James M. Tabor's Blog
April 27, 2012
Last week, England's Royal Society (roughly analogous to our National Academy of Sciences) issued a report on overpopulation. Twenty-two months in the making, with contributions from the UK's most eminent scientists, it was not an encouraging read. Enough to make one want to run out and become a Doomsday Prepper, in fact. For example...
If population growth continues at its current rate, developing countries would have to construct the equivalent of a million-resident city every five days to accommodate new people.
If pop grown continues, it's not a question of if, but when, resource wars ignite in Africa and the mid-East.
Those are just two of the reports more depressing findings. MOST DEPRESSING?--That governments and corporations will have to work together to stem the flood. Good luck with that one.
So where is all this leading, other than into the Slough of Despond? In the followup novel to THE DEEP ZONE, possibly titled THE DARK SECTOR, a group of rogue scientists come up with a novel solution to overpopulation. Hallie Leland has to stop them before... well, don't want to do any spoilers here.
April 6, 2012
I was talking with a very astute friend this morning who'd just finished The Deep Zone. She said, "This is an amazing example of fiction following fact. This stuff with ACE really happened, and nobody knows about it." She's absolutely right. I think one of the novel's less publicized features is that it is indeed based on a real bacterium that infected, and in some cases killed, real American soldiers. And that it took prodding by Congress to uncover full details about what was happening in military hospitals.
I'm going to write more about the facts behind the fiction in this and following posts.
Acinetobacter baumanii--ACE, I call it for short--is the pathogen that attacked the soldiers. It was not one or two cases. "This a very large outbreak,"Arjun Srinivasan, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. public health service and a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control, told Forbes magazine in 2005.
ACE is formidable for several reasons. It's very hardy, able to survive on the human skin or dry surfaces for weeks. It has inherent resistance to antibiotics like penicillin, chloramphenicol, and many other. What's more, it's also a quick-change artist, able to develop resistance to drugs faster than new drugs can be created to kill it. When Hallie Leland says, in the novel, that researchers at Stanford found in ACE the most mutations ever reported in a bacterium, she was speaking the truth.
Ace is not only hardy and resistant to all the drugs we have. It is an especially nasty germ.Put simply, ACE eats flesh, as a picture accompanying this blog post shows.
Next post will look at the military's efforts to suppress reports about ACE's attacks on our troops.