The interviewer asked Kelly why he considered the Black Death the greatest tragedy in Western history:
Was it the greatest tragedy in Western history? One of your back-cover blurbers said as much. What about the Holocaust for instance?
Kelly answered as follows:
Yes, the plague was. According to one recent estimate, extrapolated to today’s world population, the death rate for a disaster on the scale of the Black Death would be 1.9 billion lives.
An estimated 50 million people died in WW II, ten million in WW I, and perhaps somewhere between 50 to 100 million in the flu outbreak of 1918-20.
Asked whether there might be another disaster on the scale of the Black Death and what might bring it about, Kelly stated the following:
Yes, I think there could be, but by an agent other than plague. It could be either a thermonuclear or biological weapon, or, alternately, a strain of flu — such as Avian flu — which we don’t really understand and don’t know how effective our medications will be against.
In an earlier blog, I had mentioned that the only man-made horror that could equal or surpass the Black Death in terms of proportional continent-wide or worldwide mortality is one that, although it remains possible to this day, never happened and will hopefully never happen – a global thermonuclear war.
Now I'm concerned that, with an aggressive Russia, an expanding China, and an unpredictable cretin in the White House, the world may soon be headed in that direction.
I hope I’m wrong.