6th January 2006
Back in March 2005 I made an attempt to predict the effect of
global warming on the environment. Among
others there was a prediction that "The North
African desert could migrate north across the
as the equatorial jungle expands into the Sahara. Spain, France
Italy & Greece might suffer diminished
rainfall. The climate in the northern countries (Germany, Poland,
Benelux, UK) might
improve (warmer and wetter). However there is a big caveat: the
current might change. If that happens, the climate in northern
Europe might not alter much, or might get colder."
than various researchers put together an expedition (quite
coincidentally, I am sure, since they have not
cited "AUSTRALIAN DIARY") to find out whether the transatlantic current
had changed. They discovered that the warm transatlantic current
had significantly diminished.
It is noted that Southern Europe is in the middle of
a drought, and that Northern Europe has had heavy
snowfalls and extreme cold. Other parts of that prediction were
rainfall in northern Australia would increase as rainfall diminished in
the south. Anecdotally, Sydney seems wetter and warmer than
usual, and there are reports that north Australia has had good rain.
Ariel Sharon had a second stroke on 5th January, and there is a
medical assessment that he will be out of politics for good.
Sharon is hated by the Palestinians because he negligently allowed some
tribe in south Lebanon to massacre a refugee camp of Palestinians when
Israel withdrew from Lebanon some decades ago. (I have always
wondered just what the Palestinians had done to that tribe to make them
Although Sharon was originally responsible for the "greater Israel"
concept, with borders from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea,
he had recently about faced. He withdrew from Gaza,
and foreshadowed further Israeli withdrawals.
In the last few months he had created a new political party, and was
gaining approval from all over the political spectrum. Those
expert in such matters reckoned that he would be able to form his own
government after the elections, without depending on traditional
interests that have been curtailing his strategy.
This is a bad time for Sharon to die. Iran's new leader is
destabilizing the whole region, and I believe that destabilization
might help promote a hawk to power in Israel. That new leader
might well launch a prophylactic attack (with stealthed missiles)
- H5N1 -
Bird Flu seems to be spreading more easily. In Turkey,
children from one family became infected, of whom two have died to
date. It is rumored to be rife
in China. Somebody from Taipei flew into Sydney recently, and was
quarantined, and it was emphatically reported that he did not have
Scary to think that it could be spreading here already. It
probably takes at least four days for an infected person to become
infectious (i.e. start infecting others), so (depending on how many
people each person infects) there is a window of comparative safety of
at least eight days after the first infected person (the "Index
person") arrives, which is probably the time it would take for the
authorities to confirm H5N1 in the Index person.
As a rough guide to calculations: Assuming a four day incubation
period between being infected and becoming infectious, and if the
strain is highly infectious, (i.e. assuming each infected person
infects an average of > 100 new persons before being detected)
then there would be approaching one million infected people twelve days
after the Index person arrived, giving ~ 20% chance for a person (in
Sydney) to be infected.
The assumed infectivity rate of 100 is probably an upper limit.
If a conservative figure for infectivity of 10 were chosen, and the
days from being infected to spreading infection were assumed to be 7
days, then it would take 49 days after arrival of the Index person to
reach a total of 1,000,000 persons infected.
22 January 2006.
In Turkey, a third child in a family with four children (reported
above) has died
of bird flu. In one of his posts, Effectmeasure speculated
that the 80% fatality rate for H5N1 might be overstated, in that it
could be based on data that failed
to include unreported cases. A 75% fatality rate of the children
in one family must surely challenge that theory. The fact that
adults were seemingly less affected adds a tragic possibility to the
course of the disease.