Friday, October 15, 2010

A Small Success for Mankind, One Giant Leap for a Better Tomorrow

Here's a NY Times story of a scientific success, just one more in a long line of successes by science that make life better for us:
Livestock Virus Eradicated, U.N. Says


In only the second elimination of a disease in history, rinderpest — a virus that used to kill cattle and wildlife by the millions — has been declared wiped off the face of the earth.

Rinderpest, which means “cattle plague” in German, does not affect humans, though it belongs to the same virus family as measles. But for millenniums in Asia, Europe and Africa it wiped out cattle, water buffalo, yaks and other animals needed for meat, milk, plowing and cart-pulling.

Its mortality rate is about 80 percent — higher even than smallpox, the only other disease ever eliminated.

The last case was seen in Kenya in 2001. On Thursday, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization announced that it was dropping its field surveillance efforts because it was convinced the disease was gone. The official ceremony in which the World Organization for Animal Health will declare the world rinderpest-free is scheduled for May.
Go read the rest of the article to get more background on this story.

I'm bothered by the fact that so many people are proud of their scientific ignorance. The world could only sustain about one-fifth the current population if science was removed. We would be back in the dark ages where the only light you had was the fire you could keep. No refrigeration to allow variety in choice in diet. No miracles of science to provide entertainment and transportation. But despite these stark facts, a solid majority of people claim they want to live their lives by some rules drawn up by a wandering nomad tribe nearly three thousand years ago (updated by a near-illiterate from the backwaters of the Roman Empire or a failed merchant from the wild tribes of the Arabian desert). Bizarre. Just look at the Bible to see how much disease and death is in that book. That's what you get is you turn your back on science.

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