Tags: Ebola Outbreak | Ebola | globalized | economy | Africa

Scared of Ebola? Blame the Globalized Economy

By    |   Wednesday, 15 October 2014 08:20 AM

The Ebola virus has jumped continents, spreading from West Africa to the developed West. Now nurses who treated the patients in Spain and the U.S. are among the victims.

The "experts" who claim modern medicine can stop this plague look less expert by the day. I think this is partly because the threat is not simply biological. Economic forces made it inevitable. If not Ebola, some other bug would be threatening the West.

We've long known that tropical jungles contain unfriendly creatures and microorganisms. This is nothing new. What is new is their transfer into the human population. How did that happen?

Humans largely stayed out of the jungles for millennia. The primitive tribes who lived there either found ways to co-exist with the native flora and fauna or lived very short lives.

Did those tribes leave the jungle and join the modern world? Some did, but more often, the modern world joined them. The globalized economy's hunger for natural resources led farmers, ranchers, miners and energy explorers deeper and deeper off the beaten path in recent decades. There they found the resources we all wanted. In the process, they also found some plagues we do not want.

Should we point fingers at those who burned the rain forests and dug up the once-wild Savanna? We can, but we have to point fingers back at ourselves, too. We — you and me — created the economic incentives that drove globalization.

We're the ones who buy cheap plastic imported goods at Wal-Mart (WMT).

We're the ones who drive gas-guzzling pickups and SUVs fueled by ExxonMobil's (XOM) worldwide energy empire.

We're the ones who love our mobile devices from Apple (AAPL), whose tiny but critical components are made of strategic metals mined in remote locations.

The worldwide air transport network that takes us on vacations, transports our goods and allows multinational corporations to work so efficiently is a kind of global circulatory system. The bigger it gets, the more often it will tap into things we don't want to circulate. Ebola is only one example.

The global economy that supports our modern lifestyle exists only because people ventured deep into the once-forbidden places where Ebola lives. Having created that economy, we should not now be surprised that it has a dark side.

Sealing the borders might help, but not without a cost. Are you ready to see your grocery bill triple and gasoline at $10 a gallon?

We can stop Ebola tomorrow if we de-globalize the economy. The economic costs would be staggering. Since no one wants to pay them, our remaining choice is to accept the price of globalization.

We went into the jungle. Now the jungle is coming to us.

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The Ebola virus has jumped continents, spreading from West Africa to the developed West. Now nurses who treated the patients in Spain and the U.S. are among the victims.
Ebola, globalized, economy, Africa
448
2014-20-15
Wednesday, 15 October 2014 08:20 AM
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