today’s flu is brought to you by your local media: “H1N1. sick of it yet?”

i’m not going to go all conspiracy theory on you.

honest.  i’m not.

but i’ve got to say, this H1N1 thing might be a tad out of control.

virulent.  spreading like the plague.  completely impossible to control…

and that’s just the media coverage.

scary, isn’t it?

almost as scary is the reaction of our government.  they’ve stopped even trying to wrap their heads around social and environmental issues in the face of this new-found plague.

not that they were doing a great job of it beforehand, were they?

but why the panic?  why the swirl of media attention and immediate government action?

i mean, it’s the flu.  it’s just the bloody flu.

i know that it is respiratory.

i know that it is animal-based and more unpredictable than other strains.

but it is the flu.

if you are a healthy individual, the chances of you dying are extremely remote. the chances of you having worse than normal flu-like symptoms are still very, very rare.

thousands of canadians die each year of the flu and no one bats an eye. and yet now we find ourselves in a perpetual tizzy.


the main reason is the media.

H1N1 has become a media-driven panic.  it has grown into a pandemic of alarmist journalism that has pushed truly terrifying stories — such as the north american abandonment of any form of climate change action — right out of the news.

now that, kids, should REALLY scare the pants off of you.

i’d like to throw a few numbers around for a moment:

up to 160-some-odd canadians are seriously injured by lightning strikes each year.  so far 86 canadians have died from h1n1 — mostly in tandem with other pre-existing medical conditions.

i’m just sayin’…

a more worisome stat, at least for me,  is that 21 000 deaths in canada are directly linked to poor air quality issues each year.. this number completely dwarfs any we will see for N1N1.  the numbers linked to climate change are harder to calculate… but do you want to lay any guesses on the combination of global warming and smog?  i sure don’t.

a lot of those 21 000 deaths were people who started out healthy and young.

a lot more were kids.

want more health stats linked to air pollution?

how about 9,800 hospital admissions, 13,000 emergency room visits and 47 million minor illness sick days per year.

i’m just saying that those numbers might be a bit more headline worthy. no?

of course, the source of that poor air quality is also the source of most of the greenhouse gasses responsible for global climate change.  those coal plants, tailpipes, and tar sands offer a double whammy.

what’s that?  haven’t heard much about climate change lately either?

while that issue has also slipped to the back pages, the signs and effects of climate change have continued to escalate to the point where many scientists believe that, if we haven’t already hit the tipping point, we’re pretty darned close.

and our government has just announced that they aren’t willing to meet the greenhouse gas targets that we were supposed to be aiming to meet 12 years ago in kyoto.  those targets are now seen as being too small to have any meaningful impact, and yet we still won’t come close to hitting them.

how little does our government want to talk about the united nations copenhagen climate change conference coming up in december?  after climate change protesters were forcibly ejected from question period in parliament earlier this week, the powers that be didn’t mention global warming.  not once.

instead, they talked about the flu.

i’m not saying that H1N1 is not a legitimate illness.  i’m not saying that people should just ignore it.  in fact, i think that  illness prevention in the face of a very serious flu is pretty darned prudent.

but i also think we should put things into perspective:

it is the flu.

yes, there have been cases of young, healthy people getting ill.  but this is nothing new either.

respiratory illness happens to healthy people all the time. while influenza kills a couple of thousand canadians per year, the combo of influenza and pneumonia ups that total to between 9 000-10 000.  a lot of these people are young and healthy going into the illness.

heck, I’VE been hospitalized with respiratory problems after a flu went crazy and fluid formed in my lungs. and i was in my 20’s.

i’m not saying that we should ignore H1N1.  that would be silly.  it is a legitimate illness.  it is a pandemic that is spreading across the globe.  some people will get very sick.  others will die.

and we should be vigilant about protecting people from needless illness.

so, if you feel like protecting yourself, go ahead, get the shot. if you feel it is your duty, again, get the shot. power to you.

but stop the bloody panic. stop the “end is nigh” drama. and stop being had.

have some soup. have some tea. and then ask yourself why your political leaders are hiding behind the flu when a global environmental tipping point is here and now.  ask why your media has stopped reporting on these stories as well.

and then ask yourself what the real headlines should be.