The most likely wolf amongst the current terror stories is the antibiotic crisis. Trying to resolve this is now the aim of the new £10 million Longitude Prize. It is on the Prime Minister’s radar, which is one reason Simon Jenkins dismisses it.
But the science is inexorable. Current antibiotics only have a time-limited window against the evolutionary potential of bacteria. Without new therapies – and there have been no new antibiotics since the ’ 80s – the bugs will win. It is still possible that Simon Jenkins will go to the grave saying I told you so: “the antibiotics are still working”. But we’re not good at understanding time scales beyond our own lifetime. The bugs have got time on their side.