You who sit there in your glutted complacency, are you aware that this could be your final hour?

The Black Death, Dalrymple points out,

killed perhaps a third or a half of the population of Europe.

However,

that was nearly 700 years ago. And in any case a disaster can be a lot smaller than that and still be a disaster. We are not trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records.

Exponential growth

cannot but alarm us when we see those histograms showing the daily toll of death from the infection (or at least with the infection) in ever steeper ascent.

The Chinese flu histograms

strongly resemble the Burj Khalifa. We forget that exponential growth cannot continue for ever and must reach a peak.

Such growth

is not going to continue until the whole of humanity is extinct,

though such a consummation is

devoutly to be wished according to some of the more extreme of the pagan ecologists, who believe in the intrinsic value of the earth whether or not there are any self-conscious beings existent to enjoy it.

But so long as a peak for the Wuhan virus has not been reached,

we are free to imagine the worst.

Dalrymple notes that during the Middle Ages, when the cause of epidemics was unknown, other than the justified wrath of God,

there were long processions of self-flagellating penitents through the streets, who no doubt thought that the blood that they drew from themselves and the pain that they suffered would abate the epidemic by causing God to relent. We have a pale version of this even today, with calls to prayer by clerics. I believe a mullah somewhere has claimed that the only way to put an end to the epidemic is jihad, as a result of which the world will convert to Islam, causing God to withdraw the virus from circulation.

‘God has condemned us: we are all sentenced to perish in the Black Death. You, standing there like gaping cattle, you who sit there in your glutted complacency, are you aware that this could be your final hour? Death stands right behind you; I see his crown gleaming in the sun — his scythe flashes as he raises it above your heads. Which one of you will he strike first? You, standing there staring like a goat, will your mouth be twisted in a last unfinished gasp before nightfall? And you, woman, blooming with life and self-satisfaction, will you pale and be extinguished before the morning dawns? You back there, with your swollen nose and stupid grin, d’you think you might have another year left to sully the earth with your filth? Are you aware, insensible fools, that you will die today, or tomorrow, or the next day — because all of you have been condemned? D’you hear what I say? Doomed! D’you hear the word? You’re doomed, doomed, doomed!’

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