The Ten Plagues of the 21st Century

Spirited Reasoners familiar with the Old Testament may wonder what it might have felt like to be an Egyptian around the time of the Biblical plagues. Having no ready access to news media, we would have wondered what was happening when our drinking water turned to blood. Or legions of frogs appeared. Then lice-like critters, followed by flies, death of livestock, boils, and severe weather. Then there were locusts, days of darkness, and the death of everyone’s firstborn.

We wonder weather the typical Egyptian had access to the warnings their Pharoah was hearing before the advent of each plague. “Let my people go,” said Moses, through his spokesman, Aaron, to the most powerful ruler in Egypt.  “Or else . . .”

Over the past few months there have been a number of social media jokes comparing recent experience throughout the world to those events in ancient Egypt. Following are just a few parallels:

  • Red tides in lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water, caused by excessive production of algae.
  • Invasions of the froglike amphibian—Litoria cyclorhyncha—in South Australia.
  • The evolution of a new species of “superlice,” apparently resistant to the most common ingredients in over-the-counter medications.
  • Flies in two counties of Iowa becoming so dense that whole sides of houses were covered.
  • Destruction of millions of chickens due to shortages of factory employees.
  • Increasing prevalence in the number of deaths caused by skin diseases.
  • More extreme weather events, many of which are blamed on global warming.
  • Billions of emerging cicadas across the eastern United States.
  • A “ring of fire” solar eclipse in 2021.
  • The death of millions of people due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Should Spirited Reasoners view these events as merely the straining by this writer to make a point? Or might it not also be possible that we are being warned: “Change your selfish, mean-spirited behavior, or worse plagues might be in store”?

I choose to take the second option not so much as a threat but as a science lesson. If I keep holding my magnifying glass so that it focuses the sun’s rays on that leaf in front of me then, sure enough, a flame will erupt.

We haven’t been treating our fragile planet, or each other, with proper love and respect. Maybe it’s time we all moved our respective magnifying glasses to one side and feel the cool breeze that can happen when we all decide to turn down the heat.