Need something to worry about maybe 100 or 1,000 or 100,000 times more serious in the here and now than global warming, something that could kill more people in a jiffy than U.S. soldiers killed in World War II, something deemed next door to inevitable in the near, not distant future?
Here’s what to do then. Instead of wringing your hands in unison with the alarmist ideologues, bureaucrats and politically inspired scientists attending a world summit on warming in Copenhagen, focus on the arrest of a Chicago man accused of bombings in India, then on the Fort Hood killings committed by Maj. Nidal Hasan, next on a report by a national commission and finally on an expert’s thoughts abut weapons of mass destruction.
The Chicago man, David Headley, is charged with planning death and destruction at a Danish newspaper that once carried cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and with conspiring in the attacks that killed 166 people in Mumbai last year. This suspected terrorist is home grown, and you can’t help thinking that if India and Denmark were in his crosshairs, the United States was likely not far behind.
We’ve already been hit by an American-raised jihadist, Hassan, whose unabated, uninhibited, widely shared mutterings about an infidel United States making war on Islam seem to have been largely ignored as a consequence of politically correct sensibilities. So here’s a question: What exactly did we learn from 9/11 and all the studies about having to do a better job with internal intelligence?
There’s another study out, this one by a bipartisan commission required by Congress to investigate WMD proliferation and terrorism. In a report issued a year ago, the group in effect says be very afraid. More specifically, the group warns that if the world doesn’t get proper measures in gear, there is going to be massive killing someplace in the world by at least 2013. The instrument of doom will be a WMD, most likely a biological weapon.
Nukes are a problem, yes, and if Iran gets nuclear bombs, the threat of terrorists getting hold of needed materials will mushroom, especially since a number of other countries will also make nukes in acts of self-protection. Prevention remains possible, however, because enriched uranium is still relatively scarce and there remain some ways to keep an eye on most of it. Top skills and “massive infrastructure” are needed to build a bomb. There is virtually no way to prevent a biological attack, however.
Got a garage with electricity and running water? That’s about all the infrastructure you need for fashioning biological WMD, says Randall Larsen, a former Air Force colonel. E-bay, he notes, will sell you whatever equipment you want. Most pathogens are easily available in nature. You don’t need huge quantities to do huge damage, and there are many ways to attack. With a crop duster, you could kill more than 416,000 people, the number of U.S. soldier killed in World War II.
Larsen was one of a number of speakers at a recent Heritage Foundation conference who said the answer to a biological attack is containment. You must be able to respond immediately with vaccines and other means, and right now we’re far removed from where we have to be. Considering not just the mayhem, but the ways in which an attack could change the very nature of our society, you’d think the issue would be getting far more attention than global warming remedies that won’t work unless the world cooperates in is own economic demise - and it will not.
None of this is to say warming has to be ignored - we need to learn more and to develop technologies that won’t impoverish us while availing nothing and to understand that future and present crises are plentiful enough that you need to expend limited resources on what is most in your face and most readily addressed.
Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com.