As panic theory, this text is high art. Crunched for maximum alarm-intensity:
There are a lot of very lethal viruses in the world, and Ebola is not the most lethal or most easy transmittable, but the main thing which makes me worry about it is the steadiness of its exponential infection curve. … The main stunning feature of it is that the curve is moving straight forward (small downward bump in May-June may be explained by the efforts of existing medical services in Africa to curb the epidemic before services had been overwhelmed). This exponential growth must be stopped, or humanity will face a global catastrophe, and it may start a downward spiral towards extinction; moreover, some estimates suggest that pandemic doubling time is actually two weeks (because of underreporting of actual cases), so in five months, seven billion will be infected: total infection, by July 2015. … Such catastrophes may not mean total human extinction, as only around 70% of people infected currently die from Ebola (and even less because we don’t know, or share, asymptomatic cases), but still, this means the end of the world as we know it. This virus is the first step towards the road of full extinction … If the virus will mutate quickly, there will be many different strains of it, so it will ultimately create a multi-pandemic. … Some of the strains may became airborne, or have higher transmission rates, but the main risk from multi-pandemic is that it overcomes defenses provided by the natural variability of the human genome and immunity. (By the way, the human genome variability is very low because of the recent bottle neck in the history of our population. …) … We are almost clones from the view point of genetic variability typical for natural populations. […] The Human race is very unique – it has very large population but very small genetic diversity. It means that it is more susceptible to pandemics. […] Also, a large homogenous population is ideal for breeding different strains of infection. … If the genetic diversity of a pathogen is bigger than human diversity, than it could cause a near total extinction, and also, large and homogenous populations help breed such a diversity of pathogens feeding on the population. … [embedded link] … “The Ebola virus can survive for several days outside the body” [link] … “It is infectious as breathable 0.8 to 1.2-μm laboratory-generated droplets” … “Also many of the greatest plagues mankind has ever known were not airborne: e.g. smallpox.” …
… Another problem is the lack of adequate responses from global authorities; they are half a year behind the situation. You can’t react to exponential threats “proportionally”. You must be several steps ahead. […] Everything they do now should have been done half a year ago. […] Unlimited exponential growth is a mark of potential global catastrophe: self-improving AI; nuclear chain reactions; self-replicating grey goo from nanobots; all examples are especially dangerous in a naïve environment. A large human population without immunity to Ebola, or any other Marburg style viruses, is fuel for exponential viral growth. … Ebola is mostly transmittable only in hard cases when a person shits and bleeds uncontrollably, but it is also contagious from non-symptomatic people, so Ebola is not naturally selecting for mildness; it may do just the opposite. It may be selected for extreme and “fluid-like” dying. … Also Ebola seems to influence behavior zombie style, as late stage patients attack medical personal, run from quarantine or even bite someone — it happened in Nigeria and Liberia — the same can be said of rabies and toxoplasma. … Here we also should mention the meme aspect of the Ebola virus, which is the psychological stigma and fear associated with the disease. The fear has led to riots in Liberia, which additionally helped spread the virus. (See for example rumors that dead Ebola patients had resurrected [link]) … So Ebola is also mimetic [sic] hazard, and the fear of it prevents rational control of the epidemic: people flee it, destroy hospitals, or they live in denial of it.
If Ebola slaughters most of the human population, hundred of millions of people will still survive the pandemic itself (if it will not become multi-pandemic with many different strains of Ebola-like viruses). […] It will end technological civilization as we know it, and it probably start the self-sustainable process of destruction, which is the consequent failure of different institutions and technologies as well as wars and general disorder. It may be a long term degradation process, which has its own logic and its bottom may be very far from now.
Many more links at the original.
So to summarize this argument: Ebola really is a zombie plague, it could sweep the earth in under a year (with ~70% lethality), human evolutionary history adds peculiar biological vulnerabilities, its virulence might be far higher than commonly understood, and the catalytic global process thus unleashed has the potential to cascade forward all the way to full X-risk. There might be a way to mash down harder on the ‘scream’ button, but right now I’m not seeing how.
Seizing the opportunity for an Ebola fest (doubtless already behind the curve):
It could already be in Britain.
Turning it into a national security issue has made it more dangerous.
The mathematics of contagion elucidated by Gregory Cochran.
Racism is the real threat.
ADDED: Institutional Breakdown in a Time of Ebola. (Epic.)
ADDED: Quality Ebola commentary from SoBL, Dampier, and Thompson. Dreher on Castillo. Escalating concern at Nature and the NYT. Chris Brown and 8chan try to be helpful. Dialing it up another notch. Where next? Polls, preparations, protocols, politics … Blame the Bilderbergers.