In a matter of hours, the tone of avian-flu news has darkened. The Jakarta cases look like the real thing: H2H, human-to-human transmission of a virus that kills over half of those it infects. The latest story on ABC News seems fairly typical of the new mood.
On a beautiful end-of-summer afternoon in Vancouver, with golden sunlight flooding over the flowers in my wife's garden, it seems strange to say: "This could be it." But this could be it.
I spoke to my colleagues at a faculty-association meeting today, asking that we organize a college-wide emergency-planning committee that would work with municipal, provincial and federal agencies. A little to my surprise, the response was a unanimous vote of support. That's encouraging, but I think we're going to have to work fast.
Maybe we'll look back on the summer of 2005 the way our grandparents and great-grandparents looked back on the summers of 1939 and 1914: as the last sweet summer before the darkness. I hope I'm mistaken.