So many people talk about terrorism with an idea of people in mind. We seem to concentrate on nuclear threats and how it will bring the demise of our human race. Since I am not able to foresee the future, I cannot eliminate this possible threat in the future...but in my view...I do not believe this to be the most imminent threat to our race. That is not what scares me....
With each piece of knowledge that I acquire, I am scared of the terrorists that I cannot see. The silent killers. The millions of microbes that have the potential to do more harm, in more places, at the same time, than any nuclear bomb. We live in a time when travel and international business is the way of the world. We move around so often and so quickly, businessmen often forget where they have been on a given trip. I applaud progress and fair business, but I also am afraid of what else travels along on these trips with any given person from place to place. People come into contact with organisms in new environments in which they have never been exposed and then in turn infect 10's if not 100's of people in a single afternoon.
You may be wondering why this is a problem now more than ever in the past. Research and reports have been published explaining why we are at a greater risk now of new pathogens emerging. First and foremost, we are dealing with microbes that have "tremendous evolutionary potential". We are also faced with so many other things such as "changing climate, altered ecosystems, increased human contact with animals, new medical technologies that have created novel pathways for the spread of infections, and 'the rapid and virtually unrestricted transport of humans, animals, foods and other goods, which can lead to the broad dissemination of pathogens and their vectors throughout the world'". We are sharing and trading microbes into new environments not previous occupied. This is and will be an action that carries harsh consequences.
"Any of these factors alone can trigger problems, but their convergence creates especially high-risk environments where infectious diseases may readily emerge, or re-emerge...It is conceivable, in fact, that in certain places microbial 'perfect storms' could occur, and unlike meteorological 'perfect storms,' the events would not be on the order of once in a century, but frequent." We have in recent years experienced such occurrences that could have been much worse than they were, (i.e., SARS, avian bird flu, west nile). As we learn more with each passing day and from past epidemics, we must work together not as a country or countries, but as a race, to face such obstacles.
M. Enserink, "A second suspect in global mystery outbreak". Science 299 (March 28, 2003)
M. Hamburg, J. Lederberg, B. Beatty, et al. "Microbial threats to health: Emergence, detection, and response" Institute of Medicine National Academy of Sciences. Namtional Academies Press, March 2003.