The CDC Is Preparing for Nuclear War. Should You Prepare, Too?

Odd Timing

On January 2, U.S. President Donald Trump sent the now-infamous tweet in which he asserted that his “nuclear button” was both “much bigger” and “more powerful” than that of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Two days later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced plans to stage a livestreamed grand rounds (a teaching session for medical professionals) titled “Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation” on January 16.

During the grand rounds, speakers from the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other government agencies will deliver presentations with such titles as “Roadmap to Radiation Preparedness” and “Public Health: Preparing for the Unthinkable.”

So, is this a coincidence? Or a scary omen that Trump’s tweet was more than just bluster?

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According to CDC spokesperson Bert Kelly, the staging of a grand rounds is nothing unusual for the CDC. “Public Health Grand Rounds is part of CDC’s longstanding and routine work, with the goal of ensuring the public health community is prepared for all types of health threats,” he told Futurism. “These presentations take place regularly.”

Additionally, while the timing of a grand rounds on this particular topic may make it seem like the CDC believes the possibility of a nuclear detonation is high right now, CDC spokesperson Kathy Harben told Stat that that’s not the case. She said the agency actually began planning for the session back in April 2017 after CDC officials attended a “radiation/nuclear incident exercise” led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Prior Preparation

It’s good news that the CDC isn’t expecting a nuclear detonation in the near future, but there’s still an estimated 22,000 nuclear weapons in existence — so the threat of a future bombing remains. As we learned from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, these events have devastating and long-lasting consequences.

“We can’t predict at this point or confirm with any degree of certainty whether or not a nuclear attack is going to happen in the very near future,” Suzet McKinney, Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District (IMD) told Futurism. Still, that doesn’t mean preparation for such an event isn’t worthwhile, according to McKinney. She believes a whole community approach would be the most likely to save lives.

“No small agency or even a small jurisdiction will be able to handle a nuclear attack on its own,” said McKinney. “Government entities, first responders, and public safety personnel must work together with community members, social service and non-profit organizations, as well as private business and healthcare.”

McKinney suggested government officials make it a point to understand how their individual jurisdiction’s critical infrastructure — its hospitals, police stations, fire stations, water systems, and so on — could be affected by a nuclear detonation. She suggested they try to anticipate the potential needs of not only their own jurisdiction but also those nearby and consider how the areas might work together to cope in the aftermath of a detonation.

Early identification of especially vulnerable populations, such as people who are disabled, don’t have access to technology, or have limited English proficiency, is also important, said McKinney. This information can help officials ensure all citizens are protected in the event of a nuclear event.

Nancy Nydam, the Director of Communications for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) — one of the agencies presenting at the CDC’s grand rounds — confirmed the need for collaboration and communication between various members of the community.

She told Futurism that while public health is not a first-responder in a radiation emergency (which would include a nuclear detonation) they do work closely with first responders in coordinating all responses. They are also responsible for preparing to activate the Community Reception Centers that act as a liaison between public health and the community, providing surveillance, monitoring, decontamination (if necessary), risk communication, and long-term follow-up of anyone who was or may have been exposed to radiation.

As for individuals looking to prepare for a nuclear detonation, the best thing they can do is educate themselves, according to McKinney. Knowing simple things like the importance of sheltering in place to limit radiation exposure or what it means to duck and cover can go a long way toward staying safe in the event of an attack.

She also recommends that members of the public make an effort to understand what their local and state governments are doing to address the threat of nuclear detonation. She suggests checking government websites, attending relevant community meetings, and asking questions if there’s something they don’t understand.

In that respect, the CDC’s upcoming grand rounds is an excellent resource not just for public health officials, but the public as well. The CDC is the nation’s top public health agency, and the information shared during the session could save your life if the unthinkable ever did occur.

Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated to reflect the correct name of the CDC’s teaching session.

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Bitcoin needs to prepare for the attack from banks and governments

“Bitcoin ought to be outlawed.” Those were the ominous words of economist Joseph Stiglitz in an interview with Bloomberg last week. He’s not the first to say it and he certainly won’t be the last. In its short lifetime, Bitcoin managed to survive against all odds It kept grinding through the collapse of Mt Gox. It outlasted critics and doubters who declared it dead again and again and again. It outwitted an exchange and ICO ban from China. It hasn’t suffered a major security breach, even as it moves billions of dollars around the world in the blink of an eye, something almost no major company or government’s website can…

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Prepare Yourself for the “Tsunami of Data” Expected to Hit by 2025

Data Tsunami

Our internet-connected devices could be impeding climate change efforts, according to an update to a 2016 peer-reviewed study on power consumption, as reported by Climate Home News. The billions of devices many of us use every day could produce 3.5 percent of global emissions within 10 years and 14 percent by 2040. This would result in the industry using approximately 20 percent of all of the world’s electricity by 2025. This growing problem threatens to disrupt progress toward climate change goals and exacerbate increasingly-stressed power grids.

These severe consequences are caused by one, major, underlying trend: the rapidly growing power needs of server farms which store data from billions of smart devices. As we acquire more devices and use data and these technologies more and more, these servers require significantly more power. And, as it turns out, we are asking a lot of these server farms, and current predictions say it’s only going to get worse.

Swedish researcher Anders Andrae, who worked on the study update, thinks that industry power demands will increase from 200-300 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year to 1,200 or even 3,000 TWh by 2025. Andrae comments: “The situation is alarming. We have a tsunami of data approaching. Everything which can be is being digitalised. It is a perfect storm. 5G [the fifth generation of mobile technology] is coming, IP [internet protocol] traffic is much higher than estimated, and all cars and machines, robots and artificial intelligence are being digitalised, producing huge amounts of data which is stored in data centres.”

Digital Universe

We have known for years that things like driving, leaving lights on, and letting the water run too long wastes energy and resources, and we should take some personal responsibility for our impact on the planet. But as technology has progressed, the ways in which we affect the environment and contribute to climate change have also changed. The data that we use and the number of devices we own are also now major elements to consider when we think how we use resources. We can even take into consideration our financial investments, as it was recently revealed that the cryptocurrency giant Bitcoin, through mining, consumes more energy than 159 entire countries combined.

Renewable Energy Sources Of The Future [Infographic]
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But does this energy responsibility rest solely on us? The companies whose technologies use this increasing energy could also make changes in order to reduce energy usage or transition to better renewable energy sources. What these companies do, the technologies that they create, and the way we use them each have relative and specific impact on the environment. And, as many experts have agreed, we need to make every effort if we are to meet the climate goals that will prevent further life-threatening consequences of climate change.

So no, this does not exactly mean that we need to stop using our devices. The availability and easy access to information that the internet provides is not only a precious resource, it is a human right, according to the UN. The education that the internet can provide is an essential part of modern life. But as companies continue to advance technologies, and we carry on consuming them, it’s paramount for both sides to take into consideration what impact these devices will have on the future.


Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in a number of cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.

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Those awful Facebook Year In Review videos are back, prepare yourself

As the year comes to a close, annual wrap-ups are most companies favorite way of reminding us just how much we love using their services. Unfortunately, Facebook’s ‘Year In Review‘ videos have the opposite effect on me. So prepare yourself because as of today, they’re back once again to clog up our newsfeed. Unlike Spotify’s ‘Yearly Wrapped’ playlist, Facebook’s Year in Review videos always highlight the worst moments. Worse, they’re blended over a forgettable and utterly cheesy soundtrack. Populated using ‘new friends’ you’ve made, ‘happy birthdays’ you received, your most popular pictures and more social detritus to annoy your friends with, Facebook…

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