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Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Thursday, May 01, 2014

 
As we move into the post-antibiotic era, a collapse-prone world is asleep at the switch

by David Atkins

When we look at the history of civilization collapse, we usually see a variety of factors at play. These tend to involve overstretched militaries, devalued currencies, social malaise, and rampant economic inequality.

But that only tends to weaken civilizations. The final knockout punches tend to be delivered in the form of natural disasters and plagues.

Climate change is going to do a bang-up job of providing the natural disasters assuming the world fails to act. The antibiotic resistant plagues aren't far behind if we don't do something fast:

The 'post-antibiotic' era is near, according to a report released today by the World Health Organization (WHO). The decreasing effectiveness of antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents is a global problem, and a surveillance system should be established to monitor it, the group says.

There is nothing hopeful in the WHO's report, which pulls together data from 129 member states to show extensive resistance to antimicrobial agents in every region of the world. Overuse of antibiotics in agriculture — to promote livestock growth — and in hospitals quickly leads to proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria, which then spread via human travel and poor sanitation practices.

“A post-antibiotic era — in which common infections and minor injuries can kill — far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the twenty-first century,” writes Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general for health security, in a foreword to the report.

Perhaps the most worrying trend is the spread of resistance to carbapenems, the 'antibiotics of last resort', says Timothy Walsh, a medical microbiologist at Cardiff University, UK, who was an adviser for the report. “That’s taken us by surprise,” he says. “All of us are rather like rabbits in front of the headlights in how quickly this has taken off.”

The report finds that, in some areas of the world, more than half the infections caused by one major category of bacteria — Gram-negative, which includes Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae — involve species resistant to carbapenem drugs.
The article goes on to point out that the private sector doesn't think it can make enough money off new antibiotics to develop them, and that governments are woefully underfunding the research if at all.

Meanwhile, an inhumane and climate-changing inducing big ag animal husbandry industry is keeping profits high and prices cheap on meats pumped full of hormones and antibiotics.

The free market isn't a genius system that will lead to utopia. If we continue going at this rate, the free market in fossil fuels and modern big ag will wind up destroying civilization as we know it.


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