from the world's big
What is the world's biggest challenge?
David M. Kennedy is the Donald J. McLachian Professor of History at Stanford University. His scholarship is notable for its integration of economic analysis with social history and political history. Kennedy has written over ten books; his first, Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger (1970), won the John Gilmary Shea Prize in 1970 and the Bancroft Prize in 1971. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Over Here: The First World War and American Society (1980) and won the Pulitzer in 2000 for his 1999 book Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945. Other awards include the Francis Parkman Prize, the Ambassador's Prize and the California Gold Medal for Literature, all of which he received in the year 2000. Kennedy was educated at Stanford and Yale. The author of many articles, he has also penned a textbook, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, now in its thirteenth edition. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Question: What is the world’s biggest challenge?
David Kennedy: The planet has a lot of difficulties at the moment, I believe. Many of them have an environmental character; but a lot of them are political and cultural character as well. I think that one way, in a simple statement, to capture a lot of these complicated issues is to point to the disparities between the “haves” and the “have nots” – what’s sometimes called the “north/south disparity” between the developed . . . the difference in the standard of living between the developed world and the less developed world. Many nations have quite miraculously or remarkably entered into the club of developed, and prosperous, and affluent, and secure societies in the last couple of generations. Again, that’s part of the general project of globalization in which the United States took the lead to a large extent. But a lot are still left behind, and history is . . . the record of peoples who figure out, in one way or another, that their standard of living, their way of life, their range of choices, is much less than and inferior to that of their neighbors, or their fellow citizens or what have you. That’s the stuff of deep and friction-loaded relationships that often erupt into fully armed conflict. That’s true internally of any given society. Look at the American Civil War. Look at the populist upheaval of the late 19th century in this society. The Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th century. All instances where people who felt their way of life was inferior to that of others, or threatened resorted to one means or another to readdress the balance. Globally, if we don’t find ways to incorporate those peoples who still work for, for example, $1 a day – and there’s a billion of them roughly out there in the world . . . sixth or more of the planet’s population – if we don’t find ways to get them on the train to a different standard of living . . . And I don’t just mean material possessions or material goods, but the capacity to really be masters of their own destinies and fates, and have the kind of range of choices and individual lives that citizens in . . . people who live in advanced, industrial societies like ours now take for granted. The planet will be in for some very, very tough confrontations going forward, I think. And this is not just civilizational, or religious, or cultural in character. I think at the bottom of it is a lot of just plain economic resentment, or potential for economic resentment if we don’t bring the “have nots” of the world into the party.
David M. Kennedy, history professor at Stanford University, talks about the importance of lifting the bottom billion out of poverty.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
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