• What Are the Odds of a Truly Catastrophic, Even Extinction-Causing, Disaster?

    The Forecastong Research Institute (FRI) brought together forecasters from two groups with distinctive claims to knowledge about humanity’s future — experts in various domains relevant to existential risk, and “superforecasters” with a track record of predictive accuracy over short time horizons. FRI asked tournament participants to predict the likelihood of global risks related to nuclear weapon use, biorisks, and AI, along with dozens of other related, shorter-run forecasts.

  • U.S. Animal Industries Pose Serious Risk of Future Zoonotic Pandemics

    Animal industries in the United States pose serious risk of future pandemics and the U.S. government lacks a comprehensive strategy to address these threats, a new study concludes. The study is the first to comprehensively map networks of animal commerce that fuel zoonotic disease risk in the U.S.

  • COVID: How Incorrect Assumptions and Poor Foresight Hampered the U.K. Pandemic Preparedness

    In 2016, the UK government engaged in a series of exercises including Cygnus to assess their preparedness and response to a pandemic outbreak of a pandemic. No planning exercise can cover all eventualities. But a key requirement for policymakers should be to learn as fast and effectively as possible while events unfold. The business concept of “dynamic capability” – that is, an organization’s ability to configure and reconfigure its assets, processes and capabilities so as to respond effectively to rapidly changing external circumstances – is useful here. Building and strengthening this capability should be a prerequisite for policymakers and planners in government.

  • Will Invasive Fungal Infections Be the Last of Us?

    In the post-apocalyptic drama television series “The Last of Us,” a mass fungal infection causes its hosts to transform into zombie-like creatures and collapses society. Is this an entirely fictional scenario? Scientists say that the TV series describes a situation which is closer to reality than we would like to believe, or hope.

  • Extreme Heat Will Cost the U.S. $1 Billion in Health Care Costs — This Summer Alone

    Extreme heat — summertime temperatures and humidity that exceed the historical average — is being made more frequent and intense by climate change. High temperatures could lead to 235,000 ER visits and 56,000 hospital admissions for heat-related conditions annually.

  • Climate Change Has Sent Temperatures Soaring in Texas

    Hotter days and nights. More record highs. Climate change has shifted the entire range of Texas heat upwards. Heat is one of the deadliest consequences of climate change. It’s already the most dangerous type of weather, typically killing more people annually than hurricanes, tornadoes or flooding.

  • China-Based Chemical Manufacturing Companies Charged, Executives Arrested in Fentanyl Manufacturing

    DOJ announced the arrest of two individuals and the unsealing of three indictments in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York charging China-based companies and their employees with crimes related to fentanyl production, distribution, and sales resulting from precursor chemicals.

  • Declassified U.S. Intelligence Answers Few Questions on Origins of COVID-19

    On Friday, the U.S. intelligence community released declassified U.S. intelligence on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, following a March executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The report said that despite concerns about biosafety measures at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), and despite its history of work with coronaviruses, there is no intelligence that indicates COVID-19 was present in the lab before the outbreak.

  • U.S. Policymakers Acting to Bolster Drug Supply Chains Amid Critical Shortages

    Alarmed by persistent shortages of critically important drugs such as cancer medications, Adderall, and antibiotics, U.S. policymakers are taking steps to shore up the country’s pharmaceutical supply chains. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists has more than 900 drug and dose shortages on its drug shortage list, and the FDA lists more than 200. The number and length of supply disruptions has grown over the last 10 years.

  • U.S. Intelligence Agencies Have Not Yet Released Expected COVID-19 Materials

    In March, President Joe Biden signed the COVID-⁠19 Origin Act of 2023 into law, setting up a requirement for the U.S. Intelligence Community to release as much information possible about the origin of COVID-19. The intelligence community has not yet released that information.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation and Disinformation Costs an Estimated $50 to $300 Million Each Day

    The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that false or misleading health-related information can dangerously undermine the response to a public health crisis. Misinformation and disinformation have contributed to reduced trust in medical professionals and public health responders, increased belief in false medical cures, politicized public health countermeasures aimed at curbing transmission of the disease, and increased loss of life.

  • Can America’s Students Recover What They Lost During the Pandemic?

    Disastrous test scores increasingly show how steep a toll the COVID-19 era exacted on students, particularly minorities. Schools are grappling with how to catch up, and the experience of one city shows how intractable the obstacles are.

  • Examining Text Strategies for Refuting Myths and Fake News

    The spread of false information is increasingly hindering the clarification of socially relevant, scientifically proven facts. Two new studies examine the impact of texts aimed at refuting myths and fake news concerning Covid-19 vaccines and genetically modified foods.

  • The ‘Truther Playbook’: Tactics That Explain Vaccine Conspiracy Theorist RFK Jr’s Presidential Momentum

    Polls show that Robert Kennedy’s Jr., promoting anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, has been drawing surprising early support in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Kennedy is using the “truther playbook” - – promising identity and belonging, revealing “true” knowledge, providing meaning and purpose, and promising leadership and guidance – which prove to be appealing in our current post-truth era, in which opinions often triumph over facts, and in which charlatans can achieve authority by framing their opponents as corrupt and evil and claiming to expose this corruption. These rhetorical techniques can be used to promote populist politics just as much as anti-vaccine content.

  • What If China Really Did Develop COVID as a Bioweapon? Here Are the Issues Involved

    A recent report by the Sunday Times claims the newspaper has seen evidence that China was developing dangerous coronaviruses in collaboration with the Chinese military for the alleged purposes of biowarfare. This research program was the likely source of the pandemic, the report asserts.So, what could the rest of the world do about these new allegations – if anything? There is no easy answer, because, given the nature of biological research, we may never be able to reach a conclusive answer about the bioweapon question.