. . . And although each of us
one day runs short on the future, for all
there’s the present we stand in, shifting
our pains from one leg to the other,
and, always behind us, the past, having
made it through everything, its hands
on our shoulders, urging us on.
—Ted Kooser, 13th U.S. Poet Laureate
As we all speculate about the future of the COVID-19 pandemic and wonder what the world will look like in its wake, the past holds important clues and context to help us make sense of what we are experiencing. Jocelyn and Bradley are joined this week by medical and environmental historian Dr. Gregg Mitman, who offers a historical perspective on the current crisis. Gregg shares his knowledge and insights about past disease outbreaks, including the 1918 flu pandemic and the 2014-15 Ebola epidemic in Liberia. The friends discuss the moral, political, economic, and environmental dimensions of disease, including how our land-use patterns increase the risk of zoonotic diseases; the persistent tendency of disease outbreaks to spawn conspiracy theories, xenophobia, and eugenic rhetoric; and how epidemics expose and exacerbate existing inequities in society. Gregg also shares his hope that, both locally and globally, we can create new communities and infrastructures of care that will enable us to navigate the current pandemic, while also shaping a more sustainable and just world as we move forward from it.
You can find Gregg on Twitter @greggmitman, and you can learn more about his amazing work at https://gmitman.com/ and at the links below:
Watch In the Shadow of Ebola: http://intheshadowofebola.com/film
A Liberian Journey: http://liberianhistory.org/
Disease outbreaks and xenophobia: https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/12/us/disease-outbreaks-xenophobia-history/index.html
Interview with Peter Daszak: https://slate.com/technology/2020/03/coronavirus-covid19-pandemic-cause-prediction-prevention.html
Francesca Melandri’s “letter from the future”: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/27/a-letter-to-the-uk-from-italy-this-is-what-we-know-about-your-future
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Science! With Friends Podcast is created and hosted by Jocelyn Bosley (@SciTalker) and Bradley Nordell (@bradleynordell), Produced and edited by Vince Ruhl.