Mike Davis tried to warn us. Fifteen years ago, America’s favorite Marxist truck driver turned MacArthur Fellow published The Monster At Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu. In it, Davis argued that a global pandemic was not merely imminent but late: When you pack tens of millions of human beings into unprecedentedly dense, often unsanitary cities — then surround those cities with factory farms teeming with historically vast concentrations of pigs and chickens — you get a more fertile breeding ground for emergent disease than any our species has ever seen. Add in southern China’s diverse wildlife population, wet markets, and lung-impairing air pollution — and a global economic system that tosses millions of humans across continents on a daily basis — and the mystery wasn’t whether a novel virus would emerge in China and then take the world by storm but why one hadn’t already done so. Davis implored humanity to capitalize on its good fortune while it still could. A lethal strain of avian flu had already become endemic in East Asian birdlife. But there was still time to build up the emaciated health-care systems of the developing world, subordinate competitive nationalisms to global cooperation on public health, scale back hazardous agribusiness practices, and wrest control of antiviral and vaccine production from Big Pharma’s grubby hands.

None of that happened, of course. And in 2020, Davis’s prophesied “monster” (or, at least, one its relatives) finally ran through our door, ransacked our house, and killed many of our loved ones.

Read the full interview here.

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