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Since the end of the Cold War it has been divulged to the west that the Soviet Union was rigorously developing/stockpiling huge amounts and diverse kinds of biological weapons for possible use in future conflicts. They especially sought agents for which no cure was available or likely in the near future. China also seems to have such a program. As of late 1999 Russia seems to be continuing to hold such progams close to its vest as additional playing cards in financial aid discussions with the west, as well as a source of low cost but terrifying weapons with which to supplement their aging and largely impractical nuclear arsenal. Russia and China also have eager potential customers for the technology in the form of terrorist states around the world.
|-- BOOK REVIEW: Former Soviet's book exposes the germ of terror By Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff, 07/29/99 This story ran on page E07 of the Boston Globe on 07/29/99|
But would-be terrorists don't require substantial sums of money or state manufacturers like Russia and China to supply them; they can simply construct their own backyard or basement micro-brewery to do the job. Such a small device can be nearly impossible for even the CIA and FBI of USAmerica to locate. And it can be built and run with common, often untraceable materials. The output? Concentrated death.
|-- Biological and chemical weapons top list of world threats, experts say, CNN, November 20, 1998, Don Knapp a contributor|
So what particular biochem dangers was the Pentagon anticipating around 1998?
Anthrax remained number one of course. After anthrax, the Pentagon was targeting smallpox, tularemia, and Q-fever...with some 15 others of lesser priority beyond those.
It appears that the vaccines desired to protect civilians against the most probable of these threats simply wouldn't be available any time soon, circa 1998. This, combined with the relative ease that countermeasures against vaccines can be created (and already had been by secret Soviet research apparently circa 1998, that might be sold to terrorists), caused the near term emphasis to be shifted to anti-biotics, which was seen to offer a more versatile and faster defense over the near term to the threats.
|-- "Germ Defense Plan in Peril as Its Flaws Are Revealed" By WILLIAM J. BROAD and JUDITH MILLER, August 7, 1998, The New York Times, and other sources|
For more information on this subject, see New Scientist Planet Science Bioterrorism Special Report: Allfall down -- anthrax spores could wipe out an entire city in one go
Perhaps the most vulnerable spot in regards to biochemical attack for the developed nations is their food and water supplies. Increasing centralization of food production and processing worldwide only adds to the risk-- as a successful contamination of these central plants may then effect an entire country-- and in some cases, the world.
|-- Food supply vulnerable to bioterrorist attack By Will Boggs, MD, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, December 3, 1999|
Other risks in the near term stem from natural epidemics/plagues. Modern urban concentrations and air travel increase this risk enormously compared to the past. The severe poverty and inadequate medical care in many areas of the world also amplify the risks of serious infectious diseases getting out of control. And the climate change of the early 21st century will add still more risk atop all this, as disease-ridden insects and the viruses they carry will enjoy an ever larger region of survivability due to global warming. The temperate zones of the world were once protected from tropical diseases due to cooler climates; this is changing. Disease strains resistant to our best anti-biotics circa the 1990s were also emerging, due largely to improper and sometimes excessively casual use of antibiotics in treatment. Lastly, the increases in stress experienced by common citizens throughout the world during the 21st century, due to a variety of factors, will make us more vulnerable-- not less-- to infection, by impairing our immune systems.
Possibly as much as 70% of the infections occuring in USAmerican hospital patients due to their stay may now be resistant to a minimum of one anti-biotic.
-- UK Launches Plan to Beat Hospital 'Superbugs', Yahoo!/Reuters Science Headlines November 22 1999
Due to the deplorable economic conditions in Russia, a drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) has appeared there and threatens to spread to other nations if appropriate measures aren't taken.
-- Multi Drug Resistant-TB: Russian Economic Collapse Will Lead To Global Spread Of "Ebola With Wings", 15 September 1998, Contact: Ernie W. Knewitz email@example.com (212) 696-4455 x204 Noonan/Russo Communications
Plague, other old diseases make a comeback in Russia By ALEXANDRA TRUBNYKOFF, Nando Media/Agence France-Press, November 26, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com
New, never-before-seen viruses, bacteria, and fungi are emerging from the rich organic stew created by human wastes and other pollution dumped into oceans simmering from global warming.
-- As Oceans Warm, Problems From Viruses and Bacteria Mount By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/The New York Times, January 24, 1999
Small world math networks
Ever heard of the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon"? Where you connect actors to one another based on their appearances with Kevin Bacon in films? It turns out the game mimics real world clustering phenomenon, which indicates that many networks in nature (and human society and engineering) tend towards similar clustering.
Pretty much the only ingredient you need to add to a non-clustering network to make it clustered is a random handful of extra connections among the members or nodes.
The ramifications of this include the possibility that infectious diseases could more easily run rampant among the population than we expect (as a few random connections among carriers could carry plagues farther and wider than anticipated).
-- "Kevin Bacon shows the way to a much smaller world than we thought, Cornell mathematicians find", 6-4-98, firstname.lastname@example.org
(One), Chemical threats generally present much less of an immediate or widespread risk than biological threats. Even where successfully employed by terrorists or militaries, chemical attacks almost certainly never surpass the death and destruction incurred by plain old industrial accidents. So you can lump these types of incidents into the same category. There's not much you can do about them except be aware of the dangers posed by various potential sources: the oil refinery in town, or that gasoline tanker passing you on the interstate, etc., etc.
Plus, for the vast majority of folks, the greatest chemical threat will stem from long term exposure to pollution-related toxins in the environment, rather than any single accident or terrorist attack. So your almost inevitable artificially shortened lifespan and greater illness and suffering (and perhaps even diminished intelligence) during your days will be more likely due to 'normal' levels of industrial pollutants in the air, water, food, and surroundings, than to any terrorist actions. Fortunately, there IS something we can do about this particular threat-- vote at the ballot box and via purchases for a cleaner environment. And use similar measures to try to achieve the best balance you can between your own consumer choices in medicine and health insurance options, and big corporate competition, profits, and research and development budgets, and government regulation, taxes, and spending. Whenever the balancing act among all these get too far out of whack, we all suffer in one way or another.
-- Pollution 'makes you stupid' By Alex Kirby, 22 April, 2000, BBC News Sci/Tech
The major causes of cancer (well over 50%) stem from exposure to harmful elements of the environment-- not from genetic causes.
-- Nurture Not Nature Main Cause of Cancer - Report By Gene Emery, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories, July 13, 2000
(Two), although biological threats can possibly offer a more rapid, widespread, and dramatic near term scare than chemical threats (since they can self-distribute themselves more prolifically than non-biological agents), there's a bit more individuals can do to protect themselves from them-- at least under some circumstances.
Timeline of likely risks and practical defensive measures
From late 1998 through 1999 civilians and troops alike of even the most advanced nations were highly vulnerable to even the crudest and most amateur biochemical weapons use, with only a minority of front line troops enjoying any significant protection whatsoever, and that only from a handful of the most heavily anticipated agents.
Read: a well executed attack made before 2000 easily offered the potential for staggering consequences.
In regards to natural epidemics, which may spring from wholly unexpected sources, soldiers may suffer pretty much the same vulnerability as civilians during this period.
Biochemical Weapons Defenses Contents
From the start of 2000 through 2004 the troops of advanced nations enjoyed some protection from those bio-agents military experts believed most likely to be encountered, in the form of vaccines, and also a bit of protection from less likely strains via cutting edge antibiotics.
Majority civilians in advanced states remained largely on their own, with little more than consumer medical technologies available to protect them (commercial antibiotics); therefore the best defense for civilians existed on the personal level, something like avoiding muggings and rape on the street in daily life....
...except in the case of biochem weapons the civilian's enemy was/is something like a deadly flu and/or tuberculosis germ which can be caught by simply breathing the same air as an infected person, shaking hands, kissing, handling items from store shelves, touching subway handrails and commuter train seats, eating food prepared by someone else, or even perhaps being bitten by the same mosquito which previously bit someone else infected with the germ.
In Tom Clancy's late 20th century novel Executive Orders such a bioweapon attack was contained by virtually quarantining every family in the entire USA-- strongly encouraging everyone but have-to cases (emergency and law enforcement personnel, as well as minimalist grocery shopping) to stay at home and severely limit their travel and contact with others for several weeks. The use of disposeable plastic gloves to minimize germs picked up by touch, and cheap air filters which fit over the nose and mouth were not undue precautions for some of this period. Frequent hand washing,daily sanitization of surfaces frequently touched by many like door knobs and other household and auto handles, etc., were also wise measures in the face of the threat.
The threat of natural epidemics will remain perhaps more worrisome than artificial ones throughout this period, due to the higher uncertainty regarding the disease composition, compared to those agents anticipated in weapons. One major problem is the time lag between the possible beginning of an epidemic, and its detection and accurate diagnosis. Until you have a good diagnosis, you have little chance at stopping it.
A surprise appearance by an obscure Mideast virus in New York in 1999 required most of three months for the authorities to identify. This does not bode well for anti-terrorist measures over the following several years. A more contagious bug could have affected hundreds of thousands during this time.
-- Delay in identifying virus raises security questions by Lance Gay, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, December 3, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com)
Only around 16% of US military personnel had been vaccinated against anthrax by late 1999, due to vaccine shortages and problems with the single producer.
All active and reserve forces were to be vaccinated by 2004, though as 2000 dawned the program was 6 months behind in execution, and looked to slip by several more months to a year.
-- Military's anthrax vaccine program slows down further By TOM RAUM, December 14, 1999, Nando Media/Associated Press, http://www.nandotimes.com
The US military has been forced to recall $49 million of anti-biochemical warfare suits because of defects like holes and cuts which would endanger troops wearing them in battle.
-- Pentagon Said Recalling $49 Mln of Defective Gear, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines, February 28 (I'm pretty sure this article was posted in 2000)
However, the outlook isn't entirely grim, as some of the citations below show.
Important breakthrough towards rapidly recognizing biological attacks and other developing insults to public health
Software which highlights statistical anomalies in a population or region could help alert us more rapidly to newly minted serial killers as well as other threats (like biochemical attacks, or developing industrial pollution problems).
One type of statistical anomaly would be an unusually high death rate, or sudden spike in deaths, in a community. Another would be an above average rate of cancer diagnoses. Etc., etc.
Geographical information systems (GIS) are one such tool, and have been available for years already, even if they haven't been exploited to their full potential.
Of course, such data analysis systems are no better than their data; if up-to-date and accurate data isn't available, such systems cannot function as an early warning system.
-- Death watch by Robert Matthews, From New Scientist magazine, 19 February 2000
Important breakthrough towards forecasting dangerous influenza strains a year ahead of time, thereby allowing for the preparation and stockpiling of the most effective vaccines, circa 2000
-- Predicting the flu of the future, SCI/TECH, BBC News, 2 December, 1999, http://www.bbc.co.uk/
Important breakthroughs regarding infectious agents resistant to normal antibiotics circa 1999Small modifications to the anti-biotic vancomycin can transform it into a super-anti-biotic.
-- "Modified Drug May Vanquish Superbugs - Researchers" By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent, Yahoo! News/Reuters Limited Science Headlines April 15 1999
An old food preservative may be able to replace vancomycin as that last resort antimicrobial agent loses its effectiveness
Nisin Z, a food preservative in use for nearly 50 years, may be a prime candidate for the creation of a new anti-biotic for use against emerging drug-resistant bacteria. Nisin acts like vancomycin, but with the advantage of targeting a somewhat more vulnerable area of bacterial membrane than vancomycin, therefore making it more difficult for bugs to develop a resistance to it. The almost 50 year record of nisin in industry so far with no reports of resistance buildup also speaks well for its possibilities.
-- Food Preservative May Fight Superbugs, Study Finds, Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, December 16 1999
Important breakthrough in the containment/clean up of locations/victims suffering exposure to biochemical/biolological terrorism/weapons use: "Decon Foam 100"A neutralizing foam for a wide array of biochemical weapons may make it much easier, faster, and safer to deal with biochemical war and terrorism in the future.
Remarkably, the decon foam is made from materials similar to those found in common household products like hair conditioners (surfactants) and toothpaste (mild oxidizing substance), working to destroy dangerous chemicals like detergent does stains in laundry. Somehow the mixture also kills dormant but usually tough bacterial spores.
The foam is non-toxic, non-corrisive, generally applicable to a wide variety of threats, and cheap to produce ( estimated at "about 15 cents a pound") unlike many present-day remedies for biochem attacks.
The foam will bulk up to a hundred times its fluid volume if deployed through the appropriate dispenser, filling in virtually every cubbyhole available in a given room or other space, automatically eradicating toxins as it goes (including airborne). Within a few hours it breaks down into compact liquid form again, and may be safe to simply wash down the drain like normal cleaning agents.
-- "Sandia Decontamination Foam May Be Tomorrow's Best First Response In A Chem-Bio Attack", 2 MARCH 1999, Contact: john german, email@example.com, 505-844-5199, Sandia National Laboratories
Important breakthrough in decontaminating especially hard-to-reach spots and expensive equipment which cannot be sterilized with more traditional remedies (as well as kill pathogens which are beyond other means)-- Researcher Finds Way To Kill Bacteria In Tiny Places, ScienceDaily Magazine, http://www.sciencedaily.com//releases/1999/08/990820022338.htm, 8/20/99, Source: Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
Important breakthroughs in detoxifying contaminated water
A surprisingly cheap and simple way to detoxify contaminated water may help insure the safety of future water supplies.
-- "Recipe for pure water" by Jens Thomas, From New Scientist, 28 August 1999
Keeping E. coli out of the water supply
E. coli in cow manure can be cheaply ($10 per cow) and easily killed by adding sodium carbonate along with sodium hydroxide to maintain an alkaline pH to the ponds/tanks where manure is stored prior to spreading as fertilizer. Most E. coli will die within a week of this treatment.
-- "Carbonating" Cow Manure Kills Dangerous Microbes Source: American Chemical Society (http://www.acs.org), 4/6/2000, alternative URL: http://center.acs.org/applications/news//story.cfm?story=349
Important breakthrough in treating victims of food poisoning
Expelling E. coli from victims of food poisioning
E.coli infections stemming from mishandled food can be deadly-- especially for small children and the elderly-- and they can be contracted from practically any source food-preparation-wise, including well known fast food franchises and your own kitchen. Even those who don't die from the infections may suffer internal organ damage. So this is serious business here.
Luckily, a biotech company seems to have developed a wonder drug which may help 'cure' the infected by causing most of the deadly bacteria to pass harmlessly through a victim's system rather than becoming entrenched there.
-- "At Last There's A Way To Fight The Dreaded E.coli" by Andy Coghlan, New Scientist, issue 13 March 99
Important breakthroughs in improving food safety
Titan Corporation's SureBeam electric pasteurization process is said to eradicate 99.99999% of potentially harmful bacteria in food treated with the beam. The electronic beam breaks up the DNA of organisms, rendering them unable to reproduce. The beam is said to be applicable to a wide variety of foods, and have no effect on taste.
-- Company touts new electric process to kill bacteria in food By MIKE BRANOM; October 26, 1999; Nando Media/Associated Press; http://www.nandotimes.com
The danger of agents like listeria and E. coli in fresh food can be greatly reduced via washing the food in specially treated water.
To prepare for washing the water undergoes a process of gasification and electrification, which produces a plasma in the liquid. The liquid can then kill many infectious agents.
-- Water breakthrough for food safety by Aileen Clarke; BBC News Online; 9 April, 2001
Important breakthrough in detoxifying clothing
Folks, as you read the following, keep in mind that pesticides are closely related to various nerve gas agents developed for war and terrorism. So items and techniques which protect against pesticide exposure may also be applicable to protection against certain biochem weapon agents too.
The vast majority of harmful pesticide absorption occurs through the skin. Now we are on the verge of having clothing which can detoxify such agents before they can enter the body. The protective clothing may also be 'recharged' with simple applications of bleach in the wash.
A compound called hydantoin is embedded in the clothing, and in tests successfully broke down carbamate pesticides into harmless components which could be washed away with bleach later in the laundry-- at which time the hydantoin becomes 'recharged' and ready to do more decontamination. An added bonus is the hydantoin acts as an antibacteriological agent too.
The hydantoin will process up to 99% of such pesticides encountered into harmless byproducts in under 5 minutes.
Any downsides? Yes. There's another major category of pesticides called "organophosphorus" against which the new technique has not yet been tried.
The technology patent for the above is now in the possession of Halosource Corporation in Seattle, Washington. Hopefully we'll see widespread and reasonable cost availability of this clothing within only a few years. This has implications not just for less stressful and more comfortable but better protective garments for agricultural and industrial workers, but soldiers on the battlefield as well.
And as biochem agents are more frequently used in warfare and terrorism in the future, pesticide residue builds up in the environment, and industrial pollution also accumulates, even the clothing worn by average citizens in the streets will eventually incorporate such measures.
-- "Treated Clothing Detoxifies Pesticides", 23 MARCH 1999, 202-872-4445, American Chemical Society
Similar cheap treatment methods for clothing can protect from both bacteria and some viruses too.
-- "Clothes that kill: New cotton additive kills odor-causing and pathogenic bacteria and viruses within minutes", EurekAlert!, 23 AUGUST 1999, Contact: Charmyane Marsh, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-872-4445, American Chemical Society, http://www.acs.org
-- "Treated cotton clothing looks to kill", Reuters Limited/Yahoo! News Health Headlines, August 23 1999
The synthetic rubber already being used to produce some products like condoms and medical gloves (circa 2000) can also be modified to kill germs which come into contact with it. The new capability comes from altering the rubber's composition rather than adding a coating which may be easily lost.
Adding N-halamine and chlorine to synthetic rubber containing polystyrene is the trick. The killing process requires no longer than 30 minutes. The rubber's store of chlorine does run out eventually, but can be replenished via dipping in regular chlorine bleach. In 2000 it was expected the regulatory process would delay the new material's introduction into the market by perhaps several years.
-- Synthetic rubber kills germs on contact By Karla Harby, Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, Mar 28, 2000
To clean up radioactive contamination you first have to find it. Now it's possible to do so with night vision goggles such as the military uses (when they are suitably modified).
The trick is to adjust the goggles to detect the light wavelengths of zinc sulphide when it is scintillating. But that's only half the task. The other is to spread zinc sulphide over the area you wish to check for contamination. Night vision goggles of course will be swamped by bright light, so you require darkness too (or a special filter).
-- Glow for it by Rob Edwards; New Scientist Online News;14 March 2001; newscientist.com
-- Adding acetone to compost remediates chunk TNT contaminated soil , EurekAlert! , 6 APRIL 2000 Contact: Mary Beckman email@example.com 208-526-0061 Idaho National E & E Laboratory
Important breakthrough in cleaning up sites suffering radioactive and toxic metals contamination
Citric acid, sunlight, and soil bacteria may effectively remove or convert to less harmful forms a high percentage of the metallic toxics from soil, incinerator ash, and other wastes. The process allows for recycling of metals, and also separates out radioactives like uranium as a byproduct. Removal rates for uranium tested at 99%. Metals removal tested at 95%.
-- BNL Scientists Report On A Natural Cleanup Solution For Polluted Soil & Incinerator Ash, 30 DECEMBER 1998, Contact: Kara Villamil firstname.lastname@example.org 516-344-5658 Brookhaven National Laboratory
Important breakthrough in cleaning up sites suffering radioactive contaminationWe may now have microbes which can help us clean up after nuclear accidents, terrorism, and explosions (as well as spent nuclear reactors).
-- "Microbial janitors tackle nuclear clean-up problems", EurekAlert!, 17 AUGUST 1999 Contact: Deborah Hill, email@example.com, 208-526-4723, Idaho National E & E Laboratory
Biochemical Weapons Defenses Contents
During 2005 through 2012 troops of developed states typically enjoyed more robust protection than ever before-- but the threat itself was mounting as well.
The risk to civilians has grown dramatically by now, as troops are increasingly a less vulnerable target while civilian casualties actually offer far greater publicity and shock value for terrorists/aggressors utilizing such weaponry. So here the burden for practical defense against biochem weapons rested for the most part on civilian consumers and their supporting commercial and employment infrastructure.
The extra infection-fighting measures......being built into new construction at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago see some emulation in office buildings and even personal housing at some point in the early 21st century.
Some of the items include:
Every room is private and includes a sink at every entrance/exit to encourage hand-washing.
High efficiency filters clean the air throughout the building of potentially dangerous particulate matter. Water is ionized to kill germs. Even the floors receive special treatments to reduce the likelihood of spreading infection.
Above and beyond all this are special isolation chambers for patients known to have highly contagious diseases.
-- "Hospital Built With Infection Control In Mind" By Kathy Fieweger, March 17, 1999, Yahoo/Reuters
Important breakthrough regarding Ebola and possibly many artificial terrorist-inspired variants of same
Ebola is one of the anti-biological weapons researchers' nightmare contagions. It delivers horrific deaths upon most victims, and could lead to panic in any populace which believed itself at high risk for the disease. Now a possible defense against Ebola has been discovered...
-- "Scientist Says Plant May Be Ebola Cure", Reuters/Yahoo! News Science Headlines, August 3 1999
Important breakthrough in minimizing the risks of influenza epidemics
-- Scientists develop lifelong flu vaccine, Health, BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk, October 5, 1999
Across-the-board protection against many infectious agents
A wave of cheap and easily mass produced medicines based on monoclonal antibodies (MABs) is coming which will specifically target the body's main avenues of interaction with infectious agents from the physical world-- mucosal surfaces, like the mouth, nose, and vagina. The entire gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urinary tracts could be protected with these substances. The strategy is to kill off pathogens before they can get past these interfaces into the main body itself and begin reproducing.
MABs could be produced, distributed, and applied far more easily and cheaply than vaccines, yet do the same jobs, and often faster.
Sexually transmitted diseases, tooth decay, stomach viruses, colds, and many more afflictions might all be preventable with MABs.
Monoclonal antibodies are also being referred to by some as "plantibodies", as they might be produced in standard agricultural settings for under $1.00 per gram.
-- Antibody Revolution Targets STDs, Stomach Viruses, Common Cold, 29 DECEMBER 1998, Contact: Gary Dorsey firstname.lastname@example.org 410-516-7906 Johns Hopkins University
Magnetic field treatment for Malaria
It may be possible to treat malaria victims with oscillating magnetic fields. Plasmodium, the malaria parasite, appears to suffer damage from such fields as they disrupt its normal compartmentalization of iron-containing particles, allowing either iron toxicity or internal membrane damage to affect the organism.
-- Magnetic fields may hold key to malaria treatment, UW researchers find , EurekAlert!, 30 MARCH 2000 Contact: Rob Harrill email@example.com 206-543-2580 University of Washington
Important breakthroughs in preventing, containing, and treating anthrax
BCTP looks to be a handy, non-toxic anthrax killer. Ingredients include Triton X 100 detergent, tri-n-butyl phosphate solvent, soybean oil, and water.
-- Agent destroys anthrax, doesn't hurt animals or the environment, SEPTEMBER 26, 1998, The University of Michigan News and Information Services 412 Maynard Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1399, Contact: Sally Pobojewski, Phone: (734) 647-1844, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Both a vaccine to immunize against anthrax, and a medicine to treat people already infected, might be developed from a mutated form of one of the disease's own toxins.
-- Scientists Find Novel Way to Subvert Anthrax Germ By Will Dunham; Yahoo!/Reuters; April 26, 2001
The toxin Staphylococcal superantigen causes roughly 25% of the food poisoning which occurs in the United States today. Now scientists have devised a decoy molecule technique which may stop the toxin in its tracks-- and work against similar toxins related to toxic shock syndrome, HIV, anthrax, and others too.
-- Decoy molecule that fights food poisoning might help defeat other toxins; 16 APRIL 2001; EurekAlert!; Contact: Beverly Hassell, email@example.com, 202-872-4065, American Chemical Society
Important breakthrough in containing Bubonic plague
-- Could A Nasal Vaccine Finally Get Rid Of The Black Death? New Scientist, 2 DECEMBER 1998, Contact: Claire Bowles firstname.lastname@example.org 44-171-331-2751
Fast-track implementation of an anti-bioterrorism project similar to the Human Genome Project (except indexing the DNA of important known pathogens rather than human beings) could well provide USAmerica with a much better shield against bioterror (and for much less cost), than many other types of defense spending. Such a project could allow for much more rapid detection and responses to belligerent acts in this theater, than could otherwise be the case. Its very existence could also help deter such acts altogether.
-- Experts: Project Could Protect Against Biological Attack By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent, January 24, 1999, Yahoo/Reuters
Important breakthrough in weapons disposal
Portable isotopic neutron spectroscopy (PINS) scanners may now be used to accurately detail the contents of old weapons without the dangerous disassembly required by many other methods.
-- Weapons Can Now Be Scanned To See What Horrors They Conceal by Lila Guterman, Contact: Claire Bowles email@example.com 44-171-331-2751 New Scientist, 28 OCTOBER 1998
Some nuclear waste could be recycled to treat cancer patients. Yttrium-90 can be produced from the strontium-90 byproduct of weapons manufacturing. It an then be attached to a cancer anti-body which will deliver it to cancerous cells to be destroyed.
-- Nuclear waste fights cancer By John Roach; Environmental News Network Daily News; 11/30/1999; http://www.enn.com/
Biochemical Weapons Defenses Contents
In 2013 and beyond biochem weapons and practical countermeasures reached a much more even footing. Ergo, many or most outbreaks could be contained and minimized without catastrophic consequences.
One of the more significant responses to the menace to emerge among both corporations and private citizens has been the migration to and development of Mall Cities or Arcologies-- large group homes often consisting of one or a few enormous buildings sheltering hundreds to tens of thousands of people. The rationale for the structures (in regards to bio agent protection) is a shared controlled environment in which inhabitants may better control the intitial invasion and incubation stages of any infection or contamination. Those early stages are often critical to minimizing fatalities in an outbreak.
Important breakthrough in reducing/controlling epidemics both natural and man-madeA method to stop microbial pathogens in their tracks, perhaps applicable across-the-board to infectious diseases, has been found. Just one application might be to vaccinate poultry and cattle to greatly reduce the likelihood of food poisoning bacteria ever getting to the consumer.
-- "Breakthrough On Microbial Disease Published In Science", Science 6 MAY 1999, Contact: Gail Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org, 805-893-7220, Joan Magruder, email@example.com, 805-893-3071, University of California, Santa Barbara
Un-natural anti-microbial agents
A new man-made beta-peptide molecule may pave the way to a new field of un-natural anti-microbial agents which contagions may have a tough time surviving against, much less developing a resistance to same. Natural peptides are too toxic to human cells (as well as degrade too easily) to use this way. This represents nothing less than a designer anti-biotic. The first experimental molecule seems to break down the protective membrane wall of a bacterium, which essentially spells the end for that bacterium.
-- Nature's Path Leads Scientists To New Antibiotic Strategy, 4/10/2000, Source: University Of Wisconsin-Madison (http://www.wisc.edu/); an alternative URL is http://www.news.wisc.edu/thisweek/view.msql?id=4798
Important breakthrough in detoxifying fragile but valuable equipment (and maybe even people too) which have been contaminated by biochemical warfare agents
Up to now making contaminated equipment safe to use again has been problematic, as the cleaning processes themselves often did damage to the articles. Now though a new "cold flame" process may greatly improve our techniques. It uses atomic oxygen (resulting from a mix of helium and oxygen gases subjected to several hundred volts of electricity) to burn contaminants off of surfaces with little or no harmful effect to the surfaces themselves. The atomic oxygen created is highly reactive with biochem agents, thereby essentially turning them into something else when the 'cold flame' washes over such substances.
Surprisingly, the surface being cleaned is subjected to relatively little heat by this process.
In the early tests the heat produced was low enough to be safe for paper, but still too hot to be so for cleansing human skin. Therefore efforts are now underway to reduce the heat to human tolerances/comfort levels, so that 'cold flame' showers might be used by future soldiers for decontamination in biowarfare environments.
-- "Cold Burn Takes Sting Out Of Bioweapons" Author: Jeff Hecht, New Scientist issue 27th March 99, Contact: Claire Bowles, firstname.lastname@example.org, 44-171-331-2751, New Scientist Washington office: email@example.com, 202-452-1178, New Scientist
Note of course that the troops and civilian populations of poorer nations continue to be far more vulnerable to bioweapon attacks than their richer cousins, in 2013 and beyond. And since germs are no respecters of national boundaries, this could easily lead to a decimation of the poorer world populations overall due to one or more uses of bioweapons in war or terrorism or 'ethnic cleansing' spreading far beyond what its perpetrators intended-- (or likewise overflows of highly unethical research and development testing of same). As 50-70% of the world's population might be considered to be among the poor spoken of here, we're talking the possible loss of three and a half billion people or more during the 21st century.
-- Ready or not...by Nell Boyce, From New Scientist magazine, 29 January 2000
Important breakthrough in improving food safety
Lactoferrin, a protein in cow's milk that seems to protect infants from various infectious agents, might be applied to meat to greatly reduce the amount of 30+ bacterial organisms which can otherwise attach themselves to the food's surface. It might work similarly on other biological surfaces like skin or teeth, ridding them of possibly dangerous infectious agents which tend to cling to them. Sugar is required to lock the lactoferrin in place. After that it will stay effective for weeks, even during certain food processing activities.
Food taste and appearance are not affected by application of the protectant.
Another new idea in this field is growing non-harmful versions of normally dangerous organisms like E. coli, then feeding it to farm animals. The 'good' organisms might then take the place of the 'bad' inside the animal, making any food resulting from the process much safer for the dinner table.
-- Antimicrobe Marinade By Gary Stix; Scientific American; May 2001; sciam.com
Important breakthrough towards insuring clean blood supplies
Disease contamination in blood supplies might be done away with via radiation treatments that kill infective agents but don't harm red blood cells. As other filters currently deal with known threats, this new treatment would help the most against unknown and new viruses and bacterias that emerge without warning.
The radiation targets RNA and DNA, which the infectious agents use to propagate, but red blood cells have less dependence on.
-- Nuke 'em by Phil Cohen, From New Scientist magazine, 16 December 2000
Bacteria at the bottom of the Hudson River appear to have naturally evolved to a form capable of converting dangerous PCBs from pollution into more benign substances. It may be that scientists could find a way to apply these same bacteria to other PCB-afflicted sites for clean ups.
-- GAIA AT WORK UNDER THE HUDSON From Science Frontiers #61, JAN-FEB 1989, by William R. Corliss, citing "Hudson Bacteria Transform PCBs into Safer Forms," Baltimore Sun, November 4, 1988
Biochemical Weapons Defenses Contents
The Longer Term Threat
The term 'Green Goo' is here used as a take off of 'Gray Goo', an ominous doomsday possibility raised in regards to nanotechnology by Eric Drexler in the book "Engines of Creation". Gray Goo could be what the entire Earth and humanity are reduced to by runaway nanotech, in a worst case scenario.
By contrast, "Green Goo" refers to biotech spawned doomsday devices, such as viruses specifically targeted to liquidate all higher life forms on Earth. It might not be that hard for someone to create and unleash a virus which killed, say, yeast and everything more complicated than yeast on the food chain.
Alternatively, a less massive but still awful attack could be mounted against a much more specific genetic pattern. In essence, a diabolical character could decide to tailor a virus that is deadly to only the bachelor next door whom they despise-- or to create a bug which will kill only people that are 1% Eskimo and 2% Pakistani-- we're talking designer bugs here which might be 'tuned' to whatever genetic specificity the killer wishes. Everyone with red hair could be targeted. Anyone, anywhere, of any heritage, could be at risk.
And such bugs might be capable of bypassing or overcoming the more general purpose defenses listed before in this document. Because it might too closely resemble a part of the victim's own biological composition.
It could be very difficult to protect oneself from a bug like this. And with a possible specificity as narrow as a single individual, it's likely no government or corporation on Earth (or combinations of same) would ever possess sufficient resources to devise a suitable remedy to even 1% of the possibilities. So 'green goo' is likely to remain an intensely personal danger for as long as we are trapped in biological forms similar to those of today (1999).
In the meantime, the only suitable theoretical defense against Green Goo is to never make contact with it in the first place. And since you could never know where it might be waiting for you, this means isolating yourself into an environment you can strictly control, or someone else you trust controls, and concealing your location from the rest of the world (to minimize the chance of an enemy finding you and cracking your defenses).
If memory serves me, David Brin in his novel Earth described genetic engineering efforts by certain environmental groups which drove a certain species of domesticated goat into extinction, all in order to remove its damaging effects from a particular ecosystem.
Hitler's Nazis performed research during WWII with goals including deleting entire ethnic factions of humanity from the face of the Earth; a form of 'ethnic cleansing' with echoes in today's region of what was once called Yugoslavia.
Such genetic engineering efforts are getting easier and cheaper to accomplish on a daily basis. Far less controversial versions have been utilized or attempted to rid places like Australia of unwanted rabbit species for instance, by way of a strategically created and introduced virus.
Note that although gruesome deaths similar to that brought victims of the Ebola virus and similar diseases may be what people expect of future bio-terrorists or military campaigns, far subtler and slower acting contagions may well become the real threat in future decades and centuries.
Remember, to wipe out a certain population forever, you don't have to kill anyone outright, or in overt fashion. Instead, you can simply deny them the capacity to reproduce. Then, after the current generation dies out, they are gone forever.
This insidious strategy could well require years for the victims to recognize as an attack on their futures-- so much time, in fact, that the virus responsible could have become irretrievably embedded in the gene pool of the targeted ethnic group by then, making any remedy far less likely to succeed than it might have been before.
This 'gentler' form of genocide might also succeed at maintaining sufficient uncertainty about the matter among both victims and potential allies as to further delay substantial action or response to the assault. Thus, an energetic and robust response to the attack might be blunted by its subtle nature. The source of such an assault might be easier to conceal too. Investigators might be more prone to pursue erroneous leads, or simply have too little evidence to accomplish their mission. Especially if investigations are delayed to many years after deployment.
Much like ballistic nuclear missiles, green goo weapons can multiply and be triggered much more easily than they might be adequately defended against, or remedies for their use devised.
Facts like these will be yet another reason future humanity will likely enclose themselves protectively into isolated enclaves, and embrace virtual reality media as a replacement for much physical travel and contact with others.
Much of the thrust of the above was inspired by "Green Goo -- Life in the Era of Humane Genocide" by Nick Szabo, found on the web on or around 2-11-99, Life in the Era of Humane Genocide, a part of Nick Szabo's Theoretical Applied Science Page.
-- "Ethnically Targeted Weapons May Not Be Far Off" By Patricia Reaney, Yahoo/Reuters, 1-21-99
Tests have revealed it possible to wipe out an entire population through natural reproduction cycles alone, with but a single initial member possessing suitably tuned 'Trojan' genes. Trojan genes would use some aspects of Darwinian evolution against a species, in a form of conceptual martial arts. That is, it would increase the reproductive attractiveness of carriers among the species so that they became preferred sexual mates. Making carriers mature faster than non-carriers would also tilt the playing field their way. Finally, tuning carriers so that 33% or so die before reaching reproductive maturity would cause the overall population to gradually shrink below critical mass-- thereby killing off the entire species. This process has already been proven with fish.
-- Extinction point by Matt Walker From New Scientist, 4 December 1999
Biochemical Weapons Defenses Contents