Situation Report #3: Chinese water pollution, Ukraine Civil War, the Middle East disintegrates and Ebola looms

china-water-pollutionWater pollution in China

As the current outlook for the global security situation worsens the Plausible Futures Newsletter keeps covering the news and scenarios. Enjoy this current free SitRep for the dominant driving forces and scenarios:

Ukrainian forces advance in east as Russia, West squabble via Reuters.
Germany denies ‘land for gas’ deal with Putin via The Local.

Israel, HAMAS and Iran
Iranian officials say they have armed Hamas for fight with Israel via LA Times.
US President Obama signs bill to finance Israeli Iron Dome via Associated Press.
Cash, Weapons and Surveillance: the U.S. is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack via The Intercept.

Syria and ISIS in Iraq
ISIS Terrorists ‘Have Seized Iraq’s Largest Dam’ via Newsweek.
German flooding of the Pontine Marshes in World War II via BioOne.

Ebola pandemic?
Patient at Mount Sinai Has Ebola-Like Symptoms, Hospital Says via NY Times.
Experimental Ebola Treatment Came From California Company via NBC News.

Craters in Siberian and instant lakes in Tunisia.
Mysterious Siberian crater attributed to methane via Nature.
Mystery as ‘lake’ appears in middle of Tunisian desert and becomes overnight tourist attraction via The Independent.

Water pollution in China and radiation in Japan
Shocking Photos Show How Polluted China’s Water Has Become via Business Insider.
Monkeys show effects of fallout from Fukushima nuclear meltdown via South China Morning Post.

Subscribe to the Plausible Futures Newsletter for comprehensive scenarios.

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Special Report: Ebola Outbreak of 2014

ebola control campFeeling The Heat, Burning The Suits
(image from NPR)

The World Health Organisation reported that as of July 17 there had been 1,048 cases in the outbreak and 632 of those people have died.

Cases have occurred in the region of West Africa; Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with suspected cases in Congo and Uganda. This is the most widespread outbreak since the disease was identified in 1976 in Sudan and Congo.

WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) treat patients and try to contain the Ebola outbreak that is currently gripping the vast region. Their challenge is to contain the highly deadly disease, with a chilling 60-90% death rate, by stopping human to human transmission.

Health workers also struggle to convince the population to abandon their local food tradition which includes bats, monkeys and other wildlife found in the forests and are known to carry the Ebola virus. This is food tradition is also a multi-million industry. In addition, certain religious groups are blaming the health care workers for spreading the virus.

The situation should concern the entire health and emerging disease community on the planet. If this virus remains uncontained the probability for mutations increase. The virus might find others hosts like pigs or other household animals. The Ebola virus could become the mother of all pandemics.

Scenarios for the current Ebola outbreak

Driving forces:

  • local food traditions, religion and burial rituals
  • insufficient health information and health care
  • climate change, deforestation, desertification

Uncertainty and Wild Cards:

  • Mutations of the Ebola virus
  • Ebola jumps to household animals
  • Genetic immunity among certain people
  • Ebola vaccines and treatment
  • International respons: containment, controlled burn-out or military intervention

Scenario 1 (baseline):

The Ebola virus is contained during the coming months, with few recurring cases, due to health care efforts of the international community, disease information, treatment-centers and local and national health support. Better systems for detection are implemented (see Molecular Computer Detects Ebola and Marburg Viruses)

Scenario 2:

The Ebola virus is a recurring and deadly threat for the continent of Africa for years to come until a vaccine is developed. Certain cases are quickly contained in Europe, the US and Asia. Local resistance to health care workers makes matters worse (see Suspected Ebola patient escapes hospital in Sierra Leone)

Scenario 3:

The Ebola virus becomes a constant international threat, airtraffic across the globe halts to a standstill and military control posts are common on borders from known infected countries.

Scenario 4 (worst case):

Zombie style apocalypse where the Ebola virus mutates resulting in a pandemic that cause widespread death, chaos and destruction.

World Health Organization
Médecins Sans Frontières
Ebola time line on Wikipedia.

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Situation Report #2: Robotics, Quantum Computing and Transhumanism



Enjoy this weeks roundup of the current situation ranging from robotics via quantum computing to the philosophy of transhumanism.

The Robots Running This Way. 
The history of Boston Dynamics, the robotics company recently aquired by Google., and their relation to DARPA.
Source: MIT Technology Review.

Partnership plus: the future of the NATO-Ukraine relationship
Russian threatens Ukriane in addition to Finland over possible NATO membership application.
Source: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

5 predictions revisited: Iraq’s troubles are years in the making, experts say
Syria-based ISIS control several major cities in Iraq and threatens regional stability.
Source: CNN.

Study finds weird magic ingredient for quantum computing
Are we getting closer to a working method for mass production of quantum computers?
Source: PhysOrg.

Transhumanism and Marxism: Philosophical Connections
Transhumanism indicates a transitional state on the road to a posthuman state. This transition is to be accomplished primarily by technological means in a transfer of control over the process of evolution from natural selection to conscious human direction.
Source: Journal of Evolution and Technology.

Maritime route of colonization of Europe
Scientists use DNA polymorphisms of extant populations to investigate the patterns of gene flow from the Near East to Europe.
Source: PNAS.

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Synthetic Biology: Microbes defy rules of DNA

virusRecoding could stop synthetic organisms from sharing their modified DNA,
as happens when a virus (red) infects a bacterium (green).

The instructions encoded into DNA are thought to follow a universal set of rules across all domains of life. But researchers report today in Science that organisms routinely break these rules.

The finding has implications for the design of synthetic life: by designing organisms that break the rules, researchers may be able to make novel life forms resistant to viral infection. Making these organisms also been proposed as a way to stop synthetic life forms from infecting unintended hosts. Widespread exceptions to these rules, however, could make it difficult to engineer organisms that will not pass on their DNA to those in the wild.

Source: Nature News.

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Situation Report #1: Gene Therapy, EU elections and tension in China, Vietnam

Enjoy this week news roundup on the current situation:

dna-repairBreakthrough shows how DNA is ‘edited’ to correct genetic diseases
Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and the Lithuanian Institute of Biotechnology has made a major step forward in our understanding of how enzymes ‘edit’ genes, paving the way for correcting genetic diseases in patients.
Source: PhysOrg

Ukraine crisis: Dozens killed in Donetsk clashes
Ukraine forces fight seperatists for a second day in eastern city Donetsk after new leader Petro Poroshenko vows to put down ‘terrorist’ revolt.
Source: Telegraph

European elections 2014: Party leaders to set out response to Ukip victory
UK party leaders are expected to set out their response to Ukip’s “political earthquake”, after victory in EU parliament elections.
Source: The Independent

Vietnam, China trade accusations after Vietnamese fishing boat sinks
Tension rise as Chinese sink a Vietnamese fishing boat not far from where China has placed an oil rig in the disputed South China Sea.
Source: Reuters

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A sample of previous posts on Plausible Futures Newsletter:

5GW and Norwegian Terrorism (co-published in Interesting Times Magazine)

The Perfect Storm and Black Swan Theory

Why you already live in a cyberpunk future (co-published in Interesting Times Magazine)

The Men Who Stare in Peace: An Interview with Dr. David Leffler

Nanowar Scenarios and the Future of Warfare: An Interview with Edwin Thomas, Director of MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies.

Undesirable World Futures: Things That Could, But Shouldn’t, Happen

The Future of Designer Babies

30 Years Beyond the Limits – an interview with Jørgen Randers, co-published in Futurology, Forecasts and Initiatives.

View all previous posts on the retired Plausible Futures installation.

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Great Books for Far Out Futures

The Circle

Dystopian near future science fiction novel about a company that resembles Google about to “complete the circle”.

Ready Player One

VR-storyline with immensive amounts of references to the best of eighties geek culture.

The Rapture of the Nerds

Immortality and funny VR engulfed with ethical dilemmas.


Recent version of Terminator commit a global DDoS-attack.

Year Zero

Intergalactic adventure centered around IPO. Hilarious satire.

A Fire Upon the Deep (Deepness in the Sky and The Children of the Sky)

The Singularity themed scenario disguised as Space Opera.

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2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years

he new book “2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years” by Jorgen Randers raises the possibility that humankind might not survive on the planet if it continues on its path of over-consumption and short-termism. 

In the report author Jorgen Randers raises essential questions: How many people will the planet be able to support? Will the belief in endless growth crumble? Will runaway climate change take hold? Where will quality of life improve, and where will it decline?

Read more about the book on The Club of Rome.

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5GW and Norwegian Terrorism

The atrocities committed against innocent civilians in the recent terrorist attacks in Norway shows how much harm and disruption one person can do against an unprepared society. Is the attack a precursor for a general transformation and individualization of terrorism?

According to the evolution of military theory advanced surveillance, intelligence and sophisticated weaponry is useless against terrorists like Anders Behring Breivik (ABB). This was confirmed by the chief of the Norwegian chief of internal security (PST) admitting that even the STASI secret police couldn’t have stopped the attack.


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