Judgement Calls

“What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?”

F. Sherwood Rowland

Despite what many might believe, life is a series of judgement calls. We often face a plethora of options with little or no clear guidance on what path to follow.

As we first venture out on our own to face these choices, a lack of experience compounds the problem or youthful exuberance—what some might see as youthful indiscretions—makes us vulnerable to the verities of fate. Whether there is such a thing as fate or pre-destination doesn’t really matter.

Whether we make choices or fate made the choices for us, the ramifications still take effect. I, for one, believe in free will. As we gain experience, the value of making considered judgement calls becomes all the more clear.

The critical importance of judgement calls come into sharp focus when we face the decision about following the guidelines as we re-emerge from under the shadow of COVID-19.

Science offers the best basis to weigh our options. Emotions, instinct, and gut feelings, while useful, can sometimes be dangerous when making decisions that may affect the lives of others. Our emotional need for stability, consistency, and flexibility in our daily lives comes with a caution label.

Sometimes what we desire the most is that which we need the least.

Science tells us this virus is dangerous, easily spread, and highly contagious. Those who suffer the most severe—sometimes fatal—symptoms cross the spectrum of humans. There is no “common” victim. Treatment protocols, such as they are, are by necessity tailored to the individual patient. Doctors and nurses are making some of the most significant judgement calls because there is no widely accepted treatment protocol, although we are gaining knowledge with each passing day.

Until we develop a vaccine, and until our collective experience provides us with a roadmap to the most successful treatment protocols, this virus poses an imminent and deadly threat.  One that is not going away because we grow tired of the inconvenience, see bogeyman hands in the restrictions, or wish it to be so.

The science on the progression of the virus is clearer than it was several months ago. The effectiveness of social distancing, as debilitating on our daily lives as it has been, seems to have slowed—but not stopped—the spread of the virus.

Yet many seem to ignore the facts before us.

They will ignore the predictions based on deeply considered analysis of the evidence we have before us—not guarantees, not certainties— for no better reason than a gut feeling. Science suggests keeping these controls in place, while we relax them in a managed way, as the best course.

We should make that an elemental part of our judgement calls.

The premise is simple. Control the spread, minimize the drain on hospitals, until we develop a vaccine. Virus have always affected humans. Evolution has always changed viruses. Another will mutate and replace this one. It is using the best tools we have to face the threat that will make a difference, not focusing on the inconvenience.

And when this passes we need redouble our efforts at preparing for the next one. This is a judgement call based on facts and experience not emotions, frustrations, and irrationality.

People flood social media with memes and numbers and arguments on both sides of the issue, yet these forums are almost always emotion-based and agenda driven. And those who would follow medical advice from such forums should seriously question their own judgement.

Those who see visions of a new Black Death scourging the world want to lock themselves away until they can be guaranteed of their survival.

Those who see the hands of a governmental conspiracy, controlled by the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, yet invisible deep-state, want to throw open the doors, toss caution and rationality to the wind, and go back to “normal” without so much as any acknowledgment of the real and deadly threat.

Why some who protest against these closures feel the need to bear arms is beyond me. It makes them seem more unstable and less rational. And those who cower in their homes out of an irrational belief they can forever avoid exposure to viral pathogens are equally delusional.

We face significant choices over the next few months. Many of those personal decisions will be judgement calls; follow guidelines, wear a mask, keep practicing social distancing. While we all may live our lives, and we should not passively accept government imposed limitations, keep in mind our sense of human decency can guide us.

I, for one, will wear a mask until the science says it is safe not to. I will limit my exposure to others and maintain a social distance. I will do these things not just to protect myself and my family, but to protect everyone.

I do not want to spread the virus to anyone else even if I have no fear of catching it myself. I do not want to cause the death of any other human, even if I did not know I did.

Why would anyone want to bear the thought of making such a poor judgement call?

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Virion: Is Global Warming Sending Us A Message?

Could it be the melting of the frozen Arctic Tundra is the source of COVID-19? Has climate change awakened a new plague on mankind?

In 1967 two scientists, Syukuro Manabe and Richard Wetherald, released a report that reverberates to this day. And like most evidence-based reporting perceived to impact business or economics in a negative way, it was ignored, demeaned, discredited, and challenged. Ultimately, more research confirmed the evidence, and corroborated the initial report. Leading to its wide acceptance.

They did not set out to establish the existence of global warming and anthropomorphic climate change. Manabe and Wetherald posed a question—what effect does the increase of Co2 have on the atmosphere—and followed the evidence. Interestingly enough, using mostly calculations on paper lacking access to sophisticated computers, they predicted a 2.36-degree rise in atmospheric temperature over fifty years.

Measurements taken in 2017, the fiftieth anniversary of their prediction, measured the actual rise at 2.57 degrees. The science predicting the rise was remarkably accurate and borne out by the verifiable numbers.

(Manabe, S. and Wetherald, R.T., 1967. Thermal equilibrium of the atmosphere with a given distribution of relative humidity. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences) and https://www.carbonbrief.org/prof-john-mitchell-how-a-1967-study-greatly-influenced-climate-change-science

In Cosmos |Possible Worlds| by Ann Druyan, she points out that, based on this initial report,

“The larger community of climate scientists predicted these impacts of climate change. Heightened flooding of coastal cities, check. The mass death of coral reefs by ocean warming, check. The increase in intensity of catastrophic storms, check. Lethal heatwaves, droughts, and runaway wildfires of unprecedented magnitude, check. The scientists warned us. The corporations with vested interests in the fossil fuel industry and the governments they supported acted just like the tobacco companies. They pretended the science was unsettled and stalled for precious years.”

Druyan points out an even more ominous consequence of our failure to heed the evidence provided by science.

“An outbreak may begin when a virion, a mega-virus, dormant for over 100,000 years, is awakened as the permafrost of the Arctic melts away.”

Since the consensus—despite the spin by those with a political agenda to make this some intentional plot by China to obfuscate incompetence within the administration—is that this virus is neither man-made or genetically modified, it is a naturally occurring phenomenon.

And likely to occur again.

So, could it be an ancient virion* — the complete, infective form of a virus outside a host cell, with a core of RNA or DNA and a capsid—long dormant in the once frozen permafrost of the Arctic, now rises from a cryogenic slumber to ravage the world with a new virus?

We have re-embraced the benefits of science. We look to scientists and researchers for a vaccine to eliminate the threat of COVID-19. Shouldn’t we be willing to heed the warnings long available to us to prepare for what will inevitably be the next challenge facing the world?

Suppose the virus is “man-made,” not by our intent but by our willful ignorance?

*https://www.differencebetween.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Difference-Between-Virus-and-Virion.pdf

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Follow this blog for upcoming information on all new book releases. And please share this with readers everywhere. All comments are welcome. Or if you would like write a piece to be posted on my blog please send me a message.

Signup here for my email list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

And for all my books to add to your memories of great reads…https://www.amazon.com/Joe-Broadmeadow/e/B00OWPE9GU

“Hic incipit pestis.” *

*”Here begins the plague” is written in the register next to the entry for Oliver Gunne’s burial on June 11, 1564 one of the first victims of the plague that ravaged Europe back when the “treatment” for such illnesses was praying or trying to exorcise demons. We seem to be reverting to such fear based reactions to a natural, if troubling, evolutionary process of viral mutation.

As one of our greatest Presidents once said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Before we hunt and burn witches once someone suggests they bear responsibility for this Corona Virus Panic, it may be time for a deep breath. (And dispense with the paper masks, one they get wet from your breath all they stop is bad breath, and not very well.)  

It is this panicked fear of a naturally reoccurring phenomenon which grips this country and the world that is the genuine danger and risk.  While any death from what will soon be (although not in 2 or 3 months as someone suggested) a treatable and preventable viral infection is tragic, yet it’s the way the world works.

We (meaning the world) have faced the Black Death, Spanish Flu, a host of childhood diseases, AIDS, MRSA, Ebola et. al., once almost always fatal, and have found treatments or preventative measures to mitigate them. We did it through scientifically valid research and development.

We have child-guard caps on medication because someone died. We have seals on bottles because some put poison in a pain killer and someone died. We have seat belts in cars because someone died.  We learn from experience and use science and reasoning to deal with these issues.  Panic accomplishes nothing but a proliferation of ignorance.

It is the fundamental lack of basic science which troubles me the most. The anti-vaxxers with their pseudo-science already proven not just wrong but dangerous making claims without the slightest bit of evidence.

And people listen.

It is people not having a fundamental understanding of how viral pathogens are transmitted running around stockpiling disinfectant hoping to stave off which for most will amount to two sick days.

Yet people panic.

Now this is not to minimize the risk to those with compromised immunity or breathing difficulties. But these same risk factors apply to the flu which mutates every year (responding to the vaccines and evolving as life always has) and returning in a new variation.

As reported by the CDC in their 2019-2020 Flu Season overview, 280,000 to 500,000 flu hospitalizations and 16,000 to 41,000 flu deaths this year to date.

The flu, which in most cases is preventable by well-established vaccines, is still expected to kill between 260,000 and 350,000 people worldwide with 36,000 deaths in the US.

And this happens EVERY YEAR.

Now in case there is any doubt in anyone’s mind, I am not a fan of the President.  But in his news conference he did say something that is accurate, we should leave politics out of this. Whether Mr. Trump and others will– Democrats bear responsibility here also–is doubtful, but it is necessary if for no other reason than to mitigate the panic all out of proportion to the risk.

The actual culprit here is the media. Driven by the simple-minded attention-deficit tweet-addicted society we live in, the media resorts to stark headlines and “Breaking” News teasers to capture the infrequent moments of lucidity among many of our fellow citizens.

It forces them to compete with such major news as what Bachelorette picked which idiotic contestant or which Naked and Alone competitor had the most ant bites on their ass. And don’t even get me started on “My 600-pound life.”

The media are the modern equivalent of the boy who cried wolf or Chicken Little and the sky is falling. Their credibility, damaged by the constant need for shock and awe, discounted when they try to report actual news requiring some thought and consideration so the public, enamored of the hype and nonsense, doesn’t miss it.

Sadly, most of the time they do.

Mr. Trump and his administration, when faced with a genuine opportunity to show calm and deliberate leadership, booted it. Their intentional closure of the office designated to plan and prepare for this exact situation, further evidence of their disdain for science and expert advice, is a stain on an already tarnished Presidency. And their inaction followed by irrational overreaction will cause irreparable economic harm all out of proportion to the risk.

And people will still get the virus.

The media is as guilty as the President.  In its usual fervor for ratings, they further exasperated the situation with their hyperbole and drowned out the few voices of reasons—the doctors and scientists of the CDC and WHO — as they cautioned a reasonable reaction to a predictable situation.

Just for a bit of enlightenment in an age of darkness, here as some interesting statistics on the ways to die.

Oportet memento mori (Remember you must die)

Latin saying
Lifetime odds of death for selected causes, United States, 2017
Cause of DeathOdds of Dying
Heart Disease1 in 6
Cancer1 in 7
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease1 in 27
Suicide1 in 88
Opioid overdose1 in 96
Motor Vehicle Crash1 in 103
Fall1 in 114
Gun Assault1 in 285
Pedestrian Incident1 in 556
Motorcyclist1 in 858
Drowning1 in 1,117
Fire or Smoke1 in 1,474
Choking on Food1 in 2,696
Bicyclist1 in 4,047
Accidental Gun Discharge1 in 8,527
Sunstroke1 in 8,912
Electrocution, Radiation, Extreme Temperatures and Pressure1 in 15,638
Sharp objects1 in 28,000
Cataclysmic Storm1 in 31,394
Hot surfaces and substances1 in 46,045
Hornet, wasp and bee stings1 in 46,562
Dog attack1 in 115,111
Passenger on an airplane1 in 188,364
Lightning1 in 218,106
Railway passenger1 in 243,765

“Remember man that thou art dust…”

Author unknown