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Biological weapons cause uncontrolled pathogens, culminating in extinction



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Biological weapons cause uncontrolled pathogens, culminating in extinction


Steinrumer 97 (John Steinbrumer, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, chair of the committee on international security and arms control of the National Academy of Sciences, December 22, 1997Foreign Policy)//SQR

That deceptively simple observation has immense implications. The use of a manufactured weapon is a singular event. Most of the damage occurs immediately. The aftereffects, whatever they may be, decay rapidly over time and distance in a reasonably predictable manner. Even before a nuclear warhead is detonated, for instance, it is possible to estimate the extent of the subsequent damage and the likely level of radioactive fallout. Such predictability is an essential component for tactical military planning. The use of a pathogen, by contrast, is an extended process whose scope and timing cannot be precisely controlled. For most potential biological agents, the predominant drawback is that they would not act swiftly or decisively enough to be an effective weapon. But for a few pathogens - ones most likely to have a decisive effect and therefore the ones most likely to be contemplated for deliberately hostile use - the risk runs in the other direction. A lethal pathogen that could efficiently spread from one victim to another would be capable of initiating an intensifying cascade of disease that might ultimately threaten the entire world population. The 1918 influenza epidemic demonstrated the potential for a global contagion of this sort but not necessarily its outer limit.





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