General News · 26th March 2020
My great respect to you, Loyd. May I honour you by taking your points seriously by giving them a fair test.
I think Tim's point isn't so much about the math. Nor do i think he made a case for doing nothing...
He gave voice to his concern, which I and many share and is worth thinking and talking about.
I thought I'd leave it at that... but it's too tempting to ponder a little further.
The argument is more complicated than a straight death count comparison between covid and the many preventable deaths from other causes.
To do it justice you'd have to incorporate length of life lost or extended. WHO:Undernutrition is a contributory factor in the death of 3.1 million children under five every year. Do these lives shortened by 80 years count 80x a life shortened by 1 year?
And justice, how does that factor? Is a starvation death because of injustice more worthy of intervention than an impersonal death from a natural cause?
Also the math you presented doesn't include that no matter what we do, this virus will kill a lot of people. So it's not fair to say that all those 70 million additional deaths are either saved by gov't action or all will die (as the math implies). Remember, we only flatten the curve, not stop the virus. That 50% will (probably) still get it... vaccines may help.
Tim offered a mixed approach - do what we can through public education and non-pharmaceutical interventions (could do the trick if folks are willing) and then get serious about the other millions of preventable deaths that go unjustly ignored daily by the media.
And finally, my personal outrage, is in comparing the death toll from Climate Change to covid. We are near tipping points that will extinguish our species (if not beyond already). So far, our efforts to curtail climate pollution have shown no (mathematical) indication of slowing.
What is the tally of death from extinction of the human species? Hard to say, it depends how long we can cling to bare rock before letting go...
The WHO does have a hint though: Our climate impacts have already committed us to 250,000 additional deaths between 2030-2050, per year.
And consider this - the virus safety measures, climate change, air pollution, starvation, conflict, biodiversity loss, etc... may all have the same solutions. And that conversation is really not happening - certainly not in government and not in the media. (There's too many of us, and some are consuming waay more than others).
Math does not lie, I suppose. But it can omit, frame, distract, confuse...