The week’s traffic was dominated by China’s coronavirus outbreak, quarantine, and potential spread abroad.
We analyzed over 1200 individual pieces of traffic to bring you the most crucial bits you need to know right now.
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An asteroid twice the size of Big Ben skimmed by the earth this week, while scientists revealed mass extinction is inevitable once an asteroid finally does hit our blue dot.
Meanwhile, another asteroid 1.9 million miles away was spotted.
As threats from deep space continue approaching the blue planet, NASA is apparently formulating a planetary defense mission to protect the earth. In this mission, the United States space agency is collaborating with Elon Musk’s SpaceX
The biggest story this week ended up being a non-event, as the gun rights march in Virginia was peaceful, unlike its counterpart last year. Many were expecting riots and violence but neither materialized.
It wasn’t as quiet in Beirut and Paris, though, as both capitals were rocked by riots this week.
Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)
American President Trump signed an Executive Order this month focussing on the threat, while scientists continue to wargame the threat to the electric grid.
While EMPs are a remote possibility, and the grid would likely survive an attack without too much trouble, a successful attack would be catastrophic.
Right, the Chinese coronavirus announced itself in a big way this week, and it’s set to get worse given the Chinese New Year travel rush that about to begin.
Exact numbers are hard to come by, and the Chinese government aren’t always trustworthy with this sort of thing, but best estimates show 25 dead and 800 infected, including one in the US. The incubation period is nearly two weeks, though, so this number is likely very low.
More dubious reports estimate over 10,000 infected.
Ground zero, the Chinese city of Wuhan, which has 11 million residents, is in lockdown, and all transport in and out has been halted.
While the US and Europe are prepared for this sort of thing, funding has been slashed recently.
Here’s a good primer with everything you need to know.
Not to be outdone, the flu and measles are making a horrible mess in Bulgaria, the Ukraine, and the Congo.
There have also been over 13m cases of the flu in the US so far this year.
Australia got a reprieve from bush fires this week by way of hailstorms, dust storms, and flash floods. Out of the frying pan and into the dust storm larger than Britain, as they say. Over 500m animals and dozens of people have perished, including three American firefighters aboard a C-130.
Australia wasn’t alone with extreme weather in 2019, though. Climate change caused severe weather events on every continent last year.
Best prepare, because it’s going to get worse, and it’s going to cost billions.
Australia has had a hell of a year so far.
While things between the US and Iran seem to have settled down a bit, that’s not stopped the wargamers from predicting the outcome of an Iranian cyberattack on the US financial system. Spoiler alert: It’s bad.
Meanwhile, Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, and protesters have taken to the streets to smash up banks.
Moodys, the American credit rating agency, is taking a long-term view of rising sea levels, judging they “pose a long-term risk to the sovereign credit ratings of dozens of countries which have large areas at risk of submersion, including Vietnam, Egypt, Suriname and the Bahamas”.
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Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, warned this week that India and Pakistan face ‘imminent’ nuclear conflict over Kashmir. If you’re in the region, this is your best chance at surviving the first 24 hours of the attack.
Meanwhile, an Iranian MP put a $3m bounty on American President Trump’s head, and Kim Jong-Un continued sabre-rattling, claiming he has a secret weapon strong enough to terrify the US.
Looking for a safe place hide? Here’s a list of the safest countries if / when the US and Iran escalate things.
Income inequality, which affects more than two-thirds of the globe, is thought by many to be the most likely cause of significant civil unrest going forward, reached a historic high, according to the UN. Despite ten years economic expansion, it’s got worse in the US as well. This gulf between the haves and have nots continues to erode trust between the classes.
A growing number of Americans believe the government should tackle economic inequality instead of illegal immigration.
In the future, should it be a priority for the president and Congress to reduce income differences between people with high incomes and those with low incomes?
Insufficient Clean Water
The Panama Canal is running out of water as temperature rises have led to increased evaporation from the reservoirs that supply the canal.
Not content with uncontrollable bush fires or flash floods, Australia is also running out of clean water and won’t be able to sustain its population for much longer without drastic change.
This tool predicts where the next hot (dry) spot will arise.
Gamma Ray Burst
An unknown burst of mysterious gravitational waves lit up detectors this week, and new research suggests gamma rays are deadlier than we thought, can fry the DNA of any living thing they encounter, and they can go back in time.
Here’s a primer on just exactly what these terrifying time-defiers are all about.
Carter is a former US Army Ranger, US Army intelligence officer, and counterintelligence officer with the Defence Intelligence Agency.
He has a BA in Political Science from UCLA and an MA in Security Studies from Georgetown.