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What Can Happen When a Fungus Runs Its Course?

In mid-19th-century Ireland, a potato fungus takes hold of the potato crop. The specific pathogen can survive a change of season, on infected plant materials, putting the next season’s crop at risk.

If the disease is unchecked, it keeps spreading until it runs out of food. If the food for such a pathogen is the potato plant itself, this means that the entire potato crop can be destroyed before the fungus runs its course.

When this situation actually happens, as it did in Ireland between 1845-1849, the damage is not just to the crops but to the people and to the country.

Imagine that the potato fungus represents something else - or some other situation - which has the potential to destroy everything in its path until it runs its course.  Could that something else be political? Could it be medical? Is it stoppable?

Is there ever a situation, that you can think of, which isn’t stoppable with human intervention?

Is there ever a time when human intervention makes no difference whatsoever? Explain your answer.


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