“What is that white stuff below?”
“Clouds. We are over them.”
“Humans are very clever!”
The above was the conversation between my wife and I when we were on board an airplane. She marveled at the cleverness of humans. She marveled at mankind’s technological breakthroughs, one of which was responsible for our being able to be above the clouds.
Technology wise humans are very clever, much cleverer than just inventing the airplane. But are they really clever?
Take for example the present threat to public health of the new flu. Humans are overconfident in this case.
They don’t completely understand how nature works but pretend that they do. The “2003 SARS outbreak” caught them off guard. People seem never to learn a lesson from history. They don’t know that the 21st century may probably be the century of epidemics just as they don’t know how fragile the global ecological balance can be or how great global climatic changes can be.
Often, economic and political considerations make people neglect the findings of science.A case in point is that the World Health Organization (WHO) changed the name of the new flu from swine flu to influenza A(H1N1) in order to save the livestock industry. Another example is the WHO's reluctance to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6. Still another example is that the Obama administration wants to focus their attention on solving the financial crisis and neglect the threat of the new flu. They are putting mankind at risk.