Global pandemics? Usually a bad idea.

One of my favorite vloggers, Hank Green, recently made a video about, among other things, a tick whose bite causes a severe allergy to red meat. I’d read about it before, and it’s fucking terrifying–the reaction doesn’t happen immediately, so people go into anaphylactic shock out of the blue, and it can take some time to figure out the cause.

Hank, a devoted environmentalist, proposes a question: if you could cause a global pandemic of this allergy, thereby ensuring that no one could eat red meat, would you?

NO NO NO, Hank. Just no.

I know that Hank doesn’t actually want to release these ticks upon the world. I know he’s just trying to get a discussion started about meat and the environment.

But it’s still so, so, so not ok. For many reasons.

1.)  Anaphylactic shock is not a laughing matter. It’s pretty callous to joke about subjecting the entire world to the possibility of it. Actually, it’s pretty callous to joke about infecting the world with any kind of disease, even one that would be supposedly good for the environment.

2.) If you were to infect the entire world with the disease, how would you warn everyone in time? How would you account for the likelihood that some people wouldn’t get the news before eating a hamburger, or that some might eat contaminated food and get sick? How would you account for the very good chance that you would be directly responsible for killing people? Continue reading