The emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens represents a steady and accelerating global existential threat. Unless we collectively develop a global strategy, piecemeal efforts will be of marginal benefits. To be sure, the development of new antibacterial might buy us more time. Nevertheless, the fact that vast populations of bacteria constantly mutate in ever-growing sites of severe selection pressure (e.g., dense factory farms that utilize sub-therapeutic antibiotics as growth promoters) means that we are confronting a relentless and strengthening foe. Past attempts to identify solutions to global crises have assumed that nations and individuals will always behave as rational self-interested agents. The lack of any viable means to shift the costs and benefits of using antibiotics to generate analogous global cooperation suggests that we ought to look for a different type of solution. Spreading altruism might not save humanity, but it might be the best hope we have to coexist with hostile pathogens.

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