A distinguished nineteenth-century pathologist once lamented that humanity’s greatest curse was that "it can learn to tolerate even the most horrible situations by habituation." In Pandemonium, renowned author Andrew Nikiforuk argues that the breaking point is imminent as our health and habitat are threatened by biological invaders moving at unprecedented speed. Avian flu and its potential to cause a human pandemic is only one example of a worldwide menace unwittingly unleashed by the forces of globalization.
The combination of unfettered free trade in living organisms, increased mobility, and urban crowding has created an increasingly volatile environment for the world’s 6.5 billion people. It explains how an enterprising Thai bird smuggler can pop up in Belgium and nearly ruin a continent’s dinner in half a day; why cowboys in Wyoming can encounter West Nile fever; and how cholera colonized much of the world’s waters in just seven pandemics. The relentless mingling of pests, weeds, and germs, abetted by worldwide trade, invites disaster. The intruder might be an economic saboteur or a global killer. It might be as ambitious as H5N1, as costly as SARS ($50 billion), or as contagious as foot-and-mouth disease. Nikiforuk argues that it shouldn’t take a pandemic to make us rethink the deadly pace of globalization and biological traffic in all living things.
Authoritative and wide-ranging, Pandemonium is a clear-eyed guide to instability, unpredictability, and the hidden biological terrorists on our doorstep.