t happen in our lifetime’, or ‘that can’t happen here’, or ‘our government won’t let that happen’, and similar un-informed responses, all of which stem from an acute ignorance of actual world and U.S. history.
It’s amazing to me that when you talk to most people on the street, they have a poor understanding or recollection of history and past world events at best. In fact, when I recently questioned more than a dozen different people about the death rates attributed to the Flu-Pandemic of 1918, only one person was even aware that such a pandemic even took place. This was shocking to me considering that; somewhere between 50-million to 100-million people died from that event, which at that time represented between 3% and 5% of the total world population.
Even fewer people realize that disasters are occurring with greater frequency, even though some of the calculated increases comes as the result of better reporting technologies. Nonetheless, it’s clear that Americans need to improve their situational awareness by a considerable margin as soon as possible.
During the 1918 Flu Pandemic makeshift flu camps were setup in a desperate attempt to help cope with the magnitude of cases from the pandemic, while corpses were being stacked-up in the streets of America and countries around the world. The world population today is about 6.5-billion people, which is more than 3-times the number of people on the planet back in 1918 (1.8-billion). And this new high-level of population density coupled with the speed of worldwide personal transportation presents some very serious problems when it comes to amplifying the transmission rates and potential mutation rates of any new strain of deadly virus.
In fact, during the 1918 Pandemic, which came in two waves, the first wave was more in line with a typical flu epidemic. However it is believed that the initial strain of flu virus mutated within specific populations of people who hadn’t been previously ill in areas where the populations were under stresses related to social strife and warfare, and this led to the spread of a deadly second wave during the Pandemic.
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