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Future Human
Life at the edge of science. A new publication from Medium.

Pandemic

In Future Human. More on Medium.

Reengineering Life

An ‘Apollo Program’ could protect the population from man-made and natural biological threats

Photo illustration; Image source: David McNew/Getty Images

Reengineering Life is a column from Future Human about the ways humans are using biology to reprogram our bodies and the world around us.

In 2015, a report by a group called the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, made up of former members of Congress and past government appointees, warned that the United States was not prepared for a biological threat. The Covid-19 pandemic has confirmed that grim prediction. Already, more than 400,000 Americans have died, and one model predicts that deaths could surge to 630,000 or more by June. …


Scientists around the world are already bracing for the inevitable next pandemic, which they fear could be far worse than Covid-19. Experts interviewed by Robert Roy Britt for Elemental note…


The Color of Climate

Deforestation at the hands of richer, whiter nations is to blame

Deforestation in the Upper Guinean Forest caused by slash-and-burn agriculture. Photo: USGS

This is The Color of Climate, a weekly column from Future Human exploring how climate change and other environmental issues uniquely impact the future of communities of color.

The Upper Guinean Forest was once a lush tropical ecosystem that spanned 103 million acres along the southern border of six West African countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo. Over the past 40 years, more than 80% of the forest’s original canopy has been chopped down to make space for agriculture and a rapidly growing population.

Deforestation makes pandemics more likely, say researchers. The types of animals that…


Detecting bioengineering is a fraught task for any organism

Virus illustration.
Photo: vchal/Getty Images

Almost as soon as the coronavirus appeared in the news, so too did speculation that it was purposefully engineered, the result of experimentation at one of several Wuhan laboratories. The idea that the virus, whether natural or engineered, came from a scientific facility was pushed by some politicians. The White House reportedly pressured spy agencies to look into lab links.

Most scientists agree, based on the virus’s genetics, that it probably hopped from animals to humans. On April 30, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence declared, on behalf of the 17 different organizations that make up the…


A global effort of sewage sleuths could change the way health officials battle coronavirus

Photo illustration. Source: Chakrapong Worathat/EyeEm/Getty Images

Across the globe, Covid-19 detectives are finding their research united by one thing: poop. Specifically, data that can be extracted from our sewage, which can tell us a lot about how the pandemic is spreading and mutating, and how we might rein it in. Even scientists who aren’t tracking the spread of the virus via poop alone are still using this data in their models.

People mostly spread SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, through the nose and mouth, but the bug also nestles in the intestines and can spread through waste. In the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak…

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