Balloons of Doom?

Well, it seems some Chinese balloon with something dangling from it has drifted right across the United States and was only shot down when it was over the Atlantic.

The Chinese say it was a weather balloon. There is considerable speculation on the ground – was it a spying mission? A test run for an EMP attack? Dropping the next batch of Covid? So many options they are likely to cause a tinfoil shortage.

Another balloon has now appeared, and yet another over South America. So why not just shoot them down?

As the American military pointed out, it’s really hard to target something that moves slowly and isn’t made of metal. All their missile tracking systems are geared to hitting something fast moving and made of metal. So it’s pretty much ‘by eye’ to aim at the balloon and if they miss… where’s that missile going to land? That’s why they waited until it was over the sea, cleared the airspace and then shot it down. If they miss, the missile would land somewhere in the Atlantic and maybe kill a fish. Over land, a stray missile might reach a city, town or farm – and farms have had quite enough to deal with already.

So… stray weather balloon or spy mission? The spying mission actually has some credibility. Several militaries use balloons like this because they can float around up there for months, they have solar panels (the Chinese balloon clearly had those), they are far above most aircraft’s ceilings and they are actually steerable. They don’t have engines but they can rise and fall to take advantage of wind directions at different heights.

But… what was it spying on? It’s safe to assume Chinese satellites have mapped every square inch of every Western country to the point where they know who has male pattern baldness. The TikTok app has long been known to be a Chinese data gathering app, phones are monitored and tracked, the internet is an open book to hackers from most countries and people even install listening and camera devices like Alexa and Ring voluntarily. What more could a balloon find?

Apparently there’s one thing. Local radio communications don’t get high enough for satellites to listen in but they reach the height of those balloons. Still, since China now owns quite a lot of US land, they could simply set up listening stations on their own patch. So while the spying thing is a possiblity, I’m not entirely sold on it.

Setup for an EMP attack? Again, maybe, but why make a dry run at all? The steering of these balloons is well established so this would just give the enemy an early warning. They’ll shoot down the next one over the Pacific instead, before it gets anywhere near anything sensitive. I think, if there was going to be an EMP attack they’d have just done it, not signalled it.

Was it dropping a new Covid? This seems very unlikely. We already know that Covid is killed by exposure to the UV component of sunlight. It’s also not likely to fall very fast so it would be in the air/sunlight for hours before reaching the ground. It’ll be dead on arrival. Plus, dropping something so light at that height means you have virtually no idea where it’s going to land. So, that’s a no from me.

Bacterial/fungal spores? Well, they’re more likely to survive to the ground but again – where? The winds up there could carry them halfway around the world before rain washes them to the ground. Spores would likely survive, but if you don’t know where they’re going you risk dropping them back on yourself. So that’s not a good idea either.

Basically, it could really just be a stray weather balloon. The other scenarios, even the actually feasible spy-balloon one, just don’t make sense. Although the sighting of more of them does make it look a tad suspicious.

I have a feeling it might just be China flexing muscles. ‘Look, we can fly these things right across your country and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it’. Testing the US air defenses maybe? There have been a few mutterings in the US government about a future war with China and China is not the sort of country to just shrug off threats like that. So it could be a demonstration and/or a test. A sort of ‘Nyah’ to Sniffy Joe.

One thing that’s been suggested today is that a fungal lung infection might have come from the balloon. This microbiologist’s opinion – impossible. This particular infection has been around for a long time, and if the balloon released spores it’s unlikely they’ve reached anywhere near the ground yet. As I pointed out above, the risk of such a release coming back to bite you should be obvious even to a politician.

So what’s this ‘fungal illness‘ about? It’s not new. It’s akin to the ‘farmer’s lung’ that’s been around since humans started farming. In the UK at least, it derives from a fungus growing on hay or straw. when the dry bales are moved the fungus (if it’s there, it isn’t always) will release a cloud of spores which then get inhaled. Valley fever is potentially more serious, but it’s nothing new. The US sees about 20,000 cases every year, mostly in Arizona and California (the first article claims it’s spreading rapidly in those same states). So it’s not new, it didn’t come from China and it’s still prevalent in places where it’s always been prevalent.

The Valley Fever fungus lives in soil and, as always, spreads its spores best in dry conditions. We don’t have that in Scotland because ‘dry conditions’ are two words rarely used in combination here. Even the cars have moss on them here. Arizona and California, and other places where this fungus is a problem, have extended periods of dry soil. A fungus grows best in damp soil, if it gets dried out it’s going to produce a massive amount of spores to try to get to somewhere damp to continue its life. So, the onset of dry conditions means that the fungus is triggered to produce a lot of spores, and also that those spores can easily be stirred up into the air just by disturbing the soil.

As an aside, if you’re faced with clearing up moulds in the house, never touch it with a dry cloth. You’ll just send spores into the air and might even inhale them (that’s never, never a good thing). I use a bleach spray followed by a wet paper towel (because that goes in the bin, not the washing machine) and wear disposable plastic gloves and a face mask. Fungal spores are an awful lot bigger than viruses so even a dust mask offers some protection. I also wear goggles because I don’t want that crap in my eyes either.

Okay, so why the sudden scare about a rapidly-spreading lung fungus that is not spread beween people, that is well established in areas it’s always been well established in, and doesn’t actually pose any risk to anyone outside those areas?

I’d suggest it’s rather similar to the silly stories of ‘soil causing heart attacks’ and ‘gardening causing strokes’ that have been appearing in recent months. And if you think those are silly, there are now ‘studies’ claiming you can get a heart attack from sleeping in the wrong position or breathing too much. Seriously. I can’t help but think that these ‘studies’ are sponsored by wacky baccy.

It’s to scare you away from the countryside and into the 15 minute cities where you will be safe from everything until you die of boredom or until the government doesn’t find you productive any more. It’s to scare you away from gardening and growing your own food so you’ll eat the cricket burgers and mealworm pasta and the rest of the synthetic junk that’s being pushed now. The degree of compliance with lockdown measures has proved that most people will believe whatever they are told. Unfortunately it’s true – they will fall for this one just like all the others.

One day they might see what’s been done to them, but I doubt it.

14 thoughts on “Balloons of Doom?

  1. There’s a new theory about the Chinese balloon.

    This suggests that it was a test of US reactions, before the real one, containing a nuclear EMP warhead (designed to be triggered at high level to wipe out electrical and electronic systems below it) is flown over. This could be undetected until it’s in place & next time the balloon could be sky blue…

    If so, increasing sanctions on China, or an error over Taiwan, could turn out to be a very bad idea – the enemy already have a response prepared.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The key is in the Balloon’s path prior to arriving at the North American Mainland. Straight up the Aleutian Island chain. Why would it be doing that? It could be checking the fishing and the policing of said fishing grounds (China might be running out of fishing waters to illegally fish). It could be checking on the ability of local forces to withstand an invasion. It could be many things, but really it should have been dealt with and dispatched on day one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a rumour that it was launched from Chinese-bought land in Canada.

      Could be true. China hasn’t been involved in any big wars for a long time because they don’t invade other countries. They just buy them, bit by bit. It’s a smart move, it’s cheaper than nukes.


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